Posts in the 'real wedding' Category
Your “I dos” are a moment of gravitas, a quiet but weighty culmination of your decision to spend your lives together. In honor of their serious decision to make this commitment, Destry and Lanny decided on a similarly intimate wedding ceremony and reception: 40 invited guests, immediate family and the closest of friends. By this decision, they were able to spend more time with the community that has watched them sow the seeds of their relationship, helped them nurture it, and witnessed it flourish.
Names: Destry & Lanny
Occupations: Destry is a design drafter, Lanny was an administrator for a private travel company but currently attends business school full-time
Wedding location: Kingston, Idaho
Wedding date: July 27, 2013
Wedding budget: My crazyperson spreadsheet tells me our final total was $4,300-ish. We didn’t give ourselves a hard maximum. Instead, we decided to spend by priority. Neither of us gave two hoots about centerpieces or expensive favors; instead we cared about food and photos and got INCREDIBLY lucky on both counts. While we spent a lot less than the national average, we still feel like we spent an enormous amount of money for one day.
Approximate guest count: We limited our invited guests to 40, but counted on 35 attending for sure. We only invited our immediate family members and very close friends. Destry is the oldest of five, so you can imagine that it adds up quickly.
How would you describe your wedding? At the risk of sounding cliché and ridiculous, I’d describe it as a balance of country, rustic and vintage. We kept it subtle though. We didn’t want guests to feel like we were beating them over the head with kitschy crap. We didn’t have time or energy to invest in kitschy crap either.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s really hard to choose one favorite. I would say that driving from our hotel to the venue together was so special and important to me. We both had a chance to be alone together, in our own car, just being together, quietly. Because we knew it was going to be such an emotional day, that short drive was so important to both of us.
We were lucky to have an equally-meaningful moment alone at the end of the night after everyone had left. The sky was inky black with bright stars and the barn was lit up with twinkling lights woven throughout the Virginia creeper that covered its entire frame; we stood silently at the top of the hill wrapped in a blanket, looking down upon the scenery and reflected on the deluge of pure love we’d experienced that day.
What did you splurge on? Without a doubt, the food and furniture were our most costly expenses. Our wedding was held over 60 miles from our home in Spokane. So, we felt it was important that we provide a really solid meal to our nearest and dearest if we were going to drag them to a mountain farm in the middle of the woods. Have you ever been to a wedding on a Saturday at 6:30 pm, only to find that it’s a cake and punch reception in the church gym/basement/lobby? Those are basically the worst (in my opinion) and we were against that at all costs.
Additionally, we really scored with a venue that embodied everything we hoped for and wanted to provide some aesthetic continuity by using furniture that didn’t clash. We found an up-and-coming furniture rental company out of North Idaho who provided some stunning pieces for us.
Also, I know it’s silly, but I totally went all out with my hair as well. I was pretty close with my hairdresser at that time, but after her two previous attempts at formal styles left me crying in the car we decided to go another direction. My hair is fairly long, but I wanted it longer for the wedding, so she offered to pick me up some extensions with her discount and color them to match my hair. After several unanswered texts and voicemails left me feeling like a jealous ex-girlfriend, I bought the hair myself and scheduled an appointment with someone else. I ended up spending a small fortune on the whole ordeal, but it felt worth it: $200 for the hair, $70 to color it, $50 for the trial and $100 for the wedding day style. (I feel compelled to note that I’m still pissed that I spent as much as I did on the day of the wedding because the salon’s active price list shows the trial hair as included in the total price.)
So, what became of my former stylist? Well, I finally heard from her three days before the wedding letting me know that she had blocked out the entire day and we could go get hair, color and style it starting at 9 AM. A note about that – the wedding took place on a Saturday, and the hair extension shop isn’t open on weekends, so despite the sketchy billing practices, I am glad I opted out.
What did you save on? Ev-er-y thing. We saved by doing our own flower arrangements – actually, we didn’t use flowers at all. We bought raw cotton online and put everything together. The allergic reaction was totally worth it. Picture, if you will, my then-fiancé and I in our non-air-conditioned kitchen, trimming and cleaning raw cotton bolls. We spent countless hours picking dried leaves out of the cotton so we could spend ADDITIONAL countless hours stringing each one just-so on jute twine and arranging them into our respective bouquet and boutonniere.
I had intended to splurge a little and treat myself to a morning of girly pampering, however that never materialized. I scheduled a makeup trial a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I didn’t feel that this woman was listening to me. I’m 30, and I don’t think it’s in my best interest to try out a new personal style on my wedding day. I’m old enough to understand what looks good and what works for me. Since I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl, you can imagine how hard it was to mask my disappointment when she revealed my potential makeup. Winged eyeliner and I are never going to be best friends, nor do I have aspirations of acquainting myself with berry lip-stain. Adding insult to injury, I paid $75 (after tipping, because I’m a doormat) for a look I couldn’t wait to wash off my face.
Ultimately, I didn’t feel that she was especially honest or talented so I lied and canceled my appointment about a week before the wedding, citing something about the cost being budget-prohibitive. The (supposedly) agreed-upon rate was $100 for both sessions, but I had already effectively paid the bulk of it after listening to her talk shit about everyone else in town while she applied makeup that didn’t match me or my coloring. After the rage-tears subsided, I went to Nordstrom (alone) and met with the only kind of makeup artist I can trust with utmost confidence – a gay man. I showed him a photo and he whipped my look into shape, directing me to all the right products and showed me how to recreate his work at home. I hugged him, and practiced nearly a dozen times before the wedding and I’m thrilled with my choice to do my own.
