Her Face When He Starts Singing to Her? It’s the Best

Plus a sparkler shot that is the ultimate yessssss


Ayana and Vagner

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Annoyingly sappy and ridiculously joy-filled.

Planned budget: $25,000

Actual budget: $35,000

Number of guests: 160


Where we allocated the most funds:

We spent most of our money on food and alcohol, hands down. Our venue had a required caterer, which we were bummed about at first—but the food was divine. Neither Vagner nor I is a foodie, so we didn’t really care about having a high-quality dinner. It was definitely a fun choice to give our friends and family a gourmet dinner, though.

Our venue was also a hefty cost. We wanted to get married somewhere unique—no hotels or churches allowed. When we found the Museum of Fine Arts, we knew it was a perfect fit for us. Our guests were able to browse the galleries if they got tired of partying, which we loved.


Where we allocated the least funds:

We weren’t big on spending a ton of money on our outfits since they’d only be worn once. Vagner wore a rented tuxedo, and I bought my dress on sale. We’re so thrilled with our decisions—I may be biased, but I think we looked great!

We also didn’t have to spend very much money on our ceremony music and officiant, as we’re lucky enough to have talented friends who offered to sing and perform the wedding for us.

We couldn’t have done any of this without familial support! Our families were so gracious in doing everything they could to make sure our wedding was a dreamy one. We were so blessed by their financial gifts throughout the planning process.


What was totally worth it:

Photo and video, without a doubt. We knew going in that we wouldn’t compromise on getting high-quality pictures and video to remember the day by, mainly because we have so many friends who regret being too frugal with photography and not getting the photos they were hoping for. That’s the one cost I never doubted. (Photo cost us about $3,000, while video was around $2,000.)

We also had a big bridal party—ten bridesmaids and nine groomsmen. NO REGRETS. “The more, the merrier” definitely proved true for us.


What was totally not worth it:

If we could do it again, I’m not sure we’d go for floral centerpieces. Although we got a ton of compliments on them and the arrangements were all beautiful, it added a lot to our budget.


A few things that helped us along the way:

We had a fifteen-month engagement, which I think was a huge help. I admire friends who have six-month engagements because I think I’d lose it! Having time to find vendors and not caving under pressure saved us a lot of headaches. My parents were also uber involved in the nitty-gritty details of planning, so when I was too exhausted to even think about picking tablecloth colors, I delegated to them.


My best practical advice for my planning self:

At the end of the day, you get to marry the guy you’ve been in love with since your junior year of high school. Even if absolutely everything goes wrong, it’ll still be the best day EVER. Take a deep breath and think about the big picture. Also, get off Pinterest because you’re obsessing over perfection instead of thinking about ways to make the wedding uniquely YOU.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

It’s a tie between sharing our vows with each other and our reception. We chose to write our own vows and ended up weeping by the end of that portion of the ceremony, and it was seriously emotional as we talked about the love we feel for each other. Our guests told us they couldn’t stop crying, either!

Our reception was just ridiculous fun. Neither of us left the dance floor, and we were sweaty by the end. We were a little worried about having so many friend groups in the same place and whether people would mesh, but it was basically one big mosh pit.


Anything else To Share:

One of the most special moments was right after our first look. Vagner wrote me an original song and surprised me with it. The funny thing is that we were near a public sidewalk as he sang and dozens of people stopped to listen, but it felt like it was just the two of us. In that moment, there was no one else in the world but him and me.

Sometimes, I look back at our wedding and think about how wild it was that it took fifteen months and so much money to come together, but I don’t regret any part of it. I don’t ever want to plan a wedding again, but I’m so happy with how ours turned out.


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