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I'm 31, make $92,600, live in Copenhagen, Denmark and work as an epidemiologist with the United Nations (UN)
- High yield savings account: $27,547
- CDs: $5,032
- US-based checking account: $4,670 (I deposit 1000 in this each month to cover my loan payments)
- Danish checking account: $12,271
- Pension: $21,120 (Just started contributing to this when I got my current job in February. I pay 7.9%, work pays 15.8%)
- Retirement fund: ~$4,000. Other than my above pension, I have a small pension from a previous job (my 401K from my first job was cashed out when I left because I didn't have enough money in it, and I was a contractor with no benefits for three years, so I have a lot of making up to do with regards to retirement savings)
- Federal Student Loans: $69,105.98. This is just from my (very expensive) master’s degree. I finished paying off $22,000 worth of undergrad private loans two years ago.
Section Two: Income
Monthly Take home: $7000.50 after deductions. I’m not taxed because I’m an international civil servant/diplomat, so I don’t pay taxes to any one country government. I pay a portion of my income to the UN each month that goes towards paying our host country government to have an office there. I get paid once at the end of the month. Rental Subsidy: ~$400. Fluctuates with the exchange rates and cost of living in Denmark, and I only get this money if my rent is over a certain amount. I wouldn’t get this money otherwise. This is paid separate from my salary.|
- Pension contribution: $880.24 (I pay 7.9%, my work pays 15.8%. It’s amazing)
- Health Insurance: $203.21
- Accident insurance: $16.26
- Staff association contribution: $20.00
- Rent: I live with my boyfriend (F) in a two-bedroom apartment in the city center and pay $2800 per month, so $2400 after my subsidy. F. covers $1050 of this, and I pay the remaining $1350. We agreed on this because my income is higher than his, and I also wanted a second bedroom to accommodate friends and family visiting from abroad. He pays our quarterly electricity bill/water bill and we usually even this out by me buying him a nice dinner. We don’t like to nickle and dime each other.
- Student Loan Payment: $1105. My monthly payment is only $105 (based on my last years’ income), so currently pay a lot more than I actually owe because I am sick of debt.
- Phone and Internet: $0. My work covers my phone and my F’s work covers his phone and our internet.
- Power Yoga Membership: $71.49
- Look Fantastic Beauty Box: $19.65 every other month. (I get this mostly for the sample size luxury items that I use when I travel. I only get this six times per year).
- Medicine: $1.99 (insurance pays most of it)
- HBO Nordic: $14.76
- Netflix: $13.85 (My dad and sister use this account. My dad sometimes gives me $50 at the end of the year to “split it” even though I tell him this is completely unnecessary)
- NYTimes Crossword Puzzle App: $3.33 (I pay $39.99 once a year, but 3.33 is what it breaks down to monthly). This has dramatically changed the way I use my phone, I’m on social media so much less!
- Savings: As much as I can, but I try very hard to put at least $2000 in per month. After I built up a good enough savings/emergency fund (around $50,000), I’ve been trying to pay down my loans as fast as possible.
Day 1: Thursday
6:45am – I wake up early because I slept horribly last night as I usually do in hotel rooms. I’m in Geneva for work. I eat a banana I brought from Copenhagen, shower and throw on new black pants I just bought, a nice shirt, and a 5 year old blazer I really should replace. I slip on old black flats and throw heels in my purse.
7:45am – I meet my boss, N, and we agree to get coffee at the office’s coffee shop. We arrive at work and grab two cappuccinos and he gets a banana. I pay because he paid for my dinner last night. We see a colleague who used to work in our office but has since moved to Bangladesh. She takes a seat with us until our other colleagues from Copenhagen arrive. We talk about nothing work related for a half hour until the meeting is about to start. $5.97
9:00am – The meeting starts. I’m still relatively new to the UN, so for me I view these meetings as an opportunity to learn more about the different levels of the organization and how everything operates – so many frameworks and mandates and goals and targets and outcomes. I’ve worked in bureaucratic organizations before, but Geneva really intimidates me – so many people who act very important and are always eager to show they are the smartest, most ambitious, most important, etc.
