How our frugal ‘non-wedding’ turned into one of the best events in our lives

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Husband and I have been together since 2002. We moved together few years ago and also traveled the world together, the only thing we ‘failed’ to do was actually get married. We were in no rush, since living together wasn’t affected by our situation and none of us are ‘party people’.

wedding-bouquetWe did go to all our friends weddings (and we’re talking quite some friends) and, while we loved being there for these great people, we didn’t really like the idea of a ‘normal wedding’. The brides and grooms were ALWAYS stressed out, tired, consumed by all kinds of small crappy details that we didn’t even notice as guests, but for them seemed to be like a huge deal.

Many of them overspent for the wedding and only some ‘recouped’ the money from our money gifts (in my country most of the guests give cash in an envelope, so at least theoretically you can get some money back and even more). Of course, that’s in theory, I do have relatives for instance who have paid for 4-5 years after the wedding to cover all the costs.

In my country the ‘normal’ wage is around 300-500 dollars, but a wedding can go up to 10K like nothing (even sometimes even more). You can imagine what a HUGE financial load this is for such small wages, but the brides and grooms would go all the distance to have the best day of their lives.

Well, we did it in a different way and it turned out great

1. It’s not the best day of our lives

I know it sounds weird, but we’ve been together for more than a decade. We traveled on 3 continents together, spent 6 months in NYC (3 times), 2 months on Costa del Sol (Spain) and countless other smaller vacations). Let me tell you that I can find at least 10 moments in all these 11 years which for us were such happy moments little can come close to them.

Earlier this year (in June), I found out that I’m pregnant. We weren’t even trying too hard, I just stopped the pill weeks ago, and still it worked. Seeing the pink line on our home pregnancy test clearly ranks VERY high in our ‘best moments’ together chart. Not to mention, 2 afterward, getting the pic from my ‘sonogram’ and showing my not-yet-back-then-husband a small white dot. That was our child. I swear his eyes were wet, even if my husband is not the weepy kind. You can imagine the madness, phone calls to all our close friends/relatives, skype calls to our friends/relatives abroad, all the ‘lines’ were hot-red from all the talking.

Another amazing moment, I am sure of it, will be somewhere in February, when our daughter will say hello to this world. I am sure it will trump any wedding dress or party.

Since we were pretty clear that for us the wedding itself is just an event to set us ‘legally’ for a lifetime together, we decided to keep it as low as possible.

2. The money is better spent

I have worked for an year in a special events agency and I know firsthand how all this works. As someone who’s worked in the business, I am still shocked to see how the happy couple is ‘milked’ and how absurd the pricing is for a wedding. Everything is way more expensive and in 99.9% of the cases the huge prices have absolutely nothing to do with any trace of decency or real value.

Overpriced invitations (let’s say they can cost 10-20 times more than when they arrive at the ‘provider’). Music, photography and video? You’d be shocked to see what the real ‘rates’ are and how much you pay extra. Let’s not get into the wedding dresses areas, we all know that many of them are so expensive and this doesn’t even have anything to do with them being well put together or beautiful.

We could spend the money on a posh wedding (and not even go into debt with it), but we decided that we’d rather save it or go for a pretty cool vacation anytime soon. We have spent a lot of money for our travels, but we had many wonderful experiences (and some pretty long vacations), so we decided that, instead of spending the money for a wedding none of us wanted (and hope we can make up some of the expenses from the cash gifts), we’d better keep it small, have the civil ceremony (we actually needed the ‘papers’) and skip the wedding party (and the church, since none of us are usually going to church anyway).

3. It was never my dream to be a bride

I’m not a ‘normal’ woman. I never wanted to be a princess, as I grew up, I don’t get teary-eyed at weddings, I never wanted a wedding dress. Sure, there are many women for whom this is a great deal (and this is why I’d never make fun of their choice to spend their best day like this), but it’s not for me. Going through the entire process would have been a horrible experience for me and I’m sure only few moments would have been actually enjoyed.

My husband is the same, he never wanted a big celebration, so we both decided that we don’t need to do it, if it’s not going to make us happy.

4. We didn’t want to invite all kinds of people who have little importance to us

We’re not loners and we do have quite some friends. Could we have gathered at least 100 people? I think even 200 was very doable, since we do know a lot of people and have many relatives all around the country. With some advance planning (as any wedding is done), we could gather them in no time.

