On Instagram, #weddingplanning boasts nearly 500,000 posts. Pinterest has thousands of boards dedicated to “wedding inspiration.” You've seen them, right?
Have you seen how a quick Google search reveals countless articles on the average cost of a wedding last year and how the more expensive a wedding is the higher chance of divorce?
My husband, Aaron, and I skipped the bridal magazines and eloped a few weeks ago, in a tiny ceremony officiated by a close friend with just a handful of witnesses. There was little planning, no hashtagging (we decided to unplug for the weekend), and no disappointments, as we had set no expectations. There was laughter and authentic connection amongst the few friends invited, and it was easy and very inexpensive.
As the bride, and as a young woman who is emerging, my desire to elope stems from a strong disagreement with the gendered notions of what a bride should be, and the patriarchal, consumerist framework of which weddings are built upon.
I wanted to direct the time, energy, and money that goes into a wedding to things that actually matter to me in life. At this point in time, that means starting my own business with my husband and best friend from college, working for a few start-ups and supporting the expansion of a Bolivian NGO. My husband’s reply is: “Ain’t nobody got time to get married when they’re busy changing the world!” I couldn't agree more.
When I said “yes,” the course we set as a couple was intentional. As conscious millennials, we both knew we wanted something simple and fun. We didn’t want anything with a fiscal note that would hinder our entrepreneurial dreams (which had yet to come to fruition at the time of our engagement, but ideas were swirling around in our heads).
Blissfully engaged, we carried on with our lives. In efforts to solidify our entrepreneurial desires, and quench our wanderlust (we both are avid travelers), we quit our jobs and took off for South America for some much needed soul-searching and change of scenery. As we traveled, we casually shrugged off questions about marriage from friends and family, stating, “We’re too busy traveling to plan anything.” Which was true. We were busy learning Spanish, making friends, exploring, volunteering and dreaming up business ideas.
Spending time together abroad was critical for us as a couple. Our consciousness and understanding of the world were challenged, tested, and transformed.
When we returned to the US, we were even more inspired to start our own business, so we channeled all energy into replenishing our bank accounts. We also became consumed by helping expand a Bolivian NGO we had worked with, and began to plant the seeds for a small social enterprise endeavor. We explored new areas of interest. We confronted fears about finances and business plans, and comforted each other in times of post-travel anxiety (like when I had a full-on consumerist meltdown in a big box store in Chicago).
When we decided to actually elope, we kept it secret to avoid getting distracted from our work. In planning it, we used the same values as when we took the plunge into starting our own business - we focused on community, human connection and supporting the local.
We leveraged our favorite resources that have continually enriched our lives here in the US and abroad. We rented a venue from Airbnb that would host us and 6 of our best friends for a long relaxing weekend. We found a young, aspiring, local photographer on Craigslist who wanted to build his portfolio to capture our event, and Siri helped us find a local bakery to get a cake the day of. We wrote the ceremony and our respective vows on a shared Google doc a few weeks out (in between meetings), and found the perfect spot for our ceremony on the edge of a cliff by simply asking the Airbnb hosts for a suggestion upon our arrival.
I never once stepped foot into a bridal shop. Time was never wasted picking out placemats, organizing a seating arrangement or trolling the endless pages of theknot.com (which I had never heard of before writing this). I simply didn’t want an entire year of my life to be consumed by one day. We exchanged vows with ease and smiles, our hearts happy and full.
At the end of the day, any day, I want to be part of something bigger and more important than wearing an expensive dress and doing the electric slide.
Hannah Faust is the social media manager for Emerging Women, a digital marketer, emerging entrepreneur, and helps run Cochabamba Pedal Project with her husband. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.