How We: Pulled Off WedStock!

Number one tip: always give yourself more time!


One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: An awesome party, in which I don’t remember doing much but dance, with a wet start.


Planned Budget: Originally $10,000. I quickly realized I could not craft my way into that number. I was hopeful when I moved it to $20,000

Actual Budget: I lost track of that shit. I think closer to $ 30,000. Which I find hard to acknowledge.

Number of Guests: 150 I think?


Where we allocated the most funds:

Musicians and the equipment and services that went along with it were a BIG chunk. The headline band alone was $3,500 plus food and hotel rooms. The food for all those peeps was another large cost, but we did a taco bar to keep it somewhat reasonable (we originally wanted a food cart but couldn’t make it happen, so we had to hire a traditional caterer for a lot more money). I hired Maddie and convinced (er paid) her to come to Oregon so I could get some of those sweet dance shots of hers. We wanted good booze, so to offset the quality, kept the choices super limited (one type of vodka, one type of bourbon, two whiskeys because one had to be Fireball, one type of rum, a keg from a friend that works at a local brewery and a dozen or so growlers of various other beers, plus various red and white wine). Our venue cost a pretty penny too ($4,000), but it was the only place we could find in the area that would allow outdoor, amplified music and our own caterer. WedStock would have not been a true festival without outdoor music and street food. And the day-of coordinator. It seemed to be too big a job with too many moving parts to ask a friend to do it.


Where we allocated the least funds:

Decorative stuff. To us the location was beautiful and didn’t need all the “wedding crap” that people tell you “you MUST have.” I broke down on the centerpiece issue and compromised with my mom by having potted flowers and herbs, which are now scattered around our house and our loved ones’ houses. I got dried flower bouquets for the ladies at the last minute when I realized many of the flowers we planted weren’t gonna bloom in time for the wedding. A few friends and I designed the invitations, save the dates and programs. My maid of honor and I made my bouquet that morning with the flowers that were blooming. The wine came from Costco. The booze came from BevMo. Dessert was an amalgam of cookies my aunt baked, cakes from Whole Foods (thanks APW How To section!) that my nieces decorated, and s’mores on the fire outside. I “made” a photobooth (a camera on a tripod with some $3 remote shutter releases) with some costumes from friends. We did a physical invitation, but an online RSVP. No bridesmaid or groomsmen outfits. We called them Groupies and asked them to all wear earth tones. My dress was pretty cheap, considering labor was free, but the fabric was all really beautiful and not cheap as fabric goes.


What was totally worth it:

Our bands were totally wonderful and made the whole thing so special for us. We had four over the course of the weekend, plus a jam session and a few band mash ups. We hired one of our favorite festival bands that we had seen together many times as the “headliner” plus Andrews’ band and two local bands that we are friends with (links to the bands below). Also, I’m told the food was good, and we really love food (and it was still good as leftovers). And of course the Photographers were amazeballs! Our day-of coordinator was both totally worth it and a little disappointing. I think that I, in my desire to be laid back, did not ask enough of her. I wish I had gotten more of her expertise in the timeline. But she totally paid for herself when she found a new generator, got it delivered in record time, and saved the last set from disaster (see below). Also, she managed to take care of it all behind my back and only came to me when she had a solution to confirm spending the $150. The venue was more than I would have liked, but the woman that ran it was always super accommodating and helpful. Plus all the young cousins and nieces ended up fishing in the ponds there, which was super cute and kept them entertained. My dress was really special to me and my mom, despite the blood (literally), sweat, and tears.

Andrew says: The music was TOTALLY worth it.


What was totally not worth it:

Our sound guy was kind of an ass demanding payment before he would set up when no one was on site yet (maybe we should have discussed that with him before hand, since he doesn’t usually do weddings). To be clear, the misunderstanding was not worth it, but his product was. Our generator totally sucked and died repeatedly during Andrews’ set (test that shit beforehand!). All of the time, energy, and money spent on things that never even got put out as a byproduct of not having enough time or forethought to explain things to anyone. The white ribbons, the iPod playlist that I slaved over for the set breaks, the setup of the photobooth (which still totally worked, just looked a bit hokey). The chair rental for the ceremony, when I really just wanted everyone to stand around us all casual-like, and then five minutes into the damn thing, it starts to POUR and we all end up standing inside like I wanted in the first place! But, hindsight.


