Posts in the 'california' Category

Real Wedding: Natalie & Rich’s Sweet Seaside Elopement In Laguna Beach

These are the kind of pictures I think every bride should see before she starts planning a 25K wedding in earnest. Because you know, if this is all you need for your wedding – a beach, a white dress, a beautiful bouquet, the person you love most in the world, your pooch, and a few BFFs, well then, why not just elope? Friends-of-BAB Natalie and Rich pulled together a gorgeous elopement in Laguna Beach for almost nothing. Natalie’s dress was $200. The flowers were $80.  The officiant was a dear friend, and performed the ceremony for free. The wedding party all went out for dinner afterwards, and of course, no one let the bride and groom pay for their own meal. We’re so pleased to share this celebration with our readers, because BABs, this is what it’s all about.

From the bride: “I’ve always dreamed of a small, intimate and meaningful wedding for as long as I can remember. One that is about the love of two people and where there is no distraction away from that. The stress of extra details and spending thousands didn’t make sense to us because it didn’t feel like us. We just wanted to make the most important day of our lives be about how much we love each other and not about if the napkins match the chair bows. I’m a Yogi and Rich is so laid back so it didn’t make sense to us to have the one day of our lives that is the day we make our love and commitment officially known to the world be a big, fussy event.”

When we talked about our wedding and what it would feel like, it was no discussion- an intimate, oceanside wedding was the right choice for us. With a couple dear friends and the focus on the most important thing; Our Love. A smaller wedding really suited us - I’ve always had a special connection to Laguna so it was the perfect place for our special day. I arranged my flowers myself and my best friend from Canada came down to get ready with me and be there for us.  My dear friend Gigi sang a beautiful song in Sanskrit which I hold dear to my heart. We all joined in as everyone stood in a circle around us. Then our friend Seth said a prayer for us. We wouldn’t change a thing.”

A gajillion thanks to Natalie and Rich for sharing their beautiful day with us! And special thanks to their photographer friend Seth Heringer for sharing these fabulous photos!

Real Wedding: Heather & Chris’ Elegant, Misty Mountaintop Wedding Affair

Ladies and gents, today we’re SO pleased to feature the wedding of our fabulous contributor Heather (our resident “Can’t Afford It/Get Over It” maven), and her adorable new hubs, Chris. You can tell from these pics (and her regular blog posts) that Heather has excellent taste and fab personal style – and she absolutely brought both to her wedding day. Heather and Chris opted for a time and cost-saving wedding package from a gorgeous golf course in Burlingame, CA, which is half an hour outside of San Francisco. Metro area weddings can be twice the price of this beautiful celebration, but Heather and Chris have graciously provided us with an extensive wedding budget breakdown that shows how they pulled off a wedding with 120 guests for around 20K. So without further ado…

Your names: Heather Murtagh, Chris Vega

Occupations: Reporter at the San Mateo Daily Journal, Vice President for a San Francisco-based R&D startup, respectively

Wedding location: Burlingame, CA

Wedding date: Aug. 31, 2012

Wedding budget: $20,000 (But we went a bit over)

Approximate guest count: 120

How would you describe your wedding? Short reception, big party

What was your favorite part of your wedding?

Heather: The moment we first saw each other. We decided to see each other before the wedding so we could get some of our wedding party photos done before getting things started. The photographers set up a moment where Chris had his back to me and turned around to see me. He was so happy I actually thought he was drunk. He wasn’t. It was very sweet.

Chris: The time we spent together, the alone time.

What did you splurge on? Alcohol. We wanted to have an open bar for longer. And we really wanted to have a big party. We succeeded.

What did you save on? We went with a venue that offered a package deal. That was really helpful in keeping costs in check as well as for planning. Also, my dress was much cheaper than we originally budgeted thanks to a going-out-of-business sale at Priscilla of Boston.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? We would have gotten a videographer.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Gathering contact information was difficult at first. Other than that it wasn’t too difficult. We went with a location that offered package deals. That made things much easier.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone wants to help, they just need to know how.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

Heather’s list:

The first time we saw each other

Spending 30 minutes after the ceremony alone taking pictures. It was really nice to have that time to

ourselves. Turns out we giggle a lot when left alone.

