Our $22K Wedding Blended Southern Charm and Queer Oakland

High femme magic and bridesmaids in jumpsuits

Jeana, Private Pilates Trainer And Dancer & Graham, Law Enforcement

SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: Steel Magnolias Deep Southern charm meets chic and queer Oakland.

LOCATION: Oakland, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

Venue, photographer, wine, flowers, and food.

Where we allocated the least funds:

  • Extra up lighting, $100.
  • Cake, $100: We were so lucky to have our friends make it!
  • Unlimited churro cart for dessert, $300: That way we didn’t have to have a big cake with plates and utensils to feed everyone.
  • Ceremony decor: The green swag from our florist was pricey, but for $100 my incredible maid of honor bought and returned all the rugs and arranged all the ceremony altar arrangements herself!
  • Invitations: We built a comprehensive website so we could have a really nice save the date and invite but not a whole suite of paper.
  • Place settings and rentals: We rented plates. We bought the chargers from Michael’s, because it was cheaper to buy than rent, and we can re-sell them. We used heavy gold plastic silverware instead of renting, and we bought Mason jar glasses that people could use for the sweet tea station, sodas, etc., and then take with them. It worked as a favor and we didn’t have to rent glasses.
  • We used the same chairs for ceremony and dinner.
  • Flowers: I did corsages for the ’maids (not bouquets). We saved a lot doing that, and it was absolutely chic and gorgeous and served major Southern debutante vibes (I was into it!).

What was totally worth it:

Flowers: The flowers. Natalie was AMAZING. She really went above and beyond to give me what I wanted within my budget. She was a dream to work with.

Photos: Our incredible photographer! Jamie Thrower of Studio XIII Photography is wonderful and so talented.

Venue: Choosing a venue that comes with a coordinator, the wine, and wine glasses was so worth it (and we could provide our own beer and other non-alkie drinks). It just made everything very smooth. Their staff was great, the venue was high end with beautiful wine, but we could still save by not having loads of hard liquor. (The venue is wine and beer only. Our best man filled his trunk with booze and made a “car bar.”)

Coordinator: It was also worth it to hire a month-of coordinator (in addition to the one provided by the venue). It was the best $1,800 we spent, because they ran the day like clockwork.

What was totally not worth it:

Photo booth: We got a cheaper option, and it was cute, but I honestly think unless you get a fancy one, just skip it. You won’t miss it with a good photographer!

A few things that helped us along the way:

FRIENDS! Between our rehearsal dinner, welcome party, and the wedding itself—people showed UP. We delegated a lot of things, and it was so wonderful! Researching options before choosing, going with people who we vibed with (not just who came highly recommended on Yelp or from friends), and being practical about our budget and what we wanted. Just let some of the stress go and enjoy the ride.

It was also so fun to use our hashtag we’ve been using our whole relationship as the wedding hashtag. #stripperheelsandredwings
People recognized it, used it, and left us with magical moments captured!

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Don’t get caught up, Boo. It will all work out. Think creatively and logistically. Stay calm! There isn’t THE dress. There are a lot of great dresses out there. Stick to your budget, commit to what you want the vibe of the wedding to be, style the shit out of your looks and the event itself. Get creative!! You will be beautiful no matter what! Trust things will work out even if you aren’t micromanaging them.

Get a videographer or have someone record the ceremony! (We didn’t and I wish we did!)

And frame all the signage. (Hello, T.J.Maxx!)

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Three things.

  1. It felt, tasted, looked, vibed like a chic Steel Magnolias Southern dream meets Oakland fairytale. It felt like home.
  3. All our pictures!!! From engagement to rehearsal dinner to the wedding. Our photographer Jamie was everything.

Other things we’d like to share:

While you’re planning, everything feels like it matters SO MUCH. And it does! It’s a ton of work. But try to enjoy it. Stay organized. Rent a rehearsal dinner dress. Do beer and wine only. Serve barbecue or pizza or a more casual meal if it’s what you can afford; you can make it high end in other ways. Think outside the box on everything. Treat your vendors like family, and they will take good care of you. Don’t be afraid to backyard it, make your own invites, DIY your favors, and call on your community for support. People want to help! DEFINITELY WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS. Keep it all grounded to how y’all are as a couple, your tastes and aesthetic, what y’all think is fun. Let your day or weekend truly reflect your love! Let your budget lead; don’t try to make your event something you don’t actually have the budget for. It will stress you out! Be grateful for what you can do and ENJOY IT!


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