Playful Pond and Garden Wedding

We have a beautiful real wedding for you today.  Dani and Carson worked so hard to ensure that pieces of their personality were incorporated into their day while also being conscious of their budget. We especially love the creative invitations made by the groom! Enjoy this Playful Pond and Garden Wedding! Xoxo, Jessica

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Dani + Carson

August 17th, 2018

Portland, OR | Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

What was your total budget? Please provide a budget breakdown.

Our budget initially was $11,000, and it ended up being closer to $15,000.

Hair & Makeup for bride and mom (included trials): $550.00

Cake Total: $329.00 (I won 60% off!)

Catering Total: $5,163.01 (this includes alcohol, linens, dishware, set-up, clean-up)

Sound System Total: $255.00

Dress and Attire Total: $1,869.49 (my step-mom bought my dress, so my personal total was $979.49 for the alterations, shoes, jewelry, etc.) I was furious at the cost of my alterations ($710).

Flowers & Fruit Total: $403.87 (Includes the bride’s bouquet, groom’s boutonniere, greenery on the tables, and nectarines on each place setting along with setup and delivery.

Invitations Total:$97.00 (Carson designed them, and we printed and cut them at home. The cost includes the paper used to print, the envelopes, and stamps)

Decor Total: $253.63 (Includes Instax film, guest book, washi tape for the guest book, pens, bubbles for our send-off, and to-go boxes for cake)

Jewelry Total: $419.98 (Includes Dani & Carson’s wedding bands)

Officiant Total: $100 (We got our friends a $100 gift card as a thank you)

Photography Total: $1,500 (I won our photographer and only had to pay for the flight and accommodations for the photographer and second shooter).

Planning Total/Day-of-Coordinator: $1,550.00

Rentals Total: $407.00 (Giant Jenga, Cornhole, Ladderball, Chess, and Hula Hoops!)

Venue Total: $3,120.00 (Includes site, table & chair rentals, and set up by the staff)

Insurance Total: $239.00

The above costs do not include the rehearsal dinner, brunch for ladies the morning of the wedding, haircuts leading up to the big day, and any of the groom’s attire because his dad covered that.

How many guests did you have?

We had 65 guests.

How did you meet?

We were set up by Dani’s best friend, Dori. Carson’s friend, Mike, lived in a big house with several people. One of his roommates was Dori’s sister, Rose. Dori was at the house waiting for Rose, Carson was at the house waiting for Mike. Dori met Carson and thought he and Dani would get along well and coordinated a group date for Dani and Carson to meet. We hit it off and exchanged numbers. Within two weeks we were hanging out as often as possible, meeting each other’s parents, and officially became boyfriend/girlfriend. Neither of us has ever had a relationship move so quickly, but I guess we just knew it was right.

What is your proposal story?

Carson proposed on top of a glacier in Denali National Park where we were backpacking for a few days. The wind was blowing like crazy, and a rainbow appeared behind us. It was magical. Carson spent more than six months working on the engagement ring with Lindley Grey. I had no clue!

Tell us about your wedding vision.

We wanted to highlight the beauty of Portland and the garden. Our wedding was the first visit many family and friends made to the Pacific Northwest, and it was important that they see the beauty that brought us here.
Essentially, the wedding was about our closest family and friends spending the day together. We wanted a big open space, so everyone could see the whole wedding and everyone else there. We chose a location that was easily accessible — folks could easily take rideshare to the venue and not have to worry about driving. Our style for all decor and events was to keep it simple.

Tell us about your attire choices.

I wanted a dress that was in my budget, fit my body shape, and wasn’t traditional white. I wanted it to be beautiful and simple. For Carson, we wanted a well-fitted blue suit. I love the champagne color of my dress, and it was discontinued, so ended up being discounted.

What was most important to you two while planning? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?

