This $40K Hip Sonoma Wedding Is a Blast of Pure Joy


Glasses AND a flower crown? Be still our hearts.

Gloria, Product Manager & Jason, Designer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A dash of whimsy, a splash of color, a little DIY, and a whole lot of love.

Planned budget: $40,000

Actual budget: $34,000

Number of guests: 70

Where we allocated the most funds:

Our venue, food and beverages, and rentals accounted for about 40 percent of our budget, and our key vendors (coordinator, photographer, videographer, photo booth, and DJ) added up to another 35 percent. We wanted our wedding to be a happy, joyful party for all of our friends and family, and we wanted to capture those memories, so we allocated funds accordingly!

For a Sonoma County wedding, our venue rental and catering were actually really reasonable. We saved by having an “off-season” wedding, plus there was an extra discount running when we booked. The General’s Daughter is associated with Ramekins, a caterer/culinary school, and most of the standard rentals were included, so we didn’t have to spend time picking out place settings or linens. The food was fantastic—our guests still rave about it. We were told that the bride and groom usually don’t get to eat much, but we made sure to eat our entire dinner! We did have to rent a bunch of heat lamps (April wedding, outdoor dinner), which added up. A week before our wedding, the weather forecast for our big day was 80 degrees and sunny, but it was actually 65 and cloudy on the day of, so they were worth it!

Where we allocated the least funds:

Our outfits. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have seen MANY episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, but when it came down to buying a wedding dress, I just couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on something I’d only wear once. I spent a lot of time browsing white evening dresses online and looking at bridesmaids dresses before finding the most perfect dress at Modcloth just a few months before our wedding. It was pretty much the opposite of what I had pictured wearing, but it fit the whimsical, happy vibe that we were going for perfectly. With alterations and a pair of sparkly heels from Lulus, my outfit came in way under budget. Jason’s suit was from Banana Republic, purchased with a 50 percent off friends and family discount!

What was totally worth it:

We didn’t want to spend too much money on flowers, and many florists in wine country have pretty high minimums. We were so lucky to find Natalie of Mack Floral Design, who managed to give us the most gorgeous, happy floral arrangements within our budget. My floral crown and bouquet were both AMAZING. We had collected all sorts of stray bottles and vases to use as centerpieces, and at the end of the night, our guests took them all home. Afterward, friends and family told us about how long the peonies lasted, how they gifted flowers to parents who had watched their kids during our wedding, how they repurposed the vases, how they packed succulents in their suitcases and took them back across the country. It was so lovely to know that our centerpieces lasted more than one night!

Also, special shout out to our photographer, Lucille, and our DJ, Sami from Heart of Gold, who both totally rocked.

What was totally not worth it:

There isn’t anything that we regret, but if we had to cut back, there are some things we might re-evaluate. I was super picky about our photo booth and ultimately chose Magbooth because they had an aesthetic that I really liked. The photos were beautiful and hilarious, but the booth ended up pretty underutilized. We had booked it for three hours, but didn’t want to pay extra to break up the time between cocktail hour and dancing, so it went unused for an hour during dinner. Also, with such a small wedding, even during the last two hours of our wedding, there were still plenty of moments where it sat unused. Between dancing, eating dessert, and catching up with friends and family, the photo booth just ended up being one of the last priorities for everyone, ourselves included.

A FEW THINGS THAT HELPED US ALONG THE WAY:

A wedding coordinator was required by our venue, but we’re so grateful we had them. Alex and Heather from Quintana Events answered my gazillion questions during the year up to our wedding and took over management of our vendors about a month before the wedding. The day of the wedding, they set up all my DIY decor and made sure everything went flawlessly, which meant none of our friends or family had to take on that responsibility, and everyone could just enjoy themselves. We had been told repeatedly that something would definitely go wrong, but honestly, nothing did!

I’m basically a crazy person who started building spreadsheets and to-do lists the day after we got engaged (thank you, Google Drive). But I don’t regret that! We had more than a year to plan our wedding, and we took that time to get things done as early as possible, so we never felt panicked. I wanted to include a bunch of DIY elements, including learning calligraphy and handwriting every envelope; illustrating, building, and printing our invitation suite and other wedding-related stationery; making little gold animal escort card holders; spray painting wine bottles etc., and we did it all with time to spare!

MY BEST PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR MY PLANNING SELF:

1. Find vendors that complement you. I knew I’d have some control issues with our wedding, so we went with vendors who were all incredibly relaxed and calm. Our photographer, videographers, wedding coordinators, our DJ—they were all so flexible with my numerous requests and so patient when I was anxious. I had total confidence that they would deliver exactly the experience that I had envisioned.

2. Ask vendors for other vendor suggestions. We found our DJ and our videographer this way. We even had a photographer who was above our price point volunteer other photographers with a similar aesthetic, and they were all excellent recommendations that would have taken us forever to find on our own! Chances are high that if you like one of your vendors, they’ll probably know other vendors that you’ll love too.

