How We Pulled off an Unconventional $12K Hollywood Wedding

Hint: It definitely has something to do with a blue wedding dress, a hardware store, and a macaron cake

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Lesley Logan (ll), Pilates instructor & Brad Crowell (crow), Operations

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: An eccentric Hollywood wedding at an art gallery connected to a hardware store, bringing two lovers, two families, and lots of friends together with curated cuisine, live music, and unrestrained laughter and dancing.

Planned budget: $10,000

Actual budget: $12,000

Number of guests: 75

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Where we allocated the most funds:

LL: The food and photographer cost the most. The food was sensational. I have several food allergies, and our chef cooked such amazing food there was a crowd around him. We were lucky that many of our guests (closest friends) are all talented people. Their gifts were sharing one of their many gifts. Our DJ was one of Brad’s bandmates, and the live band was made up of three friends who happen to be professional musicians! My professor from college married us. My makeup was done by celebrity stylist Kristi Streicher—a gift from her as my client and dear friend. We were able to let our friends shine in their strengths and truly make the party magical.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Invitations and flowers.

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What was totally worth it:

CROW: Stepping entirely away from the concept of the “traditional” wedding. While it wasn’t a vehemently intentional nonconformism, the standard choose-a-color-theme-for-the-napkins approach just didn’t appeal to either of us. And, it made for a very fun and creative brainstorming and planning process, before executing the plan ourselves. There was something very special about seeing my fiancé in action, especially since she operates very differently than I do.

LL: Aside from the wine, everything! I truly loved the special touches we had along the way. We had Hangover Kits with a temporary tattoo replica of the one that Brad and I both have for guests to enjoy. The macarons were also worth their $2ish/cookie price. Not only did they bring more color to the wedding but they were enjoyed and also available in little “Crow&LL” take out boxes.

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What was totally not worth it:

CROW: Honestly, there wasn’t too much “fat” to trim from our wedding. We skipped the sit down dinner, seating charts, wedding parties, and typical photography. Although, apparently nobody drinks wine or gin… We should have just bought more whiskey and beer! Our friend offered us their house for the weekend. We should have taken them up on that instead of finding a hotel. The hotel absolutely didn’t fit the rest of the vibe of the party, so it felt very foreign.

LL: The wine! We should have just bought more whiskey and beer!

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A few things that helped us along the way:

CROW: Learning how to say to anyone and everyone, “That’s such a great idea—we will definitely take that into consideration!” All suggestions were earnestly suggested and carried equal weight in our book, but at the end of the day it was our wedding, not theirs. Maybe their idea is amazing… for someone else’s wedding.

On the flip side, communicating our roadblocks with close friends—four brains are better than two. When our wedding venue fell through five weeks before our special day, one of those recommendations that we would “take into consideration” was absolutely the key to securing a new location before the week was even out!

LL: The APW book actually helped “save” the wedding. In the very beginning of planning we read it, and our biggest take away was what kind of “feeling” did we want our wedding to have. It was important to us that our wedding was a celebration of our love.

The mobile and web app Basecamp was integral to our planning. We only had four months to plan this wedding, and we were able to assign tasks and check things off without having to have discussions, calls, texts, frustrations. Everything was in the app, and we tell every newlywed to use it!

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My best practical advice for my planning self:

CROW: Selective delegation. Selective in two ways: 1) not everybody was allowed to participate—those participating were experts at what they did, and 2) those who were participating were only assigned ONE task. This meant we had more participants, but they could focus on nailing their part. Also, it allowed our friends to gift us in a way that was meaningful to them.

LL: It’s our wedding day! It should be fun!! It’s not anyone else’s. While they are coming, and I wanted them to have fun, I knew they would have the most fun if we were enjoying ourselves. Plan the wedding you want to look back and love. We do! I remember us sneaking off to our hotel room after and going back over the whole thing and truly loving all of it—even when we both realized we forgot the marriage license at home!

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Favorite thing about the wedding:

CROW: My family doesn’t live in Los Angeles, so getting to spend time with them in my city, and showing them the life that LL and I share together before the wedding was amazing. Then, seeing how our two families and friends came together to celebrate our union was very emotional for me. The support they showed us made it that much easier to revel in that special moment in time with my lover.

LL: When my groom surprised me singing his vows and our paper bouquet and boutonnière. They are souvenirs of our wedding that my grandmother made.

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Other Things:

CROW: The very first time we sat down to read the APW book, it talked about discussing the three most important things to me and the three most important things to her. We literally wrote them down, because we actually were exactly on the same page. They were: people, music, and food. Having that in mind, when our venue fell through, it wasn’t the end of the world. It was just something that had to change.

Also, each of the three things came with caveats:

  • People: We wanted to personally know everyone in attendance (even those who were “working” the wedding), unless our friend was engaged or married to said stranger. And, no. kids. period. The chef? A friend. Photographer? DJ/MC, band and officiant? All friends… You get the idea.
  • Music: The live band could play whatever they wanted outside of the ceremony, and we had a list of “thou shalt not play” for the DJ.
  • Food: We gave our chef full creative control, sans a specific list of allergies.

Finally, we gave the guests at least three months to plan their attendance, which came with only one rule: guests were required to wear black and white. Color? That was reserved for the bride and groom.

LL: After a courtship that can be traced by movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, we were engaged at Joshua Tree National Park while with twenty-plus friends. Then, we spent a few days there out of touch with the world before coming home to make our announcement. Everyone of course asked, “When?” assuming we would have a long engagement since we had only dated for nine months.

Wrong! We hijacked Brad’s parents’ vacation to LA and put our wedding at the end of it. That left us with literally four months to put together the whole wedding. Our friends began offering us their special talents.

We began planning what our dream wedding would be. Brad’s friend John texted instantly stating he would be cooking for us. Hairdressers and makeup artists gave their services as gifts. We told all our guests to book a hotel in Hollywood and take Uber everywhere. We didn’t want people drinking and driving, and there is no parking in LA anyways, so why rent a car?

We really had fun getting ready for our wedding. Several friends were involved. They rocked at what they brought. My best friend Clare is a wedding planner, and she was our “wedding coordinator” during the day of. My other best friend Stephanie kept me company all day while we were getting ready and doing a little shopping before the big “I do.”

We knew every single person at our wedding. We were surrounded by our friends and family, and it was amazing. They all followed our one request: No color! We asked our guests to only wear black, white or grey—we would be the only ones in color.

I have to give a huge thank you to my Groom. He will say, “We killed it.” I will say, “He freaking killed it!” There was so much on his plate the day of, the hours before. His band set ups and his operational strengths literally put this wedding together. He truly made this day happen for us.


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