The Grifski Wedding

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Since it’s been about two months since the wedding, I figured now would be a great time to talk about the ceremony.

If you managed to read my proposal article, then you know that Morgan and I weren’t interested in having the typical wedding for a variety of reasons—most of them monetary. Instead, we decided to hold a small 20-person ceremony in a city close to home, Pittsburgh.

Of course, I’m not writing this article to just share what we decided to do for our wedding. I’m here to provide a template for those who want to have a more nontraditional wedding.

Table of Contents

The Wedding Breakdown

In the following sections, you’ll find a breakdown of many of our decisions and why we made them. At the end, I’ll share our budget, so you can get an idea of how much we spent for this nontraditional wedding. Spoiler Alert: it’s still pretty expensive to do a wedding even the way we did it.

The Date

For us, the date was easy; it was our 8th dating anniversary.

That said, things weren’t that simple. We chose March 18th, 2018 which just so happened to be a Sunday. While that might seem convenient since it was a weekend, it wasn’t. Apparently, Sunday weddings are sacrilegious, so we had a hard time working around that. In other words, pick Saturday if possible.

In addition, our timeline was a little tight. If you recall, I proposed on Black Friday 2017, so we had about four months to put this whole wedding together. Don’t worry; it’s not as hard to get everything ready as you might think. That’s coming from a couple who didn’t enjoy the planning process at all.

The Location

To be honest, Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a sentimental place for either of us. Originally, we planned for Allegany State Park, a campground we visit annually, but the logistics made it an impractical location for the kind of wedding we wanted.

That said, Pittsburgh was significantly more convenient, and we were hoping to potentially catch a hockey game while we were there. In addition, our photographer lived there, and there was a lot of potential for videographers and officiants.

On top of that, we managed to find a nice venue overlooking the city with catering included for under $1000. Good luck finding that kind of deal anywhere when planning a wedding.

Overlooking Pittsburgh
How’s that for a view on our wedding day? Credit: Meaghan Elliott Photography

So, overall, Pittsburgh—and the Le Mont—just made a lot of sense.

The Attendees

As for the people we invited, that subject is a little touchy. After all, we only had space for about 20 people, so we had to be really intentional with our invitations.

As a result, we each only invited our closest family members: mothers (2), fathers (2), siblings (2), and grandparents (8). In addition to those 14 people, we included the photographer, the two videographers, the officiant, and ourselves, obviously. In total, we had 20 people at our wedding ceremony.

Of course, to mitigate some of the heartbreak by friends who were unable to serve as groomsmen and bridesmaids, we dedicated the day before the wedding to them. Shout-out to all the friends who went ice skating with me the night before my wedding.

For everyone else, we will be hosting an informal party in June—article to follow.

The Photographer

I apologize ahead of time for anyone looking for advice on how to pick out a photographer. After all, we were very fortunate because my Aunt is the best photographer I know (No, I don’t get paid to say that). Of course, what’s the point of talking her up when I can just share some of her work:

If you want to see some more of her work, check out Meaghan Elliot Photography.

The Videographer

As for the videographer, I think I can help a bit there. That’s because we were forced to find one ourselves.

For starters, we consulted Google for videographers around the area. From there, we just had to look at a lot of portfolios to find the style of video we wanted. Personally, we were looking to just get a nice highlight video with some music.

After searching around, we stumbled upon Francis Rocks Productions who ultimately did an amazing job with our video. Check it out:

As a piece of advice, I would definitely try to find local photographers/videographers. That way, you don’t have to worry about assisting with their travels, and they’ll be able to help with location ideas for photo/video shoots. As an added bonus, you’ll have a chance to haggle the price—especially if you’re planning a nontraditional wedding.

The Odds and Ends

In addition to many of the major areas described in the previous section, there are plenty of little decisions we had to make along the way.

The Party

As mentioned already, since the wedding was so small, we felt we owed at least a get together to our family and friends. By the time this article is published, the party will not have happened yet. So, I can’t say how it went.

