Because you guys are awesome, about two seconds after I complained on Twitter about not having a Las Vegas elopement (I mean, how is it that APW doesn’t have a Las Vegas elopement?) I got an email from Marissa. She didn’t have a elopement, exactly, but she had an almost-elopement. She had a teeny-tiny family wedding, with food at In-N-Out (yum! And awesome!) because when they explained that they were going to Las Vegas to elope, and they didn’t want to inconvenance everyone by dragging them to a party where they couldn’t afford a big meal… well… their families explained that big meal or not, they were coming anyway. So. With that, I bring you the love filled elopement that wasn’t.
The biggest lesson I learned while planning our wedding, was how not to get pushed around, but to take other people’s feelings and ideas into consideration. Some of my family tried to railroad me into things that neither my husband or I wanted. We had planned to elope, but in asking my parents to watch my little boy for a few days while we ran off, some hurt feelings were unearthed. I asked in an email and my dad’s response was, “You didn’t want anyone else to go?” It wasn’t actually the case that we didn’t want anyone there, we just knew that we were spending all of our money to get away and get married and we didn’t have much left to feed or entertain family. We also didn’t expect for anybody to want to travel to our Elvis wedding in Vegas because it didn’t seem significant enough, if that makes sense.
But. I found out that weddings are a whole family thing, at least in my family. We lost our last surviving grandparent just after Thanksgiving of 2009 and my parents gave to me my grandmother’s 1940s deco style engagement ring and wedding band. They are very, very blingy which isn’t exactly my style, and it took me a while to come to terms with the fact the more demure rings I picked and emailed to my, then-boyfriend would never be mine. I whined about it once to my best friend and that was it. I love my rings today and feel so honored to be wearing a part of my grandparents’ history.
I was also a little railroaded into a David’s Bridal dress. I had been dress shopping online and my mom was insistent about my getting to experience the whole wedding thing, even if it was a tiny wedding. She and my dad were married by a Justice of the Peace and I’m not sure that she got to experience any fun wedding stuff so she wanted to make sure I did. The dress I ended up with was a vintage looking lace number and “me” enough, but I don’t know if I would say I loved it.
What did I learn? I learned that I can be a strong person and that I can plan something. I have never, ever planned a party before and our families gushed about how fun and simple it was. I learned that you do not have to spend a lot to feed 18 adult bellies and 7 child-sized bellies. We just rounded everybody up and directed them to the nearest In-N-Out Burger and assembled on their patio. My brand new husband typed everybody’s orders into his phone and rattled it off to the cashier, the total was about $115, nobody cried about getting a wrong order. Cha-ching!
I LEARNED TO TAKE HELP! My sister, the real planner in the family, saved our butts by running out to a party store to get plastic champagne glasses, plates and napkins. And a cake server. I thought we could find some place in the Strip to get these things, but 2 hours pre-wedding, there were no champagne glasses to be found. Plenty of champagne, though… I delegated the cake pick-up to my parents and everyone was responsible for getting themselves around because we don’t drive.
I learned to stick (pretty close…) to our budget and not to buy things unless you love them for sure. We came in $150 under our $3000 budget (yes, including our own hotel and airfare). The good part about having a small wedding is being able to pay for it all in cash and not start out your new life together in debt! BIG BONUS. Second bonus, my dad gave us the money he would have contributed to a large wedding for us to put away in our high-yield savings account. YES! We’re not sure about home-ownership yet, but this will help immensely if we ever decide to take that path.
It would have been nice to know that wedding planning can drive a perfectly sane person… crazy(sih). I cried when my soon-to-be hubby buzzed his hair the night before we left for Vegas. I cried because my parents were being REALLY respectful of our elopement wishes, so much so that I realized I could not do it without them and the rest of my immediate family in attendance. I cried because I thought our wedding was cursed! My dad was hospitalized because he was COUGHING UP BLOOD two weeks before the wedding date. My best friend since kindergarten (the only non-blood-relative in attendance) came down with SHINGLES (yes. f*cking shingles.) a week and a half before the wedding date.
Other things I learned: Having family there was huge. We do not get to spend a lot of time together because money is tight and we’re a little spread out. Getting everybody together is rare and we know how to party. Also, I didn’t really think my flowers and veil mattered but I just LOVE them whenever I look through pictures. My husband’s haircut did not matter, he looks gorgeous NO MATTER WHAT. Having total control does not matter. It just doesn’t!
I got married to the most awesome dude to grace this earth and that is what mattered. He does not commit easily, but he committed himself to me for life AND he even teared up during our vows even though they were funny Elvis vows. That moment mattered, our public promises to each other.
Our day turned out really great and the mood was simply happy. Everybody was glad to be there, everybody got along. There were no issues that were not solved. Our venue cranked us through efficiently but still gave us plenty of attention and a great ceremony. Everything was all good. Totalmente bueno.
Oh, and sound advice: Please ride a roller coster the day before you get married so you can just scream. It felt so good. You don’t even know.
Photos: Fancy portraits by Bently & Wilson, the rest by family, friends, and the wedding chapel