Having so many friends and family together in one place.

My brother marrying us! It was so personal. He took it very seriously but also got in some jokes, which is what we wanted. There was a moment when he got really emotional; thinking about it gets me emotional. But my favorite part was when he said to Chris, “You may now kiss my sister.”

The after party! We went to our favorite local bar after with a smaller group of people. It was so much fun. The owner knows us and was very sweet by letting us stay late and providing free drinks for the bride.

Chris’ list:

Heather – she showed up.

My groomsmen were awesome.

Great supportive family and friends.

Photographers were great.

Venue and DJ were great.

Top 5 least favorite? (We failed and only came up two each… I guess that’s a good thing.)

Heather’s list:

Some people had attitudes on the big day. It was hard to not let that get to me. But ultimately no good would have come from focusing on it.

Our venue had a new person on hand to coordinate on the day. We made it work, but it was an inconvenience. Everything did work out though and we’d still recommend them highly.

Chris’ list:

The hangover.

Delta canceling our honeymoon flight multiple times the morning after.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?

The best? It’s your day. Enjoy it.

Any other bits of wisdom?

Heather: We both were a bit bummed when everything – wedding and honeymoon – was done. It was like there was nothing big to look forward to after having a year of so much activity. It was weird to get back into the swing of non-wedding planning life.

Chris: Remember to savor the moment. It goes by so fast. Also, if you can, get away on a honeymoon right after. It will give you time to enjoy the high of your new marriage.

Heather & Chris’ wedding budget breakdown:

Venue: Crystal Springs Golf Course - $14,028.23

Food/Drink: Included in our Venue fee — We opted for a lower per person package cost then added on additional hours of a open bar. In total we covered the cost of three hours of bar and had a cash bar for two hours.

Attire/Accessories: Dress – $700 from Priscilla of Boston during their going-out-of business sale. Spent $150 on alterations. Bought Badgley Mischka shoes through Rue La La’s Sunday sale for $50 with tax and shipping. Rented Chris’ tux for $120 from Men’s Wearhouse.

Flowers: Flowers for the reception were included in the package. Paid $936.36 for the bouquets from Rosedale Floral Design – one for the bride and six for the bridesmaids; 10 boutonnieres and two corsages for our moms.

Décor: We really didn’t do much in terms of decor except add votive candles and little hershey kisses on the table. We had enough children for a kid’s table. So I went to the local dollar store and grabbed $15 worth of stuff. It was actually a total hit and hilarious to watch the kids decide who got what.

DJ/band/entertainment: Our DJ was included in our venue package.

Photography: Paid $2,706.25 for the Kermit and Miss Piggy package from Chasing Glimpses Photography, which included: 6 hours of photography at your wedding and nearby locations, Two photographers, 2500+Photos Taken, 6 hours on Site; 20 hours Post production, 75 photos in a modern flush mount photo album, Private 60 days Online Gallery for viewing, sharing, and purchasing DVD of approximately 500 of the best images of your wedding day. All images are enhanced, retouched, if necessary, for beautiful reproduction. We ended up with a DVD of 850 photos. Also, the girls were willing to stay an extra hour with no notice when I realized we hadn’t really gotten some shots during the reception.

Videography: Didn’t do it, but we regret that.

Cake: A delicious cake from Burlingame Cakery was included in our venue package. It was delicious and super easy to get put together. I emailed a photo of the cake design I liked and tried all the combinations. I think Chris liked this part of the planning the best.

Favors: $130 — I made our favors. I’m a huge supporter/volunteer of Make-A-Wish. Using scrapbooking paper, I put together little paper favors that asked people to “Make-A-Wish for the Bride and Groom.” Each had a $1 coin attached. We asked people to either put the coin in a vase near the door or make a larger donation. Anything collected we donated. In the end, we donated $310 to the Greater Bay Area Chapter.

