It's funny how things can change. When I was a little girl I wanted the fairy-tale wedding that I think all of us dream of at least once: the white horses, the gilt carriage, the gleaming cathedral and a spectacular, shimmering, seed-pearl-embroidered gown. I didn't bother thinking about the cost; as a child anything was possible. I hung on to that idea of marriage for a while mostly because I hadn't been faced with serious thoughts about it, so I had no reason to accumulate more useful ideas or opinions on the subject, other than some mild amusement at the thought of $99 Vegas weddings.
When I got to college and was informally introduced to the big wide world, I met a bunch of people - married, engaged, and life partners - who pointed out that there were a great deal more ways to get married than the traditional Christian ceremonies. I cataloged them, fell in love with the idea of handfasting for a while, and then went back to wanting the white dress. The fairy-tale ideal wedding got cut down a little bit, but I still expected something really pretty - a park with an arbor draped in flowers, a gorgeous dress, and rose petals strewn on the grass.
When I got engaged, I started planning. I still wanted a park for the ceremony. I had ideas about a simple dress (I even had one picked out), the right color scheme, a proper set of bridesmaids (I asked them, too). Two or three months in, as my mother was trying to get me to call her local florist and I was researching the cost of catering, I did one last Google search and threw the fairy-tale out the window, realizing once and for all that the cost of flinging even cheap artificial rose petals onto the grass of the town park was absurdly out of our price range. I still have the red cardstock that I was going to use for the invitations (I might still make a few, just to see, and send them out more as keepsakes than anything else), but so far that's all I've spent on the wedding - about $20 in card stock, silver paint markers, stamps and embossing powder. Even a "proper" DIY wedding is out of reach, with my work hours dropping and student loans due.
So we're getting married at the courthouse. He has a black button-down shirt and I have a natural linen halter dress I bought in Mexico. We're not having a reception, though if friends can make it we'll probably go out to dinner. I'll be paying maybe $30 for sandals and a strapless bra, plus the cost of a daisy bouquet from Wal-Mart (unless I can find them growing wild). That, plus the license and officiant's fees, is all I plan on paying for this wedding. I'm even debating on the necessity of rings, since the reputable shops are expensive even for plain silver.
In a way it actually feels a lot better not to be worrying about catering and seating charts. I've been thinking about it and tonight I found a new way of looking at the whole thing. "Traditional" weddings are absurd because the bride is relying on hundreds of strangers and acquaintances from the dress shop to the catering company, all to enjoy one single day which they insist isn't supposed to be about the dress and the food in the first place. I've never been good with strangers anyway; I can't imagine the stress it would have caused to force myself to depend on a dozen of them for every detail of my wedding, and then have to tip them all for it afterward when I could have done things myself. Instead, I'm sitting here after a good dinner with a short list of things to buy for myself and not stressed at all. I can invite a few people to share our ceremony and enjoy my day with the knowledge that I won't have to worry about the photographer showing up late.
Oh, and if you'd like to show up, we're still planning on July 16, probably early afternoon. We'll update if anything changes.