The Offbeat Bride: Jessica, Photographer

Her offbeat partner: Matthew, Musician & Photographer

Location & date of wedding: Mashamoquet State Park, Pomfret CT. 10/7/2006

What made our wedding offbeat: We decided to get married after having seen each other in person only five times (over a year and a half) and burning through countless verizon cell-to-cell minutes. We had only two months to plan the wedding, and I (the bride) was living in California while the groom and the wedding was in Connecticut. I arrived in Connecticut four days before the wedding and thankfully had family and friends who handled all the preparations while Matthew and I generally freaked out.

…And yes, it was an $1000 wedding. In fact, we spent a little under $1000. Here's how we did it.

My dress was handmade and came in at about $100. I had planned on putting a bouquet together at the last minute, but forgot about it until I was half way down the aisle. We had candles in mason jars, a meat and cheese spread, cupcakes (instead of a cake), and Starbucks coffee that the guests enjoyed before the ceremony since I was an hour and a half late.


My father and one of Matthew's oldest friends traded off officiating the wedding. Matthew's father (with advanced Alzheimers) was his best man, my childhood best friend was my maid of honor, and we had a flower girl who never made it down the aisle. We passed on a lot of the traditional wedding “stuff” because it didn't fit into our personalities. In the end the most important thing for us was the commitment of marriage and to have a wedding that was in tune with our creative impulses.

Our biggest challenge: Besides the time constraints of planning a wedding in such a short amount of time, our biggest challenge came the day of the wedding:

Walking down the aisle

The night before the wedding I stayed at a “charming” new england B&B a half mile from the site, and had planned on getting ready there as well. When my friend/hair stylist/makeup artist showed up with my sister and wedding dress, the innkeeper freaked out on us about opening the curtains in the room and ranted and raved about only two people being allowed in the room at a time. With all the stress and confusion of wedding preparation I had an uncharacteristic emotional melt-down and had to be relocated to hotel 10 miles down the road. By the time I made it to my wedding, an hour and half late, I had an inch of makeup coating my face to hide the effects of a morning of crying. (…I'm so embarrassed right now).


My rings

The general consensus is that the innkeeper held, um, prejudices toward my sister with blue hair and my stylist with tattoos, large plugs, and a pierced septum, which didn't fit into her quaint, country image.

As hard as it was that day, it in no way affected my life beyond that afternoon. It quickly became a “war story” to be passed around and laughed at.

My favorite moment: During the ceremony my dad shared how if some guy he didn't know called him up from across the country and asked to have his guitar, he'd say no way, but when a guy called and asked if he could have his daughter he had no hesitation. Beyond that the whole day is a big blur that I only remember through photos.


My offbeat advice: As a wedding photographer I have seen brides freak out about what feels at the time to be insurmountable obstacles, but I can say from experience that in the end nothing else matters and you WILL laugh about it later.

Too many people get caught up in the “stuff” of a wedding and forget that it's about the relationship and commitment. Having spent under $1000, we're just as married as a couple that spent $30,000.


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Comments on Jessica and Matthew’s laid-back under-$1000 wedding

  1. this is inspiring! here i am freaking out over a much larger budget with about a year to go. if you can do it on a tiny budget in a little while, i am sure i can do it! and i think i can even do it with less stress and less money! thanks!

  2. Gorgeous! Your wedding is inspiring and memorable. “Having spent under $1000, we’re just as married as a couple that spent $30,000,” is such a true statement that few seem to understand.

  3. I needed to read this today. Congrats on your marriage :-).
    We’re a month away from our own wedding date and I’m starting to feel the pressure to have everything sorted out. It’s immense and seemingly immediate. Thanks for putting it all in perspective – it’s one day, hopefully of many.

  4. This is so inspiring. Considering my FH & I want a laid-back, really inexpensive wedding, this helps a lot.

  5. I’m so intrigued by your story and inspired by your ceremony decisions. And your dress is divine, your friend’s mom is very talented!

  6. Jessica, you are my hero. I’m hoping that in the end, I’m able to keep my wedding under $2000. (Thanks to a lot of DIY) It’s encouraging to know this can be done and still look beautiful. AND, for your philosophy on the day, you took the words right out of my mouth. That’s exactly what we are trying to emphasize on our big day.

  7. “…and ranted and raved about only two people being allowed in the room at a time.”

    Am I the only one hung up about this? WHAAAAAA? That “innkeeper” sounds completely insane. I can’t imagine how stressful that must have been.

    • Yeah, I’m with you there. I’m impressed that the writer was willing to relocate, because only 2 in a room at a time is absolutely ridiculous and I’m willing to bet that the innkeeper hadn’t warned them about it beforehand…

      Even if it wasn’t for my wedding, I can’t imagine that I would have left. Props to the bride for maturity.

  8. No Liz, it’s not just you. I felt a strong urge to head across the country and give that innkeeper a bit of verbal…um…”perspective.” But instead I decided to just marvel at the coolness of that tree branch aisle!

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