Our $17K Intimate Wedding Weekend in Yosemite

A celebration in the mountains with our nearest and dearest

Alyssa, Media Sales Manager at APW + Trisha, Biomedical Equipment Database Manager
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: An intimate weekend with our (very) nearest and dearest in a place that feels like our version of church and home.
Planned Budget: $12,000
Actual Budget: $17,000 (And a whole bunch of free/gifted)
Number of Guests: 26 (including us)
Location: Yosemite National Park & Groveland, CA
Photographer: Melissa Habegger

Where we allocated the most funds: Photo and video… We knew from the very beginning that it was important to us to have the day recorded, to the max, because we knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have all of our favorite humans together.

A bunch of our family and friends stayed in the house that we rented, which made getting up super early to get ready extra special. I gave all my girlfriends cute robes from Z Supply, and absolutely beautiful bracelets from Gorjana—I picked out a different bracelet for each of the ladies. It was special to have something sweet for them that morning. Trisha got to wear her first custom suit from Indochino. Jude (our son) and Trisha’s dad and brother were outfitted in suits from our favorite suit rental team at Generation Tux.

Where we allocated the least funds: It’s hard to say because some of the least expensive elements in our budget were industry benefits/gifts… but outside that…We kept food and beverage costs pretty darn low, overall.

What was totally worth it: Housing all of our guests within 10 minutes of each other. It meant we got to spend an entire weekend with our people, instead of just part of one day. We had one AirBnB that fit most of our wedding party, another two within a few minutes for families with kids, and a few family members stayed at the Groveland Hotel nearby (10-out-of-10 recommend for your next Yosemite visit).

The little details. It’s one of those things that could go either way… you could stress yourself out and spend your budget on little things… but they can also make all the difference. Of course, our wedding would have been just as magical and special without the extras, but… we loved all the special details that we were able to have for ourselves and our guests. The ties, bowties, and pocket squares that everyone wore were made by Kind Design, and had a topographic map of the lake where we got engaged last year. Custom beverage cans from Eliqs were a fun surprise that made everyone smile, our welcome gift bags had all sorts of goodies like custom pins and face masks, and candles that we homemade.

We are also beyond grateful for the fact that we lucked out by picking a date in the midst of what felt like a ray of light in this pandemic nightmare… June and early July seemed to be the safest feeling of the last year and a half, and we just so happened to pick June 19 (which also would have been my late mother’s 60th birthday… there are no accidents, you know?)

What was totally not worth it: The stress we put ourselves through trying to: A. make it all perfect B. make everyone happy C. do what anyone else would want us to do. In the end, nothing is perfect, the people who matter most were beyond happy just to be there, and doing what we wanted is what made it so great. Here are some more details:

  • Our weekend happened to be a ‘heat bubble’ here in Northern California, meaning that even in the mountains, where we assumed it would be tepid, it was 90+ degrees by 9 am when we had our ceremony. It was so darn hot, y’all. It meant some changes to our plans and timeline. Changes that I sort of wish didn’t happen, but changes that ended up perfectly okay.
  • Due to COVID, we decided to have a very small wedding. So small, in fact, that we only invited our closest friends/family and had to leave out a lot of people who we love and care about. We broke etiquette rules by inviting married friends without their partners—that, and our limited family list proved to leave some folks with (totally valid) hurt feelings and forced us to have some very difficult conversations. While there is a part of us that wishes we could have had every single person we love by our side… we are also just so grateful for the exact group of humans we did have with us. The love and connection were palpable all weekend long, and our people bent over backward to help in all the little and big ways.
  • It turns out that when you tell people that you want to have a wedding ceremony at 8:30 am, an hour from where everyone is staying, you get some… ahem… interesting responses. While most people were generally agreeable, I could tell that didn’t excite most of our family and friends. But we knew that we were set on our date (it would have been my mom’s 60th birthday), and that meant a Saturday in summer in a very popular National Park… we had to beat the crowds. Well, it turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise on that very hot day. We did beat the crowds, and while we didn’t exactly beat the heat, I can’t imagine what it would have felt like at high noon.

