Why Eloping Was the Best Decision We Ever Made
Ivan and I are leaving for Taiwan in a few weeks to have our “official” wedding reception with our families (a small tea ceremony and lunch). This reception comes two years after our unofficial “elopement” at Cambridge City Hall in 2014, where we signed our marriage paperwork (unbeknownst to either of our families).
We made the decision to elope not because we thought it would be romantic but because it was practical and the right choice for us. The courthouse ceremony was a no-nonsense affair with just a few of our friends in attendance. It cost us $35 to secure a marriage license and the ceremony lasted ten minutes. After it was done, we went and had some ice cream at Toscana’s at Kendall Square. Then the next morning, Ivan flew back to Toronto.
We thought it would be best to celebrate once Ivan moved down to the U.S. Unfortunately, we had no idea that the immigration process would take 17 months. The trauma of bureaucratic limbo left us both exhausted and resentful. Which is why it took us two years to finally organize a simple reception so that are families could meet for the first time.
Here are the three reasons why elopement was the best decision we ever made:
1. It saved us a boatload of cash.
Did you know that in 2015, the average cost of an American wedding was $31,213? That’s insane. Having experienced a lot of financial hardship growing up, spending even a third of that on a one-time party just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
And you know that rule about the groom having to spend X months of his pay check on a diamond ring? Well, that’s the single most arbitrary fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It makes me angry that some people actually buy into this stupid marketing scheme. Marriage shouldn’t be about what you can afford - it should be about what you actually want. If you truly need that $15,000 ring to feel appreciated, then okay, you do you. This is a judgment free zone. But with societal pressures these days, I feel it’s become harder for couples to separate the expectations of others from their actual wants and needs.
In contrast, our elopement cost us less than $1000 including the wedding certificate, swanky hotel room, clothing, pre-courthouse sushi, and post-courthouse ice cream. It was fantastic and I’m never going to look back and regret any of it. There’s still many more years to continue celebrating our marriage.
2. It gave us time to plan a zero cost international reception for our families.
The other added strain for us was that both of our families lived on different continents. So, we knew we’d have to either choose one country to celebrate in or do multiple receptions. In the end, we chose to do just one in Taipei, Taiwan (Ivan’s hometown). We bypassed a lot of (unnecessary) tradition in favor of giving our families time to finally meet and to go on an extended vacation in a new country. With Ivan’s foresight, we managed to pay for my entire family’s flights and hotels almost entirely through frequent flyer points. And with the “red envelope” money we’ve received from our extended families, we fully expect the small tea ceremony and family-only lunch reception to pay for itself.
3. We wanted to focus on being together, not succumb to social pressures of how things ‘should be done’.
Spending six years apart in a long distance relationship helped us clarify the things that we actually wanted as individuals and a couple. A formal wedding just didn’t make our list. Marriage was never going to change what actually mattered: living our lives together. For us, a lavish wedding takes away precious time and energy from focusing on the things we actually value (e.g. traveling and exploring new places together, financial stability, etc). By skipping the wedding in favor of a city hall elopement, we embraced what our marriage was supposed to be about: us.
In October, we’ll have a brief tea ceremony and reception with our families. And after that, comes to real fun — spending time with our families, more traveling, exploring, and delicious food in another country!
We’re coming up on our three year anniversary of our elopement in January 2017 — still exploring, still happy, and still in love.