Our Boozy Creole Dinner Party Wedding at Camp Abundance

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Erin, Nurse and Doula + Leif, Music Therapist
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: A small, beautiful Creole wedding for two healthcare worker high school sweethearts.
Planned Budget: $60k for a 250 person wedding, then $15k for a 25 person wedding
Actual Budget: $18k
Number of Guests: 23
Location: Camp Abundance, 7th Ward of New Orleans
Photographer: The Image Is Found

Where we allocated the most funds:

Photography, easily! I have LOVED The Image is Found and followed their Instagram forever. Their pictures just hit different and feel lived in. They make me cry over the weddings of strangers. The day we got engaged in August 2018 I emailed them to ask their availability and fully planned to pick my date around it. Luckily they had a bunch for 2020 open (and none of us could have predicted the global pandemic that would come for us all!) so we chose our date and they were the first vendors I booked as well as the priciest, but worth every penny. I love our photos so much!

Where we allocated the least funds:

Favors. I wanted them but didn’t want to break the bank on them so I got creative! I focused on creating cute, small, cheap favors that people could take or leave. The crowns are from Etsy, I DIY’d the hand sanitizers and ordered the masks in bulk (we still wear them and our guests took a bunch home), and I got the shot glasses super cheap and in bulk online.

Our main favors were the bookmarks that my best friend and I DIY’d, and books from Leif & I’s personal collection of books we hand chose for our guests and wrote notes in thanking them for coming and being part of our story. I wrapped them in brown paper for guests to grab on the way out and the bookmarks doubled as place cards.

We were also gifted a very professional live stream by our friend Greg who brought us into living rooms across the world.

My mom bought me my wedding dress and lots of other lil trinkets (wedding cake and cake server, toasting glasses, candle holders) as moms do. My dad graciously gifted us Sonos speakers for our Spotify playlist that our would-have-been-DJ graciously crafted for us.

We were given healthcare worker discounts from some of our local vendors.

And finally, my best friend’s mom Devra was a caterer and wedding planner in New York, and Camp Abundance is her sister’s home. She secured the venue and gifted us her wedding planning services in the few months we had to pivot and plan and gave us the most gorgeous day ever, all while battling cancer. She’s our wedding hero!

What was totally worth it:

Everything!

I don’t regret any of the spending we did for our wedding. We were able to put my husband’s family who came from out of town in a beautiful and safe Air B&B where they all had their own space for the whole weekend. We hired a house call doctor to come Covid test everyone in town prior to the wedding and hired only vendors following Covid safe protocols. We splurged for beautiful rentals and my dream flowers and a multi course Creole dinner because our guest list was cut so drastically we had more money to spend on upgrading to more special and luxurious things. We bought our own alcohol (which was honestly so fun to do as a little date one day) and hired an awesome bartending company that got everyone rip roaring drunk by the end of the night. We enlisted a videographer that we now consider a friend who hung out the whole weekend and even came to our Sopranos themed rehearsal dinner and did a session for us at the park with our precious pups so they could be included in the weekend! It was all a dream.

What was totally not worth it:

Stressing about if people would be upset with me for having a tiny wedding they weren’t invited to in the middle of a frickin’ pandemic.

I initially had eleven bridesmaids. By the end of it all, I just had my sisters and best friend there with me on the day.

We sent out save the dates, told friends to get their dancing shoes ready, and dreamed about the wedding disco we wanted to throw so badly at a beach bar after a ceremony at my grandma’s. By the time I walked down the aisle the entire world had changed- the beach bars were closed, and my grandma was watching from Florida on a livestream. Covid changed every plan I had and so many tears were shed (by me mostly, my husband was pretty damn chill about it all). I had so many plans and the only one that really happened was that I walked down the aisle and married the love of my life—but isn’t that what it was all about anyway?

I may not have had my dream wedding vision come to life but I had a dream of a wedding and I am forever grateful to everyone for understanding how difficult it was to navigate pandemic territory as a nurse and a bride and a person trying my best to make it through just like everyone else. There was so much grace and love shown to us and seeing all of our friends dressing up to watch us get married on Zoom and YouTube and wishing us well was just very, very special.

A few things that helped us along the way:

My mom was truly my rock in this process. She listened to me cry and opened more wine for me than anyone. I love u, Mom!

Also, keeping it real was essential.

My husband and I didn’t get a honeymoon. My bachelorette party I was so so excited for was canceled. There was no bridal shower or wedding events once Covid came. It was really devastating to have my moment as a bride fizzle out like that and it seemed like everyone kept thinking things would “go back to normal” soon and we’d have huge wedding like we’d initially planned. As a nurse I know that’s not true. Thing will not be normal for a very long time and pretending they are is irresponsible.

Our loved ones kept saying when we “had our real wedding” they’d be there and it took awhile for me to finally say: this is our real wedding. This little wedding that I’m planning for and spending on and stressing over is the only one we’re gonna throw. I’m not made of money and I don’t owe anyone a party in the future. The world changed and my wedding with it. It was hard to say that, even just to myself sometimes, but I said it anyway.

Anything else:

There is so much wedding content on the internet and the algorithm will keep feeding it to you long after you’re married. It’s important to think about what is important to YOU and what you and your spouse will think is cool and special in 20, 40, 60 years time. I think pampas grass and all white shit is beautiful—but they’re so not me, ya know? I’m a colorful New Orleanean with a love for festive, nostalgic vibes and I had to stay true to that. Stay true to you! Instagram and social media aren’t real life—but your wedding should be a reflection of your real life and the things you love.

Favorite thing about the wedding: The feelings.


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