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Shortly after my boyfriend proposed to me, I became filled with an overwhelming sense of dread. (After the excitement, I mean! I promise I was excited!) Now that I was engaged, I guessed I was also obligated to...you know...plan a wedding.
Weddings, with all their pomp and circumstance, are firmly on the millennial radar—hell, at the time of my engagement, I could barely open Facebook without being accosted by images of happy couples starting married life through the haze of a Valencia filter.
But what if weddings kind of freak me out? They're so expensive and stressful. And yes, while I did end up having one, I honestly wish I'd skipped it. Don't get me wrong—I love being married and do not wish I'd ditched my husband at the alter. But I do wish the altar had ditched us. Here's why:
I could have saved $20,000. Twenty thousand dollars. That's how much my wedding cost after choosing an inexpensive dress from J.Crew, the cheapest caterer my town had to offer, and a simple outdoor location. And after making my own invitations, DIYing my bridesmaids gifts, having a friend do the floral arrangements, and making the tablecloths by myself. Thinking about what I could do with an extra $20k makes my head spin.
Less wedding = more celebrating with people you actually care about. My wedding was filled with distant relatives, my parents' friends and colleagues, and people I'd only met once—if ever. While it was overwhelmingly generous of everyone to get in on the action, I ultimately found myself hosting a massive party for a group of strangers, and I barely got a chance to speak to my bridesmaids, let alone my husband. If I could turn back time à la Cher I would have nixed the big reception and simply invited my closest friends and family to a intimate dinner (by which I mean cocktails).
You run the risk of offending...no one. I wanted a low-key wedding, but my family (who footed most of the bill) weren't exactly on the same page. Their generosity came with the unfortunate caveat that I had to consider their opinion, which made planning the whole thing somewhat tense. Fortunately I managed to avoid having Rod Stewart soundtrack my first dance (my mother's suggestion), but there were definitely a few awkward conversations about "Forever Young" I wish I could erase. Ditch the wedding, ditch the compromise, and make your big day about just you and your husband or wife.
Time is on your side. It's standard to wait about a year from engagement to marriage (turns out that's how long it takes to plan these things!), but there's something appealing about tying the knot right after getting engaged. Those first few weeks post-engagement were among the most wonderful of my life, and I would have loved to capitalize on that excited, jittery feeling without being weighed down by planning, rehearsals, and endless details. Sure, there's something nice about taking so much time and care with a wedding (we all deserve extravagance), but eliminating that year can jump-start your happy ending.
It might just be more romantic. Though my husband and I spent our wedding hand-in-hand, we barely got a chance to enjoy each other's company between posing for photos, making polite conversation, and fretting that our guests were having a good time. By skipping the wedding in favor of either an elopement or tiny backyard ceremony, we could have embraced what our marriage was truly supposed to be about: us.
You should also check out:
Why I Bought Myself an Engagement Ring (opens in new tab)
4 Things No One Ever Told Me About Married Sex (opens in new tab)
Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.
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