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Our Weekday Backyard Wedding in West Hollywood

An intimate celebration with face masks and togas

Ashlee + Stacey

One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: A last minute boho backyard ceremony with face masks, crowns and togas.

Planned Budget: 13,000

Actual Budget: 2,500

Number of Guests: 12

Location: West Hollywood, CA

Photographer: Kelly Balch

Where we allocated the most funds: The venue, which acted as the AirBnB for us and our guests, as well as the ceremony venue outside and reception dinner inside. We looked at a lot of houses and were actually denied by many due to the Covid pandemic. We want it to be honest in what we would be doing that weekend, and our final number of guests. In the end, our venue was perfect for the entire weekend, and actually allowed us extra time to preplan for the wedding day.

Where we allocated the least funds: Decorations. We found a venue that had a lot of lush greenery in the backyard, so in the end the arch was the focal point, and all other decorations were on the cake table or dinner table. That’s it! We even used glass Topo Chico bottles as our vases everywhere to represent the bride’s favorite drink.

What was totally worth it: Our photographer! We loved the way she made us feel as a same sex couple that wanted both traditional and intimate photos taken. She knew how to pose us that didn’t make us look like gal pals, and gave us direction the entire time.

We had done our research and knew Kelly Balch did beautiful work for LGBTQ couples. So when we couldn’t afford her for the whole day, we hired her for all we could afford… one hour. Best Hour Ever! We went to the city hall in Beverly Hills, CA which was completely empty thanks to the pandemic (another silver lining.) We were respectful of her time and had pre planned the shots we wanted.

The rest of the night, people took iPhone photos and it worked out just fine! In the end we don’t miss photos of people talking and eating, and are happy to have the more special photos of us!

What was totally not worth it: Party Favors. It was a Covid wedding, so we handed out face masks, and personalized hand sanitizers. In the end we were left with a lot of them, but are still happy they tied into our theme.

A few things that helped us along the way: Our attire. Having a wedding dress donated to Ashlee was such a big help! By having the creative constraint of Covid, we couldn’t go to fancy shops and spend a lot of money. Blessing in disguise! By piecing things together and making things ourselves, we spent under $400 for both our wedding outfits and absolutely loved them!

And because our venue limited the number of people we were allowed to have that day, we opted to eliminate on a DJ, dancing, and traditional first dances. We simply had an Alexa playing our favorite stations throughout the night and it worked out just fine! It also gives us something to look forward to in a later reception that this intimate ceremony couldn’t accommodate for reasons we all understood.

My best practical advice for my planning self: Be choosy where you allocate the money! Against the advise of others, Ashlee chose not to have her hair done and do it herself which ended up being just fine, and saving a lot of money. On the flip side, she did opt to get her makeup done, which gave her the special attention on her wedding day and made her feel beautiful!

Favorite thing about the wedding: Making our own arch! We couldn’t rent one due to the pandemic, so we opted to build one that we could put together on site. We scoured Pinterest, watched some Youtube vids, and got to work… we were off work anyways so it gave us the perfect project.

The day before the wedding, we bought $100 worth of flowers and pampas grass to put on the arch and dinner table. In the end, it was our favorite thing! The best part? Ashlee’s mom got ordained last minute so she could marry us, under the arch.

Anything else: Instead of getting down about our situation, we regrouped and it actually was a bonding experience.

If it weren’t for the pandemic, we wouldn’t have had to relook at everything all over again and ask ourselves what was really important. From the venue to the food to the guest list. Though we could only have our 12 immediate family and friends there, we had a zoom call set up where more friends and family joined us which made it different and special.

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