Let’s start off with the question, who doesn’t love a great wedding?! I’m fairly certain we can all agree that they’re one of the best celebrations. We eat, drink, dance, have a great time, all because 2 people we know and love decided they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. But the truth is, this very special day that is supposed to be about the two people joining their lives together has turned into a full out broadway production of “who did it better.”
We’ve gotten away from this oh- so- special day for the bride and groom and turned to making it an over-the-top production for the guests… to make sure they leave fully satisfied. On average, weddings cost somewhere between $34,000 and $38,000. HOLY FREAKING HOUSE DOWNPAYMENT!
Kick it back to 2015…
John and I get engaged. I knew it was going to be coming soon because my dad was a jeweler, and he was far from slick when it came to trying to find out information on what was happening.
“Kate, did John ever give you that thing I made for y’all yet?”
“Umh, what thing dad?”
“I don’t remember exactly, don’t worry about it!”
I made one request: please make sure my nails were done when he did propose. Which he waited until I had WATERMELON NAILS! Y’all I’m not kidding! Typical event for my life! Regardless of the watermelons, I was ecstatic, I couldn’t wait to start the planning. We sat down and came up with our budget which was far less than the average but we could make it work. I toured venues, spoke with caterers, bakeries, entertainment, and even bought my dress (that is absolutely amazing and still hangs in my closet). As the numbers started to add up, we quickly realized we were on a beer budget but we had some high-class champagne taste for sure.
Planning and cutting down the guest list became extremely overwhelming. Trying to cut costs where we could would upset one of us because of course the cost one of us could live without the other was heart set on having. Wedding planning had made us not even want to get married at that point. It quickly became a job and a chore and neither of us wanted to even talk about it.
The day I picked up my dress from the bridal store in August was the day we decided to not have the big wedding we had been planning. We decided we were going to do it our way. It was a day about US… not everyone else.
Every year in September we go on a trip to visit John’s family in Illinois. There is a huge fair that brings people from all over the region to the small city of Sandwich. Normally we have a large group of friends that go up with us, but this year it just so happened to be only the 2 of us. PERFECT! Everyone would think we were visiting family just like every other year and no questions would be asked.
In a time period of 3 weeks, flights were switched, plans were made, reservations set, marriage licenses application was submitted, and ONE person knew our plan. On the 8th of September, we flew out of New Orleans and into The Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada! I know what you’re thinking… typical, Vegas eloping…. that my friend is where you’re wrong! I would have never been pleased if we would have done the little white chapel drive-through style eloping. I know myself, and I love a great “wow” or “wtf” factor if you will.
There is a little company called “Skydive Las Vegas” located in Boulder City, right near the Hoover Dam, that just so happens to have “Weddings” listed on their list of available packages.
Now let me explain, Anxiety Annie… Party of 1 here, takes sedatives to fly. Why wouldn’t I pick something like being thrown out of a plane as a way to get married?! This was FARRRRR from a thought out plan. However, before I could even think about it we had already picked our date, booked our jump, signed agreements, and put down a deposit. This was it. This was OUR day, happening OUR way.
We had one person who knew what we were planning, my mom. She had to know for the single reason that she was keeping my daughter while we were defying death in the desert.
On the morning of our wedding, we were picked up by a limo service and brought to Skydive Las Vegas. We were greeted with high fives and “Hell Yea!! Let’s get married!” by John and Kyle, our tandem instructors, as soon as we walked in the door. (Keep in mind, these guys make anywhere between 5 and 10 jumps PER DAY.) They weigh us in and sit us down with our waivers.
“Please initial each item and sign and date at the bottom…
#1 You may die. ______”
Nothing says “Happy Wedding Day!” like that realization. COOL!! not even going to think about it! I quickly go through all of them and initial all the way down, sign and date, hand it in like it’s my final exam on life, no turning back now.
After watching the instructional video, we were brought into rooms where we get our fancy wedding attire. JUMPSUITS! Nope, not a cute white lace romper style jumpsuit. I’m talking full out mechanic style. Looking super hot for my groom, we met back up on the runway… ahhhh that first look… seeing his bride walking down the aisle. I’m sure my David Tuttera gown that hangs in the closet would have brought a tear to his eye but hey, we were going with it.
We load the plane with our tandem bro’s, high five again, and get ready for the biggest moment of our lives. After a 20 or so minute flight up to 15,000 feet, the plane door opens and there I go out the plane strapped to John, my instructor, not my soon to be husband. The next 45 seconds of free falling at 120+ mph and waiting on our parachute to open, lasted about an hour in my mind. The only way that I can explain this 45-second free fall is the most intense eerie calm you could ever experience.
Once the parachute opened, instant relief overcame me. I saw John and Kyle’s chute open and all was great again in my mind. For the next 7 minutes, we rode the wind-down, seeing some of the most amazing views I have ever seen. Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, Colorado River, Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire and so many others were my view as I “walked down the aisle” to marry my man. As we both landed we hugged and I cried from being in complete shock.
The pastor met us at the landing zone and there we were, ready to be married. We said our vows with our tandem guys as our witnesses after the most insane and amazing experience. We literally took a HUGE jump before the jump into our new life we were starting.
We spent the next few days in Vegas enjoying our honeymoon. A few days later we returned home. We had a video of the whole jump and wedding that we brought to each of our close friends and family’s houses to show them what we did. Many were happy for us and a few were upset they weren’t there to share the day with us, but in the end, the whole point of us doing what we did was to make ourselves happy.
Neither of us regrets for one second our wedding day. We don’t have the perfectly posed pictures or the bridesmaids and groomsmen on each of our sides. I didn’t wear a perfectly tailored dress or carry a perfect bouquet of flowers. But on that day in September, in the middle of the desert, in our jumpsuits and parachutes, that day was completely and totally for us.
I love that you did your wedding just for the two of you. I’ve been happily married to my JUNIOR high sweetheart for 30 years now (and we dated for 10 years before!!!). We had the big friends and family shindig – including relatives we hardly even knew. How I wish I had gone your route!!! Guess I’m older and wiser now but I see that providing a party for all those people wasn’t all that important. The actual wedding between us was the real thing. Hope I can convince my son and daughter (currently in their 20’s) to do the same. Best wishes to you and your hubby on a long and happy married life.