- Stephanie and Nathan Villamor got married in November 2019 in Los Angeles.
- They paid for their $US45,000 boho-chic wedding themselves without going into debt.
- For Insider, the Villamors broke down how much everything cost for their big day.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Stephanie and Nathan Villamor were set up by a mutual friend.
Stephanie, 33, is a California-based artist and the owner of Velvet & Gold, which specialises in custom wedding invitations and signage.
Nathan, a 31-year-old nurse, was introduced to Stephanie by a mutual friend in 2017.
At the time, Nathan’s apartment walls were completely empty. His friend suggested he ask Stephanie to design something for his space.
When the two finally met in person – Stephanie hand-delivered her art to Nathan for his apartment – they had a connection and started dating shortly after that.
The couple has been together ever since and got engaged in May 2019.
Stephanie and Nathan had six months to plan their November 2019 wedding while sticking to a budget of $US35,000.
The Los Angeles-based couple set their wedding date for November 2, 2019 – giving them just six months to plan their big day.
“I think we were just ready to start our lives together, and it just made sense for us,” Stephanie said.
Nathan and Stephanie paid for the wedding themselves, and it was important to them to not go into debt.
“We really prioritised having a healthy financial start, because we didn’t want to be in debt when we got married,” Stephanie told Insider.
They hoped to spend $US35,000 at most on their wedding.
The Villamors spent the majority of their budget on their wedding venue — as most couples do.
Wedding venues are often booked a year or more in advance, so the Villamors knew they needed to find a space quickly.
They were looking for a space to throw a fun party for their 200 guests.
“We wanted to say thank you to all of our friends and family members for just blessing us throughout our lives and for being a part of our relationship,” Stephanie said.
They researched venues online and selected Forme Los Angeles, an event space in Burbank, California.
The couple also booked their caterer, Jay’s Catering Company, through Forme. They served Asian-Hawaiian-fusion dishes, which the Villamors described as an elevated form of the comfort food they both grew up eating.
The cost of the venue included the space, catering services, security, rental tables, silverware, cups, and servers for the evening. The venue also required the couple to buy wedding insurance from Wedsafe for $US115.
Those costs took up the bulk of the Villamors’ budget.
Wedding venue and insurance: $US19,690
The Villamors spent almost $US3,000 on a wedding planner, which Stephanie said was crucial for the busy couple.
“We decided to go with a planner because we’re both really, really busy working professionals,” Stephanie said. “We just knew that we needed somebody in our corner to ask all the questions we didn’t think to ask, and somebody to just pull things together.”
Next to the venue, the couple’s highest cost was their $US7,500 photography and videography team.
Foolishly Rushing In is a photography and cinematography studio run by a husband-and-wife team, Dan and Nardia. The Villamors hired them to photograph and film their wedding,
“We were drawn to them because of their style,” Stephanie told Insider. “It’s very cinematic.”
The Villamors were prepared to invest a large portion of their budget into the photography.
“Everybody says the day goes by so fast, and it’s true,” Stephanie said. “You barely remember everything. You’re not getting to absorb every single moment and savour every second as much as you would want to. And we wanted to remember.”
Photography and videography: $US7,500
The Villamors spent more than $US3,000 on flowers to give their wedding a unique look.
While planning the wedding, Stephanie felt that dried flowers, rather than traditional plants, went with the venue’s bohemian feel.
Lovelia.floral combined dried palms, dried grass, and various other dried florals to create centerpieces and decor for the Villamors’ wedding. The bouquets had a mix of dried and fresh flowers.
Floral services: $US3,400
The Villamors saved money by purchasing furniture for their home that could be used for the wedding.
As the Villamors started looking into renting furniture and decor for the wedding, they realised each piece could cost them between $US600 and $US800.
The Villamors were furnishing their new apartment around the same time as the wedding. They got the most bang for their buck by buying pieces – such as nesting tables and a couch – that they could use in their home and at their event.
Because the furniture was technically for their home, it wasn’t part of the cost of the Villamors’ wedding.
The Villamors rented special plates and napkins for a few hundred dollars.
Stephanie and Nathan’s venue offered silverware, plate, and napkin rentals. The couple rented their silverware but decided to look elsewhere for plates and napkins that matched the colour scheme.
They decided to rent pink plates and statement napkins from Signature.
Stephanie said that she and Nathan were surprised by how expensive the plates were, even though it wasn’t what they spent the most money on for the wedding.
“It wasn’t even on our radar originally,” she said.
Plates and napkins: $US325.60
Stephanie designed the stationery for the wedding herself.
She designed the invitations and save-the-dates to double as keepsakes for her guests.
“I wanted to create something unexpected that people haven’t really seen before,” Stephanie said. “I just kept thinking that I want them to feel as special as our guests have made us feel.”
Stephanie said that the front of the invitations included the couple’s wedding information, and the backside had a Bible verse that guests could frame in their home.
The bride also made her own signage for the wedding.
The Villamors wanted their wedding to match the feel of their invitations, so Stephanie incorporated design elements from the stationery into displays for the venue.
For instance, she transformed a $US30 room divider into an artist-themed seating chart. She hand-painted the background, and Studio 7 Graphics printed the names on it.
She then used a similar design pattern on a sign she made that explained how their interactive guest book would work, connecting all of the decor.
Since Stephanie made the invitations and displays herself, the cost of development wasn’t factored into the budget. She just had to pay for the room divider.
Room divider: $US30
Stephanie spent around $US2,000 on her wedding dress.
Stephanie got her wedding gown from La Soie Bridal, a California-based boutique.
