2/15 Real Wedding: Vanessa and Brian’s Warehouse, Bar and Food Truck Wedding guest-starring Klingons and Harry Potter

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Hollah!!! Did all you sweethearts recover from the day that is red and pink and schmoop all over? Well, settle in because I’ve got one beautiful, sweet, vintage-y wedding for y’all, complete with vows that feature cameos by Klingons and Harry Potter. Also? THEY HAD A FOOD TRUCK. Maybe it’s because I live in Wyoming and don’t get to experience them, but I am utterly fascinated by food trucks, and I really want to just go wander around a city and TRY ‘EM ALL. Vanessa and Brian made good use of their budget and amazingly generous friends and family to throw this beautiful 125-person fete. Also? There’s a mounted ungulate head and a curious kitty. So much awesome! Enjoy, Broke-Asses!

Name: Vanessa and Brian

Occupation: Resource Manager

Wedding location: Downtown Los Angeles. Ceremony at Factory Place Arts Complex. Reception at
Villain’s Tavern

Wedding Date: 8/28/2011

Budget: $5,000.00 (although we ended up spending about $6,000.00)

How would you describe your wedding: Non-traditional. We wanted non-theist vows and wrote our own by taking parts of different ceremonies found online that we liked. The ceremony was only around 10 minutes long, since we wanted the focus to be the celebration afterward.

The vows were very much “us” in that they included a part of the Klingon vows (Brian is a Star Trek fan) and also included a quote from Harry Potter, of which I am a huge fan. My mom is a court reporter and her judge officiated the ceremony for free as a wedding gift. We rented a local bar for the reception that already had the look and feel of what we wanted, so the décor was minimal. We really wanted to throw a big party for everyone, so we wanted the whole wedding to be really informal and fun.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? I thought it would be the reception, which did end up being LOADS of fun, but looking back, I REALLY ended up loving our ceremony.

While it was very short, I thought it was perfect for us. It was just really neat to see everything come together and our friends who organized the ceremony made the warehouse look amazing.

What did you splurge on? Definitely the food and alcohol, it was the majority of our budget. Even though we were on a really tight budget, we still wanted amazing food and drinks for our guests.

What did you save on? Everything else. Luckily, we have some great people who helped us in every aspect. We mostly saved money by having friends or family offer their services as a gift or doing it ourselves with some help. The photographer was a gift from Brian’s parents, which was a HUGE savings and allowed us to choose a photographer that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

Also, our amazing neighbors from Charlie & Olivia do events and they totally hooked us up! We gave them a budget and I honestly don’t know how they pulled off all of the décor with so little money. They made it look like we spent thousands!

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I only wish we could have invited more people!

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Getting organized. We had a lot to do on our own and it was hard to buckle down and get it done. We had a lot of people helping at the last minute.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Ask people for help! I learned that most people are happy to help and be a part of your big day.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
1. The look/décor. Everything really reflected our personality.
2. Ceremony. We wrote our own vows and played our own music, it was perfect.
3. Reception. I literally danced for two hours straight, it was so much fun.
4. Photos. Looking at the photos afterward just made all the effort worth it, everything looked so good!
5. Food. I MADE Brian sit down with me and eat because I wanted to enjoy the amazing food that we paid for! I’ve had friends who didn’t even have a chance to eat at their own weddings.

Top 5 least favorite? I really only have 3:
1. Finding out how much things cost. I was very surprised at how fast things add up. Luckily we were able to find affordable alternatives.
2. People telling you how to plan your wedding! Everyone has an opinion and it was hard to keep our budget and goals in focus sometimes.
3. Guest list. Since we were on such a tight budget, we really had to trim the guest list. It was hard having people know about your wedding but not being able to invite them.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I don’t necessarily think we received any bad advice, but there were a lot of opinions going around, especially since we did things on more of the nontraditional side. We just tried to remember our main goals for the wedding: to keep our budget in line and not to compromise on what we really wanted. My goal was to be as stress-free as possible!

