sum-up of the wedding vibe: A rock show where a wedding took place.
Planned Budget: $50,000
Actual Budget: $49,000
Number of guests: 300
Where we allocated the most funds
Our priority was throwing the best party we possibly could for as many of our family and friends as possible. The majority of the budget was spent on the location, music, and food. If we could include a few more people by avoiding things like flowers or print invitations, we decided it was totally worth it.
Where we allocated the least funds
We had next to no decorations. Our venue is an iconic bar and music venue on the Jersey Shore, and it had plenty of personality on its own! Plus, we didn’t want to try to make this place into something it’s not with overly soft or romantic decor. We booked our wedding there because we liked what it was, as is—dirty floor and neon Bud Light signs and all! In general we skipped extras like flowers, print invitations (we used GreenVelope instead), favors, welcome bags, etc. If it took funds away from what we considered to be the foundational elements of the party, it wasn’t worth it.
What was totally worth it
In truth, I didn’t even want a wedding at first. Both of our mothers have passed away in recent years from cancer, and I felt like doing a traditional wedding would just magnify their absence that much more—as if it weren’t hard enough doing this without them already. But my husband, who had so many strong opinions about this whole affair, was right on when he insisted that we could throw out any and all so-called wedding “traditions” that didn’t feel our own. So we just planned the most personal and best party we could imagine!
Food and drink were served from the moment the doors opened and the band hit the stage immediately. Our wedding party was enormous (twenty-plus on each side), with an uneven mix of both men and women on both sides, and I skipped bridesmaid dresses all together. There was no procession, except me down the aisle with my dad and sister, holding a bouquet made up of our mothers’ favorite flowers (sunflowers and hydrangea). We wrote our own ceremony to be performed by a close friend, as well writing our own vows. And we toasted to our mothers right from the beginning to bring their presence into the room and replace any sadness with celebration.
The personal family touches continued from there: Mike’s eight-year-old niece made the wedding cake and his artist cousin topped it with an amazing one-of-a-kind, hand-made cake topper featuring a Star Wars-themed Mr. and Mrs. Greedo. Another cousin designed the card boxes herself, my aunt put together the last-minute bouquet, my sister provided the shoes, and Michael’s childhood friend even brought in branches from the woods of their hometown to serve as Chuppah poles over which my grandmother’s tablecloth was draped. This was a serious group effort!
What was totally not worth it
Trying to plan things WAY ahead of time, and thinking it was set in stone. We were engaged for a year and a half, so I dove right in. But with such a high rate of turnover, all my contacts changed over multiple times. I had to constantly re-book everything and re-explain who I was and what I was looking for. If you are doing things ahead of time, make sure to check in every few months and get a few contacts in the office just in case
A few things that helped us along the way
Our wedding planner had to pull out one week before the wedding due to an emergency. As we scrambled to get everything done ourselves in time, we had so much help from our family and friends. I mean, SO much help! Everyone instantly jumped into action right up to the wedding itself. Between our previous careers in television and music, our wedding party was quite literally a list of some of the best producers around, and they instantly had this event on lock down! We truly could not have pulled this off without them, and we’ll forever be grateful.
My best practical advice for my planning self
Don’t get caught up in what you think a wedding should be. Instead, ask yourself what you want it to be, what represents you and your partner, and what kind of experience you want your guests to have. Also, ask for help.
Favorite thing about the wedding
Having the wedding at a music venue really meant we had to put on a show! But the stage allowed our guests to really see us throughout the night and collectively experience the event as a group. We got married on stage (after getting engaged on stage a year and a half before!) and had a Bruce Springsteen tribute band entertain the night. In addition to being in his own band, my husband comes from an incredibly musical family, and when we gave the band a break to chow down on dinner, his family took over the stage (with me on cowbell!). From there, the night escalated. Soon my husband’s own band was on stage, along with every member past and present (counting maybe twenty people?!), while kids, husbands, and wives rushed the stage—it was bonkers. I think that’s the moment I totally lost it in the best way possible.
After over a decade of living in New York City, my husband and I moved down to North Carolina to run our own businesses a few months after getting engaged. This celebration was part wedding, part goodbye party (or see ya later party). So making it such a big, raucous, and fun affair was all we dreamed and more.