How We: Had A Fun, Relaxed, And Joyful Arizona Wedding

Seriously, don't worry about the chairs.

Maureen, Chemical Engineer & Harley, Probation Officer

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: It was a fun, relaxed, amazing day, and we were completely surrounded by the love of our favorite people.

Planned Budget: $12,500

Actual Budget: $13,300 (Doesn’t include Maureen’s dress or Harley’s suit, which were gifts. The budget was $14,500 if you include those items.)

Number of Guests: 99 Invited, 72 Attended (76 people to feed including us and photographers)

Where we allocated the most funds

Catering (and alcohol) was 30% of the actual budget. Photography was 20% of the actual budget, as was the venue. The venue was a buy-out of a bed and breakfast for the weekend, so it also included accommodations for two nights for us and six guests. It was important to us to have delicious food, but we couldn’t afford a sit-down meal for the number of guests we wanted to have, so we opted for a cocktail party. Best. Decision. Ever. It allowed us to have the wedding at our venue of choice (which couldn’t have accommodated a sit-down meal for eighty) and it made it so all our guests were interacting with each other.

Where we allocated the least funds

For flowers, I fell in love with Billy Balls (craspedia) and found a great source for dried ones. This had numerous benefits… they were cheap, could be assembled way ahead of time, and would last a long time, so they are now on display in my home (and the homes of several of my friends). About three hundred stems shipped for under $100. We used them in the centerpieces, bouquets, and boutonnières. The total for decorations was about $300. My mother made all of the fabric runners, and my maid of honor made the aisle decorations (and bouquets and boutonnières). We used iTunes for our playlist and it worked great, so $0 spent there.

What was totally worth it

Having the wedding in Arizona to make sure important family members would be able to attend. My dream of a wedding on the Oregon coast or in an orchard in the Columbia River Gorge would have made for some amazing photos, but having the people there was ultimately more important. Also, our desserts! The cakes and five different desserts were amazing. My only regret is we couldn’t really take very much of the leftovers on the plane.

What was totally not worth it

Worrying about chairs for our ceremony. There wasn’t room for seventy chairs in the courtyard, so we ended up having thirty chairs for immediate family and older guests, with everyone else standing during our short (about ten minute) ceremony. I spent so much time worrying that people would be upset about standing or confused or whatever, and I didn’t hear one word about it. It was wonderful to be completely surrounded by our loved ones during the ceremony, and people were able to see us and hear us perfectly.

A few things that helped us along the way

Harley’s dad and his wife took charge of organizing the vendors and setting up the rentals and decorations… we didn’t have to lift a finger. Our wedding would not have been nearly as beautiful without the help of my maid of honor, Carrie. She crafted her heart out in the months leading up to the wedding, and everything looked wonderful!

My best practical advice for my planning self

People are adults, and they can figure out for themselves if appetizers and desserts will be enough food for the evening, as long as you let them know what to expect. Obsessively checking will not magically affect the weather, so just let it go. Be sure to use way more sunscreen than you think is necessary on your pre-wedding hike so you don’t have tan lines in your strapless dress (fail).

Favorite thing about the wedding

Feeling all the love from our most important people. Having our friends that have never met become instant best friends. Saying our vows to each other. And Harley smashing cake in his best man’s face… that was fantastic.

Other Notes

It truly felt like there was wedding magic going on… from the perfect weather in Scottsdale (it has been a hundred degrees that time of year before), to Harley’s sister’s cat miraculously not destroying my dress despite vomiting on the garment bag and trying to climb up it the night before we left for the wedding. The wedding wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe posting a guard on the laptop running the playlist… the song my mother thought was hilarious to throw in? Not in the plan. The after party runs a super-close second to the actual wedding, and oh, how I wish our photographer had still been there to capture the parade of us and all our friends through Old Town on the way to the bar. Note to any after party goers… while the bouncer may decide ID is optional for the bride and groom, he will not be as lenient with the thirty friends trailing behind them!


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