The Wedding Ones: Portraits

You may have noticed that things are looking a little different around the blog today... and if you were here yesterday, you got to see the awkward hours of changes as I tried to get all the pieces to come together!  I still have a few tweaks to do here and there, but it's mostly done!

Today will be the last post we do about our wedding!  You guys have seen the whole process, from our engagement, to figuring out the style we wanted, to picking our awesome vendors, to making our save the dates, website, and invitations, to putting together all sorts of DIY decor, and finally the lovely photos of our ceremony and reception.  For our last wedding post, we're sharing all the gorgeous portraits from throughout the day, along with some details on the budget thrown in there, because I'm a big fan of laying out the actual numbers to help people get a realistic perspective on what this all actually costs (spoiler: it's expensive).  I'm not going to do the full budget breakdown with every little thing, but I'll go over the big stuff.  Keep in mind that apparently the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to get married, and also that we didn't do it alone, as our parents generously helped us a lot!

Also, this is the last time I get to plug all our awesome vendors, so I have to do it up!  First of all, could we have been in a more beautiful location?  The answer is no.  The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden is tucked away behind the University in the hills of Berkeley, and it feels remote and wild, even though it's just a short five minute drive from downtown Berkeley.  You get the whole redwood grove to yourself for your ceremony, and obviously it's just stunning!  And then you walk through the Garden, and there's so much variety and amazing places to take photos.  I'm so glad we chose this venue, as it provided the perfect backdrop and ambiance, and as I mentioned yesterday, you barely have to decorate when you're already in a natural wonderland!  We budgeted $3000 for the venue, and that's just about what we spent for two hours of redwoods, the 5.5 hour reception (plus set-up and clean-up time), and parking.  We saved a few extra bucks by having the wedding on a Sunday.

We stayed at the lovely Hotel Shattuck Plaza in downtown Berkeley.  I love how they decorated the place!  A little over the top in a really good way.

We did a "first look" before the ceremony in the redwood grove, and it was awesome.  That was the moment when all the stress just fell away and I honestly didn't care about anything except getting married anymore.  It was crazy how emotional it was to see each other in our wedding clothes all ready to go; we both teared up a little, even though I had already seen Chris in his outfit before.

After the first look we wandered around the redwoods taking photos with our photographer, Kym Ventola.  As I have said over and over, Kym was absolutely amazing!  I mean, I obviously love all the photos, and she did such a fantastic job capturing our day, but the best part was just getting to hang out with her!  She has such a genuinely happy presence and was so much fun to work with.  I usually feel rather awkward in front of the camera, but she was so good at keeping us calm and comfortable, walking us through it when we needed direction, and staying out of the way when necessary, too.  I had so many guests come up to me and tell me how much they loved Kym, it was weird.  I was like, is this normal?  I can't imagine it is.  Like the venue, our budget for photography was $3000, and that's exactly what we spent.  Wedding photography is expensive, but worth every penny to have these amazing photos to remember the day by.

Let's celebrate my freaking EPIC bouquet for a moment, please.  Ok, I'm a little too proud of it, but I made that crazy thing myself!  On Saturday morning, Chris, Stephanie (one of my bridesmaids), and I went over to the Oakland Flower Market (not nearly as big as the SF one, but much more convenient for the East Bay) to pick up all our flowers, and I had way too much fun and spent $138 on flowers for my huge bouquet and five bridesmaids bouquets, which you can see in the ceremony post.  We had a hang-out-with-all-the-family-and-friends-who-could-come/make-the-bouquets party at my brother's house that afternoon, where I put together this bad boy and my bridesmaids each made their own.  I basically built the whole thing around the big crazy awesome fuzzy orange thing we called "the beast" or "feed me," which is apparently a type of Banksia flower (I think one of the series Crocinae varieties, from what I can tell), and wrapped the stems with some extra lace from my dress, which originally had sleeves.

The flowers for the rest of the event (a bunch of baby's breath and some air plants) cost us a little over $100.  The baby's breath were from lots of stores around town, as they were out at the flower market, and the air plants we bought ahead of time from CTSairplants on Etsy.

