What was the total budget for your wedding?
Our total budget was $22,000 and we kept it way under budget!
- Venue – $3,000 (lodging for us, our guests, and our wedding party was included in this price)
- Invites – $700
- Wedding dress – $1,500 dress, $800 cape, $500 alterations, $90 shoes, $50 earrings
- Wedding rings – $10 (We bought his on Amazon and I already had a ring that we used as my wedding ring)
- Groom’s suit and grooms men’s suits – $1,000 (3 suits)
- Dresses and shoes for bridesmaids – $600 (two dresses, two pairs of shoes)
- Food for rehearsal dinner and wedding – $1,500 (catered by the venue)
- Safari tour – $1,000
- Tent, tables, lighting, decorations – $3,000
- Photography – $4,000 (our biggest splurge)
- Videography – $500 (my best friend from childhood is a professional filmmaker so we got a great deal)
- Ceremony musician – $300 (Don’t walk down the aisle in silence! It’s awkward!)
How many guests attended your wedding?
We had 70 guests.
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
We did not want a standard, boring wedding that people would forget about or mix up with other peoples’ weddings so we needed to make it unique and special to us. About two years into our relationship, we went on a very romantic vacation together to Fossil Rim Wildlife park and while we were there we decided that one day we would want to have our wedding there. I’ve always loved animals so having a zoo wedding was one of my dreams. However, the zoo was much too expensive for our budget and Fossil Rim was only $3,000 to rent out for 3 days and 2 nights. Fossil Rim offers guided tours of their safari in super cute vans decorated like zebras, giaraffes, and cheetahs, so I knew that we would have to have all of our guests go on a safari tour after the ceremony. I picked green and brown as our colors because I thought it matched really well with the safari theme. I wanted the style to be “classy safari” and still wanted to wear a ballgown wedding dress with a long train.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
The best part of the day was the guided safari tour all of our guests went on after the ceremony. Our guests really enjoyed the tour and thought that it was so memorable and fun. The giraffes came right up to the tour busses and stuck their heads into the busses and our guests got to handfeed them! One giraffe was being overly aggressive about being fed and harassed me with his giant head and neck until I gave him all the food! I also got to give him a big kiss on the nose – kissing a giraffe is pretty awesome!
It was truly a unique wedding experience and made our wedding one that no one would ever forget. We had multiple guests tell us that our wedding was the best wedding they’ve ever been to!
Did you do any DIY projects or create any handmade items for your weddings?
We housed most of our guests onsite. The venue had a large lodge with multiple bedrooms that we housed our wedding party in and also had airconditioned cabins that we housed friends in. It made it special to have all of our friends right there at the venue to party with for 3 days straight!
We had DIY decorations for the venue. The venue was already beautiful itself with trees, cabins, wooden benches, picnic tables, and roaming animals so all we had to do was add Christmas lights to the trees.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
Because Thoris is Chinese, we opted not to have a gift registry. It is customary in Chinese culture for wedding guests to give red envelopes filled with money in lieu of a wedding gift. It was lovely to have a part of his culture embedded into our wedding and really really nice to have a gift to our bank account rather than a bunch of over-priced towels!
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
Make your wedding unique and fun. Unique weddings are likely to save money on venue cost (we saved HUGE on having our wedding at a non-wedding venue – $3,000 for 3 days and 2 nights INCLUDING hotel rooms rather than $15,000 at the zoo for 6 hours!!!!) Your guests will remember a unique wedding and won’t be bored. I cannot tell you how many boring, basic, uneventful, but overly-expensive weddings I have been to. There is no point in spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a high-budget boring wedding that no one will remember!
Photography: Sassy Bomb Photography | Ceremony Venue: Fossil Rim Wildlife Center | Reception Venue: Fossil Rim Wildlife Center | Event Planning: Sabeina Harris Events | Floral: Market Steet | Rentals: 5 Star Event Rentals | Linens: 5 Star Event Rentals | Hair: Rockin Hair | Makeup: Henna Ahmad | Wedding Dress: Patsy’s, A Bridal Boutique | Groom’s Attire: Jos A Bank | Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman | Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy | Veil: elizabeth lee bridal | Headpiece: elizabeth lee bridal | Engagement Ring: lance shapiro diamonds
Submitted via: Matchology