A few things that helped us along the way:

Having a really clear vision of what we wanted our wedding to feel like. Initially we were planning a small and cheap winter wedding. But when we sat down to do our minimal guest list, it exploded to sixty to eighty people, and we still were leaving off people we cared about in favor of people we were related to. So at that point we decided to just go for the big fat (Jewish) wedding. Our parents had both offered to help, so we were lucky to be able to change up the setting. So on our way to a music festival, Andrew suddenly nailed it on the head. What if we had a music festival FOR A WEDDING? Well, duh we thought. Perfect. Low key. Fun. And it what we actually do with most of our free time. This way we got to share the feeling with our loved ones that aren’t the music-festival type without dragging them to an actual music festival. Once that was decided, it was easy to say, “That fits,” and “That doesn’t.” It meant a built-in decision maker for all the things I didn’t really care about. Being that most of my closest friends and all of my family were out of state, I didn’t have much physical help before the wedding. But I took as much help as I could manage. I wish I had taken more, in the end.


APW helped A LOT along the way. Emotionally and physically (those spreadsheets were key). Also, OBB for style and support. We stole most of our ceremony from APW and from other Internet sources. I also scoured other people’s wedding websites (ones that openly gave the address) for information my guests might find helpful.

Biggest thing that helped: My mom. She took over everything I didn’t care about. And was happy to do it if it meant that there were favors and centerpieces. I would have just skipped that shit. All this while she was MAKING MY WEDDING DRESS.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

OMG give yourself more time. And quit being such a control freak (ha, right! like that could have happened). And don’t worry so much about the budget. You made a random stab at a random number, and it’s just not helpful to beat yourself up about spending more than it. And are you aware it takes TIME to get from one spot to the next, even in a small town? So maybe you should include that on your timeline? Also have you heard about the color guard thing? Where you don’t designate anyone as a “bridesmaid” and just ask all your special peeps to wear a color or group of colors? I would have totally done that and, if I had, saved myself some stress (no gifts, no section in the program to write, no bouquets and boutonnières). Accept more help (ask for it even). Even if it feels like a burden or if you think it might not turn out exactly like you thought it would in your head. Oh this is a big one: Don’t let your mom’s dog eat straight pins from the hem of your dress resulting in an eleventh hour emergency vet surgery. And don’t forget the rings.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

Not so much the fact that it did rain, but the resulting ceremony was amazing. My new husband up on that stage playing with his band for all his friends and family. And I got to show him off to all of mine. The shot of fireball at the end of the night with some of my oldest friends. My mom and dad putting aside all of the anger between them and walking me to the ceremony together, and then actually talking the next day. Finally eating a taco with my husband at the bar that was our after party.

Andrew says: Getting married to you. (He is such a suck up… happy sigh.)


Anything else?

I found it somewhat hard to find examples of what we were trying to do on the Internets. Mostly because these two things don’t normally fit together. So I had to make a lot of things “work” and be kind of creative. We hired quite a few non-wedding vendors to get the job done. Even the “wedding” vendors we did hire were forced to do things out of their normal routine because of the setup of the wedding. They were all so great about it and seemed to enjoy themselves, which was nice. The timeline was one of the most challenging aspects for me. I wish I would have gotten more guidance on that bit.


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  • Lisa

    Great post. And I love those photos. So vivid, so well-matched to the idea of Wedstock.

    • SamiSidewinder

      Maddie is one incredible photog! She did indeed match the feeling of the wedding in her work, and I honestly had never looked at it that way (I just knew I loved them). Thank you for pointing that out!

  • MC

    AH! I just relinquished control of almost all decorations to my fiance and MIL because I kept saying things like, “Do we really need centerpieces? Okay, but do we really need any other decorations?” Glad to hear I’m not the only one that would gladly skip that shit.

    Amazing wedding, looks so fun and happy. Way to go!

  • June

    I want to live in this wedding…or maybe Sam can just plan mine???! This looks so fun!!!!!

  • Kelly

    remote shutter release? I didn’t know that was a thing! Thanks for crossing “figure out how to do a photo guest book” off the to-do list!

