Offbeat Wed in The Guardian: Gen Z says weddings should be cheaper. Here’s how to make that happen

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Offbeat Wed In The Guardian Gen Z alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Suki here, the Assistant Editor of Offbeat Wed. Recently, The Guardian asked me to write an article about the rise of low-key weddings amongst Gen Z. This new trend is emerging as the average wedding cost in the U.S. balloons between 30-40k. With a growing search for “simple weddings” and “nontraditional ceremonies,” that meant I got to talk about my two favorite things: nontraditional wedding ceremonies and saving money! Ariel, Offbeat Wed's publisher, chimed in on this too:

“I think part of what we're seeing is Gen Z recognizing the aspects of the weddings that are important to them (dressing up, making it official, having documentation/media to share) and scraping everything else (gathering, feeding people, dealing with venues and accommodations, etc). This was already happening before the pandemic, but it's EXTRA happened since.”

Here are some excerpts from the article with inspo of real low-key weddings:

I'm a believer that all weddings are beautiful and meaningful no matter what they look like or how much they cost. I'm thrilled that Gen Z is bringing back simple and budget-friendly weddings. I'm especially stoked that I could share a few of my favorite weddings and elopements on the blog that I felt slayed the low-key wedding assignment.

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Sami & Michael's simple wedding ceremony at the affordable Brooklyn Botanical Gardens followed by an afterparty at their favorite bar. Photography by Kate Alison Photography

Simple weddings used to be the norm

Offbeat Wed readers know that simple weddings are nothing new around these parts. I addressed it in this excerpt:

Pre-Covid, low-key weddings were rarer and not typically featured in mainstream wedding media. The wedding industrial complex generally isn’t keen on budget-friendly, low-key ceremonies – that would mean less money going back into a $70bn business sector.

I remember Offbeat Wed readers stressing about the judgement coming from relatives around not wanting all the bells and whistles of a wedding. Having a low-key wedding was practically the equivalent of blasphemy!

This minimalist Philly wedding proves that simple is CHIC
From this minimalist Philly wedding with a cake and champagne ceremony. Photography by Black, White and Raw Photography

There was a time when weddings didn’t cost the equivalent of college tuition. For instance, before weddings became huge social events, many churchgoing Americans in the 1940s and 1950s hosted cake and punch weddings. These were exactly what they sounded like – a ceremony in a church followed by a cake and punch reception in the basement. You’re in, you’re out, you’re married.

Before that, most weddings took place at home in the presence of a minister, followed by a small house party. It wasn’t until mass communication was introduced – newspapers, magazines, and eventually social media – that people were exposed to a vision of what a wedding “should” look like.

Here's how to learn into low key weddings:

For this article, not only did I have the joy of revisiting some of my favorite nontraditional weddings, but I got to reconnect with the couples to see if they still stood by their decisions to have a simple wedding.

Just the ceremony

A wedding without a reception is still a wedding. You can invite a small number of guests to participate in the ceremony, then call it a day.

Rachael Rice and David Knape, from Portland, Oregon, opted for this approach for their micro-wedding on Mount Tabor in 2021.

Rice is still beyond happy with their choice to have a low-key wedding. “We saved a tremendous amount of money,” she told me. “I did my own hair and makeup, we repurposed my parents’ JCPenney gold wedding rings, and we bought a chantilly cake from the grocery! I made my magnolia bouquet out of crepe paper. Most importantly, no one at our wedding got Covid.”


Fashionable Sunset Spain Elopement Photos by Joy Zamora14 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
David Armendariz and Jesse Gudiño decided to elope – in style – in SpainPhotography by Joy Zamora

For couples who want to prioritize certain elements – say, fashion and photography – but stick to a smaller budget, eloping checks all the boxes. Not only do you get to skip the drama that comes with a guest list, but you can also have a slower, less chaotic day that’s truly just about the two of you. And you’ll still get something great – for example, magazine-cover worthy photos, like David Armendariz and Jesse Gudiño from Houston, Texas, did.

Armendariz and Gudiño decided to elope to Spain after rescheduling their wedding ceremony three times due to Covid restrictions. They told me they spent about $5,000 on their elopement and saved about $40,000.


micro-wedding has a small guest list – up to 20 people. This means your budget can go way further. It’s a nice way to include traditional aspects of a wedding like florals, decor and food, but on a much smaller scale.

backyard microwedding on offbeat bride 5 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Caroline and Price's $500 backyard micro-wedding. Photography by Keaton Hutto Photography

Small ceremony, big afterparty

Some couples do a quick wedding ceremony where they read their vows; their budget goes to an epic party. For those who don’t enjoy public speaking, a private vow reading is an intimate low-key option. I’ve heard of introvert weddings, where the partners exchange vows in private, then join their guests at the reception.

Skip the DJ and go out for dinner

You can also go the opposite route and have a small celebration after the ceremony, instead of a reception. One New York couple had their wedding ceremony in Central Park on a Monday, then hopped on the subway to meet their friends for dinner at their favorite restaurant.

A nontraditional ceremony

To end the article, it warms the crannies of my offbeat heart to know a DIY dark fantasy Halloween wedding made it in The Guardian.

Instead of a traditional wedding ceremony, Marilyn Carkner and Jesse Inoncillo from Hudson Valley, New York, held a Halloween handfasting – a longstanding alternative union – next to a cemetery.

“We were uncomfortable with having a big to-do but still wanted to have fun with our friends and dress up,” they said. “Our little backyard wedding was a perfect compromise. We were able to spend time with everyone individually because we weren’t spread thin trying to greet and thank dozens of people.”

The total cost before tips – including officiant, caterer, photographer and DIY supplies – was under $3,000. “We have been and will continue to recommend a more intimate wedding experience to anyone who will listen,” Carkner said. “Small and cozy was absolutely the right choice for us.”

Inspired to start planning your low-key wedding?

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