Our $3K Mt Tamalpais Sunset Elopement

A sweet and simple celebration of love

Jose Pons Vega + Gao Nou Moua
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: “All day.” —Jose
Planned Budget: Below $5,000
Actual Budget: Around $3,000 excluding the wedding band and engagement ring
Number of Guests: 3 (Jose, Gao and our photographer)
Location: Mt Tamalpais and Muir Beach
Photographer: Vivian Chen

Where we allocated the most funds: Photography ($1500) and flowers ($360). Lily of the valley is seasonal and I could only find them on WholeBlossoms. I’ve never used WholeBlossoms before so I purchased the flowers and did a test run. The experience went well so I decided to buy from them again.

Where we allocated the least funds: Wedding dress ($99) and tux ($250), originally we rented the tux for around $160 but ended up buying it because we were too lazy to mail back the tux. And our Hmong outfits. Jose’s top was made by my mom, my outfit was a mix of family heirloom and recent purchases (hat and belt).

What was totally worth it: Everything! It was intimate and truly represented who we are as individuals and as a couple.

What was totally not worth it: The day of, Jose dropped me off to get my makeup done, and right before I got out of the car I told him: Do not go for a run, because I don’t want you to get into any accident. Fast forward two hours later, he picks me up and tells me he needs to tell me something, but to promise not to get mad. I agree and he says, “I know you said not to go running but I went running. And I fell and scraped my hands and knees.” Of course he was in pain the whole day.

A few things that helped us along the way: What really helped us throughout the day was knowing that at the end of it we’d get to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant!

My best practical advice for my planning self: Keep things simple. We’re planning this wedding for us, not for other people.

Favorite thing about the wedding: Jose: the first look. Gao: watching the sunset with Jose.


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