We got engaged a year after our first date. ‘Bloody hell Lisa, that’s way too soon!’, some may cry but it’s working out alright so far. The irony is that when we first started dating, neither of us were actually looking for a long-term relationship, let alone a future spouse.
Once we’d been engaged for a few months, Adam and I began discussing our respective visions of what our wedding day might look. For me, being an introvert and general anxiety-filled human being, my ideal wedding day would be fuss-free and inexpensive. For Adam, it was all about family.
We then thought about the location. My family are predominantly Manchester-based whilst Adam’s are all over the place, from Wales to London. We knew that people wouldn’t be bothered about travelling, however, wanted to make the day as easy as possible for our guests to attend.
We viewed a 4* hotel near Chester, hoping to host our entire wedding day there. However, the room hire and food costs would be approx. £8,000 and this left us with little room for much else. Add on the registrar, bridesmaids attire, flowers, room decor, rings, photographer and all that jazz and we soon looking at a bill circa £14,000 before even thinking about a honeymoon (another couple of grand or so).
We then looked at hiring a marquee, getting wed on a steam train in Llangollen or even having a low-key event at the campsite where we got engaged but there was always some kind of hurdle; Auntie Joan couldn’t attend from March-Sept, it would be an extra £1,000 to marry on a weekend, the venue would only let us use their super expensive (and bland) approved caterers and on it went until the whole wedding planning thing became a pretty stressful chore.
Whenever I moaned about it, Adam shrugged, saying he was indifferent and didn’t really care too much about the venue or little details (I, on the other hand, had been losing sleep over Pinterest boards and trying to find the perfect colour theme for about two months). During one particularly mammoth whinge, I’d joked about pissing off to Vegas and letting ‘Elvis’ do the job for us instead – and we both had a bit of a lightbulb moment.
We’d already compiled a mutual travel wish list as long as my arm so why not use the wedding budget to make a start on that? We agreed to take a step back and think about what we actually wanted. I wouldn’t blow money that we don’t have on any other occasion – so why on Earth was I contemplating taking out a £14,000 loan for this one day?
This isn’t a dig to other couples who do prefer a little extravagance by the way – it’s mainly down to the fact that Adam and I could think of so many other ways to spend our hard-earned and, to be honest, pretty modest disposable income than on canapes and flowers (and we really, really wanted that honeymoon!)
After doing some research, the idea of eloping to New York was starting to look like a realistic option. Of course, this too brought new dilemmas. Would our friends and family members be upset? What about the legalities? Were we just being selfish as fuck and needed to grow up?
We spoke to our nearest and dearest and explained our thoughts. I’m forever thankful that we have a brilliant bunch of people around us and they all understood, supporting whatever we wanted to do. We began looking at options and soon booked flights to America, just the two of us.
My parents were going to look after the girls as we combined a honeymoon and wedding ceremony across the pond. We were also gifted sums from family members which really helped and allowed us to book a beautiful wedding reception at Oakfield Manor, Chester Zoo the week after we got married and celebrate in style.
Fast forward through months of planning and we boarded a plane from Manchester Airport to JFK, ready to become Mr and Mrs Valentine. On the day of our wedding, we got ready together in our hotel room and, after a short wait at the City Clerks Office (not City Hall a la Carrie and Big as most people – including me – would assume. Turns out that you can’t actually marry at NYC City Hall….), the deed was done.
It was simple, intimate and rather romantic. But the best bit for me personally? There was absolutely no pressure. Just us, the two of us, making a lifelong commitment to one another. Easy peasy. The rest of the week was spent enjoying our adventures in Manhattan and making memories that we will cherish forever.
For the grand sum of around £6,000, we managed to have an incredible week in New York City and still got to celebrate with our loved ones, without starting married life in a shit ton of debt. Ultimately, our wedding day/reception was lovely but our marriage is even better and that’s what really counts once the
dust confetti has settled, isn’t it?