Invitations/printing/postage: My friend designed the invitations and RSVPs. I work at a newspaper. After I asked the publisher about a printing contact,  he offered to cover the cost as a gift. We spent $91.75 on postage. Our Save the Date was a video made by a friend who is starting a side business. Check it out here!

Hair and make-up: $120 for a friend who is also starting a business. She did a test and also bought new makeup on the wedding day which I kept for touch ups.

Wedding bands: $600, we got simple bands and ordered them through a family connection who works in the jewelry industry.

Bridal party: Necklaces for the girls, personalized on etsy. $85

Coordinator/planner: Didn’t use one.

Officiant: My brother got ordained online for free.

License: $40

Other: $500 for rehearsal dinner. We hosted it at Chris’ grandfather’s house, which was less than a mile from the ceremony site. We hired a local taco vendor to come and make food. Then we took advantage of a local winery’s case sale for the booze. We ended up with lots of leftovers.

Also, we spent $310 on hotels over two nights. We did stay local but wanted to be separate on the day of the wedding. We let our siblings, who couldn’t really afford the hotel, crash at our apartment and stayed at the hotel on our wedding night.

Total: $21,792.44

Thanks so much to Heather and Chris, for sharing their big day with BAB, and special thanks to Chasing Glimpses Photography, for providing the gorgeous wedding photos! 

{Real Bride: Carrie} Cha-cha-cha-Changes! (& Dealing With Life’s 3 Biggest Stressors At Once!)

Hey there, BABs! Back in the days when I was debating where we should get married, I mentioned our plan to move to San Diego, California, from Ohio.  Well, I’m happy to announce that we turned that plan into action and…

HERE WE ARE!

Our new neighborhood beach!

Honestly, now that I’m here, I’m really glad we decided to have our wedding in Arizona.  Trying to find a place to live, find jobs, and learn our way around a new city has been hard enough without also trying to find an ultra-low-budget wedding venue!

It’s been a tough transition for us.  It took me nearly a month to find a job.  Combine that with the sticker shock of SoCal life compared to the Midwest, and the wedding countdown ticking away, stir vigorously, and you’ve got one stressed-out Carrie.  As always, Zach has been the yin to my yang.  When I’m lying on the bed crying that, “We’re never EVER going to have enough money for a wedding!!!!!!!” he’s sitting there rubbing my back reminding me that, “Everything will be perfect.  Just be patient and it will work out!”  I know he’s right.  However, according to the experts, moving, getting married, and unemployment are three of  life’s biggest stressors!  Thankfully, we are both now working and building that wedding savings account!

How can you be sad with views like this?

I know our situation is easy compared to the problems many other engaged couples are facing.  I’m glad that we were able to make it through this huge life transition together!  Did anyone else move or have a major life change mid-engagement?  What are your tips to help engaged couples cope with wedding/life stress, and come out stronger in the end?

Real Wedding: Stephanie & Dominic’s Totally Adorbs San Diego County Fair E-Sesh

This is the note we received from Heather of Northwood Photography along with her photo shoot submission on Two Bright Lights:

“Steph and Dom are like these people I knew in my last life; my besties from way back – that I just came in contact with for the first time about 45 days ago. I mean, what? That happens, right? These two are insane. She’s gorgeous. Straight Hollywood gorgeous. Between being gorgeous and being gorgeous, she works at an animal hospital, breeds horses, rescues dogs….you know, regular fabulous girl stuff. Dom is her love, her BFF, and so freakin’ cool I asked if he had a brother at the end of the day. Between his killer style and (thank god) appreciation for fair food (like mine) – he’s has a 28 Model A car that I intend to steal in the middle of the night while they’re off at their honeymoon. We met up at the San Diego County Fair – and the rest is history. They’ll never get rid of me, and I can’t wait to shoot their wedding next year.”