12:30pm – After a nonstop morning we break for an hour lunch. The salad bar is the only option that looks remotely appealing, so I grab a bunch of different veggies and quinoa salad and a huge chunk of cheese and pay. $12.40
1:30-6pm – We are basically locked in the board room all day listening to presentations about impacts and lessons learned from different countries. The guy from Finland is wearing bright red pants and a white t-shirt while all the other men in the room are in suits. I immediately respect Finland A LOT as a country because of this guy.
6:00pm – There’s a wine and an aperitif event. I REALLY hate events like this and yet since I started at the UN I find myself at them fairly often. I mingle with a guy from Portland who abruptly says “ok well nice talking to you bye!” and walks away to go talk to Mr. cool pants Finland. I mingle in a corner alone and awkward, feeling eerily reminded of being 12 and at a school dance and no boys wanted to dance with me. I go outside the room to call F.
6:40pm – F is the best person ever and instantly makes me feel better. I need to get better at networking and schmoozing. I take a seat at a table with another colleague from Copenhagen when my boss comes by and says there is a debriefing meeting for staff in another board room. I’m getting hungry.
7:00pm – I’m called on first by the assistant director general to share my ideas and opinions on how the meeting went. I almost crap my pants being asked to speak off the cuff. I talk about how all the countries that attended – whether they’re big or small, developed or less developed – all seemed to have exactly the same questions, comments, and concerns as each other which means we are not making ourselves clear in what we want from them. If a country like the UK can’t or doesn’t understand how to deliver something, then how can we expect countries with less resources to do it? The comment seems well received by the people around the table. My heart rate slowly returns to normal.
8:30pm – The meeting ends and wee run to catch the bus back to the city center. N and I agree to have a drink at the hotel bar with a colleague from Turkey. N and I both order grilled cheese sandwiches. N pays for dinner again, even though I tell him not to and that it’s ridiculous, he insists. I’ll get his coffee again tomorrow.
10:00pm – I head upstairs to my room, exhausted. I sit down on the bed for what I thought was going to be five minutes and turns into an hour and suddenly it’s 11. I realize I have to pack, since I’m flying back tomorrow. Thank god for Amazon’s packing cubes that make my life so much easier and packing such a breeze!
11:30pm – I finish the nighttime routine and packing and get into bed. I set three alarms for tomorrow. I really want to finish the book I’ve been reading “The Red Haired Woman” by Orhan Pamuk (it’s SO GOOD) but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I’m beat.
Day 1 Total: $18.37
Day 2: Friday
6:45am – I hit the snooze and actually wake up at 7. I shower, don’t wash my hair, put all my packing cubes in the suitcase and head downstairs to meet N.
7:45am – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, N says to me the second I step off the elevators. Yep, that’s right, today I turn 31! We head outside, huddled under N’s umbrella because it’s pouring, and drag our suitcases to the bus stop. At the stop, I open my suitcase and pull out my raincoat and put it on.
8:30am – I decide to get a coffee before the meeting starts. N doesn’t want one, but I have a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat and find somewhere to sit where I can be alone for a few minutes. I sit on some comfy armchairs near the entrance and run into one of the consultants from yesterday. Nowhere is safe around here! We chat a bit until we head to the meeting. $3.96
9:00am-12:30pm – Meeting, meeting, and more meeting. I take a lot of notes and get stressed about getting to the airport on time.
12:30pm – Lunch time! Cafeteria salad bar again, albeit slightly cheaper today. The group I have lunch with goes to grab a coffee, one of my colleagues pays, and we sit outside since the rain stops. They sing happy birthday to me and we talk about our weekend plans. $11.59
3:30pm – I head out to catch the bus, hugging a few of the colleagues I’m close with on my way out. I know I’m going to be extra early for the flight, but the airport in Geneva is nice enough and I have to bring back some Ragusa for F so I need time to shop!
