For today’s blog post, I thought it would be fun to write a little blast-from-the-past about my wedding back in the height of pandemic shutdown, May 2020.
We got engaged in early January 2020, back when “Covid-19” was still by far and wide not affecting our lives. My husband and I had both been married before so we knew we wanted a small, simple wedding. We were originally planning for late summer/early Fall 2020. When family got involved with wedding planning, things just kept growing bigger, and bigger, and bigger. We were originally planning a rose-garden wedding with a catered reception. But then my MIL wanted to host a brunch reception the morning after the wedding. My Mom wanted to host a “girls spa day” with pedicures for all the females involved the day before the wedding. Before we knew it, our small/simple wedding was going to be an entire weekend extravaganza! It’s not what we’d wanted, but we wanted family to feel included and involved so we kept going with it.
Then the World Shut-Down
Mid-March 2020 when we started our “2 week shutdown” our minds started spinning. I had two second-graders who I suddenly had to teach full-time on top of my full-time job and all the other unpredictability with which the country (and world!) was suddenly faced. When the two weeks stretched into 4, and then into 6, and there was still no end in sight, we thought about how we may need to switch gears for our wedding. No one knew how long it would last and we have some immuno-compromised family members who certainly couldn’t travel. I cancelled our venue (it was a refundable deposit), and we started talking about the possibility of having a wedding without any extended family present.
When we first got engaged, I thought of wedding at a popular hiking spot we both loved, but it was quickly ruled out because it was not wheelchair accessible, so it would not be possible for some of our family. But what if no family was present? Maybe we could have the small, intimate affair we’d originally wanted.
A couple conversations later, one of our friends (an ordained minister through his role as an Army Chaplain) volunteered to wed us. Another friend volunteered to take some photos (she’s not a professional photographer, but does photography as a hobby and has a nice camera). A third friend and his wife were our official “witnesses.” And that’s how we came to be wed with literally only 4 people present: the officiant, the friend taking photos, and two friends to sign as witnesses who held up a phone camera open to Zoom so the rest of our family could watch from afar.
The ceremony was perfect – lovely location, short and sweet, and so full of love! We didn’t have a big fancy reception. We bought a cake for $34 and my dress was $32 from Amazon. These came out of my normal food and clothing budgets (not a new line item). My mom bought the girls’ dresses as a wedding gift. I offered to pay the officiant and photographer, but they both refused. I did buy them each a $50 gift card, but that came from my normal gift-giving budget. The only thing not already part of the normal budget was for the marriage license filing fee, $83.
Our witnesses were part of our “quarantine bubble” so they came back to our house after the ceremony and we ate together (a stew I’d thrown in a crockpot ahead of time) and hung out. It was perfect. All for under $300 in total, but less than $100 in budgeted wedding costs since the other costs all came from regular budget categories.
It goes to show you the value of good friends, and that if you look for the silver lining of a rain storm, it can always be found. We had the most perfect wedding I could imagine and it would not have happened this way, had it not been for the pandemic.
Hi, I’m Ashley! Arizonan on paper, Texan at heart. Lover of running, blogging, and all things cheeeeese. Late 30’s, married mother of two, working as a professor at a major university in the southwest. Trying to finally (finally!) pay off that ridiculous 6-digit student loan debt!