Of course, we were already 100% sold. but we had to get the 411 on this fabulous couple directly from the bride herself:

“So sorry this is rushed as I am about to board a flight to Paris! A last minute hurrah with my step-mom before I’m a married lady! 

Dom and I met 6 years ago through mutual friends, we went on one date and then I didn’t hear from him for 6 months. I always felt that he was the “one that got away”. Somehow the stars aligned and our paths crossed again. The rest as they say is history. 

I am so amazingly lucky to be marrying my best friend. Dom proposed on The Queen Mary in long beach while we were on a long weekend vacation. The same one we’ve done every year we have been together.

It was perfect, two of our close friends were there taking pictures, there was champagne, the most amazing ring in the world and my best friend asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. Duh! Easy answer! 

As far as the wedding planning and financials, we haven’t done much but I plan to do lots and lots of DIY. I have an amazing crew of creative friends that have already offered to help as much as possible. (With wine provided of course!) 

The cake will be done by one of my high school friends that is a professional super super talented baker.  The invitations/save the dates/ etc will come from the Wedding Chicks free templates. I REFUSE to pay retail for anything and have signed up for every coupon/giveaway wedding website in existence! 

PS- we are going to Paris on points and miles, something to keep in mind for a honeymoon! Plan on asking everyone we know that doesn’t use their miles!” 

A BAB after our own heart! We can’t wait to see Stephanie and Dominic’s wedding pics! Congrats, you two crazy kids!!!

{Real Bride: Carrie} Location, Location: Debates on What State

I’ve got this dream wedding location in my head, and I’m hoping it’s not imaginary.

You see, we have a really small budget.  But we still really like to party.  We’re not opposed to DIY.  And we want to spend as much time with our friends and family as possible.

So, our A+, #1, ideal wedding venue would be some kind of camp, B&B, or conference center that we could take over for a whole weekend and have everyone stay in the same place!  Someplace that included a beautiful outdoor ceremony site, a kitchen we could use to self-cater, someplace for people to eat, drink, and dance, and cabins or a lodge that everyone could stumble off to after partying all night.

Courtesy of Whitney Martin Photography

I know, we dream big.  But I can’t help hoping that if the amazing Sara and Matt of 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding (a HUGE inpsiration to me!) can do it, than so can we!  So that’s the goal right now.

With that in mind, the first thing we had to do was decide which state to get married in!

Option #1: Ohio. :-( See, Zach and I are both from Ohio and so our families naturally assumed we’d be getting married there.  However, while we both agree that Ohio was a great place to grow up, we’ve since broken away and don’t intend to live there long-term again in the future.  Honestly, it’s just kind of (REALLY) boring.  However, most of Zach’s friends and extended family still live in Ohio.  AND wedding stuff is significantly cheaper there.

OOOOOOOOOOOOO-hio?

Option #2: California!  Although we’ve been working summer jobs in Ohio this year, the weeks are quickly ticking by and our planned move to San Diego, California is getting closer!  We both love San Diego, the sun, the waves, the perfect temperature, the proximity to Mexico!  This is where we can finally see ourselves “settling down” (which, for us, may only mean staying somewhere longer than a year, who knows) and where we’d like to get married.  It will be so much easier to plan a wedding close to where we are living.  Plus, I have a lot of friends and family scattered around the country.  When I sketched out my side of the guest list for our wedding, I realized that more than half of my people will have to get on a plane, whether the wedding is in Ohio or not!  Do I really want to make those poor people pay for a plane ticket and take time off to go to Ohio?  Heck no!  The downside to this, however, is that a lot of Zach’s extended family may not be able to afford to come to California.  The brutal-but-true upside to that downside: it would definitely help keep our numbers in check since his family is HUGE.

California, here we come!