4:45pm – I’m already through security and my flight doesn’t leave for another hour and 30 minutes. I stop in the first shop I see for some Ragusa chocolate. I buy three boxes, 2 for F and one for our program assistant, A. $46.26.
5:00pm – I then stop in a duty free shop to see if they have other chocolate. I see Ragusa there, and it’s 3 boxes for the price of two. I am kicking myself, but oh well. I hardly spent any money while I was in Geneva. I get a pretzel from one of those carts and my friend video chats me to say Happy Birthday. My flight starts to board so I agree to call him back tomorrow so we can chat some more. $2.95
6:20pm – The flight home is uneventful. I sleep a little, read a little, and relax a little. I have three pages left of “The Red Haired Woman” by the time we land.
9:20pm – I’m home! I take the elevator upstairs and when I get to our door I see that F put a plant outside with a Danish flag in it – you always welcome home a traveler with a Danish flag in Denmark. It’s a funny tradition. I get inside and he starts singing happy birthday and says dinner is ready. He made my favorite simple easy meal for post-traveling – pasta with broccoli, roasted hazelnuts, chili, garlic with nice olive oil and parmesan cheese. It’s so good and so simple. Then I see a card from my mom on the table. She sent me some scratch offs, which I have no luck with ☹ Then F gives me my presents – a pair of new rain pants! Which I’d been needing for ages but never bought, and a pair of leather leggings, which I’d wanted forever but never found the right pair. I try them on and they fit! What a good birthday! We chat until late at night sharing a bottle of wine before cuddling up and going to bed.
Day 2 Total: $64.76
Day 3: Saturday
9:45am – It’s late! We never wake up this late, I attribute it due to travel and last night’s wine. I get up and jump in the shower, F preheats the oven and gets the dough ready to make bread rolls in the oven. His bread is amazing, and he bakes usually once or twice a week. It’s nice always having fresh homemade bread at home. This is a simple bread with some pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds on top. While it bakes, I finish “The Red Haired Woman”. A solid 4 stars on Good Reads.
11:00am – We’ve eaten the bread and decide to go to the store he bought the leather leggings at so I can try on a bigger pair just to make sure mine are the right size (they seem a little short – or maybe I’m just a little too tall – but otherwise perfect). The bigger size doesn’t look better, so I keep the ones I have and go home and cut the tags off and change into them.
12:30pm – We have a second cup of coffee at home and then leave on a long walk to Carlsberg Byen, the old brewery part of the city that’s now trendy apartments. There was an article in the Guardian about the neighborhood recently, which is why we want to go. On our way we walk through Vesterbro, a cool part of the city I haven’t explored so much yet. I stop in a shop and find a new winter coat that I LOVE, but it’s $419 dollars, which I don’t really feel like spending right now… that’s an awful lot of money for a winter coat.
1:20pm – Midway through the walk we run into F’s friend, J and his son, who is almost 1. We chat with them for a while and head on our way. We have been thinking of buying a place – it seems so stupid to just spend money on a rental place we won’t ever own – but our lives are also pretty hectic with travel and our line of work involves moving around a lot (I’ve lived on three continents in the past five years, F has been moving around since 2009, and we met almost 5 years ago while living in a country neither of us is from) so we are hesitant to commit long term to anything except each other.
3:15pm – After a walk and break in the sun, we start heading home. We take the new metro line, and F pays my fare because I forgot my rejsekort at home after the airport last night. We quickly eat another roll from breakfast with a little of the leftover pasta from last night.
