My step daughter Jamie got married last week. I’m so glad to sit here and write that we didn’t spend months, weeks, or even days on Pinterest, trying to put together the perfect affair. Oh no, not my girl. She has ALWAYS done things on her own timeline, and her wedding was really no different. She and her now husband Michael have been together for eight years. Since she was 16. They have two children together, including Brady, and have been through every thing you could ever imagine (even the death of their first child). When I tell you they do things on their own terms, I really mean that. It’s her life – and we respect that, so we support her in whatever way we can.
So one Saturday night while we were having family dinner, she tells me this beautiful story about how Michael had slowly saved up $5 and $10 bills so that he could surprise her by purchasing their wedding license. It took him two months to save up that $100 – and I’ve never seen a man more excited about getting married in my life. But they couldn’t find someone to marry them. We’re thinking of this person and that person, and everyone who could perform the ceremony that didn’t have huge religious ties (her requirement.) We’re walking through the house while I’m spouting off politicians I know who could perform it, and Lauren pops up and says, “I can marry you. I got ordained online.” Jamie and I both stopped prepping dinner, turned and looked at her all at once and said, “WHAT?!?” Apparently she’d done it for a friend a couple of years before and was still legal to marry folks.
Jokingly I said, “Well, I guess you can get married tomorrow, then.” And she did. I had no idea that I’d have literally 12 waking hours to prep my house and get together a memorable event for her – but we did it. There’s no Pinterest perfect ideas, just a simple at-home wedding, but the memories we made were unforgettable.
She didn’t ask for flowers, but I made her a grocery store bouquet anyways from $10 worth of roses to walk down the aisle in a dress she borrowed from her “ordained” sister. Because every bride needs flowers.
Her wedding cake came straight off the shelf, and she loved it. (Although I did wedding it up with a little bride & groom from Walmart.)
Her ring bearer box was a simple mason jar with one of those pretty citrus shaped lids, tied up with aqua ribbon.
Because, let’s face it, if you’re going to have a wedding at my house, especially without major planning, it’s gotta be done in aqua. Everything I own is an oceany shade, and it was super easy to pull out all our aqua folding chairs, let her borrow a dress from her sister, dress ordinary stuff up with aqua ribbon, pull out those aqua candles I’ve bought but never used, etc. There was no excuse for us to not make it pretty when I had everything on hand.
Close family members gathered in our back yard and then had cake on our front porch on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon in June. I don’t know if we’d have had a better time if we would have worked on it for an entire year.
As someone who had a court house wedding, I’m here to tell you – her $100 wedding will bring her just as much happiness as the $100K weddings. Because at the end of the day it’s not about that one day…. it’s about everything that comes after it.
And it is my greatest wish that they live happily ever after.
laura@top this top that says
congrats to the happy couple.
That is a beautiful story and very well said! I couldn’t agree more…no amount of money buys happiness. I had a little more time to plan, but we also just had close friends and were married in a harbor in Nova Scotia. No stress, no fuss, my dress was $40.00, but it was the most wonderful day and we have the best memories. Congratulations to them both.
I love this! It really is about what comes after. Wishing them a lifetime of happiness
Michelle P says
Beautiful! Congratulations!!! Just beautiful…
Beautiful! I love that you shared this with us. So many people focus on all the little details and forget about the meaning of the day
that was so beautiful – it made my day…many blessings to them and your whole family!
Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG says
Congrats to you and your family. Simple and beautiful and full of meaning to those who were a part of it….I am sharing this with my daughter, who like yours, does things on her own terms – I am all in on this – let’s hope my daughter’s inlaws to be are as well…
My son came to me on a Monday and asked to use my living room the following Saturday for his wedding. I was rewiring the house and had basement to attic walls open and no power to more than half the circuits in the house. Of course I said yes. We got 1 room put back together that would look nice for the candlelight festivities, used grocery store flowers, ordered in Chinese food and we all wore a good coating of sheet rock dust. No fuss, all muss, awesome wedding.
I’m getting married in that living room in 3 weeks, it worked out so well.
ellen kirkendall says
It’s not the wedding that matters, it’s the marriage. She looks lovely and joyful.
I have been married for 32 yrs and our wedding was a total of $250.00 . So I guess we did the low budget long lasting thing;). Yrs ago I met a girl in Phoenix that had spent $25000.00. On her wedding I was appalled.you are right it’s all about the life you build. Blessings
Congratulations to you and your daughter! I can totally see my daughter doing something b=very similar one day!
BEAUTIFUL! Just perfect! Ours wasn’t an elaborate affair either – everything borrowed, but we have been together 53 wonderfully blessed years. God Bless
53 years? wow what’s the secret? you did it in a court house? looking for ideas
Melissa Leach says
Thank you for sharing this heartwarming story! Best wishes to the happy couple for long and happy marriage. May the Lord bless them and your family.
Allison Burke says
Wow – I think that is so inspiring! Finally a couple who puts more into their marriage than into their wedding! I love that she didnt obsess over it and spend months on pinterest trying to make it all perfect….it was clear where her heart was and that was on her marriage and her family (not a dolled up event). Congrats!!! Best thing I have ready in months!
Congratulations…. Great Memories for all of you!
What a wonderful story! You have a beautiful family! This was really uplifting to read today!
Congratulations to the couple!! I’m glad you chose to honor her wishes but still made it special!!
