Chi, Architect & Milan, Software engineer
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: An innovative, vibrant, fun, DIY garden and dance party.
PLANNED BUDGET: $20,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: $18,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 90
Where we allocated the most funds
Our total biggest cost was the catering, but the per person cost for catering was actually quite low for the Seattle area. The things that we splurged on were the photography and venue, which were the next two highest costs.
Where we allocated the least funds
My wedding dress was the least expensive item of our wedding. I crocheted it on the bus during my commute with supplies that cost thirty dollars. I also saved money by making a lot of other things for the wedding, such as the bridesmaids’ dresses, bouquets, centerpieces, decorations, and all the stationery. And our per-person catering cost was on the lower end for Seattle.
What was totally worth it
Paying for a good venue and good photography was totally worth it. Different people have different values, but we thought that while the food would be eaten and gone, the photos will last forever. And of course having a beautiful venue makes for beautiful photos. Making all of the things for our wedding like the dresses and flowers were also totally worth it. Whatever we made or bought for our wedding, we made sure that it’s something we’ll use again (and often) after the wedding to get the most value out of money and effort.
What was totally not worth it
Paying for the room where we had our dinner was not worth it. The room was the highest cost of the venue rental, and it was also the least inspiring space. We should have had dinner outside. It was such a beautiful summer day that half our guests ended up wandering outside halfway through dinner anyway. The cutting cake we ordered from a wedding baker was not worth it considering we could have gotten a better one for less from a regular bakery or for free from my mother-in-law.
A few things that helped us along the way
One of the things I found most helpful for planning and executing our wedding was helping with a friend’s wedding before ours. There’s no better way to get firsthand experience than to practice on another wedding. I arranged all the flowers and helped set up the venue, which gave me an idea of how much time and effort would be required for mine. Having family and friends help with making the dessert, decorations, and setting up the venue was also extremely helpful. And of course, having a day-of coordinator was indispensable.
My best practical advice for my planning self
My best advice to my planning self would be to prioritize what is most important and necessary and what needs to be done now versus later. As the wedding day approached I had to keep asking myself—can the wedding go on without this thing that I’m going to make or buy? If it can, then it’s not necessary, and move on the next thing.
Favorite thing about the wedding
My favorite part of the wedding was the dance party following the reception. My husband and I dance salsa and first met while dancing, so we knew our wedding would include an awesome dance party. Not only was there salsa dancing, but a lot of other cultural dances such as Serbian kolo and Indian Banghra. The best parts were seeing how much fun our families and friends had dancing and to see my husband’s seventy-nine-year-old great-aunt dance with the speed, agility, and energy of a twenty-year-old!
I’m an architect, designer, and photographer, so I treated our wedding as a once-in-a-lifetime design project and thought about ways to make it beautiful, meaningful, practical, sustainable, and uniquely ours. Even though our wedding was not a super-low budget wedding for Seattle, we were able to use the savings from things we made ourselves to spend on more “luxury” like having a live string quartet and hiring a good photographer.