4:45pm – We hang out on the couch for a while and eventually decide to go to the bookstore nearby. I finished two books in the last two weeks, and with all the travel coming up, I need to replenish my supply. I choose three new ones – All the Light we Cannot See, Exit West, and Convenience Store Woman (a Japanese book that got good reviews). $46.61
6:00pm – I skype my friend while F runs to get groceries. I give him my card to pay since I’ll be home the rest of the week to use the groceries and he won’t. We decide to make a quiche, so he gets tomatoes, cream, organic red peppers, organic broccoli, organic tart dough for the crust, organic eggs, and organic butter, bananas, and organic pumpkin seeds for bread. We’re not obsessed with organic stuff or anything… that’s just basically all they sell in many Danish grocery stores. $21.47
9:00: The quiche eating is done and we clean up. F picks up the newspaper to read and I decide to do some yoga in our second bedroom. After ten minutes of YouTube yoga I’m too tired and decide to go on reddit instead. I find out the next season of Bojack Horseman comes out in less than a week and get super excited. Normally I hate cartoons but Bojack is the best. I tell F and we watch all the generic Bojack songs and a few funny episodes to celebrate. We get in bed by 11.
Day 3 Total: $68.08
Day 4: Sunday
8:00am – We wake up and F bakes more bread while I shower and then make a banana, blueberry, strawberry, mango, and raspberry smoothie. We eat, have coffee, and before we know it it’s 10.
10:30am – F leaves today for Egypt, so we only have a few hours to take a walk. We walk down towards Nyhavn (the colorful houses in all pictures of Copenhagen) and the water. My friend T messages me and asks me over for dinner tonight. We met three years ago living in another country and became best friends. Her boyfriend is also from Denmark and she just moved here to be with him, which has been amazing for me to have a close friend here again (making friends in Denmark is HARD).
12:45pm – We walk back, heat up the quiche for lunch, and F packs quickly. So jealous that he can do this, it always takes me hours to pack, even with my packing cubes. Afterwards, I walk him to the metro station and he gets on the train. We won’t see each other for more than two weeks between his trips to Egypt and Kenya and my trip to Israel. It sucks but we both are pretty independent people – I think you have to be when you move around so much.
2:30pm – On the way home from the station I chat with my mom on the phone while popping into a few different stores looking at coats. I can’t stop thinking of the coat from yesterday. I think I need to buy it. I’ve had my old coat for 9 years so I reason that I’ll probably have this one for 9 years. And while my old coat was good enough for living in milder climates, the windy, wet Scandinavian winters just aren’t a match for the old coat. I think I’ll buy it tomorrow.
4:00pm – I head to a “gentle hatha” yoga class at a studio I don’t go to so often, but I bought a clip card months ago and need to use it before the end of the year. I’m always skeptical of these gentle classes because I tend to like faster, power vinyasa classes. I have a heart condition so HIIT and contact sports are out of the question. Power yoga is the perfect fit of strength training and making me sweat and it’s virtually changed my body in the past few years from doing it. For the first time in my life, I feel strong!
6:30pm – The gentle hatha class was a little too gentle. The instructor is really funny though and I feel super relaxed afterwards. Maybe I should do this more often? I’ll think about it. On the way home I stop at a wine shop and buy two bottles of wine on a special offer. I’ll bring one to T tonight. $23.49
7:10pm – Google maps says it takes 17 minutes to ride to T’s, but I leave a little early just in case.
7:40pm – Either I ride very slow or Maps was wrong because that was definitely longer than 15 minutes. It’s so nice to see T. She gives me a tour of her super cute new place (very hyggeligt, to be peak Danish). She gives me the book “Everything I Know About Love” for my birthday. Another thing to read! We make spring rolls and talk for hours until it’s 10:30. I need to prepare for either a 17 or 35 minute bike ride home.
10:55pm – I’m home much faster this time, so I guess the wind was at my back. Always nice when that happens. What a good day! F messages that he is safe in Cairo and I relax in bed, happy.