However, I can say that we planned a potluck style of party, so the only costs we incurred were due to invitations, stamps, envelopes, the venue, and drinks. With this style of party, we were able to rely a bit on family to help with food and other things like gifts, napkins, plates, etc.

The Registry

At this point, you might be wondering “what did they do about a registry?” Well, we didn’t have one.

While we love the sentiment of obligatory gift giving, it just didn’t make a lot of sense for us. After all, we have no plans to buy a house any time soon.

Of course, I think the fact that we’re minimalists played a major role in the decision to not have a registry. In other words, we already own everything we need. Getting extra stuff would just be a burden at this point. In fact, we’re in the process of downsizing as we get ready to move once again, so it didn’t make sense for us to load up on stuff again.

Instead, if people really wanted to get us something, we asked for money. That way we could chip away at our student loans or pay bills. Ugh, I guess we really are adults.

The Name Change

Rather than forcing Morgan to take my last name after the wedding, we decided to create a new last name by merging Griffith and Popowski. Unfortunately, the process was a lot easier said than done.

At any rate, Morgan and I have gotten a lot of questions about the name change. Since mentioning it in the proposal article, I think just about everyone has shared their opinion on it with me. The following are just a handful of typical reactions:

  • “That’s weird/interesting/stupid.”
  • “Was it her idea?”
  • “Couldn’t you just hyphenate?”
  • “You can do that?!”

While dealing with the reactions is fun and all, we also had to go through the insane name change legal process. In a future article, I plan to tackle all these subjects and more, so look out for that.

The Honeymoon

Another topic we get asked about a lot is the honeymoon. Much like the registry, we didn’t have one.

To be honest, this is probably my fault. Just a couple weeks after the wedding, I quit my job with nothing lined up until August. Of course, I was never expecting my previous employer to rob me of $5,000 after I left, but that’s a story for another time.

At any rate, we’ve decided to hold off on the honeymoon until we’re more comfortable with our finances. Then, I think we’re going to take a trip to Europe. I want to take Morgan to all the places I’ve been and explore some new places.

For now though, we’re going to go camping at our favorite park. Maybe we’ll plan something bigger for our one year anniversary.

The Overall Cost

With any wedding, there’s an associated transactional cost. In other words, the amount of money required to host the event. For us, the breakdown looks like the following:

ItemTraditional Estimate ($)Actual Cost ($)
$16,035.00$6,250.83
Hair & Nails$1,050.00$59.00
Plane Tickets$450.00$417.20
Hotel$200.00$257.54
Photography$3,800.00$1,284.00
Marriage License$80.00$145.93
DJ$1,000.00$0.00
Wedding Party Gifts$240.00$0.00
Officiant$500.00$225.00
Dress$250.00$375.00
Videographer$2,500.00$1,100.00
Flowers$1,000.00$75.00
Rings$1,100.00$979.50
Accessories$50.00$182.66
Tuxedo$250.00$250.00
Venue$565.00$0.00
Catering$3,000.00$900.00

With this data, you can get an idea where our priorities were. We cared much more about preserving the lasting memories than having a major blowout. That’s why a large majority of our money went to things that would persist beyond the actual day: rings, photos, videos, etc.

Oh, by the way, Morgan and I paid for everything out of our own pockets. That way, we could call all the shots and not feel like we owed anyone anything. If you can pull that off, do it!

The Takeaway

By no means am I telling anyone how to have a wedding. In fact, I would argue you shouldn’t have a wedding at all. Instead, elope! In a world where the average student debt is approaching six figures, it doesn’t make sense to toss away more money for a single ceremony. Don’t believe me? Here’s one for the road:

If you don’t care much for comedy, here’s another hard hitter with plenty of statistics:

Of course, it’s your choice, and I’m just offering a few ideas for those who are looking to make their wedding about their relationship. I find those types of weddings quite rare these days.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to support my work! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it. Also, if there is anything you think I missed in this article, let me know in the comments.

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