This wedding captured by the talented Davina + Daniel might have my favorite details of all time! The color scheme, the whimsical feel to the decor, the ‘all hands on deck’ approach to planning- the bride Vera definitely got it all right with her wedding details. By doing LOTS of research, taking advantage of artisans on etsy, and employing friends to help, she was able to pull off her GORGEOUS Anthropologie inspired wedding for $10,000! Major Kudos to Vera & Fred, for crafting a beautiful day that truly represented their relationship, even on a tight budget! xoxo- Jessica
Vera & Fred
What was your budget? If you are able, give us a rough breakdown of how you spent your budget.
$10,000 total budget
Accessories and apparel, including alterations and buying the bridesmaid dresses: 15%
Venue, including reception hall and church: 20%
Photography, day-of and e-session: 16%
Catering including rentals, labor and tips: 17%
How many guests did you have?
104 attendees including vendors
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
Everything fell into place once our save the dates’s were designed in December 2009 — our wedding became a great blend of my sense of style — which is very Anthropologie-esque and reflected his love for music. We also set a very ambitious but achievable budget of $10,000 which pushed us to be creative in sourcing the design elements of our wedding. I love flea markets and collecting “found objects” and that’s where some of the details came from. The generosity of our friends also played a big part in the design of wedding — people saved mason jars, lent us vases, and more. The eclectic nature and DIY/”do the best you can with what you’ve got” look of our wedding reflected the spirit of the community Fred and I embrace.
We ultimately incorporated a bird element, musical notes, mason jars and white milk glass. Our wedding colors were peacock blue and persimmon and we blended those in many parts of the day, from the bridesmaids’ dresses to our programs and table linens.
DIY: Slow Jams (Shakirah Simley) made our jam wedding favors and myself and a couple bridesmaids made them with her! We worked out of La Cocina, a nonprofit with a commercial kitchen, that serves as an incubator for low-income women to produce artisanal food products. We made strawberry-lavender jam and an onion-bacon relish (using my friend’s homemade hickory smoked bacon from Devil’s Gulch Ranch).
While I hired Ideal Floral Event Design to put together our personal flowers like boutonnieres and bouquets, I decided to DIY for the centerpieces. I spent $140 on vintage hydrangeas and mums for small arrangement in vintage pink and white milk glass. Fred is an avid reader and I had bought a box of 1970s Reader’s Digests pretty patterned covers at Half Price Books for $20. The centerpieces consisted of blue hydrangeas arranged in white milk glass, smaller vases or else mason jars wrapped in lace with another assortment of mums and dahlias, 2-3 vintage books, German glittered glass table number and tall silver pillar candle holders with a brooch detail.
I bought a couple Martha Stewart invitation kits at TJ Maxx for $7.99 each and printed our invitations. I handstamped a vintage bird motif and enclosed a beautiful custom map by Genevieve Walker. Our gray and persimmon colored placecards were hand-punched with a Martha Stewart border and then handstamped with “You are seated at” and the table number and I hand wrote each couple’s name. I also made our programs which were attached by a brad in one corner. Fred helped to stamp each corner into a rounded one and I handstamped and heat embossed a peony on the lower right hand corner. The backs of the program were a custom monogram from the WeddingChicks.com .
Other ways we saved:
I spent a LOT of time on Etsy searching for items for our wedding, from the bags for our candy buffet to the custom boutonniere for Fred. I wore a formal wedding dress (Casablanca) made of silk organza and featuring intricate beading and pearls. I kept the jewelry understated since most of the “bling” was on my dress — my mother gave me the strand of pink pearls around my neck and I bought a pair of 1940s clip-on rhinestones from Gorgeous and Green. I love bold colors, so I did not hesitate to wear peacock blue Seychelles satin peep-toes (on sale for under $100). Fred’s chocolate brown pin-striped suit came from the Men’s Wearhouse and he wore a boutonniere of grouse feather and twine from Pomp and Plumage ($15). All the groomsmen wore their own black suits but we gifted them green-blue paisley and solid ties and each wore one of Fred’s grandfather’s vintage tie-tacks in honor of his memory. I wore a custom bleached peacock fascinator by etsy seller, Pegasus Maiden.