So in your planning journey, just remember… nothing is perfect, you won’t please everyone (and you shouldn’t try), and do it your way. The people who love you the most will be with you 200% and in the end, you’ll be married to your person… and really that’s all that matters.

A few things that helped us along the way: The obvious answer to this is that I am in the wedding industry, and my history and knowledge of wedding planning were a huge help in the process—and I would say that’s true. I just asked, and Trisha agreed. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that I was able to tap into some partnerships with brands who made all the little wedding details even more special than we could have managed on our own.

But there is more than that… we were so lucky to have boundless love and support from some really key people. Family members and friends who took on projects, financial support gifts from really generous family, and a team of vendors and partners who went above and beyond— this all made the weekend extra special.

Oh, and communication. It turned out that my wedding industry professionalism became a little overbearing a few times in the process. Luckily my sweet wife made sure to let me know that I needed to slow down and include her in the process, and we were able to redirect. We talked a lot about our plans all throughout the process, and I think it was immensely helpful to make sure we didn’t lose our minds.

My best practical advice for my planning self: Follow the rules and guidelines that you’ve given to every other friend, client, and stranger on the internet—focus on you two, do what feels right for you, trust your gut, stay intensely organized.

Also, read this letter… every day if you have to. Print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

Favorite thing about the wedding: This feels like an impossible question to answer. We so loved having a small close-knit group of family and friends, and that we got to spend an entire weekend together.

A few favorite memories that will stick with us forever:

  • When we got to town on Friday, we were too early to check into our rental house. We headed to a local brewery in Groveland and had family meet us there. Halfway through dinner, my brother-in-law said he was going to check on the stuff in their truck (a big ‘bro-truck’ as he calls it, that we often poke fun at him about). A few minutes later, I looked up and saw his big ‘tough guy truck’, in this small mountain town, flying a huge rainbow flag. I cried right there at the table.
  • When we realized we were getting married in June, we knew we had to make our welcome party a PRIDE shindig. Trisha’s sweet aunt, Yvonne, took on the planning and she went above and beyond to make it special. Absolutely everything was Pride-themed, and we absolutely loved it! We rocked our Pride “Bride” shirts from Dash of Pride, and everyone else showed up in their best rainbow fits.
  • We asked friends and family to be involved in our ceremony in some really key ways. My cousin Nicole was our officiant, and she brought so much personality to it. My best friend since preschool, Danielle, is an energy healer. We asked her to do an ‘intention setting’ meditation at the beginning of the ceremony that brought tears to our eyes and made the whole group feel grounded and set in the shared space. This was such a special moment and made for some really sweet photos. And, we asked our son and nieces to do some readings that really knocked it out of the park. All these personal touches, from some of our very favorite people, meant the world to us.
  • As a blended family, we felt it was really important to include special moments for our son. In the early morning, I gave him a special gift and card reminding him that the wedding was as much about him as it was about us. We also had a special section of the ceremony for vows between Alyssa and Jude, and he was the one who said: “you can kiss your wife” at the end of the ceremony.
  • Our wedding day was one of the sweatiest days of our lives. That’s not exactly what one hopes for on their wedding day. But, immediately following our ceremony, many of our guests and I in my wedding dress, waded into the river. It felt so authentic and true to who we are as outdoorsy adventure people.
  • After our lunchtime reception, we walked next door to the Iron Door Saloon to toast to my parents who are both deceased. They loved a good dive bar, and this is a good one. They let us bring the kids in, gave us a backroom space, and we danced and sang and toasted.
  • Because of the heat, and just… the way the day went… we didn’t do our first dance at the hotel where we hosted lunch. Instead, we headed back to the AirBnB where most of our friends and family had changed into cozy clothes, and our son was in his swimsuit, and we danced right there on the porch. While it wasn’t ‘perfect’ and didn’t go with our timeline… it was so sweet and special.


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