When Whitney left her small town in Alaska to attend Pomona College in sunny California, she had no idea this would ultimately be where she'd meet the love of her life, David, and together, they would be stronger than anything that tried to break them.
Although they traveled within similar friend groups, it wasn't until senior year, where they met at a party and immediately clicked: 1 month later, they were dating. Two years into their relationship, after Whitney got into medical school at UW, they had a conversation about the timeline of their lives and the decisions they would need to make; years later (a total of 7 years!), David finally popped the question at a small park in Queen Anne that had special meaning to both of them. Afterwards, they celebrate with dinner at Canlis, but the biggest surprise of all was the weekend getaway where David flew Whitney to LA for an engagement party to celebrate with their closest friends and friends.
They decided on a traditional wedding in LA, where they felt most at home. But when Whitney was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2017, it was David the brought up the idea of a mini wedding: "I just want to marry you now." With the uncertainty of the diagnosis, they wanted to move forward and take on the challenge together: they knew they were stronger together.
TMW Series: How did you pull together your mini wedding so quickly?
Whitney: We used the help of our LA planner, Smith & James Events, for recommendations in Seattle area. Venue was first: we used Venue Report: considered a few, but we used to live in Capitol Hill, so Volunteer Park was special to both of us, and The Conservatory was beautiful.
TMW Series: How did you confidently create your mini guest list?
Whitney: The Conservatory has a limit of 25 guests, so our guest list was really based off this limit. We had already chosen our wedding parties (7 in bridal party on each side) + a few (3-4) people who were felt very close to. We had a few very strict rules for the ceremony as well: no significant others. I remember 3 friends that had significant other’s that weren’t invited to the ceremony, but were invited to the reception.
TMW Series: How did you deal with your feelings / reactions of those that might not have made it onto your intimate guest list?
Whitney: After I was diagnosed, almost immediately I felt like I needed to lean on family/friends for support. I sent an email out stating: “hey look, this is the situation," basically asking for help and support. From that email, a lot of friends asked to visit, and from that I used their visits to have a very open and honest conversation with them.
TMW Series: Did your mini wedding take an entire day? What did your timeline look like?
Whitney: Our ceremony was at 4pm, and I remember asking "what are we going to do after?" We knew we wanted to host a reception afterwards for a larger, but still intimate group to celebrate: we ended up renting out a small section of The Nest at 5:30 for "cocktail hour," and afterwards, we hosted a "reception" at our home: we had bistro lights hung, peonies brought from Alaska (my hometown) and assembled by my girls, rentals from CORT, and catered BBQ.
TMW Series: Were you able to connect and chat with every single one of the guests throughout the day?
Whitney: Absolutely. Definitely – at the party especially. But most of the guests were with me getting ready all-day.
TMW Series: Did you splurge on anything specific to make your day a little more special?
Whitney: Videography, and we decided to spend our wedding night at The Four Seasons, so we weren't just heading upstairs after the night was over, ha!
TMW Series: Overall, what was your budget for your mini wedding?
Whitney: Our budget was $10k, and even with the cocktail hour at The Nest with a few more than 25 guests, we were on budget.
TMW Series: So I know you decided to also keep your traditional wedding: did you find the planning process fun for a traditional wedding?
Whitney: Yes! I hired a full design planner / coordinator. When I set the budget, I knew how crazy the schedule was leading up to the wedding (clinical rotations that would switch locations, etc), long hours, high-stress, there would be no way I could plan the wedding. The first thing I did was look for the design planner.
TMW Series: What was your guest count? Whitney: It started at 140, and we cut down from there to 120.
TMW Series: How were your overall feelings about your traditional wedding?
Whitney: Best day of my life, but it was definitely stressful. Financially, it’s a huge commitment – we paid for it ourselves. Each parent gave a set amount, but we paid for a majority of the wedding in LA ourselves.
TMW Series: Do you feel comfortable talking budget?
Whitney: We set our budget originally at $50k. However, our budget increased substantially due to our venue. We went and toured it, and it raised our budget by $20k.
TMW Series: Let's talk pros and cons, mini wedding vs. traditional wedding.
Whitney: Ok, let's start with a traditional wedding:
Large guest list
So much stress! Financially: this was present the entire planning process and we were always questioning money.
Quality time with guests
More intimate gathering, flows more around conversation so it makes family/friends got closer
Planning process simplified
Change of Scenery/Flexibility
Ceremony – no pressure, no nervous energy, felt comfortable (not a public speakers)
No big fun dance party
TMW Series: Looking back, do you think you would have done anything differently in choosing to have a mini wedding?
Whitney: The one thing I would've done differently is extend the photographer hours – we have no photos from the house party; only from polaroids. I think we would definitely have regretted not having a videographer – we did debate this for a while, and had seen so many with and without, but I found my Videographer and after meeting them in person, they had such a beautiful way of storytelling, I wanted it captured.
TMW Series: Thank you so much for taking the time with us today Whitney.
We here at TMW Series felt so lucky to be able to have the opportunity to sit down and get to know Whitney: she is incredibly inspiring, and chooses to be a positive light each day, leading with bravery, internal beauty, and honesty. Make certain you follow her journey, especially as she starts her own blog soon, @whitzyang.