Our $20 Dream Wedding

Love is something we can’t buy or sell, yet it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive. Getting married is an affirmation that two people love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. There is a lot of meaning behind a wedding, but there can also be massive expenses. I’m lucky to be married to my best friend, and we share many of the same values. For both of us, a huge wedding wasn’t what we wanted. In fact we only spent $20 getting married, and Mrs. CK wanted to share the story of our simple ceremony.

Strong woman!

Hi everyone, Mrs. Crazy Kicks here to tell you all about our $20 wedding. The marriage license at city hall was $20, but Mr. CK reminds me, we did spend about $200 on flowers and rings. You should’ve seen the looks on the jewelers’ faces when we told them we were getting married the next day. What a couple of rookies – we could have ordered the rings online for a tenth of the price.

A simple ceremony is a stress free ceremony

It was a sunny, breezy day in July. The ladies at city hall remarked that it was nice we dressed up and had flowers. Mr. CK got a bouquet and a boutonniere all on his own. It still amazes me that he thought to do that. The little ol’ judge suggested we go outside since it was such a beautiful day. A kind passerby offered to take pictures of the ceremony – he even got a video of us tearing up during our vows. We took more photos at the park while calling family to break the news. The day was lovely, easy, happy, and all ours. It was perfect.

Our simple wedding ceremony was stress free

Our simple wedding ceremony was stress free

What if my fiance doesn’t want a simple ceremony?

Everyone has their own reasons for being with who they’re with, and for wanting/needing a big wedding. I can only speak for us. I’m a pianist turned engineer turned corporate overlord turned professor. My preferred mode of personal interaction is admiration from afar. I don’t like to fuss. When I’m not overly overachieving, I have an uncanny inclination for laziness. Mr. CK, being cheaper than me and almost as lazy, also was in favor of a simple ceremony. I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with him if he was a grand-gesture-needing kind of person whose great aspiration was spending a lot of money on one really fancy party.

What will family and friends say about missing our simple ceremony?

Our simple ceremony was one of the most selfish things we’ve ever done. I gave my mom a heads up that she wasn’t getting a wedding. She was remarkably OK with her only child robbing her of an over-the-top, multi-continent spectacle. My dad passed away the year before. He always cheered me doing things my way. (While I was in grad school aging and over-educating myself out of the marriage market, he famously declared to the family, “She doesn’t need a husband” and put the topic to bed for good.) Later, the only observation my mom made of the event was, “I was so surprise she want to get married. She doesn’t even… even… like any people!” My mom loves Mr. CK. He’s the easygoing kid she never had.

Mr. CK has three siblings and a pretty laid back family. They all would have been happy to participate in our wedding, but were just super thrilled that we got married. When we called them after the wedding, they were too busy being excited for us to have any commentary on not having been included.

My best friend was upset for awhile. Like way more and longer than I expected. It took her by surprise that I would even get married. Also, I texted her the news. (I know – she puts up with a lot.) She got over it eventually, after everyone to whom she groused explained to her what a huge favor I did by not making her organize a bridal shower, bachelorette party, etc.

So all is well in CK-land. All of our loved ones still love us.

What about the honeymoon?

Having been spared a colossal expense, my mom gave us money to go on a honeymoon. At first we investigated one big trip to Fiji, then reconsidered our strategy. Instead of doing one expensive honeymoon, we managed to go on five cheaper ones: an already-scheduled vacation to Newport right after the wedding, then to Jamaica, Hawaii, the Florida Keys and back to Jamaica, all within a year. It was, as Mr. CK would say, fuckin’ awesome.

Still going strong a decade after our simple ceremony

We’ve been married for almost nine years, which is like 10 years, which is a decade, which is a long time. We are very different people, but we align on the fundamentals. I love school, he still bristles at the thought. He likes people, I’d rather be left alone. I’m not as smart as I think I am, he’s smarter than he thinks he is. I’m a risk taker, he’s cautious.

We’re both pretty funny – we laugh a lot. We enjoy being outside and getting our hands in the dirt. Together we love snorkeling amongst sea-creatures, hiking mountains and streams, finding a shady spot on a sunny beach, and playing in the surf. We agree on what is worth our money, time, and effort, because we agree on what is fundamentally important. We’re cheap, yet generous; lazy, yet energetic; nerdy, yet cool(?). Since quitting our jobs, we are even more in tune with living a good life together, and we are having the time of our lives.

