How did you settle on a budget that you felt comfortable with? What factors went into coming up with that number?
We were very fortunate to have the support of our parents, which largely helped determine our budget. If there were things above and beyond the amount our parents gifted to us / or the certain items they agreed to pay for that we really wanted, we then saved and budgeted our own money accordingly. I also used the budget tool on theKnot.com which was really helpful in estimating the cost of everything and keeping us on track.
What was the most important aspect of the wedding to you? (i.e. photography, wedding gown, venue, food, etc.)
It was all very important, but we started with the venue first. I had always envisioned an outdoor beach wedding (living in San Diego, why would you get married anywhere else?!), but my husband suggested we get married at The Immaculata Church. It was really important for him to be married in the Catholic Church, and The Immaculata had even more of a significant meaning because it is on the university’s campus where we met and went to grad school together. Next we had to pick a reception venue, and since I still wanted to do something outdoors and near the beach, I immediately thought of the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina, where I actually worked during college. It was the perfect mix of outdoor garden, but still near the beach. With the reception being held at the Hyatt, we were able to cross a few more items off the to-do list since the food, drinks and accommodations would also be taken care of by the Hyatt and it just made perfect sense for us.
How far in advance did you start the wedding planning process?
About 10 months. We got engaged on December 19, 2010 and we were married October 1, 2011.
How did you save money on the big day?
We only spent money where it made the most sense and where it really mattered to us. We wanted meaningful and beautiful venues, good food, good music, good photos and a good wedding video, so all of the smaller things were not as big of a deal to us and were areas where we could save some money. We didn’t need to go overboard on flowers or decor because the venues themselves were already so beautiful. We didn’t hire a wedding planner or coordinator and did a lot of the ground work, planning and other things on our own and with the help of my mother. We also worked with friends on the invitations, jewelry, and hair to save money in those areas and did a lot of the décor and special DIY touches ourselves – my mom made toffee and peanut brittle for the wedding favors, she did the calligraphy for the invitations, we made the table numbers, place cards and place card holders as well.
What was the most stressful part of planning your wedding? What was the most fun?
The most stressful part of wedding planning for me was planning everything long distance. When my husband and I got engaged, we were both living and working in San Diego. We had 2 weeks after we got engaged and before he moved to the Bay Area for a new job to pick out our venues, and I had one more month on top of that to find a dress and do as much other wedding planning as I could before I joined him up in the Bay Area. The other 9 months of wedding planning was done long distance from the Bay Area with lots of trips down to San Diego and to visit my mom.
On top of that, my whole wedding dress experience was a nightmare. I ordered my dress from a bridal boutique in Del Mar by a small designer who only sells her dresses in a few bridal boutiques. I ordered the dress with plenty of lead time, but once it arrived at the store and I flew down for my first dress fitting, it was like trying on a completely different dress than the sample I had originally tried on. The designer botched the whole sewing job, the sizing was all off, and the dress did not fit well. It was a complete nightmare working with the bridal boutique and their seamstresses (because the original dress designer would not take it back and take any responsibility) to get the dress in acceptable / wearable condition for the actual wedding day. What I imagined to be the most exciting and fun part, turned out to be the most disappointing and frustrating part of the whole wedding planning process.
The most fun part – hard to pick, but food and cake tasting was definitely a highlight and stress free!
How did you make the wedding feel personal to you and your fiancé?
It was important for us to keep the wedding as small and intimate as we could, even though our venues could have allowed for us to invite more guests, but we wanted to make sure our guest list only included our closest friends and family. It was also great getting married and celebrating at meaningful venues that held a special place in our hearts.
How did you decide on the type of wedding you wanted? Did budget have an influence? (i.e. did you have a traditional wedding, a destination, eclectic, formal, casual, etc.)
I think picking our venues determined the type of wedding we wanted and what we ended up having. With my husband wanting to have a traditional church wedding, and me wanting to have something outdoors and at the beach, we were able to have the best of both worlds with a traditional, classic wedding style with a fun outdoor reception. Budget definitely had an influence because we knew we wanted to have a special, memorable, and fun day, but didn’t want to go in to debt over our wedding day. Keeping the guest list relatively small definitely helped us stay within budget, as did choosing venues that were already so beautiful.
What did you choose to splurge on for the big day? What did you decide to save on?
The venues themselves were somewhat expensive (hotel weddings always cost more because you have to use their food and beverages, which are often marked up). But the venues were what was the most important and most meaningful to us.
Also, I had to rearrange some things in the budget to leave enough room to pay for a videographer. My husband joked with me and gave me a hard time about wanting to have a wedding video, but as soon as we got it in the mail after the wedding and watched our whole day unfold together, he was blown away by how amazing it was to have the whole day and all the little moments captured on film. We’ve watched it quite a few times with friends and family already and I can’t wait to watch it with our kids someday. Pictures are definitely important, but they can only capture so much.
What were your favorite sources of inspiration for your wedding?
I was addicted to wedding blogs! Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Carter and Cook Event Company, and theKnot.com were some of my favorite blogs/websites to read and visit for inspiration. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover Pinterest until after we had planned everything and so I ended up creating my own “inspiration boards” by scouring the blogs and internet for pictures of wedding dresses, décor, flowers, etc. and used Picasa’s collage feature to make my boards. It ended up working pretty well, but I think I would be overwhelmed by Pinterest now!
Would you do anything differently?
If I could change one thing – I would like to redo the whole wedding dress fiasco and would have shopped around longer and bought my dress from a more reputable designer and / or off the rack to eliminate all the craziness involved in having a dress that didn’t fit and having to fly down for tons of fittings to get it to fit right.
What advice do you have to Everygirls in the midst of planning their own weddings?
It is your wedding day, so do what feels right for you and is most representative of you and your husband-to-be. Don’t let pressure from family or friends stress you out or make you feel like you have to do something you don’t want to do – whether it is the location, décor, guest list, etc. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by looking at tons of wedding magazines, wedding blogs, Pinterest, etc. and feel like you can’t afford your dream wedding. There are plenty of other creative and DIY ways to save money and still have a beautiful day. Don’t go into debt or ignore your budget – after all it is really just one day out of the rest of your life, and even though it is a really important day and should be celebrated, it is not smart to spend more than you can afford and start your marriage off in debt. Do talk openly and realistically about your budget early on with your fiancé and family members who are contributing. Be clear on who is paying for what so there is no confusion or unpaid bills at the end of it all. Do leverage creative friends, family and Etsy for help with things like invitations, jewelry, décor, favors, etc. Do your best to stay calm and stress-free the day of the wedding. Enjoy it and soak up every moment, because it will be gone before you know it!
(Ceremony: The Immaculata Church on the University of San Diego’s Campus / Reception: The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina / Officiant: Deacon Mike Frazee / Photographer: Chaz Cruz of Chaz Cruz Photography / Videographer: Austin Thompson / Florist: Artistic Florals / DJ: Nik Bordokoff of Absolute Event DJs / Catering: The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina / Wedding Cake: The French Gourmet / Invitations/Stationery: Natalie McElveny / Hair: Kasey Looy / Makeup: Kalyn Pierce / Dress: Alisa Benay for The Bustle Del Mar / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse Tux / Rings: The Diamond Connection / Bride’s jewelry: luxedeluxe Etsy shop / Bridesmaids’ jewelry: Donna Webb of d.ann designs / Honeymoon: Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort)