jenn, senior sourcing operations manager at ModCloth & clarence, salesforce administrator at technicolor

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Once in a lifetime mid-century modern tiki dinner party with a ceremony before appetizers.

Planned budget: $16,000
Actual budget: $14,850
Number of guests: 27
LOCATION: Palm Springs, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

Catering and alcohol, venue, and photographer came in around the same price, and altogether accounted for 75 percent of the total budget. They held equal footing of importance in my book, but the photographer was definitely the easiest to book. I’d been drooling over their photos while trying to gain inspiration, and Michelle at Rad + In Love put me at ease immediately; I knew whatever I was going to be able to pull off would be immortalized perfectly in her work, especially given her extensive portfolio in Palm Springs. Our amazing caterer, Hungry Bear Catering, doesn’t offer tastings for small parties, and they’re based in LA, but their reviews and photos made us feel comfortable taking the bet over going with a bigger, local caterer. The bet totally paid off! They traveled for a minor fee, got Petit Sweets to do the cake, and offered a bartender. Huge win.

While I love flowers and could have found a simpler venue to spruce up with them, we opted to go for clean lines and just have some centerpieces from Bloominous to allow the architecture to shine. No bunting, just lots of mid-century modern vibes. Many online forums showcase the worries of brides concerned their wedding won’t look wedding-y, but I can guarantee if you have a couple of adults saying vows and they’re the fanciest of the party, it’s easy to confirm you have, in fact, attended a wedding.

Where we allocated the least funds:

Paper correspondence (menus, invites and save the dates, custom guestbook) took the least amount of money at around $180, but shockingly (to us!) some of the most time. We spent hours looking at what was available in the market to meet our tiny budget and specific aesthetic, but ultimately decided to DIY and agonize to get the look we wanted. It felt very “us” at the end of the day, but if you go this route just know you’ll be up at 1 a.m. formatting images and cursing your decisions.

Bohemian Desert arrangements from Bloominous were perfect for both the centerpieces and a bride’s bouquet, and they allowed us customize it to fit our palette.

The half case of Veuve Cliquot for the toast was a generous gift from our friend and officiant. That arch? Totally a garden fixture from Lowe’s assembled the day before (and put up for free on Craigslist the next morning while we ate leftover cake). The macramé was DIYed the month before on the floor while healing up from a back injury, and it was surprisingly therapeutic to complete! We borrowed a friend’s Costco speaker with a mic, connected a phone with a Spotify account, and called it a day. We’re not winning any awards with our playlists, but we’re also not not winning. Clarence’s wedding band was bought on Amazon, and Jenn’s was bought vintage from the same jeweler who refurbished a vintage setting for the engagement ring.

What was totally worth it:

Spending the three months post-engagement just casually looking for inspiration and enjoying each other’s time. A wedding is not a trivial event, and we footed the bill ourselves, so we spent our time researching the costs, components, and market for everything we found essential. The information is empowering so you know how to best stay within your budget.

Keeping the party small. Neither of us are great in crowds, amazing hosts, or masochists, so we rightfully kept it super focused, and we were rewarded with tons of face time with our amazing family and guests.

Planning the heck out of the weekend and setting expectations for everyone. No shame—there was a detailed spreadsheet


Wedding Warriors TC

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