But would this be a good idea? We’re not close to all of them. We don’t chat at least weekly. Sure, they’d be rushing to our wedding, but, honestly, we didn’t want all these people to come. It sounds mean, but from the hundreds of people we know, few are so important to us that we’d want to see in such a moment.

So we didn’t go big. We had around 30 people at the civil ceremony. We looked around us and smiled: they were EXACTLY the ones who really made our day. Sure, there were few people who are thousand miles away (and it was sad not to see them), but NONE of our guests was ‘un-needed’. Close friends and our immediate family. This is what we had and it was such a happy moment.

How did it all work?

We were scheduled for the ceremony at 1PM, so 3 hours earlier, we went to the market for me to get my ‘bride’ bouquet. I’m not big on these, but I realized I should actually have one. So we went there and a nice lady put together a 19 rose bouquet for me. She worked for 10 minutes or so, while I chatted with my ‘soon-to-be’ husband. The lady was amazed to find out we were getting married in 3 hours and we were so calm. Why fret? She was doing a good job, I’m not a ‘bridezilla’ anyway, had nothing to worry or obsess about.

Got back home, showered and prepared to go to the ceremony.

We met our friends are relatives there and in few minutes we were married. We then let our friends know we had a reservation at a nearby restaurant, so the entire ‘entourage’ joined us for a meal. The entire cost was around $700, from which we actually paid $300 (since some of our friends gave us a money gift, even if it’s not customary for this type of ceremony, only at the regular wedding party). The money was put to good use though and we were happy to have had such a low cost.

Anyway, regardless of the cost, what meant more for us was having them all there. The advantage of not having a huge wedding was that all people we invited were very close to our heart. Husband and I don’t really like parties and we surely dislike the idea of being the center of attention, but we felt comfortable with such great friends/relatives.

The food was excellent and everybody felt great, even if it wasn’t a ‘normal’ wedding. We got back home after 4 hours, with no stress or exhaustion (am actually pregnant and can’t go for hours as before) having a great memory. The only issue was that I did get a cold (my immune system is almost zero and it rained a little), but this got solved in few days with the right medication (as prescribed by my doctor).

So this was our ‘non-wedding’ day. It’s been more than a month since then and we still talk fondly about it. I never wished for anything more than that and got such much from just a simple ceremony.

How was your wedding? Are you planning one? Is the budget big? Tell us your story 🙂

10 COMMENTS

  1. Very nice approach! I would’ve loved to have something similar, but my wife always dreamed of her in a wedding dress so we had to go the traditional way (kind of). We too brought in only the close friends and family (54 people total or something like that) and had a great party, but indeed we were always stressed out and doing stuff, entertaining and talking to everybody, dancing and making sure that everything is OK. Everybody loved our wedding (or at least so they say) but I didn’t. At the end, I was exhausted and happy it was over. I even joked saying that I will never divorce just to make sure that I’ll never have a wedding again :))

    And regarding your life as a digital nomad – I would be extremely interested to hear more about that and your experiences as this is something I really hope doing some day and seeing a fellow Romanian do it is surely inspiring!

    • Well, if the missus wanted a wedding, it’s good she got to have one. I never dreamed about this, so it was really no big deal.

      As for the digital nomad life: not that difficult: get a place to go, take your laptop and your brain (which fortunately is ‘tied’ to your body) and that’s all. You also need an internet connection and you’re set 😉

  2. We had a fairly cheap wedding (I think about $2,500) and I don’t regret it at all. I never dreamed of my wedding and mostly wanted to get it over with. And, yup…we’re still happily married eight years later.

    • 2.5K is really small compared to the prices most people have to pay. Happy to see you’re happily married after 8 years. Wish you many more decades of happiness together 😉

  3. Great points, Ramona – and I agree with everyone one of them. I’m huge on spending our money on things that bring value to our lives. Everything about a wedding is for *that day* and seldom bring any value to our lives when the day is over – especially for the amount of money spent for your average wedding!

  4. I’m a fellow non-normal woman. Weddings don’t excite me and after having gone to several, they all start to look the same and take a huge bite out of your wallet. One of my close girlfriends is the same, not really into the typical wedding scene. She had a civil ceremony with family and then a party in the park afterwards. It was a potluck too. I loved the fact that it was so laid back and represented who the couple was.

    • I think the main thing is ‘represented the couple’. We’re a no frills couple, we love small parties and being around few people, so it was easy to choose this. And the good part was that we did save a lot of money with it too 😉

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