Holy Moly. We eloped in a gravel parking lot on a Tuesday afternoon in January in Downtown Asheville. We had craft tacos immediately after the (tiny and to-the-point) ceremony. It was perfect.
Although this day was much better than we could’ve ever dreamt up in ours heads, there are a lot of questions and misunderstandings from loved ones and shameless internet spectators (love your souls) about eloping that I would like to clear up.
So, for the record, I am a twenty-something small town Kentuckian, blessed with a crazy set of fools I call family (for real though, they’re the best). I have unimaginably lovely mentors and friends, and friendly acquaintances all across the land to boot (and by land I mean world).
Where I come from, it is much more traditional, understood, and accepted to have a full wedding. The kind that involves months (sometimes even years) of planning, thousands upon thousands of dollars, bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, wedding rehearsals, ceremonies, and receptions, in which hundreds of people are likely to attend. I know the sentiment of this tradition and can appreciate it from afar, but I didn’t want any part of it. I never have.
(*Fun fact: Austin asked me after a few weeks of dating what kind of wedding I wanted. I told him I didn’t want one. I’m pretty sure this was the nail in our love coffin.)
Now, I have loads of experience with the big fat wedding industry (and it is just that—an industry). From being in over ten weddings in my life (still don’t understand how that many people like me that much…family included), to working umpteen weddings through catering and an incredible wedding venue in college, I can say with conviction from the bottom of my heart that I think weddings are excessive and unnecessary (but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy living it up at other peoples’).
Before I get all up on my soapbox about it, allow me to provide you with 15 confessions of a non traditional bride.
1. It was a selfish act, and I am beyond proud we did it.
It is common for people to tell you to do what you want, spend extra money on the fancy things, and revel in every moment because it’s your day. In all reality, it’s not your day. It’s your family’s day. It’s a party for your friends and that distant cousin you really never liked. It provides others the opportunity to tell you how much they love you, their way.
Eloping allowed us to make it 100% our day.
I did question whether or not this was the right decision for us. Austin, bless his sweet soul, reminded me that the decisions we make now are setting an example for our potential future minis, and anyone else that may have the same thoughts and feelings we do. We can now give people advice and know that we lived true to our word.
2. I am confident, happy, and proud that I kept my last name…and so is my husband.
Around the same time I told Austin I didn’t want a wedding, I also told him that I would never change my last name and why. He just grinned genuinely and said he thought that was a great idea. (*Insert second nail in love coffin.)
I deliver three main reasons to people that ask why I wouldn’t change my name. They are the following:
A) I am the last Mitchell of my grandfather’s branch. I have no cousins on this side, so I’m the only one left to carry on our family name.
B) I like my name. I don’t want to change it. I like Austin’s last name. I don’t want him to change his either.
C) And last but certainly not least, I do not agree with the original reasoning behind a woman changing her last name. In American and English history, when women wed they forfeited their legal existence under marital unity. They no longer had rights to their personal or physical property without their husband’s consent. Women were no longer identified as their own individual, but as the “wife of” said husband. Though the law has changed, the tradition has not. Well, not for everyone, at least.
Please note that I am not trying to push an agenda on anyone. I do not care what you, your girlfriend, your sister or baby girl decides to do with their name. That’s their business. Albeit they do deserve to know where it came from and then make the decision for themselves.
Oh, I’ve also gotten the question, “Well, don’t you want to have the same last name as your children?”
My response: My mother and I didn’t share last names, but she is still my mother, and I’m her daughter. If we choose to have children (for the love of all that is good, stop assuming that everyone will!), I’ll be okay if we give them his name.
3. Whoever thinks I traded in my Ms. Independent & Fierce Lady cards for marriage can kiss my sweet ass.
I can’t believe how many times I’ve been told, “I just didn’t think you’d ever get married.” I’m doing my best to refrain from getting too sassy with this one.
I [kind of] get it. I have been fiercely independent and driven for most of my life. And, no, I couldn’t see myself “settling down” or getting “wifed up” either.
But here’s the thing, guys: We don’t have a traditional relationship, we didn’t have a traditional wedding, and we won’t have a traditional marriage. However, we decided to get married because we believe in the sanctity of marriage.
We aren’t settling. Neither one of us made some great sacrifice to be with the other. We have an intense love. We support one another, we cherish one another, and we bring out the best in each other. We have the same life goals and values. And if you’ve ever been around us, you know we are like a couple of magnets. We can’t help but stick together.
I am still financially independent. I am still driven in my line of work and dreams. I still have friends and live the way I want, it’s just that now that includes someone else who shares these values and pushes me forward. He’s my favorite human. The one that I can’t deny wanting to experience all of the things with.
No, I wouldn’t be married if it meant changing who I am, but he didn’t change me; he helped me blossom into something far greater than I was.
4. Our day was STRESS-FREE, fun, and we remember every moment of it (she says as she moonwalks and head bops).
Okay, how many couples can say that their wedding was stress-free? Anyone? Show of hands? No? Thought so.
Our families knew what we were doing, but they didn’t get the opportunity to give an input. #Sorrynotsorry
We didn’t have to worry about pleasing dozens of people or avoiding the family and/or friend drama. We weren’t flooded with congratulatory messages, taking away our attention from each other or the day. We just did the day.
