marina & julia
planned budget: $35,000 (for two days)
actual budget: $31,000
where we allocated the most funds:
We allocated the most funds for food, music, and photography. We both really love to cook and eat delicious food, and it felt important that we (and our guests) enjoyed the food at our wedding. For our block party, we picked some of our favorite neighborhood takeout places as a way to shout-out local businesses and support our community. Our families would have been happy with a nonstop dance party, so we made sure there was music for them to dance to all night long. We had a wonderful DJ who also hailed from West Philly, as well as the wonderful West Philly Orchestra, and a phenomenal Balkan Brass band that really got the party started.
Having photos of our our family and friends at our wedding was really important to us, and we were so glad to find Kyo and Janna Morishima through the APW vendor directory. Kyo was unobtrusive yet somehow captured every moment, and he also helped us stick to our timelines by gently asking us if we wanted to stick to the timeline we’d set or do something else. He was also wonderfully flexible about spreading out the ten hours of wedding coverage over two days, which allowed us to stay within our budget.
where we allocated the least funds:
Flowers, decor, invitations. Most of the decorations were DIY. We made the banners out of paint sample strips, spray painted dinosaurs gold, and Marina made all of the concrete planters, using yogurt containers as molds and buying the succulents wholesale. Marina made the piñata out of papier-mâché and decorated it with scraps of paint samples left over from making the banners.
Also, Marina’s mother’s friends made both her bouquet for Friday and the delicious cake for Saturday. The cake for Saturday was a traditional Argentine cake called Chocotorta that is made from Chocolinas (a brand of chocolate cookies from Argentina that her mother’s friends filled their suitcases with), cream, and dulce de leche. It was a wonderful way to honor Marina’s Argentine heritage at the wedding.
what was totally worth it:
It was totally worth it to have two ceremonies and celebrations. We initially worried that we were being ridiculous and extravagant, but, in the end, it was truly worth it. We are both fairly introverted people who both do a lot of community-oriented work and really value the importance of our communities in our lives. Both of us were born and raised in Philadelphia, and we struggled to figure out how to have a wedding that let us have the intimacy we wanted while also allowing us to include our very large Philly community. We also struggled to figure out how to honor Marina’s Jewish heritage and Julia’s agnostic upbringing, and having two ceremonies gave us a way to honor both of those important aspects of our identities.
On Saturday, instead of having the traditional Jewish seven blessings at the ceremony, we asked seven pairs of our close family and friends to write their own blessings for us. It felt really important to us to honor the importance of our larger community in the strength of our relationship, and it was a really powerful and touching part of the ceremony.
Friday gave us a chance to have an intimate non-religious ceremony with our close family and friends where we also signed the civil marriage license. Because Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, you can get a Quaker marriage license in which you are allowed to marry yourselves, and you sign the license along with two witnesses. Friday also was a chance to have an awesome fancy party where we got to talk to all of our guests.
On Saturday, we signed the Ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) in Marina’s parents’ backyard before the ceremony. Saturday’s ceremony was conducted on the front steps of Marina’s house by a wonderful rabbi from the synagogue Marina grew up attending. I was so nervous on Friday during the ceremony, that it was hard to be present in the moment, but by Saturday, I had gotten all of those nerves out of the way, and was able to really be present for and take in the experience of marrying Julia and hearing the vows we had written for each other. The ceremony was followed by an awesome block party with all of our neighbors, friends, and family.
Oh, and also totally worth it: kicking off the wedding weekend with an epic soccer game of Julia’s friends and family versus Marina’s friends and family. We both grew up playing soccer (and actually had the same soccer coach at different times in our childhoods), and it was a great way to bring everyone together before the wedding to hang out and have fun. Those who didn’t want to play brought blankets and snacks while enthusiastically cheering on the teams!
what was totally not worth it:
As far as what wasn’t worth it, we struggled to answer this question because we can’t think of anything that really wasn’t worth it. We asked both of our families, and they couldn’t think of anything either. We had such a joyous, wonderful time at our wedding, and we feel really good about the decisions we ultimately made.
a few things that helped us along the way:
Julia’s sister Zoe was the glue that held our wedding together. She acted both as a wedding coordinator and reality check, and helped us stay on track with our spreadsheets and planning. She basically made the wedding possible. In general, we were lucky to have wonderful friends and family who all pitched in to help us decorate the block, set up the tables and chairs, make the giant batches of mixed drinks, and probably eight million other things that they took care of before we even noticed something was amiss.
my best practical advice for my planning self:
Make sure you identify what your priorities are for the wedding and make sure you hold on to that throughout the planning process.
anything else to share:
The story behind the gold dinosaurs is a little funny. When we first got engaged, people kept asking me what our wedding colors were going to be. This was before we had a venue or even a date, and so I had no idea and wasn’t particularly worried about it, so I joked that our wedding colors were tiny gold dinosaurs. And somehow, what started as a joke became a real thing. They felt like a way of making sure we remembered to be goofy in the face of all this wedding planning. We sent out digital save the dates. Julia’s amazing sister Zoe designed the invitations for us, and we used Fireball Printing, a local Philly company, to print them.