My wedding to my husband Ben may not have been what we expected, but looking back it was everything a girl could dream of.
After the initial excitement of our engagement, I remember just feeling bombarded by the to-do list of planning a wedding. We wanted to save up money for a year. But we also wanted to have a big celebration with our loved ones. I started researching venues, caterers, dresses, and decorations for hours on end and quickly realized just how expensive this wedding was going to be. Stress started mounting as I found it necessary to accommodate everyone in our family. Should we have an open bar? Should we have 150 people? Should I get a photo booth for entertainment? The estimated cost kept rising and so did my aversion to anything wedding related.
A series of unexpected changes in our lives forced us to scrap our plans for the expensive wedding. But instead of being heartbroken, I got creative. I found a beautiful gazebo near our local library that we could use for our ceremony for no charge. The guest list became much smaller. We invited our parents, siblings, and our grandparents.
This wasn’t what we imagined, but it was exactly what we needed. When we focused more on the act of getting married and less on the customary extravagance of the ceremony, the stress from planning the “perfect” day melted away. Because we couldn’t afford the bells and whistles, our marriage became a celebration of what really mattered to us: sharing our love for each other with our friends and family.
Our wedding became a team effort. My mother contributed some wonderful decorations she already had bought at an arts and craft sale, that just happened to be the deep purple color of my dreams. We didn’t hire a caterer for the reception because we felt that the cost was prohibitive for our budget. Ben and I provided much of the food, but his parents were kind enough to contribute some as well. His aunt even offered to make our wedding cake. We realized just how much we loved and appreciated our family members as they did what they could to make our wedding special, despite our limited circumstances.
When the day came, my mother and sister drove me to the gazebo for the ceremony. I was wearing a beautiful, brand new dress from a high-end brand my cousin had found for me at Goodwill for $4. As my dad walked me down a cloth aisle covered in purple faux petals that my mother found, I remember being overjoyed at the new adventure I was about to embark on with my soon-to-be husband. Looking into his eyes as we read our vows I realized how perfect our big day had become!
What could have been a $10,000+ wedding became one with a total cost of approximately $3,000. But with a supportive family and a willingness to adjust our ceremony to our budget, we really did have the wedding of our dreams.