While she and the La Soie consultants initially thought a modern dress would be a fitting choice, Stephanie fell in love with an Enzoani ball gown that the team picked out as a surprise.
The gown had a transparent bodice and floral detailing.
“It was modern, but then it had the ball gown,” Stephanie said. “I’m not a princess dress type of girl, but I ended up loving this dress.”
She ordered the dress around six months before the big day, giving her just enough time to have it made and altered before the wedding.
Wedding dress: $US2,174.13
Stephanie paired the dress with an affordable crown and veil that made a statement.
Stephanie said she got the idea to wear the crown from headpieces celebrities wore to the Met Gala in 2018.
She paired the metallic crown with a veil that gave the accessory a bridal look.
“I thought it was really unique,” she said. “I’m not really an updo or tiara type of gal.”
The Batcakes Couture crown cost $US80, while the Etsy veil was $US40.
Bridal accessories and beauty: $US870
Stephanie’s wedding ring was relatively inexpensive, too.
She got her ring from Mejuri.
Nathan opted for an inexpensive white jacket with black detailing.
The white jacket was accented with a black lapel and buttons.
The jacket itself was just $US50, and Nathan paid an additional $US30 to have it tailored.
The rest of Nathan’s wedding-day look cost about $US100.
He bought his shirt, suspenders, and bow-tie from Express for a total of $US90.
Nathan also had his hair cut the day of the wedding by his friend Phil Florendo for $US45.
Groom’s attire and haircut: $US135
Nathan spent $US300 on gifts for his groomsmen.
Nathan’s shoes were just $US50, while his wedding ring was only $US10.
Because he’s a nurse, Nathan knew he would have to remove his ring often, so he didn’t feel the need to invest in something pricey. He saw the ring in an Instagram ad and decided to buy it.
In addition, he bought gifts for his groomsmen, which cost $US300.
Groom’s accessories: $US360
The couple saved money by not serving alcohol, and their DJ was paid for as a gift.
The couple didn’t have a champagne toast or serve drinks at all at the wedding, as both would have added a lot to the overall cost of the event. Their guests toasted them with coffee and water instead.
The reception was filled with music and dancing. A friend of theirs paid for the DJ as a wedding gift.
The people were really the key part of the event for the Villamors, and during the reception, Stephanie and Nathan talked to each other about how special the gathering was.
“We just paused for a moment, and we were just telling each other: This is the only time this combination of people will ever be in the same room together,” Stephanie said.
The Villamors bucked tradition with their wedding cake.
The Villamors bought a cake from Karina’s Cake House, an Armenian bakery that Stephanie and Nathan both love.
Stephanie described the pastry as a caramel-honey cake filled with layers of whipped cream and chocolate on top.
The Villamors served their guests pre-sliced plates of cake, so they didn’t have a cake-cutting ceremony at their wedding.
“We’re kind of attention-averse in that way,” Stephanie said, saying she and Nathan wanted the reception to focus on the guests instead of them.
The Villamors had to reserve a portion of their budget for hotels and Aibnbs for the week of the wedding.
They had one Airbnb for two days, which cost $US1,351.49.
They also had two rooms in the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport hotel for two nights, which cost $US1,300.
Wedding week accommodations: $US2,651.49
The couple paid for their honeymoon to the Philippines with their credit card points.
They used their Chase points for both the flights and accommodations, which made the honeymoon more affordable for them.
The Villamors wedding cost $US45,866.22, which was about $US10,000 over their budget.
Although the Villamors were hoping to spend $US35,000 on their wedding, they ended up going about $US10,000 over their initial budget.
“Everything was definitely more expensive than we anticipated,” Stephanie said. “The little stuff adds up.”
But despite spending more than they planned, Stephanie and Nathan were still able to pay for the wedding without going into debt. Nathan worked overtime shifts as often as he could while they were engaged, and Stephanie took on as many commissions as possible.
Final cost: $US45,866.22
See a breakdown of the Villamors’ expenses below.
- Venue and catering: $US19,575
- Wedding insurance: $US115
- Planner: $US2,800
- Photography and videography: $US7,500
- Floral services: $US3,400
- Plates and napkins: $US325.60
- Room divider: $US30
- Wedding dress: $US2,174.13
- Bridal accessories: $US170
- Bridal beauty: $US700
- Bride’s ring: $US250
- Groom’s jacket: $US80
- Groom’s additional attire: $US90
- Groom’s haircut: $US45
- Groom’s shoes: $US50
- Groom’s wedding ring: $US10
- Groomsmen gifts: $US300
- Wedding week accommodations: $US2,651.49
- Cake: $US600
- Honeymoon: $US5,000
Stephanie advises engaged couples to prioritise their needs when setting a wedding budget.
“Think about who you are as people,” Stephanie said of her advice to couples figuring out their wedding budget.
“We want to be able to buy a house where we can have people over for dinner,” she continued. “For us, being debt-free means we can start to be more generous with others.”
Stephanie told Insider that she thinks engaged and married couples should be more transparent with each other when it comes to the cost of weddings.
“People don’t realise how much a wedding costs,” she said. “Brides will show me their perfectly curated Pinterest boards, but those Pinterest boards are like $US50,000 to $US100,000 more than their budget.”
Stephanie and Nathan have been married for more than a year now.
More than a year later, Stephanie and Nathan are pleased with how they made their dream wedding a reality, and they’re enjoying married life.
“We hold each other in such high honour and respect,” Stephanie said, adding that Nathan is her “best friend.”
If you would be willing to share the real cost of your wedding with Insider for a story, get in touch at [email protected].
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