sahara, Digital asset manager & andre, sales engineer
sum-up of the wedding vibe: A quote from someone in reference to our wedding: “I heard the Golden Globes happened in Seattle last weekend.” Everyone brought their A game.
Planned Budget: $10,000
Actual Budget: $22,000 (Plus gifts and industry discounts)
Number of Guests: 85
Location: Studio G | Seattle, Washington
Photography: Jonas Seaman
Where we allocated the most funds:
Two things that we are passionate about in life: food and photography. So, our caterer and our photographer took top priority. It was important to both Andre and me that none of our guests had to work on our wedding day (well—mostly none, I’ll get to that later). That being said, this brought our food budget up significantly because we opted to have a seated, family-style dinner with long tables. Andre is from a Hispanic background, and mine is Italian, so having everyone at the table, talking, eating, and passing food as one big family was very important to us.
And of course—the wedding photography. These images are priceless and irreplaceable. I cannot stress enough how important it was to allocate a good chunk of our budget towards this. The day goes by so fast; we blinked and it was over. Now we can re-live it as often as we want thanks to Jonas and Mary’s amazing skills. We bought all of our booze at BevMo!, but hired a bartender to create our custom cocktails. We made sure not to skimp on the liquor and got the good stuff: we are cocktail lovers and wanted to make sure our friends and family got the best.
Where we allocated the least funds:
The venue. This is where it gets real. I feel nothing but grateful and fortunate in this area. I am already in the wedding industry and the photo industry, so I had a vision of what I wanted. And the owners of Studio G (where I freelance studio manage), Jim and Katarina Garner were gracious enough to loan me the space for free for the ceremony, as well as clear it out and give it a fresh coat of paint before we started loading in (something I wasn’t expecting and had me in tears). I’m also so fortunate to have people in my life who work in the industry; this is something I feel is important to mention. A very dear friend of mine is a wedding-photographer-turned-amazing-florist/coordinator: Cozbi of CJP&CO. I really owe all of the execution and planning to her. She took all of my details, made sense of them, made them better, and made them happen. Her service was gifted to us (for which I am eternally grateful) but we did pay for the florals and for help for her. One of my best friends and former assistants is also now a producer/floral assistant, and also assisted Cozbi in many of the planning aspects. Additionally, a few other friends came and pitched in on the day before and day of to pull it all together.
For the reception, I used Peerspace and found a loft a few blocks away that matched the Studio G space perfectly and had an amazing kitchen. I was able to book this for a very reasonable hourly rate. However, if I didn’t work the industry and have some knowledge of the ins and outs, I’m not sure that I would suggest going this route at all—at least, not without hiring a wedding planner who knew exactly what they were doing. Also, we set up four people with Uber accounts on their phones to shuttle our 85 guests from one venue to another. It sounds crazy, but was actually way cheaper than hiring a bus for two hours.
What was totally worth it:
#1: Table Catering Co. Worth. It. Brooke is so amazing. They are a smaller company and newer to Seattle, and right away I felt comfortable with them. #2: Paying for hair and makeup. Yes, we can all do it ourselves—but just being able to relax and have it done for me was worth every penny. #3: Working with The Dress Theory to customize something for me. I’m a petite full ( I’ve learned this term in the past few months), meaning that I am very curvy, but I’m just slightly too small for plus size clothing/dresses (almost a seven-inch difference between my bust and my waist). I was feeling totally hopeless in the wedding dress department until they helped me concoct a dress out of thin air. #4: And of course, Moon, my seamstress at Cinderella Tailors. I chose to outsource my alterations to a local little shop, and I don’t regret it at all. It saved money and she was amazing. #5: We planned the whole party in less than seven months: totally worth it. It gave us time to only focus on the important parts without adding too many bells and whistles.
What was totally not worth it:
Stressing. It’s inevitable, but—stressing the guest list, stressing about things getting done correctly, micromanaging. I was my own worst enemy. Oh, and letting your family pressure you into inviting people you don’t want at your wedding. Don’t listen to that. The people who mind don’t matter, and the people that matter don’t mind. Ya dig? That should be the mantra.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Solid friends who I don’t deserve but am so thankful for. Cozbi. Cozbi. Cozbi. Did I mention Cozbi? Being savvy and pricing out renting/hiring/vs buying certain things (such as tongs, jugs for water to go on all the tables, where to purchase alcohol, etc. etc.). Also, Andre and I had a master spreadsheet/budget tracker. It contained our vendors/rentals/venues, etc. and payment schedule, as well as a breakdown of who paid what. We were able to make a pie chart and stay on top of things. It also helped with communication—he didn’t feel so in the dark because he would get a weekly update on the budget that he could look over in private and then discuss with me.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Slow down, take a deep breath, and remember to have date nights with your S/O without bringing up the wedding—at. all. It will preserve what’s left of your sanity and help you not to be totally consumed in planning. Remember, you’re entering a marriage. The wedding is just one day. The marriage is the most important part—listen to your partner and put time and effort into your relationship. It doesn’t stop for party planning. Also, make sure you get along with your vendors. They’re on your team and you will be working closely with them.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
Dinner! I had all of my most important people in one place, and it was so heartwarming to hear all of their voices buzzing in the room.
REGISTER. Listen to me. Do it. I didn’t want to and am so glad my best friend convinced me. Otherwise, people will buy you things you don’t need anyways. You can set up a honeymoon fund through Zola if you want; we did this and it was great. Also—if you are savvy enough and can use points from credit cards to cover wedding expenses (and pay them off promptly, because those interest rates will kill you), your honeymoon can be done on points. We did this and it was lovely. Also, feed your vendors the good stuff. They’re working hard. Add gratuity for your catering team. They work hard too.