Several years ago, I met my husband in high school. While we weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, we always had many things in common: Adventure. Spontaneity. Fun. Anything that resides outside the box. Because we had all of these things in common, it was no surprise that we mutually decided to forego the idea of a traditional wedding.
Of course after he popped the question, we thought about it for a fleeting moment. Where would the ceremony be held? Who would we invite? Wait–who gets to be in the wedding party? Flowers cost HOW much? What?! The deeper we dove into wedding planning, the more stressful it became. I’m such a people pleaser. None of it would’ve been what we really wanted anyway.
The average wedding cost in the United States is $26,000 and does not include the cost of the honeymoon. The average wedding cost in Knoxville is roughly anywhere from $15-18,000, most of which is spent on the venue, catering, and rentals. And no, that doesn’t include the honeymoon either.
We had two choices: Plan and stress, or think outside the box. Guess what we did…
We got hitched in Hawaii. By ourselves. And we had… a wedding-moon! I picked my dress, enjoyed my engagement, and then we flew to Hawaii by ourselves. We got married on the beach and then spent eight glorious days doing whatever we wanted, exploring Hawaii, and celebrating our marriage with a fantastic honeymoon.
Pros: There are no real tough decisions here–only fun ones! Your decisions are no longer about whose feelings you’re going to hurt with the wedding party, or who will be offended over the bridesmaids’ dresses and where people will sit during the ceremony. Your decisions are about where you’ll go first, what you’ll eat after the ceremony, and where you’d like to travel. Your biggest worry will be who will zip your dress and whether you’ll wear flowers in your hair. It’s intimate, it’s personal, and it’s beautiful. Everything is all about your preferences and your experience–there’s no making sure guests and friends are happy, putting on a big show, and worrying about RSVPs.
Cons: Your family may be hurt if they aren’t included. This wasn’t the case for us, as both sides of the family strongly encouraged marriage over wedding, and were very supportive and loving about our decision. They even threw us a beautiful reception when we got home! You’re also foregoing many well-known wedding traditions: Tossing the bouquet, your first dance as newlyweds, dad giving you away. Will you regret that? We didn’t, but it’s something we carefully considered. You’re on your own. Who’s going to do your hair? Zip your dress? These are things you’ll have to consider as well.
If you think a destination elopement is the right thing for you, here are some things to consider:
Going on a plane? Choose the flight with little or no stops since you’ll probably be traveling with your wedding gown. Mine was a simple beaded A-line dress and I was able to take it as a carry-on and gently lay it over my bag in the overhead compartment.
Splurge on a photographer. I cannot stress this enough! We ended up using Alvarado Photography, who worked with us joyfully and diligently to get gorgeous shots of our perfect day. Nobody was there except the preacher and photographer to witness those gorgeous waves and vows, so we wanted to make sure they captured every moment, and they did!
Find someone you love to perform the wedding. Since we attend the church of Christ, it was very important to us that our wedding was performed by a scriptural Christian preacher. He prayed for us and tied our marriage back to scripture, just as we knew he would. It was memorable and beautiful.
Make hair and makeup arrangements! This might sound like a no-brainer, but with all the travel excitement, it’s something that could easily slip your mind. I got my hair and makeup done at a nearby Marriott salon, and the woman even helped me zip up my dress!
Stop and pick up a bouquet. Every bride needs a few flowers, especially if you’ll be having a tropical wedding! I even had the salon put a few in my hair.
Plan to eat somewhere amazing after the ceremony. Pick a spot you’ll both love, make reservations, and splurge on the meal. I wore my wedding dress and people gushed over how adorable we were. The waiter offered us a free dessert to share. It was our first date as husband and wife.