Gloria, Product Manager & Jason, Designer
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A dash of whimsy, a splash of color, a little DIY, and a whole lot of love.
Planned budget: $40,000
Actual budget: $34,000
Number of guests: 70
Where we allocated the most funds:
Our venue, food and beverages, and rentals accounted for about 40 percent of our budget, and our key vendors (coordinator, photographer, videographer, photo booth, and DJ) added up to another 35 percent. We wanted our wedding to be a happy, joyful party for all of our friends and family, and we wanted to capture those memories, so we allocated funds accordingly!
For a Sonoma County wedding, our venue rental and catering were actually really reasonable. We saved by having an “off-season” wedding, plus there was an extra discount running when we booked. The General’s Daughter is associated with Ramekins, a caterer/culinary school, and most of the standard rentals were included, so we didn’t have to spend time picking out place settings or linens. The food was fantastic—our guests still rave about it. We were told that the bride and groom usually don’t get to eat much, but we made sure to eat our entire dinner! We did have to rent a bunch of heat lamps (April wedding, outdoor dinner), which added up. A week before our wedding, the weather forecast for our big day was 80 degrees and sunny, but it was actually 65 and cloudy on the day of, so they were worth it!
Where we allocated the least funds:
Our outfits. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have seen MANY episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, but when it came down to buying a wedding dress, I just couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on something I’d only wear once. I spent a lot of time browsing white evening dresses online and looking at bridesmaids dresses before finding the most perfect dress at Modcloth just a few months before our wedding. It was pretty much the opposite of what I had pictured wearing, but it fit the whimsical, happy vibe that we were going for perfectly. With alterations and a pair of sparkly heels from Lulus, my outfit came in way under budget. Jason’s suit was from Banana Republic, purchased with a 50 percent off friends and family discount!
What was totally worth it:
We didn’t want to spend too much money on flowers, and many florists in wine country have pretty high minimums. We were so lucky to find Natalie of Mack Floral Design, who managed to give us the most gorgeous, happy floral arrangements within our budget. My floral crown and bouquet were both AMAZING. We had collected all sorts of stray bottles and vases to use as centerpieces, and at the end of the night, our guests took them all home. Afterward, friends and family told us about how long the peonies lasted, how they gifted flowers to parents who had watched their kids during our wedding, how they repurposed the vases, how they packed succulents in their suitcases and took them back across the country. It was so lovely to know that our centerpieces lasted more than one night!
What was totally not worth it:
There isn’t anything that we regret, but if we had to cut back, there are some things we might re-evaluate. I was super picky about our photo booth and ultimately chose Magbooth because they had an aesthetic that I really liked. The photos were beautiful and hilarious, but the booth ended up pretty underutilized. We had booked it for three hours, but didn’t want to pay extra to break up the time between cocktail hour and dancing, so it went unused for an hour during dinner. Also, with such a small wedding, even during the last two hours of our wedding, there were still plenty of moments where it sat unused. Between dancing, eating dessert, and catching up with friends and family, the photo booth just ended up being one of the last priorities for everyone, ourselves included.
A FEW THINGS THAT HELPED US ALONG THE WAY:
A wedding coordinator was required by our venue, but we’re so grateful we had them. Alex and Heather from Quintana Events answered my gazillion questions during the year up to our wedding and took over management of our vendors about a month before the wedding. The day of the wedding, they set up all my DIY decor and made sure everything went flawlessly, which meant none of our friends or family had to take on that responsibility, and everyone could just enjoy themselves. We had been told repeatedly that something would definitely go wrong, but honestly, nothing did!
I’m basically a crazy person who started building spreadsheets and to-do lists the day after we got engaged (thank you, Google Drive). But I don’t regret that! We had more than a year to plan our wedding, and we took that time to get things done as early as possible, so we never felt panicked. I wanted to include a bunch of DIY elements, including learning calligraphy and handwriting every envelope; illustrating, building, and printing our invitation suite and other wedding-related stationery; making little gold animal escort card holders; spray painting wine bottles etc., and we did it all with time to spare!