    • Eh

      We did a photo guest book with a photo booth (ie a backdrop my friend made for her wedding, a tripod and a camera). There were enough people around the ‘photo booth’ to take pictures. I was going to use a remote shutter release (I have one for one of my cameras) but after seeing how well things worked at my friends wedding without one I didn’t bother. The biggest lesson I learned from her wedding was to use a camera that takes batteries and not a battery pack (unless you have more than one pack) because the batteries will die. We also had a white board and dry erase markers so guests could write us notes to include in their pictures.

    • Sam2

      Yea, we bought (I think) 5 on ebay (I think). They worked ok. Sometimes it took a few attempts to get them to go. There are some funny pictures with them in peoples hands pointing at the camera. The major problem was people moving the camera and the zoom around so they aren’t all the same scale of photo. If I had it to do again, I might get some sand bags to put on the tripod to discourage movement. Also, a much bigger backdrop than you think you need. And maybe some actual printed directions.

  • ART

    “Our sound guy was kind of an ass demanding payment before he would set up when no one was on site yet (maybe we should have discussed that with him before hand, since he doesn’t usually do weddings). To be clear, the misunderstanding was not worth it, but his product was.” Wife to be of a sound guy here. He definitely should have made his policies clear (e.g., payment before setup), but that’s not an unreasonable policy to have and enforce. Most sound guys have either experienced or heard enough stories of others getting screwed on payment, that they have to, unfortunately. Even if you seem like the nicest most honest people around (and you totally do), setup is labor that they’re charging you for (even if it’s not clearly itemized), and if a client doesn’t pay, they still have to pay their guys (or themselves) for that labor. Which is a long way of saying both parties are responsible for understanding their contract (written or verbal…but for the love of pete, get a written one). Anyway, looks like a blast!

    • Sam2

      Indeed it was a mis-communication error. I gave this particular piece to my husband as a way to get him involved, use his expertise and skills as a musician, and to get something off my plate. I’m not sure what the contract said, or if there was one (he was a friend of a friend). We maybe didn’t think through the whole situation and having never hired a sound/stage/equipment guy, we had no idea. And the same goes for him not ever doing weddings.

      In the end it was the fact that everything was running late, we were rushing around and then we get a call from him all angry and annoyed that we aren’t there to pay him. I’m sorry, did we not tell you we are GETTING MARRIED today? We will get there when we get there and dammit there is nothing I can do about it right this second! JUST EVERYBODY STOP PRESSURING ME!

      So yea, extenuating circumstances and I harbor no ill will. Just a word of warning to those trying to hire non wedding type vendors to work through those kinds of conflicts.

      • Alyssa M

        “Our day-of coordinator was both totally worth it and a little disappointing. I think that I, in my desire to be laid back, did not ask enough of her.”

        As somebody currently struggling with how much I should ask of my (somewhat expensive) DOC… I’m wondering if this also contributed? Perhaps your DOC should’ve been the one to answer the phone and get somebody over there to take care of it? I’m debating if it would be appropriate to just hand mine my phone that morning…

        • ART

          It’s worth asking. Weddings ARE different from other events, but that doesn’t mean all businesses are going to be willing/able to go outside of their normal policies to accommodate that difference, nor might it occur to them if they haven’t done one before. To me it sounds like that’s exactly within a DOC’s scope – to deal with people on the day of!

          It’s sort of unrelated, but this is reminding me of my mom confusing the hell out of the owner of a local “resort” (lakeside cabins) near our venue because, rather than just make online reservations like you would at any other time, she emailed him all about the different aunties and grammies and blah blah wedding blah blah and figured he’d get all the pertinent info from that to make their reservations for all 10 cabins, each for different period of days (he didn’t). It took some doing to convince her that he’s a business owner and doesn’t really care why we’re there, he’s just trying to run his business! Not to suggest that anyone in this thread did anything similar, it was just funny (in hindsight).

  • macrain

    I have planned concerts before as part of my job, and hot DAMN I am impressed you pulled this off! Kudos to you!
    This is so beautiful and special (and as I feel I must mention one more time-impressive).

  • HG

    AWESOME! Question – how did the online RSVPs work? I want to do that, but am having trouble figuring out what wedding website would be most user friendly since we are sending paper invitations.

    • I am not the author but I will put out there that we used glosite for both the website features and the rsvp functions. We also had paper invitations. It is a great system to set up. Yes, there are technophobes who don’t even have a computer and yet most people were able to figure it out. A lot depends on your crowd. I like that it lets me see who’s viewed our website and when. It also lets you download a spreadsheet so you can sort information. It’s really user friendly.

