Our Under-$15K Library Wedding: Michelle Gibson & Brett Fowle
Women’s life choices have always been saddled with traditions and conventions that don’t necessarily serve us: finite timelines, finite storylines for when, who, and how you love, how you look, what you do, where you go — and our "dream weddings" are just the icing on the cake. That's why Bustle's I Do It Differently (Under $15K) series is focused on brides who are breaking the mold, but not breaking the bank.
"A Day at the Library"
We met online in 2012. I can't remember who contacted who first, but I suggested we meet. A few years in, we sometimes talked about getting married, but neither of us was in any rush.
I "proposed" to him in November 2016. It was right after the election, and I suddenly knew I was ready to be married to him. I can't imagine a scenario where he would've proposed because he's so chill, and I wouldn't change that; a proposal wasn't important to me.
My husband and I knew we wanted a non-religious ceremony and had planned on going to City Hall. It turns out Columbus [Ohio] holds civil ceremonies at a municipal courthouse, which is not exactly picturesque. While I was looking for alternatives, it occurred to me that the Columbus Metropolitan Library main branch would be perfect.
Spending a lot of money on things I don't feel are necessary gives me anxiety.
The day of, there were eight guests, one of whom, my sister, officiated. We had a photographer take photos during the 10-minute ceremony, then afterward take some more with the guests (all family), in and around the very picturesque library, and then at lunch. And that was it! We decided to keep costs down because we knew we would be happiest with something intimate and non-traditional.
We do still want to celebrate with our friends and family, so we planned an additional 50-person party at a space near our home in May 2018 to celebrate our first year. The most important things to us are the people, the food and drink, and the photos.
I have been going to the Columbus Metropolitan Library for as long as I can remember, have a degree in English Lit, and am generally a bibliophile. Once we chose a date, I called the library a couple of months in advance and talked to an events coordinator about what we wanted to do to make sure they would be cool with it (they were).
I knew I wanted something simple, comfortable, and affordable, especially since the "ceremony" would be so short and the attendees so few. I didn't look at any traditional bridal shops. I spent a lot of time searching Poshmark, where I found a dress I liked but in the wrong size. After a quick Google search of the brand, I found the dress at Nordstrom in my size. It was only tough to find because I'm extraordinarily picky.
We all went to a restaurant (one of our favorites) where we had a late lunch.
Our photographer, Autumn Theodore, is actually a commercial photographer, but she'll book a couple small weddings every year for couples she knows. We did want some traditional photos — of the ceremony, with our families afterward, and of just us. It was a good mix of posed and candid shots.
No decor or other flowers for the ceremony or lunch. We will have light decor and flowers at the one-year party.
No cake; I think a few people ordered desserts at lunch. However, for the one-year party in May 2018, myself and my grandma, who is a life-long baker, will be making a cake.
Figure out what's important to you, and don't worry about anything that's not.
As with the proposal, an engagement ring was just a cultural tradition that wasn't important to me.
What Was Exactly The Same
I think the nerves and excitement were probably similar. I did wear white, we did exchange vows, we did have the occasion photographed, we did have family there. Also, I didn't expect to cry; I wrote the damn ceremony and still teared up at one point.
What Was Entirely Different
Fewer decisions, very little stress, no drama, more funds to "splurge" on things that are important (photography).
No negatives. Spending a lot of money on things I don't feel are necessary gives me anxiety.
How Our Guests Reacted
With pleasant surprise.
How We Reacted
We think most people overpay for almost everything. The most important things to us are celebrating with the people who love and support us over delicious food (our friends and families love to eat as much as we do), and having beautiful photos of the celebration.
Figure out what's important to you, and don't worry about anything that's not. It's an important day, and the only people you're obligated to make happy [are] yourselves. Invest in a great photographer and tell him/her exactly what you want. Everything will work out — enjoy every minute of your wedding.