The best? Stick to your guns! We really kept our vision in focus and it paid off. At the end of the day,it was our wedding and we wanted to make sure it was something we could be proud of and wouldn’t put anyone in debt. Sometimes you just have to tell people “no,” which can be hard.

Any other bits of wisdom? Don’t be afraid to ask. We really loved our local bar and almost didn’t ask them how much it would be to rent the place because we thought it would be out of our price range. Good thing we did ask! Not only was it in our price range, but it was the cheapest place we found!

Budget breakdown?

These are all approximates:
Décor/favors/chairs: $580
Reception Location: $500
Candy Bar: Free, gift from Maid of Honor
Cupcakes: Free, made by a close friend
Dress: Free, gift from Mother of the Bride
Jewelry: Free, grandmother’s

Shoes: $30 for two pairs of shoes on sale
Groom’s attire: Free, gift
Bouquets/boutonnieres: $30, handmade by myself and friends
Hair/Makeup: Free, gift from parents
DJ: Done by a friend
Food Truck: $2700.00
Alcohol: $2000.00, we offered a small selection of complimentary beer and wine, up to a limit of $2000. It actually lasted all night!

Décor for ceremony/reception and event organization: Charlie & Olivia
Photography: onelove photography
Food: The Flatiron Truck
Ceremony Location: Factory Place
Reception Location: Villain’s Tavern
Dress: Vintage Style Clothing

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

The Broke-Ass Bride is always looking for rad-tastic Broke-Ass weddings to feature. Interested? You can submit via Two Bright Lights or by emailing us directly!


Christen Moynihan is the Editorial Manager/ Accounts Goddess/ Unicorn Wrangler for The Broke-Ass Bride. Lover of swimming, tattoos, elephants, bourbon and Champagne. Culinary crusader, adventure advocate, kitty cuddler. Nomad, extroverted-introvert and geek fo lyfe. High-fives are her currency. Affiliate links, like the ones in this post, help make her real money so she can keep rocking life, broke-ass style. Play along on Twitter (BrokeAssChris10), Pinterest (brokeasschris10) and Instagram (brokeasschris10). If you're curious about the world of affiliate marketing, check her out at Bourbon & Sparkle
  • Caitlin

    This looks like a beautiful wedding, but I think it is misleading to say that it only cost $6,000. Many aspects were listed as "free" because they were a gift from either the bride or groom's family. That is not free, that's just paid for by someone else. If the bride's parents paid $30,000 for a large wedding with a full meal, etc, it wouldn't make it "free", it still costs money, just not the bride and groom's money. The bride even acknowledges that they "wouldn't have been able to afford" their photographer if the groom's parents didn't pay for it. This bride and groom are very lucky, but I think the cost of those gifts should be included in the price breakdown. As is, it is misleading to us other "broke-asses" out there.

    • Victoria Ford


      It would also be helpful to list the number of attendees. $6,000 (+freebies) for 25 is obviously a lot different than $6,000+ for 150.

      • Hi Victoria! The number of guests is listed in the introduction. Victoria had 125 people in attendance at her event.

        • Victoria

          Derrrrr. Good reading comprehension, V. Sheesh. (Thanks – and sorry!)

          • Me too, obv. I called Vanessa by your name. WINNING FOR ALL!

  • I love the old fashion theme of the wedding, the pics look amazing!

  • Caroline

    This wedding is absolutely lovely! Thank you for sharing.

    I do have to agree with the ladies above, it is slightly misleading to say this wedding was done for 6k. I have to say, we are having a lot of things gifted – but I try to keep all those things in my budget as well as the cash we are putting down.

  • Hey Ladies! The wedding planning guru, our lady Liz discussed this in her post on Friday.

