Calling Off Your Wedding & Eloping

{A painting made by Shana & Jerrad’s friend Kristin from their real family Christmas card. You’re welcome.}

by Shana

When I was little I never dreamed of what my wedding would look like. I never cut out magazine pictures and glued them to a board or sketched wedding dresses. What I would picture was myself old and wrinkly, sitting next to an equally old and wrinkly person holding hands and being happy. Yes, my twelve-year-old self looked forward to the day of sitting on a couch next to her husband, crocheting and watching Law & Order (which may or may not describe my current relationship).

Even when we first got engaged I didn’t daydream about what our wedding day would look like. Instead of imagining our first dance and centerpieces, I would daydream about all of the life adventures we would go on after the wedding—starting with the honeymoon and ending with where we would retire.

All of those thoughts took a backseat once people started asking me about the wedding. So I jumped headfirst into wedding planning. I started reading wedding blogs/watching trashy wedding reality shows (sorry Iʼm not sorry). We discussed what kind of wedding we wanted (fun, laid back, intimate, and memorable) and what details were important (good food, booze, and dancing). We also had a strict budget since we were paying for the wedding ourselves. So I started with the absolute basics that I had learned over the years from TV, movies, magazines, and the internet.

According to what I had learned, there had to be engagement photos, a rehearsal dinner, a bridal shower, a bachelorette party, a bachelor party, a white dress, a reception dress, a tux, a hair/makeup person, someone to marry us, a pretty venue, bridesmaids, groomsmen, a flower girl, a ring bearer, a large guest list, an organized seating arrangement, hors dʼoeuvres, cocktails, a three course dinner, a gigantic cake, a DJ for a dance party, DECORATIONS EVERYWHERE (including, but not limited to, twinkling lights, mason jars, monogrammed everything, and handmade things), party favors, a photographer, a videographer, long vows, planned speeches, and a cute exit at the end of the night.

It didnʼt take long before I started to freak out and joke about eloping. So to tone it down we started to cut out a few things here and there that werenʼt essential—a second dress, flower girl/ring bearer, three course dinner, a fancy venue, a huge cake, a DJ, crazy decorations, a giant guest list, party favors, and a videographer.

We ended up with a backyard, 150 guest, pizza and beer wedding in California. Totally doable, stress-free and easy, right? So the next few months we started figuring out the details to make it happen—chair rentals, table rentals, porta-potty rentals, generators, bridesmaid/groomsmen costumes, choosing our colors/theme, decorations, catering, alcohol, music, landscaping, the invitations and about 1,483 more things to do. The wedding was taking over my brain and the stress was making me feel like I was slowly dying inside. But I figured thatʼs how all wedding planners felt so I ignored it.

Until one day when I was picturing our backyard wedding bash and I realized something… I had never once imagined myself at the wedding. I had thought of the wedding in my head dozens of times, yet I never saw myself at it. I tried my hardest but I couldnʼt picture myself at this magnificent, Pinterest-worthy wedding. Not only was I completely miserable during the whole wedding planning process, but the wedding had become something we never wanted in the first place. After my sixty-fourth wedding planning freak-out we said f*ck it and went back to the drawing board. We asked ourselves what we truly wanted and it was the same basic ideas as before that we unfortunately lost sight of. We quickly decided on San Francisco City Hall involving twenty guests (immediate family and friends), a party bus, donuts, pizza, whiskey, and bar hopping. AKA our dream wedding.

By eventually ignoring what we thought our wedding was supposed to be and instead having the practical wedding we wanted from the start, we were able to fulfill our dreams. And those life adventures I used to daydream about? Well, we decided to take an extended honeymoon this summer by going to Europe for three months. Huzzah!

Polaroid by Hart & Sol West

Shana earned a degree in Grandma Arts (aka Fibers) before opening two small online shops (Handmade Monster & Meow-a-days) specializing in crocheted goods. She is also a nap champion, video game enthusiast, and pro bono blogger. Shana is married to her best friend, Jerrad, and together they live with a tiny pug named Yoshi.

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