The three most important things were that the wedding was in a beautiful place, that we got to spend quality time with everyone there, and that everyone had fun/something to do. We accomplished that by choosing a meadow in a garden, doing all photos before the wedding and limiting our guest list, and with lawn games, dancing, and lots of places to walk in the garden. Also, we splurged on extra lawn games bc it was important that everyone have a fun activity. We skipped decorations, didn’t have a bridal party, made our music playlist and only rented the sound system, and had a good friend officiate. Dani also won contests on both the photographer and dessert!

What were your favorite parts of the day?

My favorite parts of the day include chatting with family and friends during cocktail hour, listening to toasts, and doing a soul train to kick off the reception! I loved dancing with Carson to our first song, and then with my dad, step-dad, and best friend during the first dances. It was touching and emotional to hear the toasts and to give our own. It was SO FUN to do the Horah to Havah Nagila and have Carson and I lifted up in chairs — Carson was nearly dropped! The weather was perfect, and it was the best day ever.

Tell us about your wedding flowers.

This was also a big save for us. I went with a local grocery chain and LOVED my bouquet. I met with Libby at New Seasons, who is the lead florist at the location near my house. She totally understood my vision both for the bouquet and greenery on the tables. We kept it simple, and since she works for a store like New Seasons, we were able to keep the cost down. I told her the colors and style I wanted and let her choose the seasonal flowers. I am still in awe of, and in love with, my bouquet.

Tell us about your wedding cake.

Our cake was a gluten-free earl grey cake with blueberry compote and lavender icing made by Just A Dash. We had the same flavor in cupcakes. I sent Stephanie at Just A Dash some pictures of inspiration and let her be creative with it. I love fruit and flowers, and she incorporated both into the cake. The cake went perfectly with my bouquet.

Please describe any handmade, DIY, or personal items.

Carson built and made our welcome signs and signs for the tables. We had a nectarine at each place setting because I am obsessed with fruit and nectarines are my favorite fruit. The colors of the nectarine matched the bouquet and colors of the dessert table. Our friend, Cristina, officiated and her husband, who is also a good friend, wrote the ceremony. It was personal, hilarious, and fit us so well.

I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of Somebody to Love by Queen and played the original version as the last song of the night. The song holds special meaning for us. We had a guest book made and asked guests to take a photo with a Polaroid, tape it in the book, and leave us a message. It was so fun to look through the photos after! We included food and desserts to accommodate all dietary restrictions, which was appreciated.

Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?

We had a quote from my grandpa in the ceremony, I wore my grandmother’s engagement ring and borrowed a beaded bag from my mom. We also danced the Horah (I am Jewish).

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Choose your top three most important things and go from there. You can’t get everything you want, so really think about what is most important. I highly recommend hiring a day-of-coordinator so that you can enjoy your day.

I also recommend checking in with all your vendors regularly to make sure you are on the same page and check again after the wedding to make sure everything was as it should be. Our caterer forgot an appetizer. I noticed on the day of the wedding but also wasn’t sure if I had just missed it. After checking in after, it turned out they did forget it, so they gave us our money back for the appetizer.

Splurge on the photographer!  We have such great memories of the day through our photographer’s eye!

I am still upset at how much I spent on my dress alterations ($710), and I recommend calling to ask for quotes and trying to do this far in advance so that you have the chance to take the dress someplace else if the cost is too high. The place I took my dress did all the pinning and then quoted me, so I felt stuck since the pins were already in.


Photography: Alexandria Monette Photography • Ceremony Venue: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden • Reception Venue: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden • Event Planning: Peachy Keen Coordination • Floral: New Seasons • Stationery: Made by groom • Styling: Peachy Keen Coordination • Wedding Cake: Just A Dash Cakes • Rentals: West Coast Event Productions • Audio Visual: NW Mobile DJ Service • Hair: Blossom And Beauty • Makeup: Blossom And Beauty • Lawn Games: Power of Love Rentals • Lawn Games: Recreation Departmen • Catering: As Good As It Gets Catering • Wedding Dress: M2 Milan Bridal Houston • Bride’s Shoes: Shoes Of Prey • Jewelry: Cat Bird NYC • Jewelry: Lindley Grey • Submitted via: Matchology

Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here