Here’s one way to lower your wedding costs: go on a road trip instead. Jaime Case and Chris Hodges, a 30-something couple from San Francisco, dreamed of a destination wedding in Mexico but they couldn’t stomach asking their guests to spend $3,ooo apiece to celebrate with them. Instead, they are bringing the wedding to their guests. I spoke to Jaime on week three of the six-week pre-marital road trip adventure.
Why are you having a road trip wedding?
It started off as a trip to go visit everyone so they can save money by not coming to the wedding. And it’s become more of an odyssey of learning about marriage. It’s like premarital counseling but more intensive and all encompassing. The idea is to save more money for other people. On the whole we are still spending less than the average wedding, which is about $30,000. That doesn’t include the rehearsal dinner, the dress, and the honeymoon.
How much did the recession play a role in your decision to have a road trip wedding?
If we got married in 2008, we would have done what our friends did: a week-long destination wedding. We absolutely would have done that. But in my heart I could not stomach asking people to pay to go to Mexico.
How much is your road trip wedding costing?
Everything we’re doing…will be less than the average cost of a wedding, about $27,000 dollars. The road trip is only costing us about $2,000. The gas itself is $1,100-1,200, plus a few nights at hotels. We’re not adding food because we would eat anyway and a lot of people are buying us dinner! We are staying with family and friends and eating cheaply. Ford donated a Fusion and is covering car insurance. We pay for the gas.
A traditional wedding would have cost us about $27,000. The trip is saving us $25,000, some of which we are using to throw a dinner at a restaurant for family and close friends when we return. That’ll cost about $12,000. But our guests are also saving a lot of money, which is more of our point.
How much are you saving your guests?
It would cost our 200 friends in other states about $20,000 to come visit us. Plus, we get to spend a lot more time with them than we normally would at a standard wedding.
Are you having a ceremony?
We are having a ceremony and small dinner in Ventura, Calif. It’s going to be about as non-traditional as you can get. No flowers, no wedding party, no wedding cake. Just dinner at a restaurant. You can call it a wedding or whatever you want, but that’s more for my parents. We didn’t mind spending money on serving people dinner. But we wanted to spend money on spending time with people.
Did you get a dress?
I got a sample dress at Saks bridal, which was closing. I’m probably going to sell it afterward. My Mom bought it. If you have any debt at all, there’s no need to spend $2,000 on a dress. But I wouldn’t position us as the cheapest wedding around.
Where have you gone so far?
We have been to 19 states, including CA, OR, WA, ID, CO, WY, UT, NM, LA, MI, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, TN, KY, W.VA, IN, OH, PA, MD and D.C.
Has anything unexpected happened?
Some of the people we spent time with we’re going to become even better friends with, like a guy who I was on the swim team with in junior high school. We would not have invited him to the wedding, but he heard about our road trip on Facebook and invited us to stay in their guest house in Salt Lake City. We stayed with them and had an amazing time. I feel we’ll actually go back and go skiing sometime. If they had come to the wedding I would have shook their hands and that would be it.
They say planning a wedding is the first test of a marriage. How is going being on the road together?
We’ve only been doing this for 20 days, and we have thought about breaking up. Imagine talking about your marriage and what it’s going to be for 45 days straight. Fundamentally I know Chris is a good person. He is a gem amongst men in that he can talk about anything. I don’t have to deal with, what are you thinking? I don’t have to wonder. I know because I can ask. That makes him very attractive.
I’m more driven. Chris likes to enjoy life a little more. It’s my personality to wake up and have a to do list. During an interview, there was a question about Chris not being as passionate as me. It hit me at the wrong time and I shared more info than I should have. Later, Chris brought it up. He said, This seems like an issue. This keeps coming up. We need to solve this, he said. When we talked it through we just have different way of looking at it. We both want the same things but we have a different approach.
For more check out the Wedding Road Trip blog. Thanks, Monica!