Our $35K Palm Springs Weekend Fiesta

A Spanish villa filled with love and bougainvillea

charlene, Marketing manager & randy, sous chef

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: We made Palm Springs our own weekend fiesta!

Planned budget: $32,000
Actual budget: $35,000
Number of guests: 127
LOCATION: Palm Springs, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

We allocated most of our funds toward the reception venue (food, open bar, and venue) alongside buying out the oldest bed and breakfast in Palm Springs, Casa Cody, for our friends and family the entire weekend. We knew our wedding would go by quickly, so we maximized time spent at the cutest, most historic property in the city.

Casa Cody was like a Spanish villa filled with beautiful bougainvillea, which served as an amazing backdrop for bridal pictures. It was also the location for our Friday daytime pool party and welcome fiesta, where we brought in garden lights and festive decor to pull together the fun ambiance. Buying out the property really made it worth it to host all of these events, because we brought our own food and beverages and made it easy for our guests to find lodging for the weekend.

For our ceremony, we came across Spencer’s Restaurant on APW’s feature in January 2015. During the site visit, we fell in love with the property’s landscape, views, and most importantly their food! The property was less than a mile from Casa Cody, so guests got to the reception easily. Some even opted to walk! We saved a ton going with a banquet facility rather than hosting our wedding at Casa Cody, after pricing out all of the rentals and catering fees for an outdoor reception. We selected Spencer’s for the convenience and most importantly, the air conditioning to ensure our guests were comfortable for a night full of live music and dancing.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Instead of stressing over florals and spending a ridiculous amount on flowers that just get tossed at the end of the night, we decided to go with a local grocery, who had an in-house florist and was also the preferred vendor for our wedding venue. We supplemented additional florals with flowers from Trader Joe’s and air plants we collected throughout the year.

Additionally, we DIYed all of the printed items (invites, program fans, menus, table numbers, signs) and all of the decor (escort card display, giveaway CDs, flower vases, gift bags, popcorn bar, etc.). Though we spent hours making all of the items, we saved a TON DIYing decor that would otherwise take us over budget if they were purchased from a wedding vendor.

What was totally worth it:

I will preface and say that one of our favorite elements of the wedding, was the live cover band, which was a gift to us from my mother-in-law. Our wedding entrance included my husband serenading me with the band, and our entire wedding party as his back-up dancers. My husband is an amazing musician, and I was a collegiate hip-hop dancer, so we got to fuse and showcase our personal interests to make for a memorable wedding entrance! Rather than doing a traditional first dance song, we opted for Justin Timberlake’s “That Girl” and grooved rather than slow danced to the band’s rendition of the song. Our friends and family loved the band, and we’re super thankful to have been gifted that as part of our wedding.

I also planned everything for the wedding leading up to it, but our month-of coordinator was also totally worth it! The stress that sometimes comes the month of your wedding was bearable with a planner to take over logistics such as the timeline, contract reviews, vendor meals, final head counts, etc. We were so fortunate that my maid-of-honor’s sister just started her wedding and event business, so we were able to afford her services as a last-minute decision to book a planner. Her service was one of the best investments of the weekend.

What was totally not worth it:

We ended up driving down (eight-hours, plus traffic), with a full van of DIY items, without anticipating how much space everything (including my ball gown dress), would take. In retrospect, we could have had all non-perishable items for the Friday pool party and welcome fiesta shipped or delivered directly to Casa Cody. The stress of managing this was overlooked, and we arrived late to Palm Springs. These are details of DIY destination weddings that I feel are sometimes overlooked. DIY elements equate to cost savings, but not time savings.

A few things that helped us along the way:

Apps like Google Docs and Trello helped us a ton along the way. I was able to find a wedding planning checklist on Trello, which was broken down month by month and gave us an idea of what to accomplish in the weeks leading up to the wedding. For example, the app would mention things like, “Send save the dates,” “Finalize venue selection,” or “Purchase wedding bands,” so we would not be rushed or overlook any important details. I shared this checklist with my husband and used the app as a way to help assign his tasks versus what I was accountable for while planning our wedding. Google Docs helped me collaborate with our planner and easily organize things like vendor contracts, budgets, guest lists, etc. into shareable folders. If you plan to organize most of the details for your wedding, I highly recommend you use these apps to stay organized!

My best practical advice for my planning self:

The best advice I received throughout the entire planning process was to take a private moment alone as a new couple. You’ll have moments like your first look, pictures, sharing your vows, your grand entrance, but those are all under the eyes of your friends and family. Someone specifically said, “Remember that moment, what you were feeling, and store it in your memory forever.” For me, it was when our photographer encouraged us to step out during the reception for the sunset. It was the one moment of the weekend where it was just us two, reflecting back on all the love we felt the entire weekend.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Opting for a wedding weekend versus just a wedding day was our favorite. We both loved that we had the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with almost all of our guests. We had multiple opportunities to do so: pool party, welcome fiesta, wedding day, and Sunday hanging out at Casa Cody. We were fortunate that a lot of guests stayed for at least two nights, so we maximized the time spent with everyone.

Other things we’d like to share:

My final piece of advice to couples planning their wedding is to prioritize what is most important to you and your partner. I found that when we decided on having a full weekend of wedding activities, narrowing down the location and budget became a breeze. With regards to the vendors we selected, we cut back on details we knew didn’t mean much to us and what we could get by without. We splurged on other things, like an open bar, good food, and good music, knowing this would be what our friends would remember the most (not the flowers on the table or how fancy our invites were). Your wedding is representative of who you are as a couple, so be sure to put equal weight in the decision-making process, rather than one person deciding everything. Also, make wedding planning fun! Try not to stress about the little things, grab a glass of wine, and don’t regret any decisions. Everything will come together as you dreamed it would be.


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