Everything about This $27K Wedding Is Gorgeous, but OMG the Cake

You're invited to sunny, chill wedding under lemon trees


Kamala, manufacturing engineer & Chris, paralegal

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A relax SoCal wedding with bocce, a killer cake, and a gorgeous sunset.

Planned budget: Under $30,000

Actual budget: $27,000

Number of guests: 115


Where we allocated the most funds:

Catering and service! Our events and catering company was full service and had exclusive rights to our venue. This actually accounted for almost half(!) of our cost. I was terrified when we signed the contract because the number was so big relative to what I had wanted to spend. Because it was pretty inclusive (food, waitstaff, bar service, rentals, setup, tear down, etc.) it ended up being way more effective than if we had to figure out all those things separately on our own, especially from out of state.


Where we allocated the least funds:

Flowers, decor, and cake. We didn’t have a very specific idea in mind going in which was helpful, because it let us roll with whatever came up. My mom took the helm in the decor department, which included eating lots of cans of El Pato tomato sauce to make luminarias. Seriously, my folks put it on everything for a year. My mom’s co-workers even supported the cause by eating it and passing the empty cans along to mom. I received more than one video from my sister of my mom and her librarian coworkers with cans, hammers, and nails tapping away making the luminarias. We did have the bouquets and boutonnières made by a local flower stand, but centerpieces were put together by my mom and aunt. Any other non-floral decorations that we couldn’t supply by eating were borrowed or purchased secondhand. All the frames for the lotería table numbers were thrifted, as were the silver trays on the tables, and the empty Patron bottles were purchased from a bar. The papel picados were purchased from another bride who bought them and didn’t use them. The parasols saw their third wedding, as we purchased them from a bride who had done the same. We borrowed lace table runners from friends.

Our cake was an extremely, outrageously generous gift from my aunt who decorates cakes for a specialty cake shop. When she offered to make the cake, she asked us for a few pictures or ideas of what we liked. We sent her a few and told her to do as much or as little with it as she wanted with it since it was a gift, and we didn’t want it to be a huge burden. She went above and beyond any and all expectations. I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into what I would want my cake to look like, but we ended up with a cake more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.


What was totally worth it:

Hands down our APW vendors! Allie from Pop the Champagne was completely worth her weight in gold! She kept everything running smoothly, and we didn’t feel like we needed to worry about a thing. Plus she’s a total blast to hang out with! I definitely appreciated that she was game for pretty anything we came up with, and she was positively excellent in corralling the wedding party and family at the rehearsal and day of.

Melissa from Marble Rye Photography was awesome to work with. We met with her via Skype before we signed the contract, and actually brought her up to Seattle to take engagement pictures. We felt super comfortable with her immediately. We truly felt like she did an amazing job of capturing the day as a whole, from our first look, through the ceremony, and definitely the dance party after. Every time I look at my wedding pictures I get the warm and fuzzies.


A few things that helped us along the way:

My mother and my aunt. My aunt hauled butt putting together all the table arrangements day of, and I know she was with my mom most weekends leading up to the wedding helping her plan. This wedding would absolutely not have happened without them. They worked harder than anyone else involved in the wedding, and I can never thank them enough.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

When planning a wedding that’s out of state for half of the invitees, be prepared for a lot of people to wait until the last possible second to say no. Also it is totally okay to be sad about people not coming. We had quite a few friends and family who were so excited for us and told us upon receipt of their save the date that they would be absolutely be coming. Fast-forward to a week after RSVPs were due, and a lot of people’s tunes changed. We invited over 200 people and had about 115 in attendance. While we anticipated a lower attendance rate (only about 60 people were local to the wedding location), it ended up being much lower than we imagined for the out of towners, which was hard.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

All of it. We had a total blast at our wedding, more fun than I have ever had at another wedding. I have so many things that stand out in my head it’s impossible to pick just one. Having a jarocho band (that we have known for years, they used to perform with my dance group when I was a kid) play our ceremony music, having Chris’s favorite professor give a blessing, having a longtime family friend perform the wedding, our officiant purposely un-gendering much of the ceremony language as well as alternating order so Chris didn’t default to speaking first the whole time, getting married on bocce courts (one of Chris’s favorite pastimes), having my cousin give us two big thumbs up during our community vow when he was standing in the back wrangling kids during the ceremony, dancing with my dad to “Ça plane pour moi” for our father daughter dance, having a friend play “Sea of Love” for our first dance, having a bouquet and garter toss where we invited EVERYONE out on the floor regardless of gender or marital status, my aunt and uncle’s faces when we handed my aunt a bottle of tequila for catching the bouquet, seeing our grandmas boogie down on the dance floor—all of it rolls into this big incredible day.


Anything else to share:

When we did our tasting five months before the wedding, we asked our venue coordinator if there was a rain plan for the venue. She told us that the rain plan was to check the weather and if we thought that it might rain we needed to call the rental company and put a deposit ($$$) down for a tent. We didn’t think about it again after that. We figured it would be summertime in Southern California and in the middle of a five-hundred-year drought, there was just no way that it was going to rain. It rained! It ended up just sprinkling lightly on and off during dinner and dancing. I had a brief moment of panic when we were eating dinner and I thought to myself, “What if it starts really raining and everyone leaves?” but everyone was a very good sport about it. Those paper parasols we had bought to stave off the heat made their way out during dinner and on to the dance floor. Added bonus, because of the rain and clouds we got the prettiest sunset.


Featured Sponsored Content

Please read our comment policy before you comment.

The APW Store is Here

APW Wedding e-shop

go find all our favorites from around the internet, and our free planning tools

Shop Now
APW Wedding e-shop

Planning a wedding?

We have all the planning tools you need right now.

Budget spreadsheets, checklists, and more...

Get Your Free Planning Tools