Day 4 Total: 23.49
Day 5: Monday
7:45am – I get a HORRIBLE night's sleep last night – only about two hours – and barely can crawl out of bed in the morning. My days usually start like this when F is away - I have a harder time falling asleep without him, but also waking up and getting out the door when there's no one else who needs to shower or get ready after me makes it hard to be productive in the morning. It's cold and rainy, but I'm excited to try out my new rain pants so I hope it's still raining when I leave (never thought I'd say that).
9:30am – The bike ride to work is a success in the rain pants, I am so thrilled with my present I send F a selfie of me in full rain gear soaking wet from work. I've never arrived to work this late, so I feel off. I'm exhausted after only 2 hours of sleep last night. I immediately start answering a backlog of emails and start my trip report for Geneva.
10:30am – I have coffee with our program assistant, A, who despite being closer in age to my mom is probably my best friend at the office. I tell her all about the meeting in Geneva and she hands me two presents - a bottle of wine our boss brought back from his home country and one of those exercise balls for sitting at my desk.
11:15am – I remember my sister bought us tickets to see Jagged Little Pill (the new Broadway show with Alanis Morissette's music!) on Broadway while I'm home in December. I make a bank transfer for my ticket. $173.75
12:30pm – I have lunch with A. Usually I bring lunch, but since I’ll only be here for three days this week, it’s cheaper for me to buy lunch since groceries would have been just as expensive and gone bad while F and I are away. A and I are traveling to Israel two days early so that we can prep for the meeting and also have a quick visit to Jerusalem, or as our work calls it, a “private deviation”. We’re only in Israel arranging a course for participants from countries in our region (the region includes all the EU, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and all the Central Asian countries). I have a lot of thoughts about Israel myself, but if I have to go for work I might as well try and enjoy it? $8.26
3:30pm – My energy is tapped out. I leave super early using some flex time for how late I stayed at work all last week. I ride my bike over to the store with the winter coat. I haven’t stopped thinking about it and after shopping around yesterday for others, it was one of the cheapest and the one I liked the best. I purchase the coat and walk out feeling super happy ($419). Then, I cycle to the book store and pick up Lonely Planet’s guide to Israel and Palestine ($27.67). When F and I went to Ukraine a while back we loved having one of these guides, so I vow to always get them before I travel now. $446.67
4:30: I get on my bike and ride to power yoga for a 5 pm class with my favorite instructor. It’s such a good class tonight, I can tell by the fact that I’m dripping with sweat.
6:20: Home from yoga and starving. I quickly make myself the first things I can find between the fridge and freezer: Tofu nuggets, edamame, one of F’s bread rolls toasted with egg, spinach, and tomato on top. It hits the spot.
8:00: I jump in the shower. I am so exhausted I can hardly keep my eyes open.
9:00 pm: F and I chat a little bit before I start falling asleep mid-sentence. Dead asleep by 9:30.
Day 5 Total: $628.68
Day 6: Tuesday
7:00am – I got a full 10 hours of sleep last night, so I am feeling ALIVE this morning. I bop out of bed and ride to work and am at my desk with a cup of coffee and a roll with honey and cheese from the café by 8. $1.64
10:00am – The morning is taken up by requests from my supervisor (N), who flew from Geneva to Prague and wants me to write up a report, read through comments from the Ministries of Health of Bosnia and Turkey on analytical country profiles we put together, and plan for my trip to Belarus next month with someone from another unit in our organization. I also have a call with my PhD supervisor and one of our consultants today.
1:30pm – Quick lunch with A in the cafeteria. We both are stressed. $7.02
6:00pm – The rest of the day absolutely flies by. I have a lot to get done before we leave on Thursday. I ride over to the power yoga studio that’s closest to my office. I always just go where the English-speaking classes are for the day (one time I made the mistake of going to a Danish class and made a complete ass out of myself), and today it’s just my luck that it’s super close to work!
7:30pm – Class is over and I head back home. I make tofu nuggets as an appetizer, and dip them in mustard, a condiment which I’ve only just fallen in love with. I chop up garlic, half a broccoli, half a pepper, spinach, and a bunch of tomatoes and make some chickpea pasta to go with it. I devour it in about three seconds and get in the shower.