The piece-de-resistance, though, were our photographers. We happened to have two very close friends who are, not only incredibly talented, but provided their services for free. Without their generosity, as every bride knows, we would have EASILY doubled our expenses.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Looking back, I would have asked more people to help. We would have had a little more fun during the planning stages if we’d allowed more folks help us out from the beginning. Instead, we stubbornly refused offers for help until much closer to the wedding date. That cotton-stringing party I mentioned above? Ultimately, my in-laws came to the rescue with four additional hands for stringing.
I can’t quite remember why we were so secretive about planning, but I suspect part of it had to do with a bizarre idea that someone might steal our ideas? Weddings make people crazy. Like, crazy-crazy.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? 1.) Hurt feelings. If I had known beforehand, how personally other people would take our wedding choices, we might have eloped. We received unsolicited suggestions, advice, and requests for invitations for people we’d never conceive of including in our celebration. It was an ongoing challenge of (and testament to) our patience, kindness, and ability to tolerate other people.
2.) Money. It would be so much easier to throw everything on a credit card, but that’s not our style for anything we do in life. We felt incredibly fortunate to have been in such a position that allowed us to do everything we needed and wanted to do on our own terms. Still, having more money might have abbreviated our timeline considerably but we don’t regret any of it.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a contingency plan. ALWAYS. For good measure, have three or four backups. We picked out a favorite restaurant to host our rehearsal dinner and made reservations to hold the date (I can’t remember if we paid a fee or not). A month before our wedding, my best friend drove up from Portland, Oregon for a bridal shower hosted by my mother-in-law and I had hoped to take her to dinner there … as we were walking up to the building, it dawned on me that they weren’t just not open, they were closed. Like, for good.
Obviously, we ate elsewhere, but I was determined to keep from getting ruffled by the situation. Later in the week, my fiancé and I ate at another restaurant that had recently undergone a major renovation and appeared to be a great place to host our rehearsal – so we booked it on the spot.
By sheer bad luck, we were forced to resume our search on June 17 (about a month before our wedding) because our second choice BURNED DOWN. I crowdsourced suggestions on Facebook and had friends beg me to stop ruining Spokane with our wedding. It was about this point that I stopped giving a shit about it but it turned out to be better than I ever could’ve imagined. A family-owned bar/café where we spend Saturday nights playing trivia stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam (those are the same sport, right?) with how they handled our dinner. We told them how much we could spend, the headcount, and offered a vague suggestion of the kind of food we liked. It was such a success that our families are still raving about it to this day.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? It was a day full of love and laughter and ridiculously delicious food. Because we chose to invite literally nobody outside our immediate families and our closest friends it made the day so ridiculously special, I still struggle to elucidate my feelings.
Top 5 least favorite? We had a lot of people offer to help or provide something (mostly food) and we were far more comfortable hiring people to do that job for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) sanitation. Remember, if you will, the comment above where I mention that the venue and our hometown are sixty miles apart – now imagine chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and basically mayonnaise-based anything in someone’s back seat for nigh on two hours. Sounds like fun, right? Sorry to let the booster club down, but I’m not trying to battle diarrhea on my wedding night. For the sake of feelings, let’s just say it’s because I want everyone to have a good time and avoid being unfairly labeled bridezilla, okay?
One of my photographers is married to a former marine and bodyguard. Why on earth is that even remotely of consequence? Because my husband’s ex-girlfriend (one he’d broken up with before we even met; IN 2002.) has a super-adorable habit of making her presence known. Neither of us expected anything especially dramatic, but he studied photos as a precaution and kept her out of sight when she did, in fact, show up.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “Just relax! It’ll all come together” – Everyone who ever planned a wedding but experienced a subsequently immediate Telenovela-style bout with amnesia. Nothing ever just “comes together” and anyone who suggests otherwise probably didn’t have a DIY wedding if you know what I mean. Are you fucking kidding me? RELAX? I am relaxed (sort of), but I am still allowed to give like, ONE shit about how this day goes down. Will I remember all of it, not likely; but I don’t expect to.
The best? From my older sister, more than ten years ago: “Wedding planning is so stupid. It is literally the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.” Having done it, I can confirm that she’s right. The wedding itself wasn’t stupid, but the kinds of things that consumed my thoughts throughout the planning process were so cosmically insignificant; but they felt so god damned essential in the moment.
Second best was between my husband and me – it became kind of a mantra between the two of us: “This is our party; our wedding is not our marriage.”
Any other bits of wisdom? Just Relaaaaax! Okay, I’m kidding … kind of. It’s easy to get upset and overwhelmed when people overstep boundaries, but standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do when you’re planning your wedding. I desperately wish I had just told a few vendors to piss off directly instead of skirting the issue as if their feelings were supposed to take precedent above mine. I wish I had been more assertive and direct when people acted in a way that made me feel like they were taking advantage of an emotionally charged event. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. (Except write some passive-aggressive Yelp! reviews.)
Oh, and don’t you dare listen to anyone who has the nerve to tell you that you must spend more or else your wedding won’t be “everything you ever dreamed of.” Your wedding will be everything you dreamed of because you’re marrying someone you love. Anyone who suggests otherwise is presumptuous, snide and condescending.
