Aja, Teacher & Steve, Grad Student
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Eclectic and mismatched vibes to accompany a sweaty love fest on the dance floor.
Planned budget: $75,000
Actual budget: $110,000
Number of guests: 210
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California
Where we allocated the most funds:
Our intentions for our wedding and budget started out much smaller. Then we realized that our dream wedding was incomplete without our huge tribe of family and friends. Once we prioritized our loved ones and the overall experience, we didn’t want to hold back on anything that guaranteed a good time. The biggest portion of our budget went to our amazing food and bar. Room Forty is art on a plate and tastes as amazing as it looks. We also had to splurge for the late night nacho gutter to satisfy everyone breaking a sweat on the dance floor. The Pharmacie’s specialty cocktails were catered specifically to my drink preferences and flowed endlessly all night. Cocktails with absinthe, yes please! With a crew as big as ours, rentals were a big expense. Our venue comprised another chunk of our budget, but choosing an antique warehouse for the venue gave us the freedom play up our eclectic, mismatched vibes and utilize everything in the space for function and decor. We didn’t skimp on the talents responsible for capturing the entire event and ensuring it ran so smoothly. We owe the effortlessness of our wedding day to the expertise of our planner, Holly Gray. We trusted gorgeous photography to Julie Pepin and videography to Wade Koch.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We decided to forego a number of traditions. We didn’t have a wedding party, so we saved a lot on gifts and other related expenses. We decided against welcome bags, party favors, and a big fancy wedding cake to allocate those funds elsewhere. We saved money on our invitations by having everyone RSVP through our wedding website. My aunt is an artist extraordinaire, so she gifted us all of the calligraphy on the invitations. She also made the table numbers and did calligraphy on site, writing all seating arrangements on a giant antique mirror displayed outside.
What was totally worth it:
Every part of our wedding was perfect in all its funky glory. Music was a huge priority for us, so it was everything to have a DJ who knew our preferences and read the crowd perfectly all night long. The food, drinks, candy and dessert bar, espresso bar, and photo bus were all special touches that everyone remembered. The venue itself is unlike any other, and we love that no two events there look alike. It was awesome having the entire space to ourselves, with all its indoor and outdoor nooks and crannies for people to hang out and catch some air when breaking from the dance party. The dress, tux, and accessories combined were actually a relatively small part of our budget. We’re glad that we focused our efforts on what would benefit our guests, as opposed to splurging on what we wore.
What was totally not worth it:
We cannot think of a single regret. If we could have, we would have gone bigger, kept the party going later. I spent more time than necessary worrying about the ever-growing guest count, when in retrospect, we couldn’t imagine it any other way.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Our families and friends contributed a lot of money and time to make our dream wedding possible. All of our parents gave to our wedding fund in ways we could not have asked for. In addition to calligraphy, we were gifted the photo bus by the mother of the bride, which was a fan favorite throughout the night. My makeup was a wedding gift by my talented friend and makeup artist, Nicole Blanco. My dress and accessories were all a gift from my dad and mom, with the exception of the jewelry I wore on loan from a friend and local jeweler, Julieri. Our dear friends even brought their private collection of wigs and party props that came out en masse on the dance floor, and took the late night party to a whole new level.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Having a wedding planner is indispensable. Holly made the entire planning process so much easier, and she made the day of entirely flawless. It was amazing not having to worry about a single thing the entire day. With that said, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made and logistics worked out that no one else can decide for you. I think we were surprised by how much time certain things took, when we thought we had loads of time until the big day; it definitely creeps up very quickly, all of a sudden. Get everything done with enough time to take it easy in the days leading up to the big day! Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I will say that I am so glad I kept a running spreadsheet of our budget, contracts, and deposits with due dates and all. That helped keep us organized. In addition, I had a separate spreadsheet with the guest list and addresses, with tabs to keep track of out-of-towners and hotel allocations, etc. The more lists the better—and there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a to-do list!
The one thing I delayed on way too much was writing my vows! If you are writing your own, start rough drafts well in advance. I literally finished mine en route to the venue. Despite my procrastination, they were still perfect.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
There are so many memorable moments from our wedding. One of my favorites was hearing Steve’s procession down the aisle. Since we didn’t have a wedding party, he milked his entrance. While I waited with my dad, we heard his procession song and all of our guests erupted in cheers as he made his way down the aisle, hugging and kissing people the whole way. Our ceremony felt incredibly intimate and there was so much love surrounding us. It really set the stage for how the rest of the evening went. The love in the room was palpable and it wasn’t just us, but the presence of every single person in attendance. It really goes as fast as everyone says it does. There were many times throughout the night that Steve and I were in different places—I was on the dance floor and he was outside catching up with people. I would find myself scanning the room for him, and we always managed to catch a glance at each other. Those fleeting moments where we caught each other’s eyes from across the room said so much—we are crazy in love and were both having the best night ever.