9:00pm – I throw in a load of laundry (underwear and things I need for the next trip). After it’s in the drier I head to bed again. I chat with my sister on the phone until she has to go see another patient (she’s a therapist). I notice that The Affair 5th season is on HBO, but I forget what happened in all the other seasons so I feel like I should start the whole series over again. I debate it but feel like committing to five seasons of a show is a lot, so instead open up “All The Light We Cannot See”. Sleep somewhere around 11:30.
Day 6 Total: $8.66
Day 7 – Wednesday
6:30am – Wake up, shower, get ready, bike to work.
8:00am – I have coffee at my desk and wrap up the last few things I need to. Today productivity seems hard and I find myself creating to-do lists of simple things to make me feel like I’m accomplishing things when really I’m not.
12:30pm – I have lunch with A and one of the French translators we work with, M. It’s a nice lunch and always good to talk to colleagues I don’t normally work closely with. $6.56
3:30pm – T (the one from dinner Sunday) and I message and we decide to grab a coffee together. Not only did she move to Denmark, she even got a job in the same building as me! We both are super happy that we see so much of each other. Denmark isn’t the easiest place to integrate, and it’s nice to have someone else going through the same things as me.
5:00pm – I leave work and cycle home, happy to be out of the office for the next 9 days. On my way home, I stop in a few stores looking for a travel yoga mat. I try and do yoga every day, even while I’m away, and it’s just nicer to have a mat to keep me accountable. I can’t find any near me. I get home and make the exact same dinner as last night, finishing off all our produce in the fridge.
6:00pm – I run to the corner store to pick up some snacks for the trip, rye bread chips, dried fruit, some naked bars, and cliff bars. I like to bring stuff to have in my hotel room for late at night or if I just get hungry in the day. I don’t even snack much at home but I guess I always just have a low key fear I’ll starve on work trips? I dunno. $14.94
7:30pm – Feeling inspired by my sort of positive experience with slow paced yoga on Sunday, I book myself into a class called “yoga+mediatation” tonight. When I first arrive the instructor asks if this is anyone’s first time meditating. I am the only one that raises my hand. She asks who incorporates meditation into their every day wellness routine. Almost everyone else raises their hand. I don’t even know if I have a wellness routine, let alone incorporate meditation into it?
8:30pm – OK maybe there is some validity to meditation. I feel so relaxed afterwards I forget to be annoyed that I left all my shoes in my office that I need to bring tomorrow (I ride my bike in sneakers and change into proper shoes at the office) so I have to ride back to work and pick them up so they can be packed. On my way out of yoga, I buy this roll-on essential oil that I’ve been testing every time I’m here and can’t get enough of. $36.41
9:30pm – I am home from getting my shoes. Before I can pack I need to water all the plants, clean up the kitchen, and neaten my room so I feel completely organized for packing. Packing takes me until 11:30, but more than half the time I was procrastinating. Amazon packing cubes to the rescue again. I fit everything together nice and neat and am so looking forward to crawling into bed.
Day 7 Total: $57.91
Week Total: $869.95
- Food + Drink : $96.76
- Entertainment: $173.75
- Home + Health: 0
- Clothes + Beauty: $455.41
- Transport: 0
- Other (books and presents for F and T): $144.03
SF City Hall 12/5/19 - We Did It!
We lurked on this page since we got engaged in July 2019, but never actually participated. We thought we’d write up a summary to pay it forward.
Overall, and compared to the horror stories we’ve read on here, this was a stress free, easy going and laid-back wedding. We are thrilled with how it went. We invited close friends/family only, about 37 people, and 31 people attended. We specifically timed it on a Thursday at 11am between two major holidays so all we had to really worry about were holiday party bookings.
We did not waste any time and instantly disregarded vendors who were slow to respond and had everything firmed up by September.
