Zoetica, Fine artist, illustrator, photographer, and graphic designer & Gašper, mathematician masquerading as an engineer
PLANNED BUDGET: Under $7,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: Under $7,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 28
WHERE WE ALLOCATED THE MOST FUNDS
Flowers, food, plane tickets, and photographers.
The flowers were a fragrant, surreal masterpiece. My art primarily focuses on otherworldly botanical illustration, so this was a direct extension of my work. Marjan Lovšin, an innovative visionary local florist, conjured our fantasy botanical wonderland, bursting with fresh flowers, carnivorous plants, juicy berries and fluffy moss. The array was based upon a highly specific Pinterest board I constructed and G’s mother transmitted. We’re told Marjan was so inspired by our vision, that he traveled to the Netherlands to pick up some of the exotic greenery included in the array—largely planted, not cut. Most of the berries came from a local blueberry farm, as well as G’s grandfather’s garden. Marjan also provided fresh trees for our Enchanted Forest photo booth, which we requested verrry last-minute, the day before the party. We couldn’t be happier with his work and recommend him highly.
We found a hotel in Ljubljana’s historic city center that could accommodate our small wedding reception; a sleek, modern place with a rooftop patio beneath the Ljubljana Castle, where we were married the previous year.
Food and drinks were a top priority because we both love good food and couldn’t imagine spending so much time preparing a party, only to skimp on something we both like so much. In fact, one of the main reasons we chose Vander Hotel as our venue, besides is futuristic decor, was the fact that its restaurant is renowned even among the locals. The in-house French chef, Benjamin Launay, serves a mix of Continental and Slovenian cuisine, specializing in French-Slovenian fusion—our path was clear here. And, though the food and drinks were lavish, the venue itself was free—another benefit of hosting in a hotel, in addition to the fact that we were able to stay in a suite on-site (this wasn’t free. Also: padded walls and see-though bathrooms = bonus), meaning constant access to the venue before the party and being able to fall asleep in a fancy bed after.
Plane tickets are an inevitable part of an overseas wedding. We bought them as far in advance as we could, which was around six months prior to the party. It still stung, but was an inevitable reality.
We hired two photographers because, even though we had no interest in traditional group photos, we wanted both a photo booth and a roaming ambiance photographer. Our Enchanted Forest photo booth took shape over two-months-worth of email discussion between myself and Primož Lukežič. There were sketches, and mockups, and prop acquisition, and the physical measuring of available space—it was quite the undertaking. Fortunately, I have a background in photography and experience creating photo booths, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. Primož specializes in portrait photography, notably for Slovenia’s national theater, and is great at getting fun expressions and poses from his subjects. The photos turned out just as we hoped! He even provided a gorgeous absinthe fountain as one of our props, and his girlfriend built a twig frame, which was ready to be decorated with moss by the time we were ready to set up.
WHERE WE ALLOCATED THE LEAST FUNDS
Photo booth props, entertainments, dress, menus, and party programs.
I adore memorable, once-in-a-lifetime parties, but have never thought much of dumping tons of cash into weddings, so our mission was to make it all happen within the realm of fiscal reason. We knew right away we didn’t want a DJ and ensured our venue had a decent sound system. We like pair dancing, so our Spotify playlist is tailored to that, mostly 1920s to 1950s stuff with a dash of dreampop and silliness for good measure.
To keep guests entertained between dinner courses, we asked them to fill out a custom guestbook from guestbookstore.com and put on an instant photo contest—between the two, plus two speeches delivered, respectively, by my mother and G’s father, it was entertainment enough.
My dress was made to measure for around $400 by Silvia Bours, all of whose dresses are the epitome of magical. I didn’t want something to wear just once, so I chose black and short; it’s the perfect party dress, which I expect to wear again as soon as a worthy occasion presents itself. I did my own hair and makeup, and bought two pairs of shoes—the first I barely managed in through cocktail hour, and the other I danced in all night.
We decided against formal invitations, in part because there were logistical discussions to consider for guests coming from overseas, and stuck to email, springing, instead, for menus, place cards, custom drink lists (we invented our own names for the night’s potions) and party programs—all of which we got at Wedding Paper Divas, after considering multiple options, including letterpess and other such fanciness. We love the pearlescent paper finish WPD offers, and found a sleek design to complement our dining arrangements. The place cards were inscribed by a professional calligrapher, which added to their charm—most of the guests kept theirs, they were so beautiful.
We already owned most of the props used in our photo booth—tank helmets, a tiara, Thai brass finger claws, dyed ostrich feathers, a kabuki mask, a skull mask, Soviet-era tank goggles… All fun to travel with and imagine what customs agents might think upon inspection. We used a beautiful vintage tray accented with chalkboard paint to have guests inscribe advice on and bought a perfectly organic-looking fairy crown on Etsy, along with several bags of moss for decorating our photo booth frame and aforementioned crown.
WHAT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT
WHAT WAS TOTALLY NOT WORTH IT
We were fairly frugal to begin with and just about everything in Slovenia is more affordable than in the States, so all worked out.
A FEW THINGS THAT HELPED US ALONG THE WAY
One: Amazon and their two-day shipping, which allowed us to get last-minute items we were missing. Two: Model Mayhem, believe it or not, for helping me find our photographers. Three: The Internet, in general.
As for people who helped, Gašper’s friends, Aljaž and Marko, checked out the location for us, his parents, Tanja and Branko, helped us with the flowers and photographers, his brother, Uroš, was a great best man, and my mother, Julia, helped with our hotel suite so we could arrange everything in relative peace.
MY BEST PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR MY PLANNING SELF
If it’s important to you, get an official wardrobe monitor for the party, to ensure the flowers in your hair, your makeup, etc. stay intact, because you’ll be having too much fun to care.
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE WEDDING
The flora. I can’t overstate how incredible it was to see the hotel transformed this way—it was a waking dream. We’re actually shopping for a few more houseplants now because we’re so inspired by the experience. The incredible fresh scent permeated absolutely everything, there was even a tree in the elevator! The next day, when we came down to breakfast, most of the plants were still there, in the restaurant—a little bit of last night’s magic sticking around to challenge the sun.