Couple: Black Bridal Bliss founder Bridgette & George
Venues: (ceremony) The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, Upper Manhattan, NY; (reception) Londel’s Restaurant, Harlem, NY
Photography: John Clark/Rising Virgo Studio
I technically had two weddings. No, I didn’t deplete my 401K for this. In fact, both ceremonies combined cost less than the national average for weddings. Full disclosure: My husband and I were extremely fortunate to receive many perks during planning as a result of my work in the bridal space. And we had a lot of financial help from family. But still, we were tempted to go over our set budget several times. We got plenty of practice flexing those sacrifice and compromise muscles during our planning process and good thing we did because those muscles are needed quite a bit during marriage.
The reason I have no regrets – even when I have to make a dollar stretch more than I’m used to as a new wife? Keep reading…
We had a very small (less than 10 people) ceremony at Fort Tyron Park in NYC followed by a quaint dinner at our favorite Harlem restaurant with close friends and family ahead of “The Royall Union” in Charlotte, NC. It was my mother’s idea because we couldn’t invite everyone we wanted to our Charlotte nuptials due to limited space at the venue. Some thought it was excessive and questioned the need for both. My very frugal mom made it happen and the hubby and I are so thankful she suggested it. The family friend who introduced my parents to each other was there. One of my father’s oldest and dearest friends was also present and told stories about how my father used to dance to salsa music – something I had shared with my husband before but it felt so good for him to hear it from her. My first grade teacher was there. Two of my husband’s friends drove up from Washington, D.C. even though they were in the Charlotte wedding simply because they wanted to be present the very first time my husband said his vows. My appreciation of them grew tenfold that day. The man who my husband considers a father figure performed the ceremony (he officiated our Charlotte ceremony too). We served our guests Costco cake (a selfless gift from my surrogate aunt), my earrings were 19 years old and my “bouquet” was a bunch of baby’s breath I purchased at Penn Station. I had my makeup done at the MAC counter of Macy’s on 34th Street. My shoes were about a decade old. We laughed. We cried. We didn’t get to dance but we definitely made up for that the next month in Charlotte. To me, we had the best of both worlds.
Thinking this isn’t a realistic option for most? Well, remember I also had to postpone my honeymoon which will probably end up being a monumental anniversary trip at this point. I’m no one’s trust fund kid and neither is my husband. There’s too much focus on money as it relates to weddings and not enough focus on the marriage. My husband and I were blessed to have people who genuinely love us and are rooting for us during not one joyous occasion but two! We take our vows seriously and wanted to celebrate this new journey with those we love. People who knew both of our parents before we were even thought of, people who remember some of our life’s milestones better than we do, people who have been our biggest champions in life – they were there; whether in NY or Charlotte. To me, that’s priceless.
Regardless of what your budget is and however you and your spouse-to-be wed, I strongly suggest keeping your marriage at the forefront when wedding planning. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it all becomes when you do this. Not easy – but easier. And I cannot stress this enough: Incorporate the things and people you and your boo cherish into the nuptials because if your experience is anything like mine, those are the things that you’ll remember most after saying “I Do”.
Photographer: John Clark/Rising Virgo Studio | Dress: Parker | Earrings: vintage | Jeweled Comb & Bracelet: Halo & Co. courtesy of The White Gown, Brooklyn, NY | Hair: Viki at Styles Salon, NYC | Makeup: MAC counter at Macy’s in Herald Square, NYC | Nails: Lisa Logan at The Nail Suite, NYC | Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank
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