The bridesmaids wore teal blue one-shouldered ruffled dresses that I found for $36 each at a local boutique, Sway. I had never seen any of them wear the dresses until the day of — I admit the sizing was junior and my bridesmaids are in their late 20s-30s so they mentioned they were a little wary that the dresses might be too short and tight. Nonetheless, they each pulled it off and looked so fabulous. No one could believe I got all four dresses for the price of one “real” bridesmaid dress. I gifted them handmade smoky quartz earrings set in a bronze art deco drop from etsy, Chouettes ($16 each).
Our venue, Campbell Hall and Garden, had just 118 original, vintage Eames molded chairs and six 60″ rounds, four 6′ banquets and 3 king’s tables. I didn’t want to rent additional tables and chairs and wanted to spend money on decor, like linens and centerpieces. So I was very careful with our guest list and maximizing the seating arrangements. We ended up having 3 king’s tables end-to-end down the center of the reception hall surrounded by pairs of banquets (8 people each) and rounds of 10 people each.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
Generally 40-50% of wedding budgets are comprised of the venue and catering. Fortunately, our venue ($1,800) allowed us to bring our own caterer. We spent $10/person on a truly gourmet dinner and hired 4 servers and a bartender from Urban Organics.
The wedding was catered by our good friend, Chef Peter Jackson. I partner with Chef Jackson on hosting monthly pop-up supperclubs (Canvas Underground) in offbeat venues so it made sense that he would cook for our wedding. We saved a ton of money because Peter catered our wedding at cost and we hired servers on our own versus through an agency. We also provided the alcohol and took advantage of BevMo’s 5-cents sale.
Our menu included porchetta with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans. Peter cooked a whole pig over 4 hours onsite in a caja china, which is essentially a wheelbarrow with a roasting oven — porchetta pays tribute to my Filipino roots since porchetta is the Italian version of lechon, roast pork. To honor Fred’s southern roots, Chef Jackson cooked up shrimp n’ grits with shaved brussel sprouts.
For our cocktail hour, my bridesmaid, Marie, made caramel-bacon popcorn balls at my request and my friend, Dan, made his very own “Uncle Dan’s Pickles” (and onions). Another friend, Kristy, roasted her famous rosemary-spiced nut mix.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
My biggest piece of advice: relax and let go! Enlist the help of your fiance, bridal party, and circle of friends. We’re blessed to have talented friends and they have helped us create a unique experience (and also stay on budget). Plus, don’t forget to laugh — things may not go the way you want, but it’ll work itself out. Just take it in stride.
What was your biggest splurge?
Our photography was the biggest splurge. We won our photography package and we covered Davina and Daniel’s travel to San Francisco from Montreal for $1,500. It was definitely worth it because the photos will last a lifetime.
The other splurge was the cake. Alison Obayashi of Two for Two Cakes baked a two-tiered cake with buttercream frosting for us. One layer is called the Peanut Butter Cup, made of Chocolate Butter Cake,Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting,Salted Peanuts. The top tier is Aunt Bea’s Banana Cake, made of Banana Cake, Heath Bar Toffee Bits, and Vanilla Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. YUM, right? I had bought vintage type letter caps ($3 each) that spelled VERA and FRED and Alison tied them together with teal grosgrain ribbon and gray felt heart. Two glittered birds in a nest topped off the design, which also feature swags and dots in charcoal gray. The florist provided the orange dahlias that finished the look.
My next biggest splurge were the specialty linens I rented. The three king’s table had full drape of a Nepalese brocade in teal, green and tan, at $39, and the surrounding tables had standard linens that still cost about $16 each!
What was your favorite detail?
Our wedding was eclectic and romantic with a touch of musical whimsy. Fred is a classical guitar musician from the Southeast. The f-hole of the guitars featured in a Save-the-Date posted on Snippet and Ink later inspired our custom Save-the-Dates created by Vanessa of Canvas and Canopy. I designed the guitar pick and Vanessa bound the Save-the-Date with a gold elastic band so that it looked like guitar strings.
