Thursday, June 30, 2016

{Life on a Budget} San Francisco City Hall Wedding

We did it!
When Neal and I got engaged in November, we immediately knew we wanted something small and personal for our wedding.  For one, we were on a tight budget.  More importantly, we have been really trying to keep our focus on what is most important to us - our relationship, our little Ethan, and family.  All of the frills that come with typical weddings do not match either our budget or our values, so why bother with them?

At first we were thinking a small affair in a family member's backyard would be perfect.  We would buy the food ourselves, keep it to around 50 people, have friends help out where we could, etc. As I started adding everything up, even doing our simple little backyard barbecue wedding was getting close to $8,000.  We're in a stage of our life where we're trying to pay off debt, not add to it! And we just kept thinking, "Is this worth it?  What is most important to us about this wedding?"

What we decided meant the most to us was being together and making our family official.  With that, we decided to do a City Hall wedding in San Francisco with just the three of us - Neal, Ethan, and me (and our photographer, of course!).  Once everything was planned and sorted out, the wedding total came to $4,775.  That is including my engagement ring!

Our lovely little family.

Below I've listed out every single expense associated with our wedding, just in case anyone was curious.  I've also included lots of pics, just for fun! Our wedding could not have turned out more perfectly than it did.  I am so, so grateful for this life I'm living, and getting to share it with my two favorite boys.

Dancing while E enjoys his wedding cupcake.

Wedding Budget

  • Marriage License - $80
  • City Hall fee - $130
  • Neal's pants & vest - $125 (Nordstrom on sale)
  • Neal's tie - $150 (Nordstrom not on sale, lol)
  • Sara's dress - $199 (J. Crew on ebay! New with tags!)
  • Sara's sweater - $300 (BHLDN - hardly wore, hopefully I can wear it again at some point!)
  • Sara's tailoring - $120
  • Bracelet and earrings - $180 (Kate Spade from Nordstrom)
  • Hair - $40 (Rage Hair Salon, for a wash, dry, and curl)
  • Make Up - $85 (Benefit Cosmetics shop)
  • Cupcakes - $14 (Icing on the Cake, Los Gatos)
  • Ethan's vest, shirt, and socks - $45 (Gap Kids for the shirt and socks, Gymboree for the vest)
  • Photographer - $1,500 (Renee Marie Photography)
  • Engagement Ring - $1,100 (
  • Sara's Wedding Band - $100 (Kay's)
  • Neal's Wedding Band - $600 (Stone's and Gold Etsy shop)
  • Necklace for Ethan's stuffed cat - $7 (Target)
We added fun little touches to our wedding such as "cutting the cake" (sharing a cupcake) and having our first dance (to You Got It by Roy Orbison, played on Neal's phone!) in a hallway at City Hall.  Anything not listed above, such as my shoes, Neal's shirt, etc., were things we already owned. The shoes I wore were special to me, as I wore them as a bridesmaid for my dear friend Dawn's wedding only a couple years earlier.  I did my nails myself at home, and we skipped flowers to save money.  

This was E's favorite part of the wedding, natch.

Our first dance.
Could we have cut back and done the wedding even more cheaply? Of course! But part of the fun was having many of the elements of a big wedding (fancy dress! cake!) without going overboard.  My favorite part of the whole wedding was that our little family was all together, and Ethan was involved in every aspect of the ceremony and celebration afterwards.  He is so important to us, and we wanted him to have as big a part in our marriage as we had ourselves.

E held Meow Meow's paw while we held hands during the ceremony.

Giving his soon-to-be baby sister some love!

A walk wouldn't be complete without an Ethan swing.

Family kisses.

Can you believe this gorgeous building?! 

We clean up pretty nicely, if I do say so myself. ;)

Can you tell I'm a little excited to be his wife?

My favorite pic of Neal and me from the wedding.

Our rings.

Helping me down a grand staircase in City Hall.

Leaving City Hall after the ceremony.

All photos above are credited to Renee Marie Photography, who captured this special day in our lives for us, and acted as our witness at the wedding.  We are so grateful!