  • Sharon Paladino

    Looks lovely, and I commend people who work with a budget in mind. I'm sure there is a lot of jockeying around of funds even if people are generous enough to help monetarily!!!! I'm trying to keep my daughter's wedding under $8,000.00, and it will be at a Texas ranch, and we are going to be doing lots of things ourselves. Hope it will turn out as well as this one depicted did!!!!

  • lizcharm

    I'll talk about this more on my post this week, too, but a couple things:
    1. Do what you can with what you have, where you are. And applaud others who are able to do the same.
    2. Not to start another firestorm, but given what I know about the L.A. market (since it's mine and all), this was by no means an expensive wedding, even if you count the gifts. For instance, the photography probably added on another 3-4k, maybe. And two things that they did to assure that non-Platinum weddingness is they found a venue that cost less, and catering that cost less. There's the lesson.

  • Sara C.

    I agree with above! The point is that they looked for alternatives, etc. Can we all have the same cheaper alternatives? No. But can we all make choices that allow us to spend less than $30k for a wedding? yes.

    And for my own planning, I would love to know the quantities of beer/wine purchased for $2000 that was able to last all night – trying to figure out how much to stock the bar is a pressing question now!

  • lizcharm
  • I definitely agree that the cost of the wedding should be listed according to What Was Spent (not necessarily by the couple), but kudos to these kids for gaming the system. Seriously, friendors and DIYing are the only way to go. I'd like to also add bartering skills for goods and services. Broke-Ass folks like us have to be clever!

  • Caitlin

    Of course, I agree with the above points about making do with what you have, and it does look like this bride and groom were very frugal and spent wisely. I'm just saying, add that other stuff to the tally. If their photography is 3-4k, that is a very big difference with a budget that size. It would take them up to more like 10k. Plus the dress and the suit, etc. It's frustrating to see photos of a beautiful "$6000" wedding, but to realize that even if you were just as frugal, you wouldn't be able to replicate their event with only that much money. Looks like they through a great party on a tight budget, but why not mention all of the aspects in that budget?

    • enb

      Absolute. This is by no means a $6000 wedding.

  • prettymindy

    I have to agree with the above comments that the budget listed is a bit misleading. Our wedding is costing somewhere around $25k (which is actually cheap for our venue) and my future in-laws are gifting us $10k by paying for various expenses, but in my mind that doesn't make our budget $15k, and I wouldn't tell people that we had a $15k wedding.

    Aside from this, the couple obviously had a beautiful wedding and were thrifty and smart with their money. It looked like a lot of fun for their guests.

  • Vanessa (Bride)

    Wow, Bride here! Apologies for not knowing the parameters for posting costs beforehand. I will say that even with the gifts, our wedding was still under $10,000. We just decided that instead of gifts from a registry or money, we asked close members of our families to instead contribute in other ways, when they would have probably been buying us very nice gifts anyway. We were very lucky and hopefully others can do the same to save themselves some money!

    • prettymindy

      Hi Vanessa! First of all, your wedding looks like it was amazing! Congrats on putting together such a fun and budget-friendly day. Second, I don't think that any of us are trying to attack you or expect an apology from you; I think that some of us simply feel the wording of the post is slightly misleading.

    • ginner

      We are keeping ours under 10,000 too by having "Gifts" from family! I love the Pink and White dress (the girl walking up the stars) where is it from?

  • Caitlin

    Eeek. Sorry to start a "firestorm".

  • Love this wedding! You guys did an amazing job 🙂

    Love the vintage theme and the photography style! This is just a lesson that it takes a village to marry us Broke-Asses 🙂

  • Lisa in Austin

    hello! I love this wedding! Curious about the logistics of having a food truck cater– we have a bazillion cool food trucks in town and we'll be having a wedding just a little bigger than Vanessa's, it seems like there would be a bottle neck?

  • Clementine Ford

    This is an amazing wedding! I was wondering, did you tell people of the $2,000 bar cut off or just figure you'd deal with it when it happened?