Planning A $12K Wedding In Santa Barbara, CA | Millennial Money

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Kayla, 29, and Andrew Picciuto Elia, 33, spent just over $12,000 for a 18-person wedding that had a sticker price of $40,000. They got married on July 17th, 2020 in Santa Barbara, CA. The couple asked friends and wedding industry colleagues to donate or trade their services to save money on their big day.

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Marriage series, which profiles couples around the world and details how they planned and paid for their wedding.

When Kayla and Andrew Picciuto Elia got engaged in February 2020, they dreamed of a 300-person Memorial Day wedding, complete with numerous musical acts, an epic dance floor and free-flowing wine.

But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, they knew they had to change their plans. The Santa Barbara residents decided to cancel their big May wedding in favor of an intimate ceremony and dinner with just 18 family members in July. It was still “glamorous” and “divine,” Kayla, 29, says.

The small size and mid-pandemic timing weren’t the only things that made the couple’s big day unique. They spent just over $12,500 for a wedding that had a sticker price of $40,000, thanks to help from their friends and connections in the wedding industry.

“At the end of the day, what we realized was important was family, togetherness and also food,” Andrew, 33, tells CNBC Make It. “Sharing a meal and celebrating with family and breaking bread with family were all the key elements that we wanted to include.”

Pivoting wedding plans amid a pandemic

Andrew first noticed Kayla in 2015 when she took “his” seat in a coffee shop they both frequented. But she was the one who finally broke the ice months later when the coffee shop was evacuated due to a fire alarm. “So what are you reading right now?” she asked as they stood on the sidewalk outside. (His answer: “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck.)

They quickly became close friends and started dating in July 2017. “He spoke the unspeakable and asked if I was in or out,” Kayla remembers. She was all in.

They also started a business together, Party Proper, in December 2017, providing DJ and sound services for weddings in the Santa Barbara area, which they run full-time.

At the end of 2019, they decided they were ready to get married and made vague plans for a wedding at the end of 2020. But when they found out Kayla was pregnant, they decided to speed up the timeline. “We felt an added urgency and excitement to get married as soon as possible,” Andrew says.

“We just did things in our own order, and I’m fine with it,” Kayla says.

They sent out invitations in early March for a Memorial Day celebration. But less than a week later, their home state of California went into lockdown in order to slow the spread of Covid-19. Within a few weeks, it became clear that their big wedding wasn’t going to happen.

They still wanted to get married before the baby arrived. While they knew they could easily go to the courthouse and call it a day, they weren’t sure they wanted to go that route. Would they be disappointed by a smaller guest list? Would a stripped-down version of their vision be just as meaningful?

Ultimately, they decided the wedding was about celebrating their love for each other and pivoted to a small, family-only ceremony and dinner before the arrival of their baby. They hope to be able to plan a bigger party later on. The inspiration for the event went from a music showcase with a crazy dance floor to “a desire to showcase our love for each other,” Andrew says.

“We focused on our baby. We focused on each other. We focused on togetherness,” Kayla says. “These were always values for us, but they had new significance because of the intimacy of our smaller wedding.”

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Planning A $40K Wedding For $12K In Santa Barbara, CA | Millennial Marriage
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