How beautiful! I am tearing. True love.
God Bless them.
Sweet how the hubby saved to buy the license. I pray that God will bless their marriage. I agree it’s not about the money spent. My brother had a $85,000 3 day wedding and the marriage only lasted 3 months! It’s about love NOT money. Best wishes to the new family.
Beautiful story and photos. I loved reading about it!
So beautiful! If I had to do it over again (certainly not planning to!) I would definitely go this route. Our wedding was pretty cheap anyway (well under $10,000 including our honeymoon) but I still wish we had made it simpler, had less people and spent less.
I love this! I got a little teary eyed just reading this! A wedding doesn’t HAVE to be a big event, but it is so hard for people to understand that. Congratulations to the beautiful couple. Thank you for sharing this it truly was inspiring!
judy houston says
I love this! All of those wedding shows on tv: hunting for an expensive dress, comparing weddings, etc.–drive me crazy! I can’t understand the expense! I enjoyed this SO much!
That’s amazing!! Congratulations to them!
Charlene Bennett says
Sounds amazing to me-Congratulations to the couple!
Perfect! I love it.
Congratulations to the couple!
That is soooo awesome!!!!
And that is what true love is all about!
Daniela @frugal ain't cheap says
impressive and beautiful.
Gina, I love this post so very much. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming story. Wishing your daughter and her new husband a lifetime of happiness. PS. My husband and I got married in my parents back yard and will celebrate 18 years in August!
Hey Gina, Our wedding we spent around 2000.00. That also included a short honeymoon. I would rather have the extra cash for a down payment on a house or house projects!! The after is the most important. Married twenty years now.
kathi shelley says
Talkin’ about cheap weddings reminded me of mine, it was November 28, 1959 and I’m still married to the same man! We had a church ceremony, reception in the church basement and the Ladies Aide made and served all the food. I paid $35.00 for my dress–chantilly lace, off the rack. We had 2 attendants and their whole outfit, shoes, headband, dress and gloves were $25.oo a piece. When my son and D-I-L got married in 1990, she bought her dress off the rack, not a real wedding dress and so did her attendant. He wore black tails. Ceremony was outside on a ridge overlooking a sweet green valley, with music from a hammered dulcimer and a violin. Reception was at a rural community center, and the dance was an old fashioned barn dance with square dancing and the Virginia reel, a real old fashioned country band played. It was such fun. Oldest daughter and hubby got married at a local bed and breakfast, and the owner played an old pump organ. Her dress and 2 attendants dresses came JC Penney’s and were called “daytime dresses”. That was in 1992. Youngest daughter pulled out all the stops in 2008 and went for it big time . 7 attendants, the $1000 dress, church wedding, reception at the Elks club. The best part of all those weddings was the kids all paid for them on their own. All DH and I had to do was show up on time!!!
Kathleen R says
I was married by a county clerk at the courthouse. My in-laws thru a party for us in their backyard. My dress was a $20 clearance sundress with the prettiest embroidery. I do wish I had some flowers. We had a pretty cake that a friend of the family made as a gift to us. Simple, low key. My son just told me that he and his girlfriend would want something similar when they get married. Of course all I heard was that they’ve talked about getting married! Anyway blessings to your family.
Karen Ploransky @ The Decorated Nest says
sounds perfect! Congrats to the happy couple and many years of happiness!
One of my favorite posts, ever! They look so relaxed and happy. The bouquet is perfect, too. I love that you were able to throw a wedding in less than a day! Congratulations!
I’m getting married in our backyard next summer, I’ll be 50 & a first time bride, though we have lived together for 3 years. I want to keep it simple & small, so hope to keep the guest list around 50, just close friends & family. We are going to have it catered so we don’t have to cook, that will be our big expense. I’m hoping to find a very affordable dress in town & use flowers from the garden. I’ll be emailing invites and I’m even skipping the wedding cake, and will just have a few desserts for people to enjoy. Low key & we’ll play our own music on our ipods.
This is one of the best posts I’ve read on any blog in the past 6 months. I love this post- and your blog in general- just because of the straightforward honesty and beauty. I think the wedding sounds wonderful, and everything and everyone that really matters was there that day. Congratulations to the couple, and I wish them a lifetime of love and happiness!
I totally agree with keeping it simple. My husband and I were married on the beach where we live (in Michigan) for $15. We spent more on food and the wedding license! I wish them all the continued happiness they can bear.
Rachel I Preston says
I am the wedding planner for my son’s upcoming wedding for 50 guests. They have a $6,000 budget (cheap for this day and age!) I found a beautiful private lodge near Yosemite that will allow us to have an outdoor wedding there, do our own catering and spend 2 nights with 20 beds for some overnight guests for a total of $3,000.00. The food and wine will cost around $600.00. A friend of the family will take photos and produce 125 pictures and video for $350.00 (a steal!) Wedding gown and groom attire will cost around $1,000.00. Flowers under $200.00. Wedding decor $250.00 (not much needed because the venue has trees and mountains.) I have a friend with a home baking business who will make a 3 layered 10″ round wedding cake and she will bake 4 doz cupcakes as well. Cost $150.00, It is possible to have a beautiful wedding on a very strict budget.
Gina Luker says
Wow Rachel, that sounds fantastic!! Congratulations to your son and to you for all of the amazing planning!