Opting Out of Our Wedding

By Laura Braden

Ooooh, catchy title, right? Sorry for the #ClickBait, but today we’re exploring love and marriage and weddings.

The love of my life proposed over the holidays, and we started planning the nuptials approximately 20 minutes after. We’re both in our 30’s and extremely busy, so why wait?

We decided on a private ceremony at Capitol Park with a black tie PARTY at the Grand Ballroom. We wanted to stick to our personalities/preferences and forgo anything we didn’t see as mission critical. Good-bye bridal party, wedding cake and bouquet toss…hello open bar, heartfelt toasts (AKA roasts) and a surprise appearance from our pups.

But that came to a grinding halt when we realized the amount of time (and money) required to pull off “our vision” matched a traditional ceremony and reception. And we weren’t having a blast spending our limited free time picking out table linens and scouting DJs.

So we did some soul-searching. We asked ourselves, what did WE really want to celebrate our partnership?

Because ask any engaged couple how much control they have over “their special day”, and you may be surprised by the answer – especially if their parents are footing the bill. Aunt Martha can’t be seated to Uncle John because they haven’t spoken in 20 years…I have to allow my cousin’s children to attend my adults-only reception, otherwise, they can’t make the trip…my mom hated my dream dress so I went with this one instead…I have to include my boo’s brother in the bridal party even though he’s a total creep that hates me…on and on and on.

And we decided that we didn’t want/need a big fuss. We wanted to celebrate with a killer engagement party and then run away and get married – just me and him.

hawaiiSo our new plan is to fly to Hawaii, find a picturesque spot and have our best friend (not to mention the one who introduced us) Patrick Harbison marry us…and then we’ll island hop for our honeymoon…um, without Patrick. 🙂 My wedding dress cost a whopping $260 – the most I’ve ever spent on a sundress but still a far cry from the industry average ($1,281), and I’m guaranteed to wear it again…likely during my honeymoon. We’re also pretty guaranteed to have zero stress, no day-of tears because the delivered flowers were blush instead of bashful AND I get to say all the wonderful things to my future husband that I’d likely be too shy to say in front of friends and family.

We’re calling it a #weddcation because it’s not an elopement (my family adores him) and it’s not a destination wedding (because no one is invited). To be fair, we had more flexibility to build the moment of our dreams because we’re paying for everything and because our families freaking rock. And since we’re saving so much money, we’re treating both sides of the family to a week in Lake Tahoe over Christmas. That way, we all get to bond – unrushed and unstressed by wedding festivities.

What’s crazy is this whole process took about five months to determine. We knew we wanted to focus more on the marriage, rather than the wedding (crazy, right??). We didn’t want anything traditional but when you google non-traditional weddings, you get a whole lot of lame advice. Carry ferns rather than flowers? Is that the best we can do to help quirky couples express themselves?

The global wedding market is now a $300 billion industry – $55 billion in the U.S. And while the industry supports 500,000 businesses and 750,000 jobs, ask any engaged couple what planning a wedding is like, and they’ll likely respond with “what a racket!”

Love and weddings and marriages come in all shapes and sizes these days – and I think it’s super important to share our personal versions of bliss. I’ve had friends that have eloped to Vegas or taken their daughter with them to City Hall, only to see others wrinkle their nose in judgment. Not everyone wants or needs a “traditional wedding”, and I happily await the day that that designation ceases to exist.

Bottom line? Do you, and then share your story. You may just give another engaged couple the courage to put their foot down and demand [fill in the blank] to celebrate what will hopefully be a forever partnership.

Laura and Michael with their mutts Betty White and Bailey in Capitol Park. (Credit: Chantel Elder, Eleakis and Elder Photography)


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  1. Jordan says

    you guys are amazing. Love you both!

  2. Jen says

    I. Love. This. Our wedding went through many iterations (beach wedding? barn wedding? elopement because FUCK ALL THIS?) before settling on what we felt was really “us” – which turned out to look a lot like a “traditional” wedding, or at least what passes for traditional these days. Because for our parents’ parents, “traditional” meant wearing your best dress and serving cake in your living room. A far cry from today’s $20k+ soiree! But I digress.

    You nailed it, that the most important part of your wedding is to DO YOU, whatever that looks like. And there is no wrong way to do a wedding. As long as you end up married to your person, congratulations! You’ve done it right. The rest is just details. I’m not apologizing for my ballroom, white dress wedding because the space was the only one that fit our big tribe and smallish budget, my dress came in my street size and fit me like a glove, and we had a great freakin’ time. It felt like us, through and through. I’m excited that you and Quigley have found what works for you!

    1. Admin says

      LOL – exactly Jen, thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Judy Farah says

    I applaud you. I was never a fan of the big fussy wedding dress so I ended up buying a white lace dress for less than $100 at an LA mall and felt much more comfortable in it on my wedding day. Love when you break the rules! And great pic!

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