This couple originally planned a 50 person micro wedding but COVID changed those plans. Due to the pandemic, the couple pivoted to a smaller wedding (13 guests) choosing to have an outdoor ceremony at Birch in Wauwatosa and had their dinner reception at their parents’ house.
You’ll see the couple had a lot of help from family and friends and incorporated a lot of cool things that meant a lot to them. We love that their wedding is low-waste, incorporated their cultures and used several hyper-local (East Tosa area) vendors. Read on to learn more about this beautifully unique micro wedding!
Quick Facts – Birch Wedding:
- Guests: 13
- Ceremony: Birch
- Reception: Dinner at Parents’ House
- Total Costs: $15,441
Wedding Essentials ($6,880):
- Stationery: $0 (gifted by family)
- Photographer: $4,224
- Flowers: $756 (included: bridal bouquet, flower crown, 3 floral installations on driftwood, 2 boutonnieres, flower bucket for milk jug vases, flower installation for double happiness arch)
- Wedding Planner: $1,900
Reception and Ceremony Costs ($4,344):
- Ceremony: $4,224
- Reception: $0 (gifted by parents)
- Food: $120 (Rocket Baby Bakery assorted croissants and other pastries and Vennture Brew Co. coffee)
- Drinks: $0 (gifted by family)
- Officiant: $0 (gifted by family)
Attire, Jewelry and Beauty ($3,460):
- Bride’s Dress: $2,100 (gifted by bride’s parents)
- Bride’s Shoes: $70
- Groom’s Attire: $970 (suit from NL Suits)
- Hair and Makeup: $300
- Rings: $20
Other Costs ($757):
- Rehearsal Dinner: $100 (hosted at the couples’ home)
- Wedding Party Gifts: $292
- Other: $365
A Note From The Couple
We asked the couple to tell us about their planning and budgeting process, and this is what they had to say:
Don’t just budget your money; budget your time
We chose to start our planning process by thinking about our values. For us, that was family and community. We had to make numerous pivots to ensure we maintained those values, pivoting to have less family in-person due to the pandemic and moving our summer wedding to spring.
It all worked out for the best, though. Every detail felt so much more intentional. Don’t just budget your money. Budget your time. We decided to get married in the morning in order to spend some time alone together adventuring around our favorite city before meeting up with our family for more celebrations at Retzer Nature Center and dinner at my parents’ house. We enjoyed the beauty of County Grounds Park in the spring, visited our birds at home to safely include them in our day, and exchanged private vows along the Lake at Lakeshore State Park.
Family, Friends, and the Little Things
A wedding is a celebration of two families becoming one. We wanted to make sure that we celebrated both sides of our family culturally. We also wanted to keep it as low-waste as possible. We built, borrowed, and foraged almost all of our décor; anything we bought could be consumed, reused, or recycled.
Building, borrowing, and foraging allowed us to save money and also include our families intimately in our wedding, especially those who couldn’t be there due to the pandemic or having passed before our wedding. My brother married us. My cousin, a wonderful artist, made our invitations by hand. A friend of my dad’s offered to help manage the A/V needs so that we could stream in our family and friends who couldn’t attend in person. The vintage milk jugs that held flowers were borrowed from my dad and his siblings; they were my grandfather’s—he was a milkman. My bracelet was originally my great-great grandmother’s and is from around the same era as my wedding ring.
Our altar backdrop was a massive 囍,the Chinese symbol for “double happiness” that is often used in weddings, which we built as an early quarantine project. I made the beeswax candles using local beeswax and recycled jars to be the gold complement to the red of the backdrop. We foraged the driftwood, and the ribbons were made from recycled silk. We plan to reuse both to use as décor in the house.
We hired Kaley before we were even engaged. She’s a friend of my sister’s from college, and we couldn’t imagine having anyone else capture the day. She’s the best of the best in every way: her craft, her values, her kindness.
Kaley’s services made up the largest part of our budget. I always loved looking at my grandparents’ wedding photos growing up, so when we were thinking of hiring a photographer it meant working with someone we could trust with capturing art that we can hopefully one day show our children and grandchildren. It’s trusting someone with capturing memories and our family history.
We initially enlisted the help of Kristin Reisenauer from Natural Elegance, LLC to help us design a wedding that would be fun and welcoming for both sides of our family. When we started planning our wedding back in 2019, it was originally going to be a 50-person multilingual, multicultural microwedding—a feat we couldn’t manage on our own. She created a design plan that melded the beauty of Wisconsin (our lakes, our prairies, the driftwood on the beaches) with the vibrant red and gold of traditional Chinese wedding colors, and could easily incorporate all of the personal touches we wanted to include.
Having Kristin’s support was especially helpful when we had to pivot after realizing that COVID-19 wasn’t going away and most of Noah’s family wasn’t going to be able to attend our wedding. She kindly and empathetically didn’t miss a beat as we changed many of the major elements of the wedding, including the overall structure of the day and the date itself. On the day-of, she made sure all of the little details were executed, and our day went so smoothly. It was the least stressful wedding we ever attended. If you’re on the fence about hiring a wedding planner, just go for it.
We knew we wanted to work with Emily from Wood Violet after seeing her work at Art in Bloom at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She values keeping things local and in-season, just like we do, and her eclectic and whimsical style fit perfectly with our goal of celebrating the beauty of Wisconsin.
We weren’t able to allot a large amount of money to a floral budget, after photos and accessible venue, and she was able to work with our limited budget. She was above and beyond amazing. After the wedding, I sent out my bouquet to get preserved, and donated the remaining flowers to Laura Bavlnka (@bavlnkabrand), a talented designer and textile artist, to give them a second life.
We chose Birch because it was close to our house, had a beautiful patio and, most importantly, was accessible. We wanted to make sure our venue would be easy to get around for all of our guests, especially our older family members. Although we wound up not having most of our family members attend in person, it was still a beautiful venue.
– The Happy Couple
A BIG thanks to the couple for sharing the Cost Breakdown of their awesome micro wedding at Birch and to Kaley Rae Photography for the amazing photos!
If you’re currently working on your wedding budget, make sure to read through our previous Cost Breakdown articles featuring real Milwaukee wedding cost breakdowns.