A Magical All-Inclusive Muir Beach Wedding For $13K

What happens when you let someone else worry about the details

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Jamie, librarian & Molly, records manager

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Coastal California garden party at a quaint bed and breakfast.

Planned budget: Around $10,000

Actual budget: $13,075 (including our two day honeymoon on Stinson Beach)

Number of guests: 37

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Where we allocated the most funds:

The venue, food, and wine were definitely the most expensive part of our wedding. It’s hard to tease out costs of things like linens and chairs, because it was all included in the cost of the venue, as was catering, staffing, etc. That was great for us, because we really weren’t into planning those kinds of details and loved having an event coordinator to take care of it for us.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

We spent the least on our hair, makeup, and clothes. Jamie did everyone’s makeup (including Molly’s and her own), and the bridesmaid dresses were rented.

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What was totally worth it:

The photographer and the band. Those were our biggest expenses outside of the venue, but they made the wedding so beautiful and memorable. The band was a really fun two-person swing band, which was the perfect size for our little venue—everyone loved them and they were great sports when our aunts convinced them to play “Hava Nagila.” Our photographer, Luke, was this incredible calming presence in the midst of our hectic planning. We felt instantly comfortable when we first met him and that continued throughout the planning process, wedding, and weeks afterward. He has a background in landscape photography, so we knew he would be a perfect choice to photograph a wedding in an area with so many gorgeous views, and we were right.

Also, Jamie’s parents rented a large house near the venue where we had a rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch. It was wonderful to have a central but private place where everyone could assemble.

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What was totally not worth it:

We stressed out too much! Everyone says this, and it’s true. It’s not worth it to keep yourself up at night on a carousel of anxiety about cupcake flavors.

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A few things that helped us along the way:

Our parents helped a lot. They were really supportive and kept us grounded during the planning process. The event coordinator at our venue, Andrea, was also helpful and very laid back. They have a lot of weddings there, so it was a relief to be able to talk to someone who had a lot of experience. We also read some wedding blogs (including APW!) and thought those were helpful in representing the diversity of weddings. You really can do whatever you want.

Jamie’s childhood best friend and bridesmaid has worked as a professional florist and offered to do the flowers as a wedding gift. We wanted the bouquets to include plants native to Northern California, and she was amazing about creating exactly what we envisioned. The bouquets and boutonnières were doubly sentimental to us because they were arranged by an old friend, so after our wedding, we dried them. They are gorgeous decor and we’ll always treasure them.

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My best practical advice for my planning self:

Be honest about what you want, book vendors early, and don’t buy into the hype.


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  • JLily

    Maybe not worth the stress, but those cupcake flavors sound so good! What a beautiful couple :)

  • Katherine

    So many gorgeous details, but Dad’s tie is everything.

  • It all looks so dreamy and lovely!

  • Pingback: A Small and Magical LGBTQ Muir Beach Wedding For $13K | Wedding Adviser()

  • Leah

    Such a gorgeous setting, and such gorgeously happy smiles!

  • Pingback: A Small and Magical LGBTQ Muir Beach Wedding For $13K – Jewelry Finder 4 U()

  • Hannah

    I grew up in the Bay Area and the Pelican Inn is one of my favorite places – such a beautiful, magical place!

  • Colleen

    I’m sure it was done for SEO purposes, but it bothers me to see this beautiful wedding announced as an LGBT wedding. I don’t know anything about Molly and Jaime, but I highly doubt they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual AND transgender. Let’s honor folks’ identities and lives by identifying the specifics about them that make them so magical, and not lumping one experience in with hugely diverse set of experiences.

    I’m also not a marketer, but I feel like when people are looking for weddings like them, they search “bisexual wedding” or “wedding with black bride”. I would say that when I’m looking for vendors I’d feel comfortable with, I’d search “LGBT vendor”, and I’d speculate that folks would also search for “PoC friendly vendor”.

  • Sarah Porter

    I love that the budget included your honeymoon- I feel like that’s something people often include in a budget, and it’s not often mentioned. I also love that indoor/outdoor dining space- seriously the flowering vines?! We all wish we could have spaces like that in Vermont.

  • Jo March

    This is a really beautiful wedding but as a queer woman i notice it falls into a trend I see a lot where the focus of the photos seems to be on one of the brides (generally the one who presents more femme) rather than on both parts of the couple. Was this a photographer choice or the choice when submitting the photos to APW?
    I’ve made a mental note to tell my photographer not to do this at my wedding!

    • Jamie

      Hi, I’m the “femme” bride in these photos and just wanted to respond to this comment. It’s true that there are more portraits of me in these photos than of Molly, but that definitely was not related to decisions our photographer made and not representative of our wedding photos as a whole. Luke is amazing and captured so many gorgeous moments – we submit a selection to APW and they chose which they wanted to publish. I’m not sure about the decisions behind the choices, maybe people on this site are interested in dresses and relate more to those photos? While your point is generally valid, we are comfortable with the way we’re represented in this blog post and could not have found a more talented, supportive, compassionate photographer.