We also paid for everything ourselves, because A) we could B) it spares us from having to listen to any family input or special requests.
Invites: We wanted something that didn’t necessarily require an engagement photoshoot but still was unique enough to go on someone’s refrigerator. We ended up going with these in Light Taupe, adding the gold foil: https://www.minted.com/product/foil-stamped-wedding-invitations/MIN-YR5-IFS/big-city-san-francisco Total cost: $280.19 for 35, including pre-printed envelops.
I work for the airlines, so we purchased one positive space ticket for the bride out there, and I jumpseated out there on the same flight. On the way back, we both non rev’d home with no issues. Her one-way ticket IAD SFO bought months in advance: $245 + $35 checked luggage. As someone who works in the airline industry, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of buying a direct, non-stop tickets. It is worth the premium to never worry about delays or misconnects with important events.
Hotel: We emailed 4-6 hotels in the location we wanted (close to 54 Mint off Market Street.) Hotel Abri was the most responsive and gave us a fantastic deal. It was $149/189 per night, waived $40 resort fee, Bridal Suite for us, upgraded Urban suites for everyone else. Total cost for 4 nights: $820 after dumb SF taxes.
Rehearsal Dinner: We didn’t have one. Instead 23 of us went to AsiaSF. Google it if you don’t know what it is. Was a great time, $49pp and $66 after surcharges/tip. Total cost $1385 + $100 for the performers.
Venue: SF City Hall. It was a Pinterest find that seemed to be the best of both worlds. We currently live in Washington, DC but realized we didn’t want to get married here. It was between this or Las Vegas, but only the Bellagio Terrazzo balcony was interesting… that was $8k for a mandatory package that included floral credit and a photographer you had to buy each picture individually. One look at the overpriced food costs and that was a hard pass.
We ended up with SF City Hall 4th Floor North Galley, as it’s favored by photographers for the natural light. Total cost was $1k for one hour, and $7.50 per chair. $3.50 if you want lesser, crappier chairs. But total cost was $1255 for 1 hour + 34 nicer chairs.
Officiant: We used Andrew at http://californiaweddingofficiant.com and did the Wonderful Wedding package. He is very organized, we had about an hour and a half initial Skype call to get acquainted/go over the sample script. We revised it to make it our own, changed the poems, etc. He showed up early to the ceremony, and was very prompt in his responses. Offseason cost: $399
Oh, SF City Hall charges $110 for a wedding license. You need to reserve an appointment, which are available starting 90 days out.
Photographer: While searching Weddit for SF City Hall photographers, we found http://amandaweiphoto.com, checked out her portfolio, liked it and emailed her. She was very prompt in answering our questions, in the budget we wanted, and had availability. Of note, we talked with other photographers, but they were outside what we wanted or too expensive (mandatory all-inclusive packages, or another was $6k.) Amanda was there when we showed up, directive on the first look, and gave everyone great direction. Highly recommend. We showed up to City Hall right at 8am to get the staircase/rotunda when it was empty, shot from 8-10:30, ceremony at 11. We sent her specific examples of what we wanted (group photos and such) and are excited to get them back. Her and her assistant were approximately $2500.
Reception: 54 Mint: Found via another Photographers portfolio, we loved the venue. Bride flew out and did a trial dinner in August, and it was delicious. They have two floors, an upstairs with a bar and a downstairs cellar. We bought out the upstairs for lunch 1-4pm at $55/head + wine. We bought the table decorations and had the cake shipped to them, and they set everything up – we gave minimal guidance and it was beautiful. They asked what kind of wines we wanted and the business sommelier picked the best wine ever, about $50/bottle. Food was ample and amazing, fresh and delicious. We had one Vegan guest they had no problem accommodating. We actually had to start wrapping things up because we were going over our allotted time.
Total cost: $570 deposit + $2776.77 food+service charge + $200 voluntary extra because it was so much food and amazing service. We talked to Rika Zilant, the Director of Operations, who again, was amazingly responsive.
