Emma Lennon had a 'drive-through wedding', where all aspects of the wedding were organised via one company in a single, easy step.
My fiancé and I had always earmarked 2020 as the year we would tie the knot, blissfully unaware of what that year would have in store for us and the world.
Wedding planning had barely begun before we had to press pause and watch the pandemic sweep the globe.
We quickly realised our plans would have to be postponed, and I noticed that my feelings of disappointment and concern were tinged with something else: a small but unmistakable sense of relief.
I’ve never enjoyed being the centre of attention at social events, and as an introvert I had been dreading certain aspects of planning a wedding.
Dress shopping, negotiating guest list numbers, determining a budget which would almost certainly be exceeded, and social politics loomed over me, clouding any feelings of excitement or joy.
Once I started researching and found an option for a drive-through wedding, I realised it would be the perfect option for me and my husband-to-be.
Lockdown love: Getting married during a pandemic
Elopement and ‘micro weddings’ existed long before the pandemic, popular among couples wanting to save money, reduce the environmental impacts of their wedding, or who simply wanted the commitment without the commotion.
One day, we impulsively reached out to I Do Drive Thru, a service that offers short and sweet wedding packages in one, easy step from just a few hundred dollars.
Their packages are customised to each couple, with the whole process made incredibly easy by having the one point of contact.
We simply filled out an enquiry form, told them a little about us and what we had in mind for the day, and within 24 hours we had a response with a range of options to choose from.
The ceremonies are all less than ten minutes long, and can take place in a park or garden, at the beach, at your home, or even in your car for a literal drive through wedding.
We opted for a public park, and the company helpfully provided us with a list of potential locations that didn’t require event permits.
They provided the celebrant who facilitated the paperwork and legalities, as well as options for transportation, photographers, and a livestreaming service for guests unable to attend in person.
Within a few days, we had filed our paperwork and invited our immediate family to witness our marriage at the Carlton Gardens in Melbourne.
This approach offered a range of benefits for low fuss people like me; the celebrant, photographer and transport were sourced and coordinated by a single point of contact, the cap on guests relieved some guest list decision-making pressure, and our celebrant guided us through each step of the process.
The financial savings were also attractive, as even with purchasing outfits and hosting a lavish dinner for our guests, we got married for a few thousand dollars in total, compared to the average $36,000 that Australian couples spend on their wedding.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting a big and extravagant wedding, but to me these savings represented future holidays, investing in my home and my career, and starting our marriage from a place of financial freedom rather than debt and anxiety.
Is a micro wedding right for you?
While I personally loved the experience of my drive-through wedding, it may not be the right choice for everyone, especially those who always dreamed of a big celebration or have strong cultural or family traditions regarding marriage.
However, as many of us emerge from the pandemic with a renewed connection to our values and understanding of what really matters, it’s worth asking yourself if the stress, time, energy, and financial investment into this one day is worth it.
Take your time making the decision, confide in trusted loved ones who have your best interests at heart, and try to ignore any external pressures from your parents, future in-laws, or friends.
Even if you spent years, and your life savings, planning and trying to keep everyone happy, you will never please everyone, so you may as well focus on what will make you and your partner happiest and most comfortable.
We debated how to disclose our decision to have a micro wedding with our loved ones, particularly my fiancé’s parents who love a big celebration.
How you approach these discussions will depend on your circumstances and relationship with your inner circle, as well as any restrictions in place where you live at the time of your wedding.
We decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, and not tell anyone until everything was booked and there was no going back.
Our families were surprised, but happy and excited to be included in such an exclusive event.
We confided in a few close friends about our plans, but for the most part we kept it a happy secret and relished the process of planning all the details unhindered by the opinions of others.
After it was all said and done, everyone reached out to say what a beautiful, intimate, and special day it was.
Those that weren’t there were understanding, and in some cases envious that they hadn’t taken a similarly low-key approach to their own weddings.
Micro wedding tip: Keep what brings joy, discard what doesn’t
Our shoestring budget and tiny guest list didn’t keep me from including any traditions or elements of the wedding that were important to me.
I asked myself critical questions about what I felt mattered, like writing my own vows, and what didn’t, like an expensive gown or an elaborate floral arrangement.
Marriage, tradition, religion, and finances are deeply personal topics that often come up when planning a wedding.
Avoid unnecessary strain on your relationship by discussing them openly and respectfully, prepare yourself to make the odd compromise, but avoid basing your decisions on the happiness of others to the point that you are dreading your big day.
Looking back, the things I remember most fondly didn’t cost a thing: seeing my mum cry happy tears, my partner and I giggling nervously together in the Uber ride to our ceremony, and hearing my now-husband shakily read the vows he had written.
Regardless of how you choose to mark the occasion, your wedding is about you and your partner, so don’t allow fear of judgement stop you from having a wedding that is exciting, fun, and authentic to you.
Have you had a micro or drive-through wedding? Or did you celebrate your wedding in an unconventional way? Share your story in the comments section below.