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This wedding probably ranks among my favorites we’ve ever featured. First of all, these photos, y’all. STUNNING. Lucas Mobley captured the energy and spirit of this day so flawlessly I almost feel like I was there! I love all the special colorful details and the intimate dinner party feel of their long reception tables. Amber definitely took on some great DIY — spending a year crafting tons of yarn pom pom balls to decorate their space. I think they are so whimsical and fun! This group looks like they truly celebrated this union and it’s just so fun to see. Thanks John + Amber for sharing your special day with us — and congrats!! xoxo, Jessica
John + Amber
August 9, 2014
Camano Island, Washington
What was your wedding budget?
Venue (Including having the venue space Friday-Saturday-Sunday and renting 5 cabins and group camp site for Friday and Saturday): $1136
My attire (including shoes, undergarments and alterations): $1280
Other attire (including paying for my mom’s dress, John’s dad’s tux, paying my stepdad to make cufflinks, and the nail salon bridal party gift): $930
Food (including day-of catering, way too much alcohol, the cake, and food for the whole weekend): $3496
Misc Decor (yarn for pom poms, tulle, vases, etc): $410
Tree and pot for tree planting ceremony: $200
Paper (including Save the Dates, semi-DIY invitations, postage and thank you cards): $309
Generator and Sound System: $250
Rings (That we made ourselves!): $900
Total: $12,986 ($2,986 over budget, $1,500 of that is due to a last-minute photographer change)
How many guests did you have?
29 people including us
What creative or personal aspects did you include in your wedding?
Every step of the way we thought about wedding planning for us. I looked at a lot of blogs and websites for inspiration, but it all came down to what made sense for us, and what we wanted to do with our day. I’m a creative person who likes planning, so I really thrived and got excited about the whole thing! The biggest endeavor were all those pom poms. I’m not sure I could calculate how many hours it took to make them all, but basically it was a couple of hours or more per week for almost the entire year of wedding planning!
I think the most personal aspect of our wedding was that we had our parents (my mom, his dad) co-officiate and my sister and his brother read poems during the ceremony. There is no one in the world I would have rather marry us than the people who brought us into this world and made us who we are! John was in seminary to be a catholic priest for 4 years. While he’s no longer catholic, he loves ceremonies and rituals and so our ceremony was incredible thoughtful and personal.
What was the biggest thing you did to save money?
The small guest list! I know it’s not for everyone, but it was by far the number one best decision we made. I was able to have a conversation with everyone and I didn’t miss anyone (except 2 or 3 people that were invited but couldn’t make it). By having a small guest list, that made a lot of costs go down: venue, food, decor, and papers all could have been a lot more!
The other huge money-saver was the venue. $1136 for the venue for 3 days, 5 cabins and group camp site for 2 nights! And the location was absolutely beautiful.
What was your biggest splurge?
The photographer! We originally had another one that was $1500 cheaper, but she ended up getting pregnant and being due within a week of our wedding! We were in a pinch and had to increase our budget to find anyone. While we really liked our original gal, I’m so so happy that we ended up with who we did. He was an absolute highlight of the entire wedding process, and now we have the most incredible collection of photos from our wedding.
What’s the best advice you have for planning your wedding now that you’re on the other side?
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower. Plan, think of the things that could go wrong and do your best to prepare for it, think about the logistics, make a master to-do list and a list of everyone’s phone numbers, and be prepared. But when the day comes, know that things will go wrong. Nothing will go exactly as you planned no matter how seamlessly you planned it. So be prepared to ride the wave of your wedding and enjoy it.
Everyone says “It goes by so quickly!” and I wasn’t prepared for that. It goes by in a heart beat. Live it up, smile until your face hurts and hold your new husband close all day long while surrounded by all of your favorite people. It’ll be beautiful no matter what.
What was your favorite detail?
The intimacy was beautiful. We had our guests participate in the ceremony, we had an open floor for toasts, we gave everyone hugs and conversations organically and without a receiving line. Everyone was raving about how intimate it felt, and several people have said that they feel closer to us afterwards, after realizing that they were ones of very few that we wanted to share our day with.
What was the most memorable moment of your wedding day?
There are so many! My maid of honor’s speech made everyone cry. The dancing. The sunset. The dinner. The root beer floats. The spontaneous conga line to the piñata. The bon fire. But the one thing that I’ve been telling everyone when they ask how our wedding was, is: eagles came! We had 3 eagles flying low and calling to us throughout the ceremony and dinner. I don’t know if it was the salmon on the grill or the giant white dress or the big crowd of people, but the eagles were very interested in us, and it was one of those beautiful things that you could never plan but make the day feel so much more special.
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.