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Real Wedding: Sandy & Darren

Today’s real wedding features a couple who’ve been together for nearly 11 years and recently made it official with a DIY- and budget-friendly bash in a Temecula backyard.

Sandy and Darren met when she took on a volunteer opportunity during her sophomore year at UCSD. It was Darren, who drove participating volunteers and gave Sandy a ride once a week. They hit it off and began dating soon after, and on the morning of Sandy’s 30th birthday, Darren pulled inspiration from a favorite childhood cartoon, Pokemon, and placed a ring inside a Pokeman ball before handing it to Sandy.

The couple wanted a modern yet timeless vibe for their wedding but didn’t want it to feel too formal either. For the ceremony, they chose Riverton Park, a public (and free!) space in Temecula, and when it came time for the reception, the couple and their guests headed a few blocks down to Darren’s brother’s backyard.

One of the most impressive features of this wedding is just how affordable they kept the whole affair. Sandy planned the wedding herself in less than a year and spent just $12,000. To do so, she created a budget, left a little wiggle room, and looked to friends and family for additional help. “After asking vendors what their price options were, I would see what I could do à la carte or how I could customize packages to just what I needed,” Sandy says. “I also let potential vendors know how much I had budgeted for their particular product or service, so that they could see if they could work with my budget, and most were very accommodating.”

Here’s a peek at their summer shindig:

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Photography: Stacy Keck/Smashing
Venue: Ceremony: Riverton Park, Temecula, CA; Reception: Private backyard (of groom’s brother), Temecula, CA
Catering: Bushfire Grill
Cake: The Cupcake Crush
Beer: Drew Tapolcai,
Paper products and signage design: Nicole Quiroz,
Flowers: Wild Orchid
Dress: PreVue Formal & Bridal, (veil and belt from Big Feather Little
Hair and makeup: Keila Marrero Cases,
DJ: Sunset Mobile
Videography: J. Arney O’Neil,
Officiant: William G. Martinez,
Rentals (excluding all linens): Abbey Party Rents of Temecula

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