Wedding Planning With a Traveler’s Mentality

I’m pretty sure I know when I crossed the line.

Jared and I were in the kitchen, making dinner, after an intense week of ok-let’s-do-this-and-make-some-wedding-decisions. We are now in a wide-open expanse of time that we have been calling ‘after the marathon,’ but in technical terms should probably be referred to as ‘the future.’ Or, perhaps, ‘life.’

It’s during this time that we agreed to actually plan our wedding. To do things like pick a country (done), a date (done), and a venue (done). These things, while not easy, turned out to be manageable but exhausting.

Even though we don’t want all the things that come with throwing a wedding, we do want some of them. And those things cost money, something we came to terms with.

But our wedding energy was wearing thin.

I was chopping kale (I swear we’re not hipsters, I just like kale. Not that there’s anything wrong with hipsters.) and Jared was opening a can of beetroot.

“Hey,” I said. “These should be our wedding colors – kale and beetroot.”

Then I snorted laughing at how funny I was while Jared fixed me with a glare.

farmers' market vegetables
Alternate colors: rhubarb and brussels sprout.

“Too far?” I asked.

“If there are ‘colors’ at our wedding, I don’t want to know about them,” he said. “And they are not kale and beetroot.”

Apparently there are only so many planning details a groom-to-be can handle.

The not-so-wonderful world of weddings has been a real kick in the teeth in some aspects. For the first year and a half of our engagement, we talked about how we didn’t need twine-wrapped mason jars or an ice cream truck or any of those elements that make a wedding a Wedding. We just needed us, our friends and family, tasty food and decent beer. We wouldn’t spend crazy money and the whole thing would be just right.

Then I started exploring options. I contacted every venue on the island of Oahu (Spoiler: the wedding’s in Hawaii) and collected PDFs of price lists and amenities. I gasped at the prices – $7 for a Bud Light? And then I have to pay taxes and gratuity? – and rejected locations until I was left with…nothing.


I guess throwing a casual party for 50 of your nearest and dearest isn’t free, after all.

The weird thing was, Jared and I were the only people who found this surprising. Everyone else thought that spending thousands of dollars on a celebratory event was totally normal.

Jared’s co-worker, Sheila, figured out what our problem was.

“You’re still thinking like backpackers,” she said.

It was an epiphany. We’ve been traveling for so long and stretching our dollars that we forgot how to splurge, even with our parents’ help. I mean properly splurge, not a “let’s spend an extra $4 for the 5-hour bus instead of the 9-hour” kind of splurge. The kind of splurge where you lay out some cash for a celebration for our two sides to come together on a palm-strewn island in the Pacific.

Haleiwa, Oahu
Hale’iwa, Oahu. The scene of our engagement announcement.

Once we made the basic decisions, something changed for me. I started to get excited. After 18 months of not thinking about the wedding, excitement is a welcome emotion.

We’re finalizing the details with our venue now; the proposed date is in September 2014, so neither of us will have to think about the wedding for a while. While Jared will probably be happy to take a break, it doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about it – now that I’ve realized having a wedding can be fun, I’m looking forward to planning.

Just quietly, if anyone has any beetroot- or kale-colored decorations, I might know someone who can take those off your hands.

Let’s hope we’re still smiling at the end of the planning process.

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  1. I can imagine it being a massive shock how much a wedding costs. It’s tough to splurge when you’re so used to being on a budget. I would keep thinking how much travelling I could pay for if the wedding wasn’t happening!! Good job I’m not the one getting married! It wouldn’t be glamorous at all!

    1. I have to say, it is really tough. Every time I think I’ve accepted our budget, I get headspin and want to back out. I’ve already cut out things like flowers and a DJ (because do I really need those things?) but the ‘essentials’ like food, drink & venue on their own are costing (what seems to me) a small fortune!! But if we want to do this in Hawaii, it seems to be sort of unavoidable without making major sacrifices. I tell myself that it’s sort of travel/wedding but that’s really an effort to justify it to my travel budget brain.

  2. Yeeaah you’re getting married in Hawaii! That’s so exciting! And a nice compromise – it’s sort of in between Australia and America!

    It’s funny how you say that some people weren’t shocked at the prices at all, like spending thousands and thousands of dollars on one day is totally normal.

    I always think that it’s nice to have a gorgeous wedding but I don’t think I’d go overboard (errrr hang on a minute, I’ve gotta find someone to actually marry first….!)

    You’ve got lots of time to plan though hun, enjoy it 🙂

    1. Thank you!! I alternate between being excited and being absolutely appalled. I really thought we could do our whole wedding ceremony/reception for like $2000 (ha! ha!) but then I thought ‘hang on, I would actually like to have speeches and a first dance.’ And things kind of escalate from that point. So hard to strike a balance between simple, meaningful event and a budget! But I have a year to try.

  3. I totally understand the shock of having to pay so much for a wedding. My husband and I felt exactly the same after travelling and living off a tiny budget for so long.

    In the end, I really enjoyed the challenge of planning.a wedding on budget.

    Oh yeah, and even though we had wedding colours, I’m pretty sure my husband has no clue!

    1. It hits me out of the blue, after I think I’ve accepted it – wait, we’re spending how much on this?? Even though it’s not all our money, it’s someone’s money, and that matters. So I guess the challenge now is finding peace with the value we get for each item/amount. Hoping to stay positive – if we can plan trips through India & South America, surely one little wedding shouldn’t be too bad??

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