      • Sam2

        I am sure Glo is great (if only for the fact that APW recommends it). But we used (

        It is free, which I liked. It has quite a few design options to choose from. I was maybe not the absolute most easiest website template EVAR, but it totally worked for us. I got an email every time we got an RSVP. I did have to track down a few people (and some never responded to anything at all. grrr. But that is another issue entirely) I’m pretty sure I could get a spreadsheet out of the thing, but I already had a google doc going so I didn’t use that function.

        I’m not sure if it goes without saying or if I shouldn’t even put the link up, but please don’t use our personal information or pictures in any way, k?

        • Winny the Elephant

          SAME EXPERIENCE! Total frustration.

    • Annie

      I would also be interested in hearing the answer to this question. Our current plan is to use google docs, specifically google forms and include wording on the paper invite to RSVP at

      I think we can use one of the custom pages provided by our wedding website to link to our google form. The google form designs aren’t gorgeous but that’s not a very high priority for us, and it was easier for me to figure out than some other systems.

    • Alyssa M

      Sooo… we’re doing paper invitations (my parents were super weirded out by glosite’s online invites) and online RSVPs. I know it’s really unpopular here, but we made a theknot website because it was free and easy, and they actually have a built in RSVP page. I had to put all my guests names (though I left out any other info) in their guest list section, but in the test I did the RSVP function seemed pretty user friendly.

    • Winny the Elephant

      We did paper invites and online RSVPs. I used and it’s been awesome. Really functional and free!

    • mimi

      We used paper invites and GloSite for the RSVPs. It worked great for all but a couple great aunts who called me directly to RSVP.

  • Dawn


    It makes me happy that your mom made your dress.

    I particularly like your laid-back approach to the budget. I know some people are on very specific budgets, but sometimes, ,it’s not about the finamces but about the idea of a particular budget. A precise number doesn’t necessarily help!

    I took your approach on a much smaller non-budget. At first I felt guilty that I didn’t have a budget or didn’t know exactly what I had spent. But then I realized that I can’t always predict everyday expenses perfectly. So why should I expect myself to be able to guess the right budget to aim for with a wedding?

    • SamiSidewinder

      “It makes me happy that your mom made your dress.”

      It made both of us really happy too :) But also maybe a little crazy, esp since she is in the bay area and I am in Oregon. Fittings were quite the ordeal. But I wouldn’t have done it any other way. it was totally special.

      In reference to the budget, we were very VERY lucky to have parents that had the means and the ability to help out A LOT. I know that isn’t reality for everyone. But it took a lot of the stress away to have a loose number that we were shooting for. I tried to massage it down where I could, tried not to worry about it too when I couldn’t, and let it go if it was something that really meant something to us. And it helped that I’m a crafter anyway.

  • Beth R

    What a fun and lovely wedding! But oh man, the dog thing! The morning of my sister-in-laws wedding, one of her dogs ended up with a twisted stomach and she and her dad had to drive an hour to the nearest vet so the dog could have surgery. She got back just in time to take a shower and run to the ceremony. Her hair was still wet when she got there even! It did not ruin their wedding and I’m glad it didn’t ruin yours either. But c’mon, dogs, get your acts together! (Oh, and the dog was fine btw.)

  • LaikaCatMeow

    Oh wow. I run a record label, and both my Mr. and I are super into music, the local scene, etc. We’ve discussed having a mini-concert for our wedding — but since we both are planning on paying for the wedding on our own with no financial contributions from family, seeing this number now has me reconsidering our grand idea. Mr. is an artist, so we don’t have that kind of disposable income.

    Sigh. Eloping looks more and more like what we have to do. Weddings are truly for the very wealthy these days. :(

    • SamiSidewinder

      If you can find a local, cheaper band that is willing to run their own sound and you don’t rent a stage, it might totally still be in your range! We didn’t even pay Andrew’s band (they wouldn’t have taken it) and I think we paid our opener like $200-300. They are good friends of Andrews and tried to not even take that much. And they even learned ‘our’ song for our first dance. Also, if they are local you won’t have to do the hotel room rider like we did.

  • Alyssa M

    I lovelovelove this. It really fits with the throw a bigger fancier version of the parties you enjoy in real life idea!

  • Winny the Elephant

    What a beautiful story!