This is the entrance to the Conference Center and Terrace, where we had our reception.  I love the tunnel of little palms!

I should have waxed rhapsodic about our caterers yesterday when I wrote about the reception, but I didn't think of it then, so it's happening now while we're "near" the reception area.  We used Carrie Dove Catering, and they were uh-may-zing.  The biggest chunk of our budget went to the food (just under $6500, which included food, labor, sales tax, and all the rentals), and it was totally worth it.  I wrote about how I chose them in this post, but what it comes down to is how they were at the wedding, and it was fantastic.  The food was super tasty (so much of my favorite stuff... salmon, steak, caprese, even sushi! yumyum), everything was set up beautifully (they set up all our decor with the assistance of a couple of our wonderful friends), but it was really all about the service.  I have never felt so taken care of.  They always made sure I had a glass of water (no hangover, yay!), they kept everything running smoothly and on time, and they were just so friendly and fun!

We provided our own alcohol from Trader Joe's (using this handy guide from A Practical Wedding to figure out how much to get), and for wine, prosecco, and beer for about 65 people we spent a little under $400.  We had some left over at the end, but that was fine with me since we got to take it all home!

Walking up and down all the hills and forest paths was treacherous in those shoes!  But totally worth it... I mean, just look at them!  Speaking of which, here are the details on both of our outfits:

Pants and shirt--both Merona from Target, about $45 total (seriously spent a day looking everywhere for the perfect shirt... and then we found it at Target, and on sale to boot!)
Vest--Black Brown 1826 from Lord and Taylor, on sale for under $50
Bow tie--xoelle on Etsy, $36 (lovely seller, awesome products!)
Shoes he already owned
Boutonniere--made by me! Check out the DIY here, and see them all here.

Dress--vintage 1950's cotton lace from Xtabay, $500 (fantastic vintage bridal salon, definitely recommended!)
Dress alterations--about $275
Shoes--Bijou Toecap Pumps by Miss Albright from Anthropologie, on sale for $70
Necklace--custom made by Amina Bridal on Etsy, $90 (so sweet, and did an amazing job! I got TONS of compliments on my necklace)
Veil--Love & Dust Vintage on Etsy, $25 (awesome seller, flexible and friendly!)
Lace headband--lovelikestyle on Etsy, $20 (SO many inexpensive and pretty options!)
Our budget for my outfit was $1000, and I just squeaked by at $980.

We posted about clothing ideas for both our bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I think the clothes everyone chose looked awesome together.  As you can see, we ended up going with all aqua/mint for the girls, and I even got a few guys to wear suspenders!  In case you're confused, we had one of our best guy friends as our officiant, so he wore the gray suit he already owned and got to look a little different than the groomsmen, but we still wanted him in our wedding party pictures.

I put together a little gif of this great moment where Kym had us all walking and laughing, then Chris and I stop to kiss while everyone else continues around us.  The quality isn't great since it's a gif, but I just love the whole progression:

wedding party alivingspace on Make A Gif

That's a wrap!  Wedding, check.

What do you think of our portraits?  Isn't the Garden just beautiful?  Would/did you have an outdoor wedding?  What do you think of my crazy bouquet?  How do you think our wedding party outfits came together?  Last chance to geek out on wedding stuff, folks!


  1. These are the most beautiful pictures, congratulations!

  2. The photos are so beautiful with the big, dark trees in the background. love your dress too :-)

  3. I'm loving all these wedding photo posts! SO beautiful, you guys. And I'm incredibly impressed with Julia's bouquet-making skills! Congrats again! :)

  4. Oh wow...your photos are amazing. All that time and hard work paid off! You guys all looked amazing and like you had so much fun!
    I really love the one where you guys are looking at each other and you can tell you just twirled your dress a bit. So flirty and fun!

  5. I photographed a fundraising conference here recently. What a wonderful place for photos. I almost always hate being anywhere at 6am, but this breakfast event proved an exception.


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