Wedding vendors and links:
Venue: French Gulch Farm and Garden, Kingston, ID
Furniture Rental: The Attic, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Catering: Couple of Chefs, Spokane, WA
Bride’s Makeup: BRIDE!
Flowers, bouquet and decor: Bride and Groom designed all decor using dried wildflowers and cotton purchased online. Tabletop arrangements were styled by Groom’s brother and sister in law. (Bride made bouquet, Groom made his own boutonniere)
Rings: Bride (same ring, except blue) Groom
DJ: iTunes, operated by Groom’s brother
Invitations: Designed Online, Printed at Home (We purchased the full suite; including save the dates, thank you cards, and custom map)
Photographers: Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)
What happens when two besties say “I do” in a sunny South African wedding with lots of DIY touches? Magic! In October, Claudi and Luan took the big plunge with a $9,000 budget for an 80-person wedding farm-style wedding. This wedding inspiration duo took their crafting talents to the limits creating beautiful hanging decorations like hearts and flowers and personalized shoes for the groomsmen. Their hard work resulted in a personal yet super pretty ceremony with noteworthy little touches throughout the day.
Names: Claudi and Luan ten Cate
Occupations: Luan, in flight chef for Etihad Airways; Claudi, housewife
Wedding location: Olive Mystery Wedding Venue, Bapsfontein, Gauteng, South Africa
Wedding date: Oct. 25, 2012
Wedding budget: Approx $9,000
Approximate guest count: 80
How would you describe your wedding? Fun DIY farm-style wedding
What was your favorite part of your wedding? The photo shoot with our amazing photographers, Izelle and Gerhard.
What did you splurge on? The venue and food
What did you save on? EVERYTHING ELSE
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Yes, I would spend more time with the guests.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Incorporating what Luan wanted as he was living in Abu Dhabi during the whole planning process.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? To spend more time on myself and a little less time making everyone else happy.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- The decor and flowers
- The cake/candy buffet table
- My dress
- Our photo shoot
Top 5 least favorite?
- Not having enough time with the guests
- The day going by so quickly
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
“You need to stay on top of things and manage it carefully!” This advice is the worst because micro managing everything will just annoy those around you and face it, not everyone is as excited about your wedding as you are. In fact weddings tend to bring out the worst in some people…
Relax and let go. Nobody has the script for the day, they won’t even notice if the flowers are fuchsia pink instead of baby pink. The ambiance and atmosphere is what creates the mood and feeling so be happy and enjoy it.
If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges?
Even being married for six months has its challenges. Like my husband not understanding the concept and importance of closing the toilet lid. Also, relocating to Abu Dhabi and having to start a life here from scratch is quite a challenge.
Any other bits of wisdom?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! The world will not end if the linens are navy instead of sapphire or if the white roses have a slight green tinge. Remember what the day is for. It is about saying “I do” and if the wrong flowers or linen will prevent you from saying “I do,” then you should reconsider getting married. My philosophy is, if you are not willing to get married in a moldy old court house without the whole white wedding then you should not be getting married. Then you are getting married for the wedding and not the marriage!
Also, try and do as much as you can by yourself. Your wedding is the day you can recreate all those amazing DIY projects you keep pinning on your wedding board on Pinterest! This keeps it personal and saves a lot of money. All it takes is some creativity.
Venue and Food: $5,000
Decor and Flowers: $300
My Dress and Accessories: $700
Bridesmaids dresses: $70 (for all the bridesmaids)
Groomsmen Outfit: $200 (including All Star Shoes)
Hair and Makeup: $450 (for all the girls and my mom)
DJ and Photobooth: $900
Invitations and Stationary: $50
Photographers: Iz Photography by Izelle Labuschagne
Wedding Dress and Bridal Accessories: Ivy Bridal House, Rachel van Loggerenberg
Venue: Olive Mystery Wedding Venue, Anja Bands, firstname.lastname@example.org
Décor and Flowers: DaisyDoo Décor and Styling, Marie Bührlen, email@example.com
Wedding Cake and Candy Buffet: Daisy Doo Designer Cakes, Claudi ten Cate, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bride and Bridesmaids’ Makeup: Angelstar Make up, Jeanne- Marie Eloff
Lighting, Sound and DJ: TUKS FM, Nolz van der Merwe
Photobooth: Photobooth Inc., Rob Sulcas
These love birds highlighted their style with a budget-friendly party full of personality. Small projects at home made a big impact by adding a little extra something to some already beautiful settings — great lesson for any bride-to-be! Get creative, have fun and focus on everything you want out of your day.
Weddings are a celebration of love but also of those who will be saying vows. In June 2012, Mike and Alison decided to not only exchange rings but also celebrate all the geeky things they love in an $8,000, 55-person wedding in Seattle. This couple relied on the help of friends and family to stick to a tight budget, add extra special touches and celebrate the uniqueness of, well, them. Their work resulted in a super personal wedding that included personalized 20-sided dice and a pub crawl. Yep, you want to party with them.
Names: Mike and Alison
Occupations: Mike – mild-mannered computer technician; Alison – full-time biology student
Wedding location: Rainier Chapter House, Daughters of the American Revolution in Seattle, Washington
Wedding date: June 10, 2012
Wedding budget: $8,000
Approximate guest count: 55 and ⅜ (Not everyone could make it.)