We woke up without an alarm, met up with our photographers for brunch, applied for our marriage license, and went to Whole Foods to get my $10 baby bouquet (best thing ever, ’cause flowers die…quickly). Then we went back to our adorable tiny house in the woods to get ready, did the first look, ran around downtown all willy nilly to take fun photos, and met up with the officiant to do the ceremony.
We discovered a worn wall on the side of a building that looked like it could be a cool backdrop, got right to the words that brought all the feels, and we were married. IT WAS SO FUN!
After we said our vows, we were all quite hungry and Bethany asked if we would mind taking photos in front of a taco shop (as pictured above), and we quickly decided that Taco Tuesday was comin’ in clutch.
5. Our wedding didn’t put us (or our parents) in debt. HIGH FIVE.
The average US wedding costs $30,000. Ouch. People spend nearly $700 on attending weddings, and nearly $900 for millennials specifically. Just, no. We are about to move across the world and moving toward a minimalist lifestyle. We just aren’t about any of that.
Thanks, but no thanks.
6. I picked out (and rocked) my simple dress…AND I’M STOKED I CAN ACTUALLY WEAR IT AGAIN!
Okay, wedding dresses are HELLA expensive and kind of a one-shot-Johny. You don’t just wear your big, fluffy, attention-drawing dress to summer parties. (Or maybe you do? Do you, booboo, do you.)
My dress was simple, my favorite cut, and it is perfectly appropriate for future events. I do promise to never wear it to someone else’s wedding, because I still think that is RUDE and TACKY.
7. The amount of sanity I retained throughout this process is cherished like a precious gem.
Again, our day was stress-free, fun, and we would totally do it all over again. I have seen the stress weddings put on couples, their families, and their friendships. I have heard too many people say they are just ready for it to be over.
I’ll just be mindlessly gazing and nodding my head at the next person that mutters those words to me, knowing that I didn’t grow any new grays or pimples over one single event.
8. I know I looked good, and it was all thanks to me (and my genetics…#shameless).
Now, I’m no hair stylist or makeup artist, but I did just fine getting myself ready for the day. I never wear much makeup, and I rarely do my hair, so why go over the top and be someone I’m not on my wedding day?
9. I still love all of my people, and they still love me. #TeamNoDrama
No, we didn’t include anyone else on this day, and while we all got a little sad about it at one point or another, it was for the best. We LOVED our day, and we obviously love our families, but we have seen firsthand the stress and silly drama that comes with mixing all of the crazies and we just didn’t want to do it.
We avoided conflict with each other and our families by doing this, and in turn, we all still love each other and don’t have any elephants to try to fit in any rooms.
10. I didn’t have anything blue, and I don’t think my marriage will fail because of it.
I had new things, old things, and borrowed things (dress, Grandmother’s ring, and my Lele’s earrings), but no blue. Again, it’s a precious tradition that many people take part in and get the cute photos for, but I don’t think I’m doomed for saying “screw it” to something blue.
Austin’s eyes are blue if you want to get technical.
11. We didn’t make enough plans for things to go wrong, so naturally, it was all right.
Our Taco Tuesday elopement was so easy. We didn’t have much planned except for brunch for four, applying for the marriage certificate, and getting hitched. The rest was for coffee, photos, and giggling. Oh, and love. SO much love.
12. I got to spend the ENTIRE day with my better half, and I still liked him at the end of it. Boo-yah.
I think this one speaks for itself.
13. I was comfortable the whole damn day. Yes, I’m bragging about it.
As mentioned in #6, I absolutely loved my dress. It is so comfy and I felt beautiful in it. How often can one say that genuinely?
My head/scalp didn’t hurt from tightly pulled hair and bazillions of bobby pins, my dress didn’t squeeze any part of me, and my shoes (booties) were super easy to walk in all day.
Wearing anything uncomfortable on one of the longest days of your life is stupid. Seriously, why, though?
14. I know God doesn’t love me any less because I didn’t get married in a church.
Okay, so super sensitive subject in which I will likely elaborate on in the future, but there are reasons we didn’t get married in a church. We don’t share the same beliefs (to be honest, I’m trying to nail mine down). *I’m a very spiritual person, but I’ve never been religious.
And here’s the humdinger: I was hurt by the church. Not by God, but by the church. The people. It has been a great challenge for me to step back into the physical building called “church” for over two years. It doesn’t bring me peace or comfort, but quite the opposite.
My choices and life have been questioned/spectated because of this, and that’s fine. It’s no one’s business by mine. Your opinions about my relationship with God don’t affect my relationship with God.
15. After doing our wedding completely the way we wanted, I find it foolish for anyone to do anything but just that.
Every single post-wedding bride I’ve talked to, of all ages, have told me that if they could do it over again, they would have eloped. Every. Single. One. I can’t even fathom the funds or time collectively spent on something you wouldn’t want to relive.
Again, I’m not trying to push an agenda on anyone. I just thought I’d let you in on a few reasons why we did things the way we did; the way we wanted to.
If I could give anyone a piece of advice, it is to do what makes you happy. Do what lights your soul on fire!
Speaking of doing what lights your soul on fire…don’t marry someone who doesn’t absolutely turn your world upside down. ‘Cause, duh. My grandfather has always said that the most important decision you will ever make is choosing a mate.
I hope you make the right choices, little lions, in all you do!
The Humble Lion
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.