10 Wedding Tips from a Just-Married Gal

So…I’m married!! And the wedding was AWESOME. Getting married in my parents’ backyard was quite the undertaking but it was so worth it for how amazing everything turned out.

Looking back, I have a few tips for future brides:

  1. Try out your first dance song ahead of time. We had picked the song “At Last” by Etta James about a year before we got married. It wasn’t until we drunkenly tried it out in our living room two weeks before the big day that we realized it was way too slow and totally not us.
  2. Don’t DIY everything. At a certain point in time, it’s really important to give yourself a break. We had planned to make our bouquets the day before the wedding, but last minute I decided I didn’t want us to stress over it. I was fortunate to have a friend of a friend who was able to arrange them and we picked up the flowers ahead of time.
  3. Keep your future hubby involved. Go over the major timeline items with him and let him know what’s what and the significance of each. You might have to do this a couple times in the hopes that at least 50% sticks.
  4. Garters come in two! You will have two garters…one to keep and one to throw. Make sure your future hubby knows which one to toss (the one further down your leg and closest to him).
  5. Re-communicate any important details with your vendors the week of the wedding. It was really important to me that we had an anniversary dance that started with my grandparents who had been married 51 years. They had picked the song “Something” by the Beatles but our DJ thought that meant anything by the Beatles and he didn’t happen to have the right song the night of. Luckily my grandparents quickly picked out Hey Jude and started off the dance floor, but I wish I had discussed this is further detail with our DJ ahead of time.
  6. Make sure your immediate family knows to sit in the reserved section. We didn’t have anyone to tell our families, so no one ended up sitting in the front row except our parents…oops! If I could do it again, I would have our younger cousins, who know our family, guide my grandparents to their seats.
  7. Take pictures with your bridesmaids on our phone. I barely have any photos of us because I left it all to the photographer to take care of. This is great and all because I know they’ll be awesome, but waiting 5-10 weeks for professional photos with your girls is way too tough.
  8. Hire a day of event coordinator. I cannot stress this enough. If your venue doesn’t have someone to set the tables and add your decor, you need to hire someone to at least coordinate this on the day of. I used to intern as a wedding planner and I saw so many families struggling to do all the last minute tasks on the day of the wedding. Let your mom, aunt, and grandma enjoy your special day too!
  9. Stick with your hubby for the night. My husband and I host a lot of parties and we always joke that we never see each other during them. While this is okay for any other day, try your best to stick together and get as many photos with your guests as you can. We talked about this ahead of time but still ended up being separated most of the night except on the dance floor. Another thing to note…it you want posed photos with guests other than your family (versus just candids), make sure to let your photographer know ahead of time.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff…or the big stuff. With so many details, things are bound to go wrong or not as planned. I promised myself that starting the week of the wedding, I wasn’t going to stress about details and would go along with pretty much any suggestions or questions asked of me. Whatever makes life easier for you, your family and wedding party, do it. And like everyone says, no one will notice what goes wrong except a couple people so you may as well just relax and enjoy every minute because it really does go by way too quickly!

Happy planning!



Orange County Wedding Venue Breakdown

Let me first just say that I originally thought I could plan a wedding for under $10k. Psh, yeah right. What I quickly learned is that most venues charge over $10K just for the venue, rentals, food & bar. The ones that don’t still charge a venue, table & chairs rental fee of about $5,000 or more. Swallowing my pride thinking that I can do anything DIY for cheap, we charged ahead, looking for the best bang for our buck, while still nailing most of our wishlist.

Our wishlist: outdoor ceremony & reception with lots of trees & bistro lights, 6+ hours of event time, and hopefully a food truck and/or BYOB option.

Surprisingly, this mythical spot is extremely difficult to find. Many only have the reception inside, others only allow you to have the venue for 5 hours of event time, most don’t allow outside catering, and very few allow BYOB.

Anyway, before checking out a few wedding venue locations in Orange County, I spent a fair amount of time researching and price checking quite a few venues in the area. Since we ultimately decided to hold the wedding in my parent’s backyard in Sacramento (and are able to cross off all of our wishlist items), I thought I’d put my extensive research to use with a blog solely about venues in OC.

So here it is all laid out in what I hope is a helpful fashion. Everything’s based on Saturday pricing in peak season, so it could change based on your preferences. I based the total estimate on 150 people (when it’s a per person situation), 4 hours bar service and choosing the lowest cost options for comparison (no appetizers included).

Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar

Estimate: $4,000

  • Price breakdown: $2,000 + $2,000 membership fee.
  • Includes: Venue for 6 hours.
  • Notes: Must used their approved caterer.

French Estate in Orange


  • Includes: venue for 6 hours, tables & chairs, and shuttle service.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception in the backyard of a large home.
  • Notes: BYO everything. Limited amount of weddings per year.

Wilcox Manor in Tustin


  • Includes: Venue, rentals & lighting.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception in the backyard of a large home.
  • Notes: BYO everything.

Credit: Wilcox Manor


Griffith House in Anaheim

Estimate: $5,000

  • Price breakdown: $3,500 + $10/pp for rentals and coordinator.
  • Includes: Venue, rentals & coordination services.
  • Space: Outdoor lawn area for ceremony & reception outside of a cottage style home/church.
  • Notes: BYO everything. Great value, but the surrounding neighborhood is a bit sketchy and the lawn is right next to a very busy street.

