maria, engineering grad student and asst. professor & santi, software engineer
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A bilingual wedding Mass, followed by an all-night multicultural celebration in Buenos Aires, planned by an Imagineer.
Planned budget: $20,000
Actual budget: $25,000
Number of guests: 150
LOCATION: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Where we allocated the most funds:
Reception: Half of our budget went to the venue and their recommended caterer, although it was an amazing deal considering all that it included: an eight-hour reception, a three-course seated meal (plus more dessert and breakfast pizza) for 150, the wedding cake, an open bar all night, centerpieces, the DJ, and all the staff. Part of this is that prices in Argentina are significantly lower than in the U.S. (especially where we live in the Bay Area!), and part of this was because we chose a local neighborhood venue, not an international hotel or one of the other big-name venues in Buenos Aires.
Hospitality for our guests: We spent around $5,000 on various things for our roughly forty international (American and European) guests. This included a dinner the night before the wedding (even though it is not customary in Argentina), buying (and troubleshooting!) Argentine SIM cards for anyone who wanted them, and arranging for a bus to take them from the church to the reception (although the distance was short, it was night and winter in the Southern Hemisphere). It also included full airfare for two priest friends, because it was important to us that they concelebrated our marriage. While this didn’t cost money, we also developed a pretty extensive website with all sorts of information about visiting and traveling in South America, both to get our guests excited and to be realistic about how much it would cost. Only a few of our guests had ever been to South America before, so we really tried to make their visit enjoyable, as easy as possible, and worth the twenty-plus-hour trip.
Church choir: While not the largest in absolute value, this was a splurge for us because an organist and a soprano were already included in the fee charged by the church. Their music selection was very limited, though. It was important to us to have music in both English and Spanish, and we wanted a Mass setting that is performed with a guitar, so we hired external musicians. When I heard them sing the Gloria, I knew they were worth every peso.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Website and honeymoon registry: Santi is a software engineer, so he took great pride in creating our wedding website and honeymoon registry from scratch. We ended up with more functionality (bilingual text at the click of a button! Ability to accept payments from Paypal or via Argentine bank transfer!) for only $26 (for the .wedding domain).
Stationery: We printed and mailed save the dates to our domestic guests using Vistaprint for about 50 cents each, including addressing and postage; the international guests received theirs by email or Whatsapp. We also printed our thank you notes with Vistaprint, and paid $50 for 250 cards with envelopes. We printed the invitations in Argentina, and either mailed or hand-delivered them to our Argentine guests before carrying the remainder back to the U.S. to mail to those guests.
Wedding party: Bridesmaids and groomsmen are not customary in Argentina. Santi has five sisters and three brothers, so if we had a wedding party, it would have been large to start with, plus I didn’t feel comfortable asking my friends to commit to a $1,500 plane ticket on top of other bridesmaid costs, so we just didn’t have a bridal party. Our parents were our witnesses, we got ready together with the help of one friend who learned how to bustle my dress, and I didn’t feel like we missed out on anything.
What was totally worth it:
All-inclusive venue: Getting married in Argentina both made it possible for us to afford this sort of all-inclusive venue and made it almost necessary. Given that we spent less than five weeks on the ground during two visits, and that this was the first Argentine wedding I had attended, it was such a relief to know that the people in charge of the logistics were experienced and knew each other instead of trying to piece things together ourselves.
Getting ready and entering together: In the early stages of planning, I insisted that I would not be the only one to be escorted into the church (see point about symmetry below in our vision). After a lot of discussion, we compromised and decided that our parents would enter as couples and we would follow together. The logical extension of this was that we got ready together, took our portraits before the Mass, and rode together to the church. I was glad to have the portraits out of the way before the evening started, and I was much more calm being with Santi all day.
Buddy system and family dinners: We put a lot of effort into introducing and mixing our family and friends. We set up a Facebook group as RSVPs came in, giving people a chance to introduce themselves, ask questions, and make travel plans. Shortly before the wedding, we set up Whatsapp groups with the visitors and a few Argentine friends and family, so that they could make..