When Mr. Lively proposed on May 30th, I was planning on a traditional wedding next fall.
The following day his parents came into town and we talked about possible venues and catering for three whole days. But during their last night in town we finally broached the subject of our honeymoon.
We decided we wanted to go to Paris.
I’ve never been to France before and Mr. Lively speaks French and hasn’t been to Europe. So it seemed like a great trip for the two of us to enjoy together.
However, we quickly realized that since we were footing almost the entire bill for the wedding, funds would most likely be so tight by that point it would be out of the question. I recently found out our budget was $20,000 less than the average wedding spent in Chicago… so our estimate was probably a naive assumption to begin with.
Then suddenly, Mr. Lively’s father suggested that we elope to Paris and do the ceremony there.
At first I was unsure… I mean, we had been working out the math and if we saved – substantially – each month, we would have the money we would need to meet our wedding budget. So though a Paris honeymoon might not be realistic, the wedding part was something we could do here in Chicago…
But it didn’t take long to reflect deeper and begin with the end in mind. Growing up, I dreamed about my ring (I worked in a fine jewelry store in high school and I’m a jewelry designer) and my home (I used my mom’s interior design stencils to draw out new floor plans for my bedroom when I was 9).
Yet my wedding was never something that I thought about so it never had huge significance to me. It was mostly about creating a bond with my husband and God, and celebrating with our friends and family. Which is what a wedding accomplishes, but at a pretty high expense for our current income. Though we could most likely foot the bill without debt, we’d have little more than a small emergency fund to show for it afterwards.
Which meant saving for a home in our future was going to take us quite a while after the wedding next fall.
So while I did get the ring of my dreams (my late Grandmother’s stone is nestled in my favorite setting), my home was going to be somewhere far off in the somewhat distant future. It also made preparing for parenthood in a few years financially more challenging.
Which means that on a leap of faith, we embraced the wedding road less travelled and decided that the elopement idea really did intentionally suit our lives and long-term goals.
If we had an unlimited budget that didn’t set us back a penny on our other savings goals… I’m honestly not sure that we would have eloped. But that isn’t our reality and the fact is that over the past two months of preparing for this trip, I’ve been surprised at how wonderful the whole process has been – and compared to a wedding – pretty stress free.
And Mr. Lively has been loving every second of our unconventional plan.
We are also grateful to have families that support this endeavor. In fact, our parents have each sent us words to read aloud so we have a piece of their wisdom during our ceremony.
We planned on keeping this a secret from almost everyone, but we needed to fill our extended families in so that we could reserve the hotel rooms needed for the family celebration. Though a few members thought it would be nice to see us get married, no one wanted to see us get married at the expense of our financial well-being. And the vast majority of our families have applauded our choice and are excited for a fun family weekend.
Yep, though we will be eloping for our private ceremony, we are still going to have a friend bash in September and a family celebration over Thanksgiving weekend. So in a way, we’ve kind of deconstructed a wedding. Many of the traditional elements that are important to us will still be kept, but we are skipping anything that is not very important to us.
Which means for half the cost of our original wedding budget we are getting a five star, nine day honeymoon to Paris, a celebration with friends, and a family weekend (not including the family dinner my parents are paying for). We’ll also have a nest egg growing for our future home as soon as the end of this year.
Inadvertently, our new plan also allowed us to do some things we always thought would be a bit of a challenge for us in a traditional wedding. We are now going to be able to devote our full attention to our friends and family separately at each event. Plus, we’ll be able to welcome our families into our new home over our first Thanksgiving weekend as a married couple.
Early this year we set an intention to always make a big meal for Thanksgiving and have an open door policy for friends and family to join us. And there is no better way for us to begin this tradition than to open our new home to our extended families this fall. So while we are fortunate that the weekend itself is a good one for guests to get time off, it has huge significance for Mr. Lively and I as a new family.
Phew! It is such a wonderful privilege to share this all with you! If you’ve been following along this summer you may have noticed a few points where I was super stressed… that was largely due to preparing for this elopement in two and a half months and preparing for our move and new puppy this fall. It’s been a wonderful whirlwind I never predicted. Our lives have changed quite a bit since May 30th.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In case you are wondering when we are going to have our wedding ceremony, we already did. Yesterday. August 12th, 2012.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing all the traditions we kept in our unconventional wedding, those we ditched, and those we invented.