The first wedding venue I visited was 7 hours and 425 miles away from where I live. At the time, I was picturing a simple (but expensive) wedding on a beautiful but not kitschy ranch with 150 guests. The nearest hotel was 10 miles away, there was no cell service, and no Ubers. Oh, and it cost $20,000 to rent the venue.
I spent the following days visiting other wedding venues in Northern California, each one more beautiful and more expensive than the last. The tipping point was the $80,000 venue, with the average cost of a wedding there being $150,000. I think it was then that I realized I wasn’t going to enjoy wedding planning. While some parts are fun and exciting, most of it makes you painfully aware that the wedding industry is a billion-dollar business and it shows.
2021 was full of me coming up with wedding plans that never came to fruition. Either the venues were way out of our budget, they were booked until 2023, they were too far away, the list goes on. I had spreadsheets, my maid of honor had spreadsheets, and we each looked at hundreds of possible wedding locations until our eyes bled. At the end of 2021, we landed on a venue that was well within our budget. I should have been relieved–even excited. Instead, I was exhausted and hated wedding planning but part of me felt like “this is what you’re supposed to do”.
Our initial wedding plan was going to cost us around $25,000 and to keep that number low, we were sacrificing a lot on aesthetics. The venue we chose was a community center in Danville, CA that costs $1,500 to rent (a huge saving!). We liked it because it is surrounded by trees and the lawn would be the perfect place for a ceremony. The inside, however, was just a typical rec center with fluorescent lights, shiny hardwood floors, and maroon moulding. It reminded me of a basketball court but I tried to look past it. What it lacked in aesthetics we would have to make up with florals, drapery, and rented furniture. I was even considering renting indoor trees to distract from the interior. So all the money we saved with the venue was going to make it up with the cost of decorations. It felt like we couldn’t win and the worst part was I wasn’t even excited about my own wedding.
Pretty quickly I realized the type of wedding I was planning wasn’t what I really wanted. I wanted my wedding to be closer to home, less extravagant, more us, and I didn’t want us to spend the amount of money that it was going to cost. I had a feeling my fiancé Rocky was feeling similar. So I looked at him one day and asked, “Do you want to just get married at the courthouse?” We both sort of laughed, then immediately realized. Oh, that is what we want.
So, Why Are We Having A City Hall Wedding?
To us, it is perfectly romantic, intimate, and has a similar spontaneity to eloping. For months, I would tell Rocky (sometimes with tears in my eyes from wedding planning fatigue) “I just want to marry you.” It feels true, simple, and earnest for us to do it this way.
Trying to plan around close family and friends who are also planning to get married in 2022 was frustrating and hard. I wanted to accommodate everyone so badly that I actually was making things really inconvenient for myself and Rocky. I was making a lot of decisions based on other people which felt wrong. Now, we are getting married the way we actually want to.
HOT TIP: Check in with yourself and your partner often. A lot of the plans I was making in the beginning were based off things I was told we should do. It’s easy to get caught up in the Pinterest-perfect wedding, but that’s not for everyone.
We want the most important moment of our lives to be with the people who mean the most to us. The max amount of people allowed at a city hall ceremony in LA is 25 – and that info is likely pre-Covid. We are choosing to spend this part of our nuptials with the people closest to us so we can be really present when we commit to each other.
After we are legally husband and wife, we don’t have any immediate obligations to other people. We don’t have to go around and thank every guest for coming or act any certain way. We just get to soak in the commitment we made to each other for a whole day. We will go out to dinner in lieu of a rehearsal dinner with our best friends and family. This is honestly my favorite detail and it’s something we came up with it because it sounds fun. We know it’s not traditional but it feels right to us.
Aesthetically speaking, we think it’s cool. I will still wear a wedding dress and Rocky will wear a tuxedo even though our marriage will be made official in a government building in Downtown LA. It feels perfectly stripped down and puts more focus on our style as a couple.
The future Trombetti’s (that’s us) will cordially invite friends and family to a small reception the following day. We are not completely opting out of a fun party because I am an enneagram 7 after all. We will be having a backyard reception at my parent’s house and at the end of the night, my wish is for everyone to jump into the pool.
At our reception, we will have our first dance and father-daughter dance. Also at the reception, we will recite our own written vows to each other in front of everyone we love (because you can’t recite your own vows at city hall). I will cry hysterically and Rocky will keep his cool. We will dance, eat, and laugh a lot and then when the night is over I’ll be married to the love of my life.
So How Much Will Our Wedding Cost?
With the average cost of an LA wedding in 2022 being $36,890, I’d be lying if I said part of this plan isn’t about saving money. When we realized we didn’t want a big wedding, it made the decision to have a very small one pretty easy. For two introverted folks like us, a small wedding makes sense and saving money is just another perk.
So, how much will our wedding reception cost? I know this is the question on everyone’s brains (and trust me, it’s on mine too). Our vendors aren’t solidified yet, but these are estimates based on average costs in my area.
City Hall Ceremony ~ $25
Catering ~ 1,000
Alcohol ~ 2,500
DJ ~ 1,000
Photographer ~ 2,000
Florals ~ 1,500
Lighting ~ 1,300
TOTAL ~ 9,525
If you think it is insane that a small reception like this still costs that much, you are not wrong. We could completely opt-out of a reception, making our grand total $25. But we do want a reception, and that’s truthfully all that matters. This is our wedding plan and it is one we are actually excited about. Isn’t that something?
And that is truly it. Now I want to know, what made your wedding day special? What do you remember most? Any wedding industry folks out there have any insider tips to share? Tell me everything. xx
Opening Image Credits: Design by Ryann Miller | Styling by Emily Bowser | Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Ryann’s MOTO Reveal: A Moody Multi-Functional Living And Dining Room With A Lot Of Soul