Option #3: The Arizona back-up plan.  Before we left on our long Latin American odyssey trip, Zach and I were living in northern Arizona.  See, his parents bought a house out there that they are planning to move to when they retire.  But, they haven’t retired yet!  So we got to live there for a year and house-sit for them!  During that year, we really grew to love the area.  The house is within an hour of the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, mountain climbing, swimming holes, and tons of other awesome stuff!  Plus, the house is pretty big and we could definitely clear a section of the yard for the ceremony.  The problem here would be that we’d still be long-distance planning, we’d have to rent all the tables and chairs, and people would have to stay in hotels that are at least 15 minutes away from the house.  But it’s a good backup plan because we know it won’t book up and it’s still an awesome vacation spot.

Arizona: a retiree's paradise

What do you think, people?  We’re clearly leaning towards having the wedding in California, and hoping to find a great venue there.  If you were in our situation, what state would you choose?

Win a FREE Pair of Tickets to Hitched!

Hitched wedding showcase event

In addition to our regularly scheduled weekly giveaway goodness, we’ve also got a special treat for West Coast brides! The fabulous gals behind HITCHED, a Palm Springs wedding showcase for brides and grooms and lovers of fun, are hooking us up with a pair of FREE TICKETS to their fabulous event!

Hitched is a carefully curated affair which provides “a fresh vision in wedding planning”, put on by my good friends at Bash, Please and Urbanic… and I’ll guarantee it to provide a refreshing antidote to your run of the mill bridal show. It’s more like a party than a boring old bridal show, so bring your fun and your dancing shoes – you’ll need both… especially if you want to win the Flashdance Dance-Off for a free trip to Mexico. #justsaying.

It takes place from 6-10 p.m. on Jan. 30th at the (unrealistically hip) Ace Hotel in sunny Palm Springs, CA. You can enter to win by leaving a comment on this post, and we’ll select a winner on Monday!

Best of luck – this is an event you surely don’t want to miss!

Southern California Dream Wedding Giveaway!

Whether you’re a broke-ass bride or not, this opportunity will rock your socks right down the block!  I’m thrilled to be sponsoring the Southern California Dream Wedding Giveaway, which will afford one lucky couple the chance to have a fantastic and unique wedding worth $100,000 – for free, on June 27th, 2010!

Sponsor-Badge

This contest is especially fly because the winner will be able to fully customize and personalize their wedding day with the help of the wonderful Dream Crew™ members, rather than just winning a “wedding-in-a-box” as I like to call them.  The launch party is tonight at the dreamy venue (c’mon people, its a freaking turtle rescue sanctuary. Who doesn’t love turtles?) and I can’t wait to get this party started!

More info from their brand new website:

Thanks to the generous support of our Dream Sponsors™, Dream Crew™, and Dream Donors™. The Southern California Dream Wedding Giveaway is giving one lucky Dream Couple™ the wedding of a lifetime. This wedding will take place on   Sunday, June 27, 2010 at the beautiful Rancho de Las Palmas in Moorpark, California with a wedding ceremony and reception for up to 100 of the winning Dream Couple’s™ guests. Everything will be taken care of for the Dream Couple™! This wedding will be a “Platinum Affair,” with an estimated cost of $100,000 provided by over 50 of the best wedding and event vendors (Dream Crew™) in the industry.

The winning couple will be working with their own personal wedding planner and designer as well as the Dream Crew™ to customize and create the wedding of their dreams. The contest is open to all legal US resident that is 18 years old or older. The contest officially begins on October 18, 2009 at 12:00 p.m PSTand closes on January 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm PST. The winning couple will be chosen on Valentine’s Day 2010 by our Dream Sponsors™ and publicly announced on Monday, February 15, 2010.

Good luck to all our Dream Couples™! We can’t wait to hear and share you stories. Let the “Road to the Aisle” begin!

The party tonight should be a great time – with lots of fun freebies and a chance to meet many of the vendors involved. I hope to see you there, but even if you can’t make it – be sure to enter to win, on their website! Good luck!

Launch party deets: Sunday, October 18, 2009 – 5:00pm to 8:00pm – Rancho de Las Palmas,  3566 Sunset Valley Road
Moorpark, CA 93021

Dana