September 26, 2018
Thinking of Eloping to save money? We recently came across an interesting article about saving money on a small stress-free wedding so that a couple could buy a house AND have a wedding for about $1,600. Since we offer elopement packages ranging from $550 to $1,250 at the Cotton Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Duluth, Minnesota, we thought we would share it. Here is a portion of the article:
“We had a $1,600 micro wedding with twelve guests – here’s why more people should do it.” We wanted to use our savings to buy a house in Santa Barbara, California. Even so, there was no way we’d be able to afford that little house in addition to a full-scale wedding — even one that was fairly modest. My parents offered to contribute up to $2,000 — so an under-$2,000 wedding it would be, we decided, allowing all of our savings to go toward the house. That meant that corners would have to be cut for the event. A lot of corners.
We didn’t want the wedding to feel frugal, though, or like an elopement. And I wanted to get married in Laguna Beach, the famously ritzy resort town where I’d grown up. The only answer was to keep it small. Really small.
These days, the “micro-wedding” is a recognizable trend. In 2009, people thought we were nuts. I spent a lot of time telling offended friends and extended family that it wasn’t personal: There would only be 12 people there in total, including the ones getting married.
Even with a guest list I could have written on my hand, keeping expenses down required some creative maneuvering.
Anything with the label “wedding” attached to it packed an unnecessary premium
When we asked a florist how much a wedding bouquet would cost, she quoted us $150. We called back and asked the same question, without mentioning the word “wedding.” The new cost? $80.
Learning to work on the (relative) cheap is addictive. When my mother called a local hotel to discuss hosting a wedding reception for 12, they insisted that we’d have to book through their wedding service, which meant an expensive venue as well as the cost of food. There were minimum charges, which were in the four figures. But a lunch for 12 on one of the hotel’s private beachfront patios — including Champagne — ended up being $800 total.
Avoiding wedding boutiques, I found a designer ivory cocktail dress with bead trimming on clearance at a department store. It looked exactly like a wedding dress (which was probably why no one was buying it), and it was perfect for a casual beachside wedding. Cost? $110. My shoes were a simple pair of high-heeled silver sandals, for $70. Ken, always low-maintenance, just used his existing suit. And we decided to do without most of the extras, like gifts for the wedding party, RSVP cards, and floral centerpieces. (For the record, no one seemed to notice.)
We wanted a traditional Jewish ceremony — not cheap either, as it happens. The first rabbi we met with announced his fee for the ceremony would be $1,800. When I asked another candidate about less-expensive options, he explained that the premium fees were for personalized weddings, so we wouldn’t have a “cookie-cutter” service.
Cookie-cutter was just fine, we decided — after all, we’d end up married either way. But then a lucky option appeared: A distant cousin, a fully ordained rabbi, was willing to marry us. She refused to take any money, though we insisted on putting her up in a nice hotel and giving a gift. A good friend coming to the wedding was an amateur photographer, and we pressed him into service, too. Finally, we rented a space in a small park on a cliff, just above the beach, for $180, where we could hold the ceremony.
I hadn’t anticipated the biggest side-benefit of a miniature wedding: It was nearly stress-free
I can angst out with the best of them, but there was nothing about planning or carrying out this affair to bring out my latent bridezilla potential.
On the big morning, my mother fastened tiny ribbon flowers and pearls into my curls with hair glue ($5 total). It took forever to get everyone ready, and we were late getting out the door. (At that point, Ken texted to ask if I’d fled the country.) But I genuinely didn’t mind — there weren’t hundreds of attendees waiting for me.
We stood under a homemade chuppah (a Jewish marriage canopy) in a rose-filled park overlooking the ocean. It was a radiant June day, with the sound of waves crashing all around us and sea lions barking on the rock just offshore. Our small circle of family and friends stood close around us so that every guest felt like part of the ceremony. Strangers out for a morning stroll watched as we exchanged vows. And I suddenly felt enormously grateful for our pint-sized wedding.
There were other advantages. Our guests could order whatever they wanted from the restaurant menu, rather than the ubiquitous wedding chicken or fish. The bouquet, standing in a vase, became the floral centerpiece.
They bought a simple cake from a deli and brought their own Champagne.
Later that evening, we gathered onto the hedge-enclosed patio of the little bed and breakfast where the whole wedding party was staying. We’d ordered a basic, non-wedding cake from the local deli and brought Champagne.
The wedding was elegant and homey at the same time — everything I could have wanted
And at a total cost of less-than-$1,600, our savings were intact. A house was in our future, although it would take us nearly a year to find the perfect place.
Micro-weddings make eminent sense in this day and age.
They’re the perfect antidote to excess and overwork. More and more people are deciding that the effort and expense of a full-scale wedding aren’t for them. In the end, I had an intimate, elegant wedding day. When things went wrong — like the dirty water from my bouquet that dripped onto my dress — it didn’t matter. Even more important, my family had a home in which to begin our new life — with just enough space for the redheaded new addition who now occupies the second bedroom.