Nate and I got married this past July in Chicago.
After months of planning and more than a few stressful moments, it was a perfect day. We wrote our own vows and designed the ceremony with our officiant (a friend), so it felt unique and specific to us.
The wedding planning got tricky when we went to register for gifts. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to run through a big department store with that tagger gun beeping all the things that looked good.
But we were just 6 months away from embarking on our trip around the world, and we had already started the process of downsizing our possessions and getting rid of stuff.
By the time we left, we'd sold, gifted or donated everything we owned except for a few boxes of clothes, some nice kitchen knives and our dog, Lily. At times the process was difficult, but it was also very rewarding.
Knowing that we were purging all of our worldly possessions, we couldn't in good conscience register for new stuff. And we didn't want to do all of the downsizing just to get new wedding gifts and have to store them in my parents' basement for a year.
We also knew that upon our return, we'd be moving across the country, so the idea of hauling all of that new stuff from Chicago to Georgia (where my parents live) and then Georgia to Colorado (where we're planning to move) just felt like too much work.
So that left us with a few options.
Nate and I are experience people. We appreciate nice stuff, but we'd both rather have a memorable experience than get something that comes in a box.
When it came to registering for wedding gifts, we opted to use Honeyfund, an online platform that allows wedding guests to fund honeymoon experiences, house down payments, even charity giving instead of purchasing physical gifts.
I know people have conflicting feelings about asking for money instead of going the traditional registry route.
When the Chicago Sun-Times covered all of the crazy ways we saved for this trip, a negative commenter took to the Internet to tell us how tacky they thought it was that we requested cash in lieu of registered gifts.
In the end, it was the best decision for us.
Our wedding guests got to select from a number of amazing experiences all over the world. Friends and family gifted us cooking classes in France, a food tour in India and surf lessons in Peru (which we're using for a weeklong surf camp in a few weeks!). We've already used the Spanish lessons in Cuenca and booked another family member's gift of a trek to Machu Picchu.
Although it was just one of the many things we did to earn and save $75,000 to travel, every little bit helped, and we're here on this trip of a lifetime in part due to that choice.
In planning ours, I learned that people can get really opinionated about weddings. And things get heated fast.
It's so easy to get swept up into other people's expectations for what the experience should look and feel like. I remember myself losing sleep wondering exactly what kind of table runners represent us as a couple.
In the end, that stuff doesn't matter. Some people will have opinions about how you planned and whether you did it the "right way," but in the end, we planned a wedding that felt the most like us with the people who loved us regardless of the details.