Our resident bride-to-be Nicole was wowed by this chic Southern California venue for her wedding.

It was early in the planning process when I found out that I’d have to set priorities when it came to spending.  In order to stay in budget, I would not be able to splurge on every detail. I’d have to find savings here and there and be willing to compromise.

The most important thing to making my day great would be the venue and the food, and for that I certainly splurged. In order to get the venue I wanted we had to make cuts to our guest list, but to me it was worth it. We ended up renting a private hotel right on the beach in the middle of the very popular, Laguna Beach. The super chic and modern hotel came with 12 personal rooms for our special guests who wanted to enjoy the weekend with us. It also came with one of the best up and coming chefs in Orange County, Jesse. Jesse, with his sleeve tattoos and long hair, came up with a wonderful menu when I said I wanted it to be a “Texas Meets LA” fusion. Between the venue, the food and the open bar, most of my budget was gone.

With the venue and food out of the way, the next most important things to me were the photographer and DJ.  It was important for me to be able to capture the moment and to be able to look at the photos years from now.  It was also important for me to be able to dance the night away and keep my guest entertained. For New Year’s Eve Leonard and I went to LA Live for a Katt Williams comedy show and decided to stay overnight at a hotel close to the venue. When we returned to our hotel [after the show] we were informed of another party that was happening on the second floor. Leonard decided to take a closer look. We walk into the party and immediately go to the dance floor. Impressed with his song selections, Leonard decided to ask the DJ for his business card. We dance for a few more songs then decide to call it a night. The next day I pulled out the card and went to the DJ’s website and was impressed. I immediately emailed him. We were able to work out a price that was well below what I’d been seeing from other wedding DJ’s (I didn’t hesitate to ask for a military discount since Leonard is in the Air Force). Leonard was happy about that and happy that we were able to find a DJ who could cater to our crowd.

Shortly after that, I went to a bridal show at the LA convention center. My main goal was to find a photographer. I went to every single booth in the massive space looking for a photographer whose work I liked and whose price Leonard would like. By the end of the day things were looking pretty bleak. I went down the very last row and the very last vendor ended up being the diamond in the rough I was looking for. She was a younger photographer but had that modern style that I liked. She’d worked with other photographers doing weddings and had a few seasons ago decided to step out on her own. We immediately connected and I set up an appointment to visit her studio the next week. During our appointment I looked at a few of her books and we talked details. When we were done I gave her a deposit and booked my date.

I was happy to have those things out of the way. To me, those were the top priorities when it came to spending the money we’d set aside for the wedding. Sure I’d still need to pick flowers and linens and favors, but if money gets tight, I’m willing to trim on those things as long as my wedding still looks fabulous and everyone has a great time.

Check out Nicole last Road to Mrs. post on DIY wedding decor!