How would you describe your wedding? All of our favorite things: costumes and board games and time travel and cake and friends and family and also, we got married!
What was your favorite part of your wedding? There was so much! I think the best was that we’d put together such a great team that once we arrived on-site, our worries evaporated and we just had a great time. We assembled a group of friends and vendors who were genuinely excited about helping us and thoroughly geeked out about their part in it.
What did you splurge on? Photography was really important to us. Mike and I both volunteer as event staffers, so we know how a big event can turn into a haze of barely remembered moments. Photos mean we’ll remember.
We couldn’t talk ourselves out of Madres catering, either. They’d been very impressive from the very beginning. Anyone who’s been to a bunch of catered events knows that there are two kinds – catering that’s good and catering that’s good enough. If Madres ran a restaurant, I’d be excited to go there as often as I could. I dream about those shrimp cakes.
What did you save on?
- Dress. I found my dress on Etsy for under $300! If you take your time and don’t let yourself be discouraged, you really can find the dress you want.
- Handmade paper bouquets and centerpieces. I think the paper and supplies ran us a little over $100. You could do it for even less, I just really like fancy paper. And at the end of the day, most of the centerpieces and little boutonniere-sized flowers I made were taken home by guests, too!
- No booze. We had a dry wedding, just tea and lemonade and water and coffee, no alcohol. We added a note to our wedding site and program about a pub crawl after the reception, and several of our guests joined us at a bar down the street from the venue.
- Venue. The venue itself was inexpensive and easy to work with, and they provided all of the furniture and tableware, and even an iPod dock for our music!
- Shoes. My shoes came from my existing wardrobe. It’s surprisingly difficult to find lime green shoes and I already had a few pairs.
- A new approach to dressy dudes. For the men, getting over the tuxedo idea saved us a bunch of cash. Our best man came in costume pulled from his own wardrobe, and Mike bought a nice plain suit for the same amount of money we’d have spent renting a tux.
- Volunteers rather than gifts. The biggest money-saver was probably asking for volunteers instead of gifts. In an apartment as small as ours, more stuff is almost a calamity. Once we convinced our friends what we really wanted was help, things came together very quickly. In fact, a few friends we’d intended to pay donated their services entirely!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?
I think I might have arranged in advance to have someone pick me up from my hair appointment. I thought it’d be easy to catch a cab to the venue, and it usually is… when there aren’t a bunch of commencement ceremonies going on all over town.
There were no cabs. Thankfully, Mike was able to come pick me up in his smoke-belching rattletrap of a truck. (I should note that he insisted I describe the truck this way.) We arrived a little bit late and I’d had time to freak out about everything, but in the process I’d also texted everyone I could get a hold of to let them know what was going on, and we didn’t drop a beat.
What was your biggest challenge in planning?
When we first started out, we had no idea what the wedding would cost, so we waited until we had a better idea. And if we’d answered any of those questions in the beginning instead of trying to wing it, we could have saved ourselves a lot of headaches.
If there is a lesson to be learned from our mistakes, it should be to establish the budget at the beginning of planning.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?
A wedding is a socially appropriate opportunity to shout your love from the rooftops, to say “this is who I intend to build a life with.” It doesn’t have to be anything else. I learned that we could make it the party we wanted and throw out or ignore or mutate all the parts we weren’t comfortable with, the parts that weren’t us or our families or our friends.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- NO ONE QUESTIONS THE BRIDE HAVING A FLASK OF WHISKEY. NO ONE.
- Our vows.
- Our good friend and officiant’s excellent ceremony, and our readings.
- Costume party!
- Board game reception!
Top 5 least favorite?
- No cabs. I mean, really? I thought I was going to pop a vein in my head.
- Close friends who couldn’t make it to the wedding.
- Crinolines are difficult!
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
The notion that there is a “right way” to design your wedding, and that someone other than you gets to decide what that is. Don’t let others define your needs for you. The only way to do a wedding wrong is to let it turn into something you didn’t want.
Think about your deal breakers: What are a few things you must have or must avoid for your wedding? Once you know what you’ve got to have, it’s really easy to compromise on the things you’re less interested in.
Any other bits of wisdom?
Be true to yourself and what you need.
A wedding is a big project with a lot of moving parts, and it’s a big event. We’re socialized to think of a wedding as something people just up and do, without need for specialized training or research, but it’s not like there’s a high school class on how to throw a tightly scheduled party for 40-300 people. I’m not kidding when I say people go to college to learn that sort of thing. Don’t try to plan or run this party alone. Ask loved ones to pitch in. Hire experts to help. Do research. Give yourself lots of time. If you do the research and ask for help, you don’t have to lose your mind planning a wedding.
Hire vendors who are genuinely excited about your plans and can’t stop talking about how they can help. They’ll be there for you, and the results will be better than you imagined.
The wedding industry will sell you on tradition any chance they get. Be wary of “tradition,” and realize that if a lot of these traditions are only a few years old, you can definitely create your own new traditions too!
Budget breakdown with vendors
Photography: A little under $3,000 for an engagement session and wedding package with a few extra goodies. Firstlight Photography
Catering: Just over $1,700 through Madres Events.
Venue: About $1,500, including tables, chairs, linens and tableware. DAR Rainier Chapter House
Email invitations and wedding website: $30 per month through Glo.