Eureka Building in Irvine

Β Estimate: $5,350

  • Price breakdown: $2,800 venue + $12 pp for rentals + $5 pp for table settings.
  • Includes: Venue & rentals.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception under a trellis.
  • Notes: BYO everything.

Red Horse Barn in Huntington Beach

Estimate: $5,500

  • Includes: Venue only, but they offer all-inclusive packages as well.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception.
  • Notes: Must use approved DJ and bartender.

Serra Plaza in San Juan Capistrano

Estimate: $7,000+

  • Price breakdown: $7,000
  • Includes: Venue for 5 hours, tables & chairs for 200, and vintage furniture.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception in a pretty courtyard.
  • Notes: Must use one of their preferred caterers for food and alcohol.

Villa Del Sol in Fullerton

Estimate: $7025

  • Price breakdown:Β  $5225 venue + $12 pp rentals
  • Includes: Full use of Courtyard and Terrace, Villa Suite and valet parking/security.
  • Space:
  • Notes: Event time frame is 5 pm – midnight and catering required from one of 4 onsite restaurants.

Credit: Villa Del Sol

Wedgewood San Clemente

Estimate: $7,350+

  • Price breakdown: $49 pp for crystal package.
  • Includes: venue, dinner, DJ, invites, champagne toast and rentals.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony on golf course; Indoor reception with cocktail hour on outdoor deck.

Parker Ranch in Trabuco Canyon

Dream outdoor venue right here, but don’t bother looking into it because they are currently only renting the space out to family and friends.

University Club in Irvine


  • Price breakdown: $4,000 outdoor reception + $1250 outdoor ceremony + $28 pp for dinner
  • Includes: venue for 5 hours & food
  • Space: Outdoor and indoor options.
  • Notes: Currently closed for renovations.

Long Beach Museum of Arts

Estimate: $13,800+

  • Price breakdown: $500 ceremony site + $4,000 reception site + $9,300 buffet & standard bar.
  • Includes: Venue, rentals, food & bar, heaters, coordination.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony and reception with an ocean view.
  • Notes: Includes 5.5 hours event time.

Rancho Las Lomas

Estimate: $18,250+

  • Price breakdown:Β  $8,500 rental + $1500 lighting + $34 pp Silver menu + 21 pp beer & wine bar.
  • Includes: venue, rentals, lighting, catering & bar.
  • Space: Multiple outdoor and indoor ceremony/reception spots.
  • Notes: This place is insanely gorgeous and has plenty of options for where you want your reception/ceremony to be.

Colony House in Anaheim

Estimate: $16,500+

  • Price breakdown: $6,500 + $10,000 food minimum
  • Includes: venue, security, standard lighting, and tables & chairs for 250
  • Space: Indoor ceremony & reception in a brick/modern/industrial area.
  • Notes: Food, beverages and rentals must go through 24 Carrots Catering (lowest cost: $30 pp for food; $18 pp beer & wine).
colony house

Credit: Wedding Bee

Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano

Estimate: $17,500+

  • Price breakdown: $7,500 rental; $10,000 food minumum.
  • Includes: venue, chairs & tables, security, & basic bistro lighting.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception. They are currently renovating a very cool indoor brick space to use for either reception or ceremony.
  • Notes: Food, beverages and rentals must go through 24 Carrots Catering (lowest cost: $30 pp for food; $18 pp beer & wine). Space available until midnight for up to 200 people.

Mount Palomar Winery in Temecula

Estimate: $18,000+

  • Price breakdown: $120 pp
  • Includes: venue for 5 hours, food & bar, and rentals

Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine

Estimate: $20,250+

  • Price breakdown: $1500 ceremony site + $1500 terrace site for cocktails + $92 pp dinner (minimum $12k) + $23 pp beer & wine bar.
  • Includes: Barn, rentals, dance floor, cake cutting.
  • Space: Garden ceremony and reception in Big Red Barn for up to 250.

Bella Gardens Estates in Murrieta

Estimate: $22,249

  • Price breakdown: $18,999 for 100 guests plus $65 pp over 100 guests
  • Includes: 3 days/2 nights stay for 10-14 people, all rentals, coordination, 2 photographers, buffet + appetizers, servers, and DJ. They have a couple other smaller packages available as well starting at $8,000.
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony & reception at a large estate.
  • Notes: Probably the best all-inclusive deal you can find in the area.

Bella Collina Golf Course in San Juan Capistrano

Estimate: $22,000+

  • Price breakdown: $5,700 + $59 pp dinner/appetizers + $14 pp first hour bar / $8 pp each hour after
  • Includes: venue, tables & chairs, food & bar
  • Space: Outdoor ceremony and indoor reception.
  • Notes: Great views from inside and two large patios areas during cocktail hour & reception. The chairs provided aren’t my style so we would’ve had to rent others.

Galway Downs in Temecula

Estimate: $24,500+

  • Price breakdown: $139 pp for classic package + $25 pp for beer & wine bar
  • Includes: venue, food, coordination, DJ, and rentals

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Estimate: $25,000+

  • Price breakdown: $25,00
  • Space: Various spots for ceremony & reception


Happy hunting!