The Offbeat Bride: Melissa, Electrical Project Engineer
Her offbeat partner: Jason, Writer
Date and location of wedding: Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix, AZ — September 9, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Our wedding planning began with establishing the most bare bones budget we could come up with. We took into consideration that our family was spread out across the country, and consisted of retirees and parents with small children. We wanted it to be a beautiful, affordable, intimate, drama-free wedding.
We limited the guests (including ourselves) to a party of less than 40. That meant leaving out friends who were important to either myself or Jason. I went to Seattle for my 40th birthday, and I took six of my most intimate (and married) friends to a fondue dinner. It was there that I told them that they could not bring their spouses to the wedding because I had to make the hard choice: do you get to bring your spouse, or do I get to have as many of my closest friends there as possible? It was not an easy choice.
Ways that we conserved:
- We had our wedding at a venue in a less expensive city (Phoenix, AZ) and close to relatives with whom we could conserve and eliminate their accommodation/travel costs, freeing up money to use for the wedding
- Our rings cost about $3,000 — we used our grandmothers' wedding ring stones to craft my engagement ring and eternity wedding band then chose a band for Jason that he loved within our budget
- We requested only two hours of the professional photographer’s time and 500 photos, for a cool $1,200 instead of the typical $4,000+ cost for the day. She came for the bridal morning prep, ceremony, and family photos, and stayed to take some candid shots after the ceremony
- A huge storm ruined our original venue the night before the wedding, so we got upgraded for free (and graciously) by the venue giving us the intimate garden venue of our dreams
- We did not use any decorations for the ceremony except Jason's grandma's heirloom silver candle holder (that was gifted to us) on a table to represent loved ones who could not be there
- We took all of the basic options that came with the wedding package and didn’t embellish. We had the florist put some extra flowers on the cake as decoration
- We requested money for a couple's massage and a hot air balloon ride from our guests, using Honeyfund
- We had a morning wedding on a weekday, which cut costs in half
- We did not send any invitations, but rather sent save-the-dates and invitations via the free website Paperless Post
- I borrowed everything except my dress and shoes from my sisters
- We created a music playlist using Spotify and streamed it from my iPod during the reception
- We asked Jason's nephew to play the piano for a couple songs during the ceremony, and operate the iPod for the Bridal Party and Bridal Entrance during the ceremony
- We did not give the guests favors, but my sister did provide fans that they could keep at the ceremony from the bridal shower that was held at her house.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our vows read:
“Jason/Melissa, do you come before this gathering of friends and family to proclaim your love and devotion for Melissa/Jason? Do you promise to affirm her/him, respect her/him, and care for her/him during times of joy and hardship? Do you commit yourself to share your feelings of happiness and sadness? Do you pledge to remain faithful to her/him? Do you promise to “Ride or Die” with him?”
Jason was REALLY into Sons of Anarchy at the time, and we both come from conservative families. So we got a snicker on that one!
We had a candle to honor those who could not be with us (living and passed). We also had a ring warming ceremony and the Jewish “breaking of the glass” ceremony. Only, we forgot about the glass, and had our wedding planner run and find a small light bulb on the morning of the wedding.
Our biggest challenge:
When Jason's daughter suggested some budget DIY ideas for our wedding, I started crying because I felt like I was compromising. I waited 40 years to get to this point in my life, and I didn’t want to sacrifice a thing. However, it was the classic case of wanting a steak dinner on a hot dog budget.
Turns out, getting creative was good for my soul, it was good for our relationship, and it was a great way to allow others in our family to show their love and support. We managed to pay cash, saving over $10,000 in less than six months through bringing our lunches to work, working extra hours, and not doing things we liked to do normally (out to dinner, movies, haircuts, waxing, new clothes, going to coffee, etc.). It was well worth it to emerge from the other side of that beautiful day with ZERO wedding bills!
My favorite moment:
My father, who has Parkinson's, was able to walk me down the aisle. The most meaningful moment was when Jason saw him coming with me down the aisle to the song “The Wedding Song (There is Love)” by Paul Stookey. It was overwhelmingly beautiful and as a 40-year-old bride, I was anxious to make sure that this moment occurred in my lifetime.
When Jason lit the memorial candle, he swears he felt a rush of wind and energy and we both know that means both of my grandpas (who both died in 2014) and his grandma and father, and all those who couldn't be with us, were definitely there in spirit.
- Photography: Christine Johnson Photography
- Bride dress: David's Bridal
- Bride and Flower Girl Hair Accessory: Claire's Boutique
- Groom's Suit: Men's Wearhouse
- Flowers: McDonald Floral and Gifts
- Phoenix Wedding Officiant: Rev. Rick Bell
- Wedding Venue: Royal Palms Hotel
- Wedding Invitations: Paperless Post
- Wedding Planning: WeddingWire
- Wedding Music: Spotify and an iPhone
- Registry: Honeyfund