33 thoughts on “Our $20 Dream Wedding

  1. Duuuuude I’m jealous of your $20 marriage license!! Ours was about $70–sheesh. We had a small wedding with about 30 people. I honestly was in favor of an elopement myself, but our wedding was nice. But yeah, it definitely didn’t cost $20. 😉 I think it set us back $6,000, which is still modest for a wedding. I do wish we’d gone simple and saved all the money. Sigh.

    It’s funny because I had several people who were angry about our SMALL wedding. I couldn’t invite 300 people (I would have lost my damn mind with the wedding planning), so I kept it to just close friends and family. A lot of people were chafed about it, which I found weird. All kinds of people come out of the woodwork when you get married. 😉

  2. LOVE it! We’ll be married 20 years this year. I think we spent around $2000 – we did go the traditional ceremony/party route. But it was in a small Midwestern town where everybody knows everybody, so the food was “catered” by a neighbor and everybody helped out. If I had to do it over again? I would have skipped the ceremony and just had the party.

    While we had (cheap) wedding rings in the beginning, we’ve transitioned to tattoos in lieu of rings. 🙂

    • Wow, sounds like a great town party! Pretty cool that you guys got tattoos. We’re off and on with our ring wearing. I’m pretty sure Mr. CK isn’t out picking up chicks (other than our chickens) while I’m at school 🙂

  3. Good for you! My wife and I took the same route to do a simple City Hall wedding for essentially zero cost. But the danger is this: only a year after that we still had the itch and urge to throw a “real” wedding, haha! It was still on a shoestring for much less than folks normally spend. But still a major expense.
    Cheers!

  4. What a great story, and what a great way to “meet” Mrs. CK! Thanks for the fun read, and congratulations on the fuckin’ awesome marriage hack! 🙂

    Mr. CK: Know that my opinion of you – lofty as it already was – now has climbed much, much higher after learning you were able to con such a cool lady to be Missus CK.

    Congrats on the 9th or 10th or whatever anniversary happening soon or recently or all of the above!

  5. Man, finally someone who has us beat. Our actual wedding was about 100 dollars as we had it at a church. Our reception is at my inlaws back yard for about 50 people. It was catered by kids in culinary school at the local college, total cost about 600 dollars.
    For our gifts we asked for money towards our honeymoon. We already had all the necessities as we had been living together for over a year. Our rooms in Hawaii were paid for the majority of the stay as a result, plus a spa day. I think we might have spent 1K here. We travel hacked the flights. Total cost was under $2.5K and we went to Hawaii for 11 days. My father in law gave us 3K for the wedding, of which 500 went on the mortgage 😉

  6. Your wedding sounds lovely. We had a big, fat Indian-ish wedding (though it wasn’t considered big by Indian standards – falling shy of 200 guests, and Indian big is more in the 500-1000 range). We didn’t have to pay for it ourselves though, so yay. We did spend on our rings though – we spent a $1000 for our rings. Less than a year after our wedding Mr. BITA lost his. We replaced it with an Amazon ring that cost less than $20 : ) So at least I can claim that we’re getting wiser as we’re getting older.

    • I would love to go to an Indian wedding – oh, the glorious fooood… We sadly forfeited opportunities because we were working and couldn’t make the trips.

      Mr. CK also lost his original ring and now has a few Amazon replacements 🙂

  7. I love reading about people’s not-weddings. I can’t imagine the pressure of planning and having The Perfect Day. It makes my skin crawl. I stopped having birthday parties a few years back from the pressure, weddings would be worse, urgh. I’d rather just me and my chosen idiot making fun of each other when we stumble on the vows.

    • I hear you, sister. We thought about going through a Las Vegas drive-thru (because that would be funny, and why do anything if it’s not?) but I couldn’t even get myself to plan that much.

      • That would have been great! Flip a coin to decide if you’re getting married by an Elvis impersonator or Dracula!

        Bonus points for saying your vows in whatever accent fits the scene

  8. My wife and I always say if we had it to do over, we’d just elope. We didn’t have a crazy extravagant wedding, but it was still super expensive. We had a blast and people still talk about our wedding 10 years later, but it just seems hard to justify that cost today.