Cake: $300, the designer is a friend of ours. Clever Cake Studio
Dress: Roughly $270 for a custom designed dress. Pixie Pocket
Shoes: Came from my wardrobe, but were between $120 and $200 new. These shoes last forever if you take good care of them, can be repaired by the manufacturer, and look awesome. Fluevog
Suit: $250. Men’s Wearhouse
Paper and other supplies for the centerpieces: About $100. Paper Source
Centerpieces: My centerpieces were half of a flower ball. Here is a good set of instructions.
Favors: $135 for 100 gorgeous 20-sided dice. We called them directly about the Precision Gaming dice (they’re really pretty) and they were amused by the idea when we explained they were for a wedding. We got a discount out of it! Gamestation
Stockings and garter belt: Something like $30. It’s easy to spend a lot more here! Sock Dreams
A super shout out to our bride and groom for showcasing the memorable fun that can be created when you embrace who you are. With their help, other couples can save cash as well as learn how to make a number of the projects at home. What else could a girl want?
As an eight year resident of Washington state and an ally of the LGBT community, I was overjoyed when the results began coming in for Referendum 74 in favor of allowing same sex marriage – barring, of course, the overall grossness I felt about voting on the civil rights of other human beings. Marriage is a human right, and I can’t imagine spending so much time talking about weddings while denying all the rights and benefits they convey to my friends. As it became clear that Referendum 74 would pass, I began to brainstorm things I and other allies could do to help celebrate the joyous occasion and stumbled upon the idea of handing out flowers to the happy couples on what was to become marriage equality day, December 9th.
At first I tried to get corporate and local business donations to maximize impact, but they all fell through for one reason or another…and that’s when people stepped up. Between private donations, my contributions, and friends bringing their own flowers, we handed out over 300 flowers last Sunday, and when the back doors to Seattle City Hall opened and the first couple stepped out into the light, the first happy tears began to fall and the air was filled with nothing but love.
People have asked why everyone was making such a big deal about marriage equality day in Washington, when everyone having the right to marry should be normal instead of extraordinary. I cannot speak for everyone, but I celebrate precisely because it’s not normal, because it’s one hard-won step in the battle for marriage equality everywhere, on the federal level, not just in Washington, Iowa, New York, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Everyone should have the right to have a nervous breakdown over a seating chart, agonize over a registry, and be wooed by wedding vendors for their big day, not just straight couples. So in the future, in Washington, marriage equality will be commonplace, but for now, it’s a victory, a shining beacon of love and “it gets better” in a sea of inequality. That’s something worth celebrating.
If you’d like to see some more of the day’s celebrations and question whether someone is cutting onions near your computer, check out this gallery of professional photos.
After nine months of unlucky searching, my fiancé, Mr. Illustrator, and I finally found the reception venue of our dreams. It was “falling down in all the right places” and would let us bring in our own caterer and set up our own bar complete with beer brewed by my brother. We signed the contract and celebrated.
That is, until a few weeks ago when, nine months after we booked it, the falling-down-venue told us in a Sunday-night email that they couldn’t honor the 1am ending time we had laid out in our contract. In fact, we’d have to be out by 10pm. We couldn’t change our ceremony time, and our reception was scheduled to start at 7:30, so it would only be two and a half hours long.
Mr. Illustrator and I were on a road trip when we got the news and spent the next few hours in the car panicking. To make matters worse, it took two days for our falling-down-venue to return our frantic calls and emails. Our wedding was only three months away and during the most popular month of the year. Given the time it took us to find this location, we were almost hopeless about unearthing another.
So with time to kill and nerves to settle, we went for a long shot. I called an historic former library that we had looked at almost a year ago. Back then, the owners had decided to sell the building and weren’t renting it out. Now, we called to get the name of the buyer, hoping we could convince them to rent it out to us.
We were in luck, the owners, a preservationist non-profit group, had decided not to sell, and they had recently taken it off the market, so our date was available. They gave us a discount, because they had so many empty slots in their calendar, and they were fine with our homebrew, DIY-style wedding.
And with its hardwood floors and built in bookcases, the old library fits our style perfectly. Mr. Illustrator and I spend two years apart while I was in grad school overseas, so our wedding is inspired by books and vintage travel gear. We had already scrounged up boxes of old books to use as centerpieces and ordered a sculpture cake in the shape of a well-worn suitcase with a stack of teetering books on top.
In fact, our new venue seems tailor-made for us. It turns out that we didn’t need to waste our road trip worrying. Hopefully, we’ll remember that lesson on our wedding day. Even a mishap that seems like a disaster can turn out fantastic in the end.
Get ready to let your geek flags fly, BABs, because today we have a whole heaping spoonful of it. Matt (who was the one who answered all of our questions – a possible BAB first?! ) and Asia had a very sweet, very fun, very budget-concious Minecraft-themed wedding. They blog about their life over at Happily Married Nerds, and after sussing out this awesomeness, you’ll definitely want to head on over and see what they’re up to.
Name: Matt & Asia Dunn
Occupation: I work for Apple as an internal product training developer and instructor. I also write iOS game reviews and articles for TouchGen.com.
Wedding location: Beatnik Studios, Sacramento, Calif.
