After Aaron proposed in December of 2016 I didn’t have immediate ideas of what kind of wedding I wanted and neither did he. Initially we both considered eloping for the ease factor, low cost and potential for a fun vacation. While we were considering what to do and enjoying our first month of being engaged, we decided to book a trip to Madonna Inn for a night with our friends. I mentioned the trip to a friend and she said “Oh are you looking at the wedding venue there?” The truth is I hadn’t even thought of it in the moment but I had considered it as an ideal wedding venue after Georgia told me a year prior how inexpensive & easy it was to plan her wedding there. Anyway, we emailed the Madonna Inn and inquired and easily set up a tour of the space.
When we got there, looked around & got pricing it seemed pretty obvious we would end up having it here. Obviously, aesthetically it’s a dream, but also it’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want to do a ton of work since the space is already pretty elaborately decorated, food & cake are included in the package and it’s easy for family coming from out of town. Just for fun, I did some research on some other potential venues outside of LA and figured out that for the cost of the ceremony, dinner for 120 people and the reception rental, you could rent an empty venue in Palm Springs, ha. For me, I knew I wanted to spend the least time planning this wedding as possible. I didn’t want to worry about renting chairs, tables, flatware, tasting food etc. so it was clear what we should do. Aaron was completely on board so we started looking at dates before the end of 2017. They only had a few dates left and one of them was Saturday 11/11/17; I still can’t believe that date wasn’t taken?! So we went with that.
At about the same time that our lovely videographer Amanda Monroe Finn reached out to me, I was solidifying our photographers, Caroline & Jayden Lee. I got advice from so many people that the one thing to really spend money on for your wedding should be your photographers so I immediately booked them. That’s not to say they were expensive or anything like that, but the advice was that this isn’t an area you want to skimp or ask a friend/ guest to shoot your wedding. I genuinely have zero regrets here. Their photos are really breathtaking and I truly think I’d be just as obsessed if they weren’t pics of our wedding.
One thing I can definitely say about our wedding: we did exactly what we wanted. There were so many aspects of the process that people assume should go a certain way and I thought it was appropriate to ask “why” to a lot of those expectations. For instance, wearing white, having bridesmaids and groomsmen, having your parent walk you down the aisle. This is nothing against anyone who does those things but I think it’s important to question why you’re doing something especially when it comes to such an important day. I wore exactly what I wanted; a vintage white and pink dress from Whurl! Our friends were freed up by not being involved in the actual ceremony so they got to truly support us by setting everything up the day of (hanging tassels, balloons, organizing place cards) while we got ready. And though I love my dad, it didn’t feel right to be handed off as though I was his property when I’m a 32 year old woman that lives on my own and has for over a decade. That being said, we still got to have a fun lil father-daughter dance to “In My Life” by the Beatles later on at the reception. I guess what I’m trying to say is that to me, some of the rules of how a wedding “should be” seem a little outdated.
A little more about my dresses! I’ve had a few friends that have worked with Tashina and I can honestly say working with her was one of my favorite parts of the entire wedding. She’s AMAZING at what she does (her invoice says Dress Surgeon which is the best and most accurate title ever) and made me feel comfortable the entire time. As a human woman, it’s pretty easy to feel like complete crap if a garment doesn’t fit your body a certain way (what an insane and ridiculous thing to actually type) but I never felt bad once in the many check-ins and try-ons we had with my three vintage dresses. Oh and that doesn’t even cover the fact that she took a simple tiered tulle dress and transformed it into a bejeweled beauty. She even saved extra jewels for me so my equally amazing hairstylist Sandra could make a matching hairclip for me.
Back to planning! We whittled down our guest list to about 140 invites and ended up hovering around 100 yes’s which is where we wanted it. Another area we “did what we wanted” was with the guest list. Maybe that seems obvious but you can’t imagine how many people I’ve talked to that said their parents tried to invite 100 of their friends and it turned into a huge fight or worse, they let them and then their wedding turned into a day that didn’t even feel like what they wanted it to be. I wouldn’t say we had any knockout fights with our families about this but we definitely had to say no at times. Maybe I’m being brutally honest here but I don’t know why anyone should ever have to invite anyone that makes you or anyone else uncomfortable to your wedding.
Throughout this whole process I felt extremely supported by my friends and it was just so lovely. Honestly, I mean that. Something I haven’t experienced much in my life because I’m a control freak in some ways and often don’t ask for help, not because I don’t need it but because it makes me feel like such a burden. I really got to see my friends weren’t showing up for me because they expected anything in return (duh) but because they were genuinely excited. My friend Alana did such an amazing job designing our invites and our photobooth backdrop. I probably gave her little to no inspiration because I just didn’t even know what I wanted and she came up with the most perfect invite I could have imagined. I printed them with Mixbook (so easy to use + they have lots of cute templates already) and even included a sprinkle of confetti from Dixie & Twine in each envelope.
I would say handling the RSVPs was probably the most stressful part for me, and something I can’t see getting around. Again, these are all my personal opinions and maybe there’s tons of people out there who don’t feel overwhelmed by this part! But between hounding people for their responses, clarifying their food choices, and unexpected or last minute dropouts it can feel really challenging. Sort of highlights the project management aspects of a wedding and probably an area where having a planner would be a relief. In the end, I know none of this stuff is usually personal, but it can’t help but feel that way when you’re planning a day centered around yourself (which feels weird in its own way!)
The only other challenge I had was around hiring a florist for centerpieces. As I mentioned earlier, one of the many great things about the Madonna Inn is how elaborate it already is. So when it came to decorating the reception room, I didn’t need much! A balloon arch and disco ball were more than enough to make the room pop. I inquired about centerpieces and the prices in general just seemed like a lot for our budget and what we actually needed. One friend suggested I instead go the thrifted flower route as she had done for a photoshoot a few years back. She convinced me and I was off to the races! Zipping around to thrift stores and picking up bouquets of silk flowers and colored glass vases. It was waaaay easier than I expected and I probably spent a total of $60 on fake flowers and vases. For my bouquet I needed a professional and reached out to my friend Yasmine and she really hit the nail on the head. It came out beautiful!