3. If you’re able to, consider postponing the honeymoon. We decided to wait until the fall, which meant we only needed to plan the wedding, and we didn’t stress about packing or traveling after the wedding. It was a little anti-climactic to go back to work three days after we were married, but we like having something else to look forward to this year!

4. Lastly, don’t try to coordinate a buffet lunch in the bridal suite for the wedding party the day of the wedding. Just don’t do it!

FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE WEDDING:

Glo’s short list: 1) my mom’s speech (she slayed), 2) our short, but sweet ceremony, 3) seeing all our closest friends from different parts of our lives meeting each other, 4) holding hands, walking back to our room at the end of the night, basking in the glow of our best day ever

Jason’s short list: 1) seeing Gloria come down the aisle and sharing our vows, 2) my brother’s officiating (great work, Tyler!), 3) all the speeches from our friends and family, 4) celebrating with everyone on the dance floor

Other Things We’d Like to Share:

We wrote our own vows and debated keeping them a secret or sharing them. We ended up putting them in a Google Doc, which meant we were able to read each other’s vows and comment on them months in advance. We thought that might take away from the emotion of the moment, but when we exchanged vows, knowing exactly what each of us had planned to say didn’t stop me from crying anyway!

We wanted a unique wedding invitation, and, after spending countless hours looking for inspiration on Pinterest, decided we wanted to create a four-card accordion style invite. I drew and painted all the illustrations, ended up learning Adobe Illustrator to piece it all together (YouTube tutorials—thank you!), and found a fantastic paper supply and printing company in the Bay Area, Paper & More, who answered all my questions and had amazing pricing.

If I could redo the day, I’d ask someone to film our ceremony and the speeches. Our videographer doesn’t record sound, and I’d give anything to hear those moments again!

We LOVED our desserts from Moustache Baked Goods. If you’re ever in Healdsburg, California, stop by their store and pick up a moustache-o cookie (a homemade Oreo, basically) and then go to their sister store, Noble Folk, for some of the best pie and ice cream you could ever dream of.


The Info:

Photography: Lucille Lawrence Photography | Location: Sonoma, CA | Venue: The General’s Daughter | Glo’s Dress: Modcloth | Jason’s Suit: Banana Republic | Flowers: Mack Floral Design | Hair & Makeup: Prettyologie | Photo Booth: Magbooth | DJ: Heart of Gold DJs | Videography: Gold and Gumption | Desserts: Moustache Baked Goods | Coordinator: Quintana Events 

 


APW Vendors Involved In This Wedding:
Lucille Lawrence Photography

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  • cfpw

    Oh man, your look is absolutely killer! The This looks like so much fun, and the photos do a great job of capturing the love between you two :)

    (On a smaller note, am really interested to hear you say that about the photobooth. I’ve always found them a bit of a weird concept, so I’m going to chalk this up on my internal vindication scoreboard)

  • fleur

    Your wedding looks so full of joy! Absolutely stunning. I appreciate the honeymoon advice: we’ve been thinking something similar, to minimize stress and only have to plan one big trip (our wedding will likely involve travel to our hometown) at a time. I’m so glad to hear it worked for you!

  • savannnah

    Feeling like kindred spirits over here with all the glasses and control issues!!

    • Pickle

      Haha, ditto! I have had to make a “me” spreadsheet and an “us” spreadsheet that I add one tab to at a time, because apparently my fiance did not feel calmed by being presented with a dozen-tabbed spreadsheet the week after we got engaged. Strange man.

  • Jan

    I really love all the color you had infused in your day! I’d originally wanted to do something similar but didn’t want to pay a vendor to coordinate it all and at the end of the day I just didn’t have a clear enough vision to pull it off myself. Your whole wedding just looks so happy and fun!

  • Maranda

    So happy to see a bride with glasses! I’ve always worn glasses and will probably wind up wearing them on my wedding day too. I feel like I just don’t look like me without them!

    • Katharine Jane Schweitzer

      I am wearing my glasses at my wedding next Saturday! Glasses-wearers unite!

    • Rachel

      I wore mine! I remember googling “brides with glasses” before my wedding in 2014, just to make sure I wasn’t crazy.

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  • Rebekah Abeja

    YES to brides in glasses. This whole wedding is gorgeous, but I seriously love seeing a glasses wearing gal that doesn’t forego them on such a big day.

  • mui

    YOUR DRESS IS PERFECT!!! And I love your tattoo!!!! Congratulations!!! <3 <3 <3

  • ssha

    This is the CUTEST. I love how Gloria’s expression in every photo is one of pure joy! And those invitations- so lovely.
    Also, I want “a dash of whimsy, a splash of color, a little DIY, and a whole lot of love” to be my life motto.