Wedding Date: April 22, 2012
Budget: $5,000 (although we went over by a couple thousand)
How would you describe your wedding: As people have probably already seen, our wedding was very different than most. Well, at least the reception was. The ceremony itself was fairly traditional save for the fact that my old roommate/good friend married us in place of an ordained minister. (He was hilarious. It was awesome.) Of course, the biggest way the wedding traveled out of traditional territory was the Minecraft-themed reception area, complete with a cave entrance, indoor trees and plenty of Minecraft characters and creatures.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? The Minecraft-themed reception decorations are by far the part of the wedding we enjoyed the most, and the part we are most proud of. Everything came out BETTER than what we had imagined, which is rare when it comes to crazy pie-in-the-sky ideas like the ones we had!
What did you splurge on? We decided to splurge on the cost that we really feel matters most with weddings: the photographers. As you can see, the pictures/video for our wedding came about absolutely incredible. We were friends with the photographers, so we got a bit of a discount, but that was still by far the biggest cost of our wedding. It was worth every penny.
The second-most expensive aspect of our wedding came from having to borrow and transport the awesome Minecraft figures. The artist, Greg Aronowitz, let us rent them for a mere $500 … total. Normally these figures would cost a few thousand EACH to rent out. The biggest cost was not the insanely tiny rental fee though. Rather, it was the cost of gas to transport the pieces to and from L.A. and Sacramento.
What did you save on? Since we built all the environmental Minecraft decorations ourselves, we saved some money on having them made. We had to pay for the boxes and paint, but the labor was free since it was done by us and our awesome friends.
All of the floral/botanical work was done by my aunt and her daughter, who just happen to be an extremely talented at what they do. Jackie did everything for free, with my grandparents chipping in half of the cost to help offset what Jackie had to pay for all the mushrooms, vines, grass and other plants. This saved us several thousand dollars, and really was the benefit of being related to a very talented florist.
The owner of Beatnik Studios gave us a killer deal on the place due to my promise that the location would probably receive quite a bit of Internet publicity. Luckily, I was right! Two good friends, Zach and Heather, donated all the sandwiches, and one of Asia’s aunts made almost all of the pies. Finally, Jones Soda donated all 150 custom Minecraft sodas due to our involvement with them for the proposal at MineCon. I was not expecting this, and it saved us over $600!
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Considering how perfectly everything went, I honestly can’t think of anything in a true negative. I suppose if I were to say one thing, it would be to put more planning into how to build the Minecraft trees BEFORE starting setup the day before.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? As mentioned above, the Minecraft trees were by far the most difficult part of all the setup/planning process, mainly because we could only theorize on how they would work. Luckily, I have two good friends with very creative/engineering minds, and they were able to make them work. Fun fact: the trees were a wreck the day of the wedding, and my friend Zach built them all up just in time!
One of the other challenges was finding a way to transport the Minecraft figures. The artist had a tendency to not reply to emails for long periods of time, and up until two weeks before our wedding, I didn’t even know for sure when/where we would be picking them up. If we had to make our own figures, it would have required much more work.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? I think it’s just that: we learned how important planning is for getting married. I’ve always been a more spur-of-the-moment kind of guy, with Asia being a bit better at taking things slow and planning them out. My improv skills (along with the friends who helped) were key on the day of, but Asia’s knack for making to-do lists and writing things out was essential to getting everything we needed taken care of. If there’s one good habit I picked up from planning this wedding, it’s that I know make lists about EVERYTHING. Groceries, home needs, chores, yard work, you name it. I use a fantastic iPhone app called “Clear” for these lists now (no, I’m not getting paid anything for them, it’s just an awesome app haha).
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- The Trees (and the cave!)
- The Minecraft figures
- The “grass block” centerpieces
- The Minecraft-themed Jones Soda
- All of our incredible family/friends who helped make everything possible!
- The Minecraft “grass block” centerpieces
- The chains and vines on the wall behind the cake
- Everyone who helped prep and setup
- The pies!
The Minecraft diamond necklace (from Jinx.com)
Top 5 least favorite?
- Setting up the trees. It was extremely difficult to get them looking right and keeping them from collapsing.
- Having only 4 months to plan!
- The stress from worrying about various parties coming together properly.
- Things costing a few thousand more than expected.
- Having to drive to/from L.A. twice for the Minecraft figures. Definitely worth it though.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? It’s not as much “advice” as it is a saying I’ve always heard. People have tried to tell me that a wedding is for the bride, not the groom, and that I should simply nod my head and say yes to whatever she wants without providing my own input. To be honest, if you start off your marriage with no input as the future husband, what will happen after you’re married? Just as with married decisions, decisions for a wedding ceremony should be done together. Yes, there are certainly decisions that are more slanted toward the bride than the groom!
The best? I remember Geoff, one of our photographers, reminding me that this wedding was about US, not about the decorations, the food, the location, etc. After spending so much work on all of those things, it was nice to be reminded that the really was about my fiancée and I and our love and commitment.
If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges?
Sorry, can’t answer that yet. No challenges after 1 ½ months!
Any other bits of wisdom? As my photographer told me, I would encourage all couples to plan your wedding around what YOU want. This will (hopefully) be the only wedding you have, and it’s something you will remember for the rest of your lives. Sure, it’s great if guests have a good time, but the most important thing is that YOU have a memorable wedding for YOU. It’s easy to succumb to pressures from parents that are helping pay for things, or to worry about not being “normal”, but you will only be truly happy with your big day if you and your loved one focus on what is special to you two, and leave everything else out of it. It’s not her day, or your parents’ day, it’s BOTH of your day.
