How We Threw a Stylish $10K San Francisco Wedding for 70 People

When theatre kids get hitched


Stephanie, Teacher/performer & Wolfgang, lighting designer

sum-up of the wedding vibe: A party for friends and family with dinner, drinks, performance, and dancing.

Planned budget: $10,000

Actual budget: $9,873

Number of guests: 70


Where we allocated the most funds

Paying people who were helping to install lighting, draping, catering, and photography. Not only did we pay those folks for their time but we also tipped. (We both work and have worked in the event industry, so we really wanted to make sure that the people who were working while we were partying felt appreciated!)

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Where we allocated the least funds

Paper! We also received many generous rates from our friends in the industry, especially for our venue.


What was totally worth it

Wolfgang is a vegetarian and many our friends are either vegetarian, vegan, or some version thereof. We worked in-depth with our caterers to help craft a primarily vegetarian-vegan menu (this included recommending about twenty or so recipes that they put together in their kitchens and made available to us for tasting). The time and money we spent on doing this work really paid off as our guests were full of compliments about the catering!

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What was totally not worth it

The first dance was totally not worth it for us. It was a thing that was for our guests but we could have done without it.


A few things that helped us along the way

A Practical Wedding helped great deal (we found our photographer, Hayley, there) but also we had some friends who were on a similar timeline, and we would sit down with them on the regular and trade things we learned and tried to help each other avoid pitfalls. Its very helpful to realize that you aren’t the only one getting married, and taking the time to sit down and have a little kaffeeklatsch really helped us find a great calm as well as tips!


My best practical advice for my planning self

Don’t have to go on business trips that take you away for the three months leading up to the wedding. Also remember that there are so many resources, even for folks who are making everything themselves. And you can completely rely on your friends. They want to help!


Favorite thing about the wedding

The judge at city hall with gnarled arthritic hands lighting up as she read her script and married us; the moment our friends came up and performed a version of Depeche Mode’s “Promise”; and our dear friend putting together a beautiful speech based on our conversations and notes introducing us right before our vows.


Anything else

We were very lucky that we were able to go in whatever direction we wanted with very little interference from our families. Our primary focus was the two of us, but a close second was the community of friends with whom we create theatre and craft experiences. There was so much love between all at the party and it was really beautiful to see so many walks of our lives mingling.

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The Info:

Photography: Hayley Anne Photography | Location: San Francisco | Venue: San Francisco City Hall and Z Space Theater Lobby | Wolfgang’s Suit, Shoes, and Accessories: Louis Thomas | Stephanie’s Dress: Jovani, purchased at Neiman Marcus | Stephanie’s Jewelry: Etsy | Stephanie’s Shoes: Nordstrom | Stephanie’s Dancing Outfit: Express | Lighting and Draping: Got Light | Catering: Checker’s Catering | Flowers: Dave’s booth at the San Francisco Flower Mart


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  • Stephanie B.

    That dress! I absolutely LOVE it!

    • Keri

      and that suit! Looking good, folks!

    • Jessica

      I clicked to look at more photos of the dress, and when I saw the back I literally said “SHUT UP!” out loud and proceeded to drool.

      Also the whole wedding looks like a ton of fun!

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        I did the same thing! THE BACK!

  • brakell-basicinvite

    Wow! I can tell by the photos how happy you both are- you’re glowing! And that dress is amazing! I’m obsessed!!!

  • StevenPortland

    That dress is amazing! Everything looks fantastic!

  • Poppy

    I love this!!! The dress and dancing outfit are amazing and everyone seems to be having a blast. I hope our wedding is like this.

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  • Rachel

    Okay that picture of you guys looking at each other and holding hands is totes one of the most beautiful things of all time. Looks like an amazing wedding!!! Congrats on the marriage!

  • Sophie

    Wow- dress is gorgeous, so stylish! Entire wedding is amazing, well done. I am curious though, as I am planning a wedding of the same size for San Francisco and am totally baffled as to how you did this for $10,000. When you say you worked in the industry, did you get serious hook ups? I don’t mean to be rude, I just don’t see how this can be true based on the extensive planning I’ve done the last few months. A full dinner alone with rentals is 6k-10k…PLEASE tell me your secret if everything was full price :) I am sitting here with my jaw dropped in disbelief….