    My wife’s best friend is getting married this summer. She has always wanted a small wedding, but her future mother in law wants to invite everyone she’s ever come into contact with. That has to be the toughest part about going with a small wedding. You just have to remind those people that the day is not about them. Easier said than done!

  9. My wife tells me all the time that she wishes we did what you all did. I had fun at the wedding but she constantly told me how stressful it was for her by the end.

    I have to admit I would love to go on 5 mini honeymoons. That sounds epic and fun. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to hear some more from your perspective Mrs. Crazy Kicks!!!

    • Ah yes, unfortunately the bride and groom tend to end up with the bulk of the stress of the big day. You survived and are still together! It’s never too late to go on a whole bunch of vacations 😉

  10. I don’t recall what we paid for the marriage license, but Mrs. Tako and I went down to the courthouse and got it done the same way.

    No fancy parties or clothes, just two people who cared more about the future than showing off in the present.

    We didn’t even go on a honeymoon! But rest assured, we did eventually travel plenty!

    • It’s all about doing what actually makes us happy, not just falling in line with expectation. Sounds like Mr. & Mrs. Tako approached it all with independent minds, and everything turned out really well!

  11. With the cost of a wedding these days, my opinion is to use the $$$ as a down payment for the future. In your case 5 mini honeymoons. Mr. CK is the luckiest man on earth to have netted you!

    • It’s a very personal thing. Everyone has different ways of making best use of available resources – seems difficult as people have less time for thought and reflection. We are both lucky to have each other 🙂

  12. Awesome! We did exactly the same thing! heh heh..
    I wouldn’t have minded a bigger wedding, but the planning got to be too much. Neither of us were interested in planning for the wedding. Planning a wedding is a huge PITA. So we just went to the courthouse.
    We’ve been married for almost 18 years and we’re going to have a big party to celebrate our 20th. I think that’s a much bigger accomplishment and it’d be great to have old friends come celebrate with us.

    • Fun idea, and an accomplishment worthy of great celebration! We’re planning to spend our 10th with a couple of friends who got married around the same time as we did. It’s still over a year away and we’re not sure where we’ll go, but we’re excited!

  13. Congrats on nearly a decade of married bliss for the low low price of $20. 🙂 We tried to elope, with just parents in attendance because eloping without them is just another name for “getting disowned”, and it turned into a 24 person lunch party. We did it wrong.

  14. We wanted to do the eloping route, and just hire an officiator, photographer and say our vows in Jackson Square and call it good. However, our parents were having none of it and forced themselves into the day. It still turned out fairly small, ~12 people but the costs jumped up to about $5k. Renting a courtyard to host the ceremony and then covering a pre-wedding pseudo rehearsal dinner and some other sundry costs like cake, champagne, etc…

    It was nice, but we still think an eloping style would have been the way to go.

    • This is one event where family feel entitled to get pushy. In our case, we happen to be more bull-headed. And we just didn’t tell anyone 🙂

      $5k is a steal and not at all a bad price to pay for family harmony!

  15. Its ok to have a nice wedding but its a shame that everything costs so much. Its like everyone wants double for their services. Hard to justify spending that much for one day when you think about it.

    • It’s true – I had some bandmates who also played in cover bands and people were willing to pay WAY more for weddings than for any other kind of event.

      We should consume more mindfully so we get more happiness/utility per money, time and effort spent.

  16. That is awesome! I just got engaged this past November (targeting spring 2018 wedding). My fiancée is an amazing girl and while she has adopted much of my crazy frugality, the wedding is one we agreed to compromise on. I’m ok with eloping, but she feels the social pressure to have an event. We considered doing something local, but quickly came to the realization that the size of the guess list was spiraling. She wants a (relatively) smaller wedding of like ~50 people, mostly immediate family and close friends. We came to the conclusion that an offsite wedding would be most economical (our area is pricey) and are settling on New Orleans (love the Big Easy!). We will still be looking at a final tab in the high single-digit thousands all in. I’ve come to peace with this since I know it’ll make her happy and in the grand scheme it’s only once. But I offer up a respectful (and envious) hat tip to your $20!

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