Our $32K Wedding Was A ’90s Fever Dream

We are what’s wrong with millennials

Jess, Account executive & Richard, Graphic designer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A relaxed Downtown Los Angeles celebration with our favorite people, food, and ’90s jams.

Planned budget: $25,000
Actual budget: $32,000
Number of guests: 75
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

Two-thirds of our budget went to venue, food, and drinks. Millwick was perfect for us. We didn’t have to spend a lot of time or energy thinking of ways to decorate the space because it was already a beautiful jungle warehouse with magnetic walls and a giant projector screen. Richard made a two-hour-long fever dream of a video of looped clips from Newsies, Tampopo, and Bottle Rocket, and Jess had a lot of fun with magnets, a glue gun, and tiny party hats; otherwise, we didn’t have to add much. We spent thousands of dollars on pizza. This is what’s wrong with millennials. An open bar was non-negotiable for us. We had drinks available as soon as guests arrived, and the signature cocktails our bartender came up with were incredible.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Richard is a graphic designer, so he designed all of the paper goods (invitations, save the dates, table numbers, place cards, etc.), and we got it all printed at a small print shop located within walking distance from our apartment. We didn’t have to spend any money on the ceremony. Richard’s badass eighteen-year-old sister was our officiant, and she was perfect (and free!). We cobbled together a ceremony from examples we found online and made it short and sweet and true to us and our relationship. Stuff we skipped included, but was not limited to, videography, a bridal party, a champagne toast, transportation to and from the venue, a hotel room the night of our wedding. These things didn’t feel important to us, so we didn’t have them, and we didn’t really miss them.

What was totally worth it:

This answer could just be a PDF of all our invoices, but to single a few things out… Our photographer, Laura, captured the day so perfectly and was so great to work with. Pictures will help us remember the day, so we’re glad we have such awesome ones. Our day of coordinator, Falon, was invaluable. She took care of communicating the timeline to our vendors and made sure everything was set up according to plan. By the end of the last dance, the venue was cleaned up and our car was packed. We didn’t have to do anything, and it was nice to not have to ask any of our friends or family to do anything either. We were going to make a playlist and be our own DJ, but we’re into sad indie music and were getting nervous about keeping people dancing. We thought it might be better to hire a professional. We were right. Our DJ was great, and the peace of mind we got from not having to worry about taking care of the music ourselves was totally worth it.

What was totally not worth it:

Everything felt worth it in the end. We took APW’s very sage advice to prioritize the things we cared about the most, and we skipped the things we didn’t feel we wanted or needed. We don’t regret a single thing.

A few things that helped us along the way:

We couldn’t have done it without the very generous financial contributions from our parents. We had enough money to have everything we wanted. It also helped that we didn’t have any family members trying to impose their ideas of what a wedding should be. We were pretty free to do whatever weird things our hearts desired.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Do what you want, even if it’s unconventional or weird. Do you want to play ’90s alternative rock during your cocktail hour? DO IT. Do you want to have pizza instead of chicken/steak/fish? DO IT. Do you want to strategically place a bunch of cardboard cutouts of your cat around the venue? DO IT!! You do you!

If you need or want help, ask for help. Help comes in many forms: you can ask friends and family to donate their time or skills, you can hire additional vendors to take care of things you planned to do yourself, or you can find an awesome online community for support. You don’t have to do it alone. Planning a wedding can be terrible and stressful and isolating and the worst thing ever, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Spending uninterrupted quality time with each other, our friends, and our family under one roof! It was just such a fun day. But, to be more specific… Richard trying to imitate the choreography from Newsies with our friend; Jess doing the Twist from Pulp Fiction with her dad; how much of the day we spent laughing; taking most of the week before the wedding off from work and getting to spend tons of time with our friends who came from out of town; the strange, hilarious, touching speeches that Jess’s dad and Richard’s brother came up with; seeing everyone we love from different places and times in our lives come together and celebrate this huge event.

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