Hester, teacher & Iain, product manager
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: There was a rainstorm and no plan B, but everyone pitched in to make it happen with lots of love.
Planned budget: $5,000
Actual budget: $3,800
Number of guests: 70
Where we allocated the most funds:
Champagne at the wedding reception (bought wholesale by the crate), as well as the free flow at a little bar owned by someone we know where we had wedding drinks and the after-wedding gathering. This was more than a third of our budget.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Our wedding venue was this beautiful park with the most amazing history, so we didn’t have any decorations at all. Our initial thought was that people could walk around and take photos of the surroundings… but then on the morning of the wedding, it rained so much that the government hoisted the amber rainstorm warning (in Hong Kong, we have colored warnings for the intensity of the rainfall).
We also didn’t hire a photographer. For our engagement shoot, we set up a tripod and used a remote shutter control, but we figured this might not be so feasible for the wedding. So we asked several good friends with DSLRs to take photos in raw, and then we edited the photos ourselves. In retrospect, I wish we had more photos of our wedding, especially at our post-wedding drinks gathering (of which we have none because we wanted our friends to have fun and not be on photo duty).
What was totally worth it:
My dress! My bridesmaids and I thrifted almost everything for our wedding, and I had a cute, flirty BCBG evening dress that I bought secondhand for only $50. I also had a red Chinese dress I thrifted for $25, because I did not want to spend a lot of money on a dress I would wear for only one day, and I didn’t want a white gown. But you know all those stories you hear of brides who knew it was the dress? I didn’t believe it at first, until I tried on my dress at the Ted Baker shop and actually teared up. Even then, it took a lot of convincing by my very understanding and patient partner that even if I splurged on this dress, our wedding was still pretty thrifty. In the end, the blue China pattern on my dress matched our Chinese venue perfectly, and I wore the thrifted party dress to our post-wedding drinks. I’m hoping to wear my wedding dress again on our first anniversary.
What was totally not worth it:
We planned everything with an eco-conscious and thrifty mindset, so we opted not to include lot of things that would have been nice, but weren’t necessary. That said, though, we know our type of wedding isn’t for everyone. We didn’t have a wedding banquet, and we didn’t take many wedding photos because we wanted a relaxed and carefree gathering where we could kick back with a glass of wine or beer, and actually hang out with our friends without all the wedding obligations and duties. Instead, our friends got a sandwich and a bag of chips in a paper bag and some finger food. We hope we made up for it with the open bar.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Having understanding parents and friends who took on all my idiosyncrasies and embraced my wedding vision helped a lot. I loved how everyone jumped in and helped us thrift for the wedding. Friends who married just before us gave us their leftover decorations, and my bridesmaids searched all the flea markets and online thrift sites for wedding-related paraphernalia. On the morning of the wedding, our family and friends showed up early, and rolled up their party frocks and suits to help us set up in the pouring rain. While we couldn’t have the ceremony in the airy open courtyard, in the end, it brought everyone closer together—literally, since we had to huddle together under the only covered pavilion.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Make the wedding truly yours, to reflect who you are. We wrote the ceremony ourselves and chose a dear friend to unofficially officiate (we signed the legal papers with a lawyer just before the ceremony). And, following the APW womanhood vibe, I purposely wrote the ceremony script so the bride went first in the vows and acknowledgements, followed by the groom. I also didn’t let myself get bogged down with the perceived must-haves for a wedding, or feeling guilty that I didn’t feed our guests a proper dinner. (Okay, maybe just slightly, but no one noticed any of that.)
Favorite thing about the wedding:
The post-wedding drinks (unfortunately we have no photos) were the best part because it was a bunch of our friends hanging out at a bar where we always hang out anyway. Carrie, my bestie and bridesmaid, gave the best speech ever with a song she wrote for us, sung to Billy Joel. She got all our friends to sing different verses and everyone joined in on the chorus. It was a spectacular wedding speech for the ages. I actually met Carrie in Hong Kong and when I was planning my wedding, she gave such practical wedding advice—it’s no wonder we became such great friends.