Before you passively aggressively text me because you’re offended, just hear me out.
A couple of weeks ago, I got engaged on a park bench inside the Montréal Botanical Garden. It was beautiful, yes, but it was also heavily suspected as my partner and I are creeping up on our seven-year
contract anniversary and have had the marriage talk more times than I have been to a gym this past year (>12). I had been prepping my family and friends for months by casually slipping, “By the way – D and I are thinking of eloping soon, so, just so you know,” into conversation. In fact, when I texted them the obscure photo of our us-ie with two rings on my finger (I said screw it and asked to have both the engagement ring and wedding band at the same time) they all responded with, “So are you engaged, or are you married?” Fair enough.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU (MAYBE!) I wrote back, “And I’m telling you right now that there’s no wedding, so, just so you know.” It was anti-climactic in the sense where they were not at all surprised, probably because I had already been telling them that for months as part of my preparation. They were hella chill. But for the most part, the response from the rest of the world has been surprisingly unforgiving.
With the average cost of a US wedding being well over twenty grand (!), my fiancé and I are equally and overwhelmingly shouting from the rooftops, “oh – hellllll nah!” And let me first start off by saying this: if you had, or if you plan on having a traditional wedding that may tip toward the heavier side of the weighing scale, please don’t take offense. I’m not trying to wedding-shame you. In fact, that’s the last thing I want to do, mainly because I’m feeling some of that, myself. Take confidence in knowing exactly what you want or what you wanted and know that you should be nothing but proud! It’s your day, boo!
– Which brings me back to me (I mean – us – but mostly me, if we’re being honest.) Had I ever envisioned a wedding? Sure! When I first realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my handsome and hilarious Fili-rabian, I imagined that our wedding would be disgustingly unique and Pinterest-esque. I had dreams of a desert celebration where all of our guests would ride in on a camel caravan and camp out overnight in their own yurts. The reception would be held in a large, elongated white tent with the option of a transparent roof so that we would all dance under the stars. My bridesmaids would be dressed like Missandei and, if the mood struck us, we would try ayahuasca in the deep end of the night, bonding us all together on a spiritual level thus giving me the greatest gift of all, and then we’d wake up to an artisanal buffet. Then, I checked my bank account. I had $87 in my savings (and I made more money then.)
The thing is, I shouldn’t need to depress you with my lack of money problems to convince you that you should be okay with my choice of scrapping the whole shebang. You might say that I could put it on my credit card, then I’d say that my limit is one thousand dollars. Then, you might say that I could just save up, and then I’d say that that’d take too long. So then, you might then say that I could ask my friends and family to help to pitch in, and then I would say that I owe some of them $20 and that I don’t wanna “go there.” But like I said, I don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation of why I’m doing my best to keep myself and my relationship financially afloat so that we could focus on the real, hard stuff of life that inevitably lies ahead – yet – I’ve been doing it anyway.
In addition to the money debate, here are some other FAQs that I’ve been asked about opting out on a wedding:
“Don’t your friends and family want to be part of your special day?”
A: Of course they do. In fact, this has been the hardest part of it all. Telling the ones I love most that they won’t be able to see me say “I do” (side note: do they do that at city hall?) is tough because I know that they just want to be able to celebrate with us and to let us know that they wish us the best. I sincerely understand that. But to be completely honest, even if we invited them to the municipal court in lieu of spending wedding money, I just can’t justify asking everyone to spend their hard-earned cash on plane tickets and hotels and gifts and more just to show us that they support us – even though I know that they would.
“Wait – so you’re saying that no one is invited to your City Hall ceremony? WTF?”
A: Yeah, I know. I hear ya. The thing is, we anticipate to do the low-key deed within the next six months, give or take. All things considered, it’s pretty last minute for our would-be guests to plan their lives around a weekend trip. And although some are more flexible and/or financially able to do that than others, it just wouldn’t be fair to accept those who are more privileged in that sense to make it than those who aren’t. If we just keep it between us, then everyone can feel equally left out!
“Whatever, man. Well, are you going to tape it, at least?”
A: Great question! I want to have a photographer (someone neither of us knows) to capture the moment. And for real, I also want to hire a person or two to live stream it via Facebook and Instagram. That’s a compromise, right? They did something like that on Big Bang!
“So I guess no Bridal Shower or Bachelorette, then?”
A: Wrong! I still want to party! I’m planning a “Bridal Shower” next month in San Diego, although it won’t be much of one because we’re not doing games or gifts, and I’m not catering. My guests are invited to meet up at a bar and to pay for their drinks and food if they want to celebrate. That way, their money doesn’t go to a gift that I might never use and instead it goes back to them! Win/win!
As far as bachelorette’s go, I’m still down for the cause! But instead of choosing a place like Las Vegas or New Orleans, I’ll keep it local to most of the attendees as another cost-efficient yet pleasant way to celebrate.
“Alright. Okay, that’s cool. But what about wedding gifts? You can set-up a page where people can just donate to your honeymoon!”
A: That’s pretty awesome, but with my flight benefits, we just don’t think it’s necessary to take y’alls monies when we already have an unfair travel advantage. As for gifts, we will not be accepting those, either. Again, we really appreciate the sentiment, and as broke as I whine myself to be, there are people out there who need it much, much more than we do. Actually, we’re asking anyone who insists on gifting us to donate to organizations for relief aid to places like Houston, Puerto Rico, or even the victims of the recent Las Vegas mass shooting. Now those are some people who could really use it. Not us. We have three different types of coffee makers.
“Way to make me feel shitty.”
Response: Look, man, like I said, I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad about their past or upcoming nuptial choices. I’m also not trying to shut down your well-intended wishes to show your support. I’m so incredibly thankful for your generosity and I am 100% in support of how you did things or what you’re planning to do. You deserve whatever kind of celebration you want, and don’t let me or anyone else make you think otherwise.
“Well, I just feel like it’s a very special day and that you should ‘do it right’ for your first (and hopefully the only) time, kwim? What if you end up regretting it?”
A: I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rightfully flaunt your beautiful commitment to one another. It’s a milestone. I get it. But the thing is, for me, this milestone doesn’t need to be measured by the greatness of a party. Just by being in this relationship is like having hundreds, thousands of smaller but more frequent parties for the rest of my life. And that’s why I know that I won’t regret it. Plus, I’m planning a kick-ass party for my 30th birthday and it’s even better because it’ll be just about me.
Listen. At the end of the day, I will still be ecstatic about my choice because it means that I still won either way. And like I mentioned earlier, I don’t have to justify it to anyone. But I will because I think that there is a very real issue with elopement / untraditional engagement shaming in today’s insane wedding standards. And what for?
I hope you now understand a little bit more about why you’re not invited to my wedding. But don’t take it personally – no one is.