This is the first time I’ve sat down and done this, so I’m honestly kind of nervous at how much this actually cost! Quick note: we were originally planning on a budget of $5,000, but it quickly became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I sold some Apple stocks, and shot for a budget of UNDER $10,000 instead!
Uline.com – $115 total
- 100 x 12” Boxes: $115 (shipping cost included)
Home Depot – $135 total
- 20 x Spray Paint Cans: $100
- Masks: $10
- Easy-spray attachments: $25
Random Building Materials – $50 total
- duct tape
- shipping tape
- fishing line
- mounting tape
- glue sticks
Material for the Cave – DONATED
MineCraft Figures – $1,470 total
- Rental fee to artist: $500
- Van rental fee for both trips (from Enterprise) $159 x 2 = $320
- Gas for both trips $325 x 2 = $650
Fed Ex Minecraft Art Prints – $300 total
Photographery/Video, The Goodness (with a significant discount due to friendship) – $3,500 total
- Photos: $3,200
- Guest Book: $300
- Video: FREE
Food – $80 total (estimate)
- sandwiches: DONATED ($100+ value)
- Jones Soda: DONATED ($600+ value)
- Pies: DONATED ($200+ value) + a couple from Marie calendars: $30
- Tea Makers/Servers: BORROWED
- Plasticware/Plates/Cups: $50 (estimate)
ALL Floral/Plant decorations: DONATED from JackiesFlowers.net (relative)
Wedding Location (Beatnik-studios.com) – $2,300 total
- main rental fee for 1 day + setup (with significant discount): $2,000
- fee for extra time to setup (also discounted): $300
Rent-Rite Rental service – $270 total
- cocktail tables
- 125 folding chairs
- various linens
Cake (custom made by Jenny Biggs: email@example.com – $275 (I paid her around $75 extra because it was awesome!)
Wedding Rehearsal Dinner @ Boon Boon Café in Sacramento - $62 total*
*I only paid for members of the wedding party, everyone else paid for their own food. Asia and I ate for free!
TOTAL APPROXIMATE COST: $9,700
That’s right, we were a mere $300 from our budget ceiling, which was twice as much as we originally intended. Still, $10,000 for a wedding like the one we had is pretty damn cheap if I do say so. We would have spent possibly double what we did if we didn’t have so many generous friends, family, and strangers. Just the floral/plant work itself would have set us back thousands of dollars! Thank God for those people, and thank God for Apple stock.
Congratulations and all the very best in your geekery-filled life together!
Oh, man. You guys. Have you ever seen one of those weddings where you’re all “HOLY CRAP I want to be friends with them,” and then audibly “D’awww” at the photos? Well, Bianca and Andre are one of those couples. This is one of those weddings. These two truly rocked a Broke-Ass-style event ($400!!!) and made sure their time and energy really went into all the right aspects – and they both smiled their way through their garden ceremony and cheesecake reception. Bianca also played it super smart by utilizing her resources: Marrying in a friend’s garden, trading services for the photography, having her best friend officiate, etc. They focused on what the day is really supposed to be: A celebration of one another, their loved ones and their future.
Name: Bianca & Andre
Occupation: Birth and Wedding Photographer & Server.
Wedding location: Friend’s garden in Tempe, AZ
Wedding Date: February 29, 2012 “Leap Day”
How would you describe your wedding: We had a secular ceremony that was simple and sweet. I wrote my vows while getting my hair done the day of and he totally winged his at the ceremony.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? My favorite was our vows.
What did you splurge on? André’s outfit.
What did you save on? My dress! I bought an expensive $100 dress and hated it! I went to Ross Dress 4 Less and found a gorgeous lace baby doll dress for $10 by Miss Chievous.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have started my planning a little bit earlier to avoid the last minute stress that I had.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Everything. There are so many choices in themes and it got a little overwhelming. Our color scheme was purple and orange and from there I chose vintage for me and music for him.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? To have fun with it all. Making the decorations and seeing everything put together was amazing. People are always surprised when I tell them our budget.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? Both of our outfits, the garden, personal vows, having it small, and having my best friend marry us.
Top 5 least favorite? Last minute planning and walking in those high heels. I only fell once though so I think that’s pretty impressive.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? Go all out. You will only do it once and it’s your big day.
The best? To make it about us and how we wanted “our” wedding to be.
Any other bits of wisdom? Don’t get caught up in the wedding aspect of thing but the true meaning of why you are really having a wedding in the first place. Don’t spend money where it doesn’t need to be spent. You don’t want to return home and look at how much you spent and realize you are now broke. You never know, you could return home to a car whose clutch went out while you were on your honeymoon like I did. And lastly, good luck on your marriage. I wish all the happiness in the world.
Dress: $10 Miss Chievous
Shoes: $20 Bakers
Jewlery: $20 Charming Charlies
His Outift: $200 Men’s Wearhouse
Hair: $55 Deja at Bella Melange Salon
Photography: Puruhito Photography
Congratulations and all the best to you to.
Interested in featuring your radtastic wedding to Broke-Ass Bride? Email us or submit via Two Bright Lights.