Post Reception, we informally all went ice skating at Union Square. It was $18 per person, and those who chose to go out, paid for themselves. Was actually a really good time after all the pasta, cake and wine.
Cake: We ordered from Milkbar and had it shipped to 54 Mint. One large original Funfetti birthday cake and one small Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark cake. We also had to supply the cake stands, cake knife, and cake toppers. All were shipped/delivered to 54 Mint, and they took care of the rest. Total cost – cakes: $165 other stuff: $200 (we went fancy, BHDLN)
Misc: Artificial but amazing looking flowers: $400 from Etsy (Wedideas). Table runners: $100 from Etsy (Snug Babii.) Table Garlands: $99x2 = $180 from Costco. Welcome bags from Etsy (ConfettiMommaParty) w/contents: We added many different Ghiradelli Chocolates, Aleve, Shout wipes, a nice itinerary, and bottled water. Total cost for everything, about $100. Wooden signing board with our name/date and silver sharpies (ArtAndSoulShoppe): $36. Custom “And So The Adventure Begins” Luggage tag favors (from LetterandLeather): $152
Day after, we hosted a wine tour up to Sonoma Valley for 22 people. We initially looked into Tour companies and busses, but the tour companies seemed overpriced and the busses looked anti-social. We decided the 20-28 person bus from https://executivelimobus.com was worth the premium. Bus pickup was 8am, drop off 6pm. With tolls, it was $1854 + gratuity. The driver, Bhati, was prompt, constantly cleaned when we were off, and was very professional. Highly recommend this arrangement for the social aspect, but put someone you trust by the light/music/HVAC controls. We paid for the bus, but did not pay for anyone’s tastings/purchases at the wineries:
8am Bus departure
8:30: Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point North for group photos and scenic views
10am: Kendall Jackson Winery – We were greeted with a mystery tasting and immediately sat down, and talked by experts for either the chocolate and wine pairing or the cheese and wine pairing. All were excellent. Those who did the charcuterie board were impressed by the portions. It’s a huge winery. We budgeted 1 hour 45 minutes, but we probably needed 2.5 hours. We coordinated with Angela, and again, she was extremely responsive on the phone and via email.
11:45 Depart KJ
12:15: Arrive Francis Ford Coppola. We got a custom tasting upstairs and tour. I can’t say enough good things about how we were treated, they rolled out all the stops. They have a sit down restaurant but we ordered pizzas to go. After the toucustom tasting, everyone was released to informally do their thing for the last 30 mins. We could have used a lot more time than the 1 hour 45 mins.
2pm: Depart FFC
2:15pm: Arrive Trattore Farms: A smaller, family run place that was sadly impacted by the fires so we were happy to go there. Again, we were given the royal treatment, and not only was the wine great, but they have samples of super good olive oil and vinegars w/bread. We coordinated with Mary, the owner, who again, was super responsive.
6pm: Hotel drop off
I cannot emphasize enough the royal treatment each winery gave us. I don’t hesitate to recommend all three of them. I wish we had more time at each, as the ambiance, service, wines, and overall experience was beyond our expectations. Also, all didn’t require final numbers until a few days beforehand, and I made sure they were fine with a few day of audibles.
Some wineries we had to pass on. Some didn’t have food options during lunch, others wanted everyone paid up front for a group of our size. Nothing against them, their options simply didn’t work with our requirements.
Overall, this wedding was done exactly how we wanted it, and it went fantastic. There was no dance floor, no emcee, and no traditional crap that didn’t really interest us. Our group was given the royal treatment by the wineries, and it was beyond our wildest imagination. The group we went with was amazing, and everyone was best friends by the end of it. We left on a Saturday and a lot of the group coordinated on their own to go out by themselves after our departure.
Total OTD cost not including rings or dresses for our multi day wedding: $14,326.64
This wedding was pretty much a dream come true. Picture: https://i.imgur.com/LtgxPnr.jpg