After three years of being engaged, we finally decided to walk down the aisle.
To be fair, I never wanted to plan a traditional wedding and take on all the expenses that come with it. I always wanted a little less – while my husband-to-be wanted a little more. Over the years, we discussed our options and struggled to land on a wedding style that suited both of us. At one point, during the Covid-19 lockdown in spring of 2020, I even pushed for a Zoom wedding!
But being a good partner means compromising.
We knew that we'd find common ground eventually – and so we did. The idea came up to just go ahead and get hitched with a handful of guests. That way we'd both get some of what we wanted. My stress-free, low-cost elopement was in the works and my future husband would get a bit of the formality he desired with close friends and family.
When you read the articles on wedding websites, you'll find wedding costs averaging $25,000 or more and honeymoons adding another $5,000 to $10,000 to your total expenses. If that sounds extreme to you – like it did to me – consider our version, combining the two events and spending less than half!
So, how did we make ours happen for only $12K?
I started my research online and quickly leaned into the idea of a tropical getaway. I thought, "If we're going to get married, why not make it an adventure!" Not to mention, winters are awfully cold in central New York.
It's easy to find thousands of ideas and deals online these days, so we searched for affordable options that had consistent reviews. Ultimately, I found a company that offers elopement and micro-wedding packages in Miami Beach. Their services included photographers, officiants, flowers – even assisting with our marriage license and add-ons like hair, makeup, dÃ©cor, and more.
Usually, brides have to negotiate contracts and coordinate dates with a dozen vendors. For $1,658, all that hard work was taken care of.
Saving so much time and money, we didn't need to think twice.
We signed the contract with our wedding planner to handle the minutia, and it was time to plan our mini honeymoon. With the help of the planner, we chose an affordable hotel that was on the same beach where we were planning to be married and situated near a slew of great restaurants. Next, we booked airline tickets and it was time to wait for the big day.
While the next two months passed before our wedding, I bought a wedding dress online for $98 (plus an additional $135 to alter it – being five feet tall meant that many alterations were needed for a dress bought off the rack). Luckily, my fiancÃ© owned a lovely navy suit from a previous wedding.
Then, we were ready to go and, by saving so much on the wedding package, we felt more confident splurging on the rest of our mini-moon. Needless to say, the greatest expenses were the hotel, first class airline tickets, and hitting as many delicious restaurants as we could. For ideas to travel on a budget, this article might help!
We flew into Miami on a Sunday night, relaxed and treated ourselves for our first day in town. On Tuesday, we said our "I Dos" and celebrated with our five guests. We spent Wednesday and Thursday visiting downtown Miami and Little Havana before returning home on Friday.
We were fortunate that the trip went off without a hitch. Our flights were not delayed or canceled, and we were able to truly enjoy the spoils of our big day in Miami Beach. Sometimes, unexpected travel changes or delays can cost you a pretty penny!
How we paid for it
Don't overlook this enormous consideration when planning your wedding. After everything is said and done, you need to pay for it all somehow!
At the time, Visions was offering a 0% intro rate promo for new cardholders, so our Elite Visa Signature Card helped us charge these expenses without worrying about interest or stressful debt. Then, in terms of paying it off, our savings covered most charges – never underestimate a good savings plan – and we were fortunate enough to receive small holiday bonuses that year from each of our employers. We also used our tax returns, pinched pennies from our paychecks, and applied every monetary wedding gift as additional card payments. Plus, I get 2% cash back on my Elite card, which went right back onto the card to pay it off.
As a newly married couple, we are thrilled to have started our journey without the added complication of wedding debt, and you can, too. Shop around, take advantage of deals and promotions where you can, cut back on all the stuff, and – most importantly – make sure your wedding is all about YOU!