You guys!!! Spring has officially sprung, and while it looks like it’ll be nice in my little neck of the woods for the next couple of days, spring usually means at least two months of rain and mud. With that in mind, how about a Real Wedding that highlights the fact a little rain never hurt anyone and can actually make for some pretty great photos? Reba and Andy got married at a really cool YMCA in California. It did, indeed, rain on their parade, but didn’t dampen their spirits. And they got a visit from wildlife! Let’s check their innovative, DIY-filled rainy event, shall we?
Name: Reba and Andy
Occupation: Yoga teacher
Wedding location: YMCA Point Bonita, Sausalito, Calif.
Wedding Date: 11/5/11
How would you describe your wedding: Casual, relaxed, in nature. The officiant helped us write our own vows, which included anecdotes about us meeting for the 1st time.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? Saying “I do” of course! Kissing my husband in the rain and feeling surrounded by love and support from our friends and family.
What did you splurge on? Photographer, cake, shuttle buses.
What did you save on? Coordinator, venue (price included dinner), invitations, booze, dress.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Not a thing
What was your biggest challenge in planning? We really didn’t have too many. Even the wedding dress, I bought the first one I tried on. Maybe the biggest challenge was doing so much of it on our own. We really took DIY to the extreme. The day of, the groom was buying non-alcoholic drinks, and dropping them off. A few days before, I realized I needed to have some plywood to cover a very ugly fire pit where we would stand to get married. So I was at Home Depot, getting the plywood, and finding a way to make it fit into our Volkswagen, and delivering it to the Y, and making sure the tablecloth would cover it.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Friends are so helpful. Three of my girlfriends did the flowers for the tables and the bouquet. Some other friends delivered the alcohol. Having a coordinator (and her two sisters) was the best suggestion, made by my mom. They took care of everything, even cut the cake for us. And the coordinator realized just in time that the officiator had left without signing the marriage license, and called her to get her to come back.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? Everyone talked and had fun, the toasts were spontaneous and funny, the food was delicious, the views of the ocean so beautiful. We had a clothesline of photos of us, friends and family, and I loved seeing people look at them and laugh.
Top 5 least favorite? Well, it rained, so there was no sunset. But it really didn’t matter.
The best? Enjoy every minute of the day, it goes by fast! And for the groom, his friend told him not to drink too much.
If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges? Wanting to go on a honeymoon, but not having the money to do so, but it’ll happen.
Any other bits of wisdom? If you are planning an outdoor wedding, and it rains, don’t worry about it. It makes for beautiful photos, and people don’t really care. Also, it’s nice to have casual events around the wedding day. We had a yoga class and pizza party the night before at the hotel, which was inexpensive and fun. Everyone brought their own drinks and got to know each other. We also did a walk in Muir Woods the day before.
Budget breakdown? Click to view spreadsheet.
Photography: Alison Yin
Coordinator: Andrea Frenkel of Lily and Mint
Venue: YMCA Point Bonita
Submitted via Two Bright Lights.
The Broke-Ass Bride is always looking for rad-tastic Broke-Ass weddings and engagement sessions to feature. Interested? You can submit via Two Bright Lights or by emailing us directly!
On 11/11/11, I made two MAJOR wedding-related decisions. I found my DREAM venue, and, very much to my surprise, my dream dress. Today I’ll gush a bit about my venue, and then next week I’ll totally school your Broke-Asses with a few tips on how to quickly and effectively shop for bridal gowns 3 months before your wedding (because, now that I’ve been to a whopping TWO bridal salons, and my wedding dress is in production, I am CLEARLY the expert).
SO…my venue. John and I had done a little shopping for wedding venues over the course of our 2 year engagement, and we weren’t blown away by traditional “wedding venue” options. And when I say “traditional”, I mean places that exist for the sole purpose of hosting weddings and events. For those of you who are just beginning your wedding planning journey, a formal event space is going to set you back a couple to several thousand bucks, depending on where it is, what it is, and what services are included. Oy!
These places didn’t really appeal to us, because we are hardcore city folk. We enjoy having the freedom to go where we want, when we want, and the idea of stranding our entire wedding party at some weird woodland chapel/castle/vineyard/sprawling country estate somewhere seemed strange and unnatural to us. We wanted our wedding guests to get a feel for the places and things we loved, and not spend their whole vacay being ferried from their hotel to our wedding site.
We considered a myriad of unconventional wedding spaces, like indie movie theaters and restaurants. But one weekend we were doing a little casual, wedding related web browsing and we happened upon this place:
THE SOLARIUM in Decatur, GA. It’s a gorgeous little community center that was once a children’s hospital in the early 20th century. It has big, bright, airy windows because back in the day, they thought that rest and sunshine could cure a lot of what ailed you. I don’t disagree! Also, I am a sucker for big, bright, airy windows. And because it’s a community center, and not a weird privately owned event space, we can all feel good about paying the perfectly reasonable venue price – which includes tables and chairs! WIN.
While we did opt for a quasi-traditional event space, I REALLY want to stress that if you’re planning a wedding on a tiny, tiny budget, there are a lot of options that cost almost nothing – having your wedding at a park or your favorite restaurant generally means saving yourself a nice wad of cash. I am lucky enough to have my folks helping out with the heavy financial lifting – but were that burden on me exclusively, we’d be getting married in the courtyard patio of our favorite bar. (And if that appeals to you, contact me – I’ve got a wedding package-sized amount of ideas ready to go!)