Ariana, Regulatory Affairs Strategist + John, Data Science and Insights Director
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: An endless summer night of live music, funfetti, and funnel cake.
Planned Budget: $55,000
Actual Budget: $65,000
Number of Guests: 150
Location: Wave Resort, Long Branch, New Jersey
Photographer + Videographer: Cassie Castellaw Photography and Simple Love Films (Dom Porco)
Where we allocated the most funds: The venue. We spend a lot of time in the Long Branch and Asbury Park area, and it was a dream for us to bring our friends and family together for a weekend along the Jersey Shore. Finding a non-traditional space with a view that was large enough to bring together our large Indian/Italian and Irish families was a priority. The creative menu at The Wave, with locally sourced ingredients like heirloom tomatoes and Jersey blueberries, was a bonus.
Where we allocated the least funds: The flowers. We knew we wanted a modern, minimalist floral design that didn’t feel too “bridal.” Since the pandemic delayed our wedding, we had a whole extra year to DIY.
The vases and table decor were hand poured using cement, molds from Etsy, and saved recyclables. Our venue had a minimalist, industrial look to it, so the cement played into that style nicely. We went with bleached dried florals, so that we could transport the centerpieces to the venue ourselves and not worry about refrigeration. We sourced the flowers from the flower market in New York City and assembled the centerpieces, bouquets, and boutonnieres in our condo during the weeks leading up to the wedding. It took a year to make all the cement pieces, but when all was said and done, we probably spent a tenth of what it would have cost to have the florals done professionally.
What was totally worth it: The band. We first came to know Juice through our time writing about on-campus artists at Boston College. Then just freshmen playing out of their college dorm, they’ve since gone on to do incredible things, touring the country and recording. They don’t typically play at weddings, but we’ve been fortunate enough to really get to know the band over the years and book them just before their new album release. They played mostly originals and ended the night with a lot of new fans.
In true Jersey fashion, the highlight of the night for us was when they played “Born to Run” for our first dance. It was also totally worth it to bring in professional lighting for the set to give it a true concert feel.
What was totally not worth it: Bridal parties and the bachelor/bachelorette weekend. We share all our friends, so it just wasn’t practical. We also did not want to put that financial pressure on them. Instead, we spent a weekend in New York City together—saw Springsteen on Broadway and brought out the whole crew for a night of karaoke. It felt more natural, and also made photos much easier on the wedding day.
Also, working out the logistics for virtual attendees. Early on, we seriously considered scaling back the wedding and/or creating a Zoom option for those who could not attend. We ultimately decided we’d rather spend the money on bringing in an exceptional videographer to capture the day for those who couldn’t be there. This made more sense than inviting virtual attendees who we couldn’t ensure would have a great experience.
A few things that helped us along the way: Although not ideal in all ways, having to postpone the wedding a year meant we had a lot of time to iron out the little details ourselves. We also were able to create all our own invitations and stationary, complete with letterpress and fun custom illustrations that captured our personality and vision for the day.
My best practical advice for my planning self: Prioritize time together, and only hire vendors who bring you joy. Also, don’t spend your reception greeting people. Find opportunities beforehand like welcome drinks and/or a receiving line outside the ceremony to greet your guests. If there’s anyone you miss, they can always come find you on the dance floor.
Favorite thing about the wedding: After a year of isolation, we were finally able to bring our favorite people together for a weekend at the Jersey Shore—sharing with them some of the places, food, and music that have meant a lot to us in our relationship.
Anything else: Find a photographer you love who’s married to a videographer you love that you really just want to hang out with on the day of your wedding. Cassie and Dom were so much fun to spend time with, and I believe their chemistry also made us feel a lot more natural and at ease in our photos and video.