My favorite detail was a surprise and one I didn’t even plan! The friend who introduced us, Jeremy, happens to be holding on to Fred’s grandfather’s vintage tie tacks and brought them so that all the groomsmen could wear them. (See picture 172)
What is the most memorable moment of your day?
I happen to be a wedding planner myself and planned all the details for the wedding but had traded with another coordinator so that I could leave the execution to her and enjoy my day-of stress-free. However, just two hours before our wedding rehearsal the day before our wedding, she called to tell me she was sick and didn’t have a replacement. You can imagine the incredible frustration and stress I experienced. However, I strongly believe that things happen for a reason and with this curve ball, our friends and family came to the rescue in full force. They truly went above and beyond to make it happen. The morning of, I was overwhelmed with emotion and caught myself on the verge of tears many times as I realized how fortunate I was to have such loving people in my life.
I vowed that no matter what, Fred and I would get married. Little did I know as I sat in the bridal lounge across the street from the church that our minister was one hour late because of parade-related traffic in San Francisco! The two groomsmen who were ordained by Universal Life Church were drawing straws on who would marry us when Reverend Wilson arrived.
One of the best moments of the day was hearing our friend, Jeremy — who happened to introduce me and Fred five years ago, read something he had written himself. Rev. Wilson was kind enough to allow Jeremy to read something that wasn’t religious (since it was an Episcopal service). Here’s an excerpt:
This isn’t your ordinary sunday.
some of us have traveled great distances to be here.
most of us have never been in this room before.
we’re probably wearing clothes we rarely wear.
and soon, we’ll be dining and dancing with people we’ve only just met.
It is an extraordinary day, and yet, it feels perfectly natural.
Like the spectacular hills and vistas surrounding the Bay, this ceremony, the wedding of fred and vera, pulls us all up onto a peak together. for decades to come, this day will stand as a benchmark in all of our lives….
It turns out that harmony is considered the vertical aspect of music, separate elements stack up to make something new. melody, being the horizontal aspect of music, tells the story of this new thing as it moves through the world.
Today, we lend our voices to the first few notes of the music they’ll make together…
Photographer: Davina + Daniel
We won our photography from Davina + Daniel — an amazingly talented duo based out of Montreal, Quebec. We really dig their unusual POV (lots of reflections — even off the grand piano in the venue — and silhouettes) and dreamy yet photojournalistic style. Davina kept snapping photos through boxes, shutters and more.
Since Fred is a musician, we absolutely wanted live music for our reception. We turned to our friend, Quinn DeVeaux, and his band, the Blue Beat Review. He writes his own songs which sounds like 1950 and 60s blues, Americana, and R&B music. He surely got our guests out of their seats!
Our ceremony musicians are friends but also professionals. Jard Davis is a classical guitarist in the Spanish style like Fred and Jessica Wan is a soprano. Jessica sang Ave Maria for my walk down the aisle. Fred happened to compose our first dance, which he called “Vera’s Waltz.”
Flowers: Ideal Floral Art Design
Ideal Floral Art Design is creating our personal flowers, including bouquets and boutonnieres. They are a couple of up-and-coming talented gals. I’m excited to have them incorporate a vintage brooch with blue rhinestones that I got at Mignonne Decor (a local vintage/reuse store) and lace (salvaged) into my bouquet. Our cake table was also from Mignonne Decor, a salvaged bistro table painted silver.
Photo Booth: Green Cheeze Photo Booths
We hired a photo booth, Green Cheeze Photo Booths, to entertain our guests at cocktail hour and during the reception. Everyone, including my 96-year-old grandfather struck a pose and had fun with dozens of props including finger puppets.
Rentals: Hartmann Design Studios
Our few rentals — mostly linens — came from Hartmann Design Studios and Impact SF (for lighting). Hartmann had such a great selection of linens and basics, of course. I allocated a portion of our budget to specialty linens for the head table to elevate the look of our wedding.
Favors: Slow Jams (Shakirah Simley)
Makeup: Beth Alyse Snyder, Guerilla Makeovers
Hair: Penney Do
Custom map: Genevieve Walker
Coordination/Design: Self (Va de Vie Events)