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This $10K Blended Family Wedding in Oakland Will Make You Cry

Trees, Kids, Tacos

Jenny, Teacher & Chris, Marketing

sum-up of the wedding vibe: A love-filled afternoon amongst the redwoods with family, friends, and tacos.

Planned Budget: $10,000
Actual Budget: $9,899
Number of Guests: 80
Location: Roberts Regional Recreation Area | Oakland, California
Photography: From SF With Love

Where we allocated the most funds:

Catering. A friend, Oscar, makes the most amazing tacos. We knew tacos in the redwoods was the way we wanted to go, and it was so worth it. We wanted the meal to be casual and delicious, and Oscar made sure everyone had plenty to eat.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Venue. We had our wedding in a regional park that we love to visit. Now every time we go up there, we get to revisit our special day. My dress and accessories were a gift from my mom, and our talented friends provided the music for our ceremony. We also had friends help with set up and break down, and everyone served themselves food and drinks, so we didn’t hire any staff. We also didn’t spend a lot on decorations. I ordered our tablecloths from Bed Bath and Beyond and made all our wedding signage, and Chris designed our wine glass favors and made our wedding arch. We ordered lights from Amazon, and we received our beautiful aisle runner as a gift from the (rug-shop-owning) family of one of my students. Besides that, we let the beauty of the surroundings and our florist, Natalie, take care of the rest.

What was totally worth it:

Doing things the way we wanted. We kept everything really simple, and left out a lot of the traditional “wedding things.” Our only wedding party was Chris’s kids, we had a friend as our officiant, and we didn’t have assigned seating at our reception. We didn’t do a first dance, bouquet toss, garter toss, or father/daughter and mother/son dances. We didn’t even have a DJ, we just made a Spotify playlist. We had some people raise their eyebrows at us along the way, but we stuck with what we wanted and came out of it with a wedding that was true to us—right down to the cardboard cutout of our cat.

What was totally not worth it:

We created this “kid zone” that had games, handmade coloring books for our special day, and a DIY photo booth. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and making sure there were enough things for the kids to do. In the end, people used the photo booth, but no one really played the games. We could have had just the coloring books and that would have been fine. I also had planned to have a s’mores bar, so I spent many hours researching on Pinterest and shopping for the perfect trays. However, because we got married during fire season, we weren’t allowed to have any open flames. I was bummed at first, but we filled our dessert trays with Mexican wedding cookies from a local panadería and they were delicious (and probably less sticky).

A few things that helped us along the way:

Our friends really helped us. We are lucky to have some really talented friends, and we hired them when we could. We had friends serve as our officiants and musicians for our ceremony. The florist, Belle Flower, and caterer, Tacos Oscar, are also friends. Another friend connected us with a local winery, Urban Legend, and made sure we had delicious wine to serve.

We also asked for friends to help with set up and break down. (For this, creating detailed diagrams for set up gave me peace of mind.) Chris’s friends mostly did the set up and break down, and they did an amazing job. My best friend went to check on the site while we were still getting ready, and she called me, tearfully, to say how sweet it was to see so many friends carefully arranging glasses and chairs, hanging lights, and transforming a picnic area into a beautiful wedding site. My mom gifted us my dress and accessories and helped with some other expenses. And Amazon. A lot of our wedding magic and last-minute ideas came to life thanks to Amazon Prime.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know it’s cliché, but it’s so true. I was so worried about having champagne flutes for the toast, in addition to the wine glass favors we were using. I spent hours digging around the internet to find inexpensive, compostable champagne flutes. In the end, no one really needed champagne flutes—they were just happy to toast to us. Yes, details are important, but let the really little shit go.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Incorporating the kids into the ceremony. It was important to us to make them feel special and celebrate the beginning of our blended family. We shared family vows and had a tree-planting ceremony. We still have the tree in our house to remind us of our special day.

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