Sara, Immigration Lawyer & Jerry, Welder
sum-up of the wedding vibe: Welcoming and free-spirited celebration
Planned Budget: $10,000
Actual Budget: $10,859
Number of Guests: 78
Location: Private property, Northern California
photographer: Athena Kalindi
Where we allocated the most funds:
Our photographer, who was $3,500 but so worth it! She brought a second photographer and stayed all day. Next was catering, which was $2,500 and a steal for what we got: a kid’s table of fun but healthy snacks, an incredible grazing table, and a gorgeous farm-to-fork dinner. We had grass-fed beef and amazing vegan salads and spreads. Oh, and cookies and coffee too! And everything was tree-nut free because some of the kids have allergies.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We were gifted some incredible things: not one but two live bands (all our dear friends), an ice cream cart from my cousin’s Mexican market, a day-of organizer, a magical little homemade wedding cake, and all the beer was given to us by friends in the brewing industry. We also saved by having a Spotify playlist for the dance party, me doing my own hair and makeup, and of course the big one: having the event at our home instead of paying for a venue.
What was totally worth it:
I can’t say it enough times, our photographer was so worth it. I was very hesitant to spend that much money on photos and tempted to have a friend or friends do it for us. My husband and I are both squeamish about getting our pictures taken and thus have very few really nice photos of ourselves. We worked so hard on making the day really beautiful and unique and having stunning photos done by a true professional means we get to revisit the day any time we want and it looks as amazing as it did in real life.
What was totally not worth it:
Honestly, I can’t say there is anything I really regret spending money on, except maybe the first dress I bought and had altered. It ended up costing me $300 altogether and was totally not right. Then I found Dame and Maiden‘s gorgeous boho dresses on Etsy and I am so happy I did. It was still very reasonable as far as wedding dresses go, and completely special.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We were very fortunate to have an army of supportive family and friends who pitched in to clean up the meadow, rehearse our wedding parade march (in the rain and mud!), build the stage and the arch, set up the day before and the day of, and keep the mood full of joy, kindness, and fun even when things got stressful.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Keep a spreadsheet! If you plan to DIY the wedding as we did, really be thorough—and honest!—about tracking your spending. It will help you prioritize needs and wants when the urge to go crazy on Amazon hits you. Also, don’t be too proud to thrift as much as you can!
Favorite thing about the wedding:
It’s hard to pick just one thing, but probably the best thing for us was how the whole day totally represented our values and our wacky and creative vision: from the wedding processional parade (playing and singing “Home,” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), to the ceremony that was totally pagan and sciencey at the same time, to the happy kids running around eating too many popsicles. The entire thing felt honest and real and right.