Wes, salon owner (he’s meg’s stylist!) & Chris, business management
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A modern, lounge-y wedding in the heart of downtown San Francisco.
Planned budget: $35,000
Actual budget: $35,560
Number of guests: 105
Where we allocated the most funds:
The venue. We wanted to choose a venue that would allow us to limit the amount of vendors we would have to use and manage on the day of. So we dedicated approximately $25k to $27k of our budget to finding the perfect hotel, or maybe even a restaurant. Those types of venues usually include the cost of chairs, tables, serveware, service charges, catering, etc., in their packages. The more vendors you use, the more money you spend, and the more people you have to worry about coordinating with.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Décor. I consider myself pretty creative, with a good handful of super creative friends. We decided early on that a great way to cut costs would be to create and do our centerpieces ourselves. Wes and I aren’t super into flowers, so we purchased a bunch of dried willow branches, tall glass vases, and floating candles (all wholesale from the SF Flower Mart). A friend of mine helped me paint all the branches silver on his back patio the day before the wedding. All in all, we were able to pull off the centerpieces for ten guest tables and one kings table for less than $600 total. Many people will spend thousands on centerpieces and flowers.
We were also able to make use of the multimedia screen at our venue and used a website called ii.do, where people could use our hashtag on their Instagram posts, and that became our backdrop. Our guests were super into it, and it costs about $100. All you have to do is plug your laptop into the screen or projector. Luckily this worked for our wallet and the clean, sleek aesthetic we were going for.
What was totally worth it:
The W Hotel in San Francisco. The brand matched our aesthetic perfectly. Minimal yet bold with a real genuine city feel. Our package included food and beverage, service charges, tables, chairs, just about everything. We wanted to give ourselves and our guests a genuine San Francisco wedding experience that wasn’t set in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. We wanted people to feel the hustle and bustle of the West Coast concrete jungle, but also give them a lounge-y, cool, and current vibe as well. The wedding contact there is amazing—her name is Kelly We. Go see her immediately, if not sooner.
Including our love for pop culture was also a must. We decided to name the tables at our wedding after Britney and Mariah songs as a fun way to recognize our shared pop culture passion. Thankfully this was a huge hit with our guests. People were taking photos of the table names (instead of numbers, our tables were marked with phrases from Britney or Mariah songs) and getting excited about which diva’s song would be the name of their table. This set a fun tone for the rest of the night. Our first dance was to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” When I danced with my mother, we started with Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and finished off with Britney’s “Work Bitch.”
What was totally not worth it:
I can’t say there was anything not worth it.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We used Google Sheets for everything, and booked as much as far in advance as we could. That really helped us stick to our budget and know exactly the amount to put away every month to meet our goal.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Don’t overthink everything. Go with your gut. Don’t try and mimic things you’ve already seen. Remember this is about you and your partner, and the most important thing during your planning is creating an environment for your special day that feels like your relationship and things that are unique to you.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
The life-size celebrity cardboard cutouts that we had printed for our photo booth was an awesome touch. The Britney-Mariah theme worked very well in the photo booth. We not only had life-size cutouts of Britney, Mariah, and a few other divas; we also had quotation cutouts featuring popular phrases from Britney’s and Mariah’s songs, and other famous pop culture sayings.
Anything else we should know:
Chris took the bulk of the wedding planning and responsibilities on, but we wanted both of our personalities represented in the wedding, and for me, that was an enduring love for pop culture. Anyone who knows me knows I have been a fan of everything pop culture from an early age. As a teen I loved learning every detail about the movies, music, and moments that defined the pop culture of past generations. I pored over every CD booklet I had, cover to cover. It was important to me to be able to put that love of pop culture into our wedding in a way that was fun without being distasteful.
As fate would have it, turns out my husband has a pop culture background himself. Chris is a talented singer and actor—he played Lightfoot in The Fighting Temptations alongside superstars such as Beyoncé and Cuba Gooding Jr. Chris has always loved Mariah Carey. He grew up idolizing Mariah for her unmatched vocal abilities and talent as a songwriter.