Allie + Arturo
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: Our wedding was a sentimental and intimate, rooftop micro-wedding with spectacular views.
Planned Budget: Our original 150 person wedding: $35,000
Actual Budget: Our COVID-19 wedding: $10,000
Number of Guests: 22
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Photographer: Lensy Michelle
Where we allocated the most funds: Prior to COVID, we planned a 150 person wedding in Florida, which we canceled six months before our original wedding date. Truthfully, we lost a lot in deposits from our canceled wedding. Most of our budget for our “back up” wedding was allocated toward the most important part of any celebration: food and alcohol. We didn’t have a catered or plated meal. We just made a reservation for 24 at the restaurant on the rooftop that we were married on. Everyone ordered whatever they wanted from the menu and put it on our tab. Even so, it only cost about $2,000 total. The second largest expense was photography which in my opinion is totally worth it. (To be continued in the “what was totally worth it” section.)
Where we allocated the least funds: The venue was discounted because we just borrowed the rooftop area for an hour between lunch and dinner times at the rooftop restaurant. We spent the least amount of money on decor and florals. In fact, we spent ZERO dollars on decor because we used the existing furniture on the rooftop and the hotel staff was gracious enough to arrange it to look like an aisle. I mean with views like that, who needs decor? I love florals, but didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg, especially because our ceremony was only twenty minutes long. I made my bouquet myself with flowers from Trader Joe’s which cost about $30 total. I also only used about a quarter of the flowers that I bought (I wanted a variety of flowers), so we had the leftovers in our apartment for weeks!
What was totally worth it: Professional photographers. We tried to DIY as much as we could for this wedding since it was so small. One thing we most certainly couldn’t do ourselves most was take and edit the beautiful pictures that Lindsey and her and assistant Jonathan took for us. We knew we would have these photos forever and wanted to choose artists who reflected who Arturo and I were as a couple. We found them on Instagram and instantly fell in love with how personal and real they are, which was also exemplified on our wedding day. Instead of posing us for cheesy shots, they would ask us to describe our first date, or tell them about when we fell in love. It created these raw and beautiful moments that when captured, really looked like us. Not the fake, Pinterest version of us. They also fit right in with our friends and family and really added to our day. Taking the time to research photographers and making sure they were a good fit was totally worth it.
Getting professional hair and makeup was also totally worth it. Initially, I had tossed around the idea of doing that myself, but on the day of, it was so nice to know I could just relax and be pampered, and that the result would be spectacular. My hair and makeup professionals were literal magicians and everything looked impeccable all day despite the river of happy tears that I shed. While I did a lot of research on DIY hair and makeup, I’m certain it would’ve been stressful and would’ve looked like a four year old did it. It was also a lot of fun to enjoy the getting ready process with my mom, mother in law and sister in law, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was worried about the wing on my eyeliner or the frizz in my hair.
What was totally not worth it: Planning a big wedding in the first place!
A few things that helped us along the way: Our friends and family were the biggest help along the way. Our parents supported us 100% financially and emotionally throughout the whole process of planning, canceling and planning again. They never made us feel pressured and just wanted us to be happy—and went to great lengths to be sure we got married this year! Our friends helped organize a meet and greet the day before the wedding and get ready for the big day. Arturo’s best man stepped in as my “man of honor” as well since my maid of honor couldn’t make it. He even went with me to get my nails done and get a wax. My girlfriends were my sounding board, my emotional support and my wedding planners all in one. They opened the Zoom for us before our ceremony, greeted all of our online guests and made sure the video was recording. Arturo’s sister wrote our ceremony and officiated the wedding which made it so incredibly special.
In terms of actual tools for planning, I used a template for a free wedding planner spreadsheet online which really helped me stay organized in planning, canceling and re-planning. We also found all of our new vendors on Instagram last minute. It was nice to be able to see their work and then contact them directly.
My best practical advice for my planning self: Don’t stress so much about trying to fit into a “theme” or fit the Instagram or Pinterest expectation. I ordered three veils. Three. Veils. Because I wasn’t sure if it fit our “theme”. Once we scrapped our original wedding plans and as we got closer to wedding day, I let go of the idea of everything having to fit into a box (like those quizzes you take online that tell you if you’re boho or industrial or fairytale or whatever). Because the reality is, we’re humans and don’t fit into a box. We’re unique, and our wedding should show it. Once I let go of this idea of finding and following a theme, and stopped worrying about if my romantic veil matched my modern dress, or that my jewelry was mixed metals—the wedding “theme” became us. We just started picking things because we liked them, and because it felt like us. And guess what? It came out just perfect. Because it was a reflection of who we are independently and as a couple. Not boho, not chic, not classic, not romantic – just us. So put down the magazine quizzes, planning self, and just pick the veil that you like the best.
Favorite thing about the wedding: Our favorite part about our wedding was that we were able to spend quality time with every single one of our guests, and with each other. In those joyous moments right after we said “I do”, our photographers gave us a few minutes alone to just soak up every second of that just married feeling. We admired the Boston skyline, hugged, kissed and laughed. It was as if nobody else in the world existed in that moment but us. We were so grateful that despite the pandemic, our parents and immediate families could come together in a safe way and celebrate our love.
We also loved the sentimental details of our wedding. My sister in law married us and wrote our ceremony in Spanish and English. I wore a bracelet that every woman on my mother-in-law’s side of the family has worn at her wedding for the last hundred years. My wedding band was made of stones from my mom and grandmother’s engagement ring. Arturo picked out his tie with his dad and his best man a few hours before the ceremony while they spent some quality time together. My dad walked me down the aisle to a song I played on the piano with him growing up, but the guitarist gave it a flamenco flair to reflect our engagement in Spain and Arturo’s Mexican and Spanish heritage. We had donuts for our dessert from a place we went to in our first few days living in Boston together. Every detail had so much meaning and made the day that much more special.
Anything else: COVID-19 gave us the greatest gift in the form of this wedding. The gift of simplicity and humility, and bringing life back to what matters. We of course missed celebrating with our friends and family, but I have to say, I can’t imagine how the big wedding we originally planned could’ve been more special than the one we had. The intimacy of our wedding highlighted to us what is truly important: Each other. And family. And friends who feel like family. And LOVE. We were able to spend quality time with every single one of our guests, and with each other! We ate our first meal together as a married couple, and then passed out donuts to each individual guest and talked to them, laughed with them, cheers-ed with them and thanked them. These are the memories we will cherish forever.
So yes, while a big wedding would have been a blast, this one definitely took the cake (literally because we had donuts instead). We got married in a city that we fell in love with together, where we started our careers and are building our home. We let go of all of the pressure and expectations. Instead of doing what we thought would be convenient and wonderful for everyone else, we had a day that was all about us. And thanks to Zoom Video, nobody missed a thing. How lucky are we that amidst a pandemic, we got married surrounded by our loved ones, near and far? COVID or not, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. For anyone reading this who is on the fence about scrapping a big wedding because of COVID, or just thinking about eloping in general – do it. You won’t regret it. We sure don’t.