Goin’ to the Chapel

Valentines Day is just a couple days away and romance is in the air. According to Time Newsfeed, a whopping 220,000 wedding proposals take place on Valentines Day each year – that’s 10% of the national average! And according to a survey conducted by theknott.com, engagements typically last much longer and weddings tend to get put off during times of economic hardship. Because of this, I decided to put together a post to help out those couples who are looking to plan an affordable dream wedding in Los Angeles.

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My own Los Angeles dream wedding took place 2 years ago on February 18th at the Albertson Wedding Chapel. This venue, which is located in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles, could not have been more perfect for me, and I would recommend it to nearly anyone looking for a cheap but extremely elegant wedding ceremony.

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I had a lot of hurdles to jump over in planning my wedding. For starters, it was a bit of a short engagement. My husband proposed to me at the end of July, and I wanted to get married in February so that we could keep our same anniversary. Secondly, I am my own island out here in Los Angeles. All of my family is back in the midwest, so I had absolutely zero help in putting my wedding together. Being only 23 at the time, I had no idea what I was doing! And lastly, I was working within a constrained budget. I was fortunate enough that my parents were planning to pay for my wedding, but the deal was that my parents were going to spend the same amount of money on me as they did for my older sister. In other words, since my sister spent about $15,000 on her wedding, if I were to only spend $5,000, my parents would give me the difference ($10k) in cash. Obviously I was going for the cash!

At the same time, however, I didn’t want to have a courthouse wedding or a ceremony at a yucky, tacky chapel that would mar my memories of my special day. So I set out trying to make some type of plan for my wedding and very quickly became overwhelmed – almost to the point of tears. I kept trying to find a reasonable venue, but everything was either way too expensive or just ugly. The few spots that were somewhat reasonable were way too big for what I needed. Being that all of my family and all of his family live out of state, I knew that our guest list wasn’t going to be very big. I cringed at the idea of a spacious venue with only 15 or 20 people to “fill it”.

Feeling defeated, I decided to switch gears and start looking for a photographer. Again, I nearly had a heart attack when I realized how much THAT was going to cost! And that was just to have the photographer on site – not even for the prints themselves. The flowers, the cake, the marriage license…after awhile, all I could see were dollar signs and complications…I was in way over my head.

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And then, a miracle! At last, one of my Google searches yielded something useful: a link to the Albertson Wedding Chapel. I can still remember sitting there browsing through the site as with every click, a burden was lifted from my chest and I started to feel hopeful. It seemed too good to be true! The photos of the venue itself were gorgeous, the prices were reasonable (and included both the facility, officiator, and license), they offered gorgeous and affordable wedding bouquets, they had a bridal suite, their wedding photography and videos were low-cost and the samples were incredible, and they were just the right size for me! And since the chapel has different rates depending on the size of your guest list (of up to 40), I didn’t have to pay for seats that there was no chance I could fill. I was over the moon!

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I called the chapel right away and set up an appointment to go see it in person. Part of me was still trying not to get my hopes up too high – I had been deceived by photos in the past! When I arrived, though, I was not disappointed. The facility was every bit as beautiful in person. I met with Aimee (one of the wedding coordinators) and she gave me the full tour, walked me through my options, answered all of my questions, and helped me book my ceremony. They didn’t have a wedding bouquet that matched my dress (I wanted something bright red to match my sash) so she even came up with a gorgeous arrangement of red roses just for me. I left the chapel that day feeling truly excited for the first time about my budget-friendly dream wedding in Los Angeles! Who knew it was possible?

The wedding day itself went off perfectly! There was a wedding party both before and after my ceremony, but we never ran into each other and I never felt rushed. I had plenty of time to get ready in my bridal suite with my sisters, and when I was presented with my bouquet, I nearly cried with joy! It was perfect. I had arranged with the chapel to play my own music to walk down the aisle to (“In My Life” by the Beatles) to add my own special touch to the wedding service. Our officiator was really great – not just some stiff guy spouting off vows. You could tell that he really loves marrying people and he made the ceremony feel personal as opposed to like a cookie cutter wedding. We were even able to do a unity candle ceremony.

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Once my hubby had kissed his bride (Hey! that’s me!) we headed off to take our pictures. I was very pleased. Our photographer was Daniel, and he was great with not only getting the traditional wedding shots, but he also worked to accommodate the poses that we wanted. My friends and I like to play this game (we call it “The Blah Game”) where everyone makes a series of really crazy faces until the camera snaps and then you find out what ridiculous expressions everyone has on their face. Those are actually some of my favorite shots because they are so “us”. All in all, I love my wedding photos.

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If I remember correctly, my whole gorgeous and perfect LA wedding ceremony cost right around the $1,000 mark. Duh, winning! Of course, with less guests (or no guests) you could have a wedding for even a fraction of that cost that is still totally classy. And there are also add-ons, for those who want a little extra.

For example, the Albertson Wedding Chapel also offers affordable wedding reception packages. You can elect something as simple as just the usage of the facility while you bring your own libations, to a full-fleged Mexican buffet with a Sweet Lady Jane cake and your choice of a live Mariachi band or DJ. The venue really gives you the freedom to make your wedding as simple or as complex as you desire. And if you don’t want to be constricted to a wedding chapel, you can also elect a “wedding to go” will all of the fixin’s at the location of your choice.

As far as affordable weddings in Los Angeles go, I don’t know of any other venue that has it together like the Albertson Wedding Chapel. Sure, you can find cheap wedding chapels in LA, but you’ll get what you pay for. Honestly, there were times that it felt like I was robbing the Albertson chapel blind. You really don’t have to go bankrupt or take out a second mortgage in order to enjoy a dream wedding in LA. With the Albertson Wedding Chapel you really can have your cake and eat it, too.

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Happy wedding planning!

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