On our fourth dating anniversary, I asked my (now) wife to marry me. We were still in University and, as a result, were dirt poor.
For almost four years after, we tried to figure out the logistics for our wedding day. We viewed tons of venues and went to tons of shows. We tried to figure out the location and who to invite. One of the biggest problems was that both our parents were divorced and our families spread out.
Almost four years of on-and-off planning, and still we had nothing concrete, and still no real budget for it.
As most couples, we were forgetting what marriage really is about:
Celebrating our love for each other.
It is OUR wedding! We’re getting married because we love each other, not to please family or friends.
In March 2012, we were going to San Francisco for the first time. We decided that, while there, we should visit Las Vegas right after.
So in late January 2012, when we were starting to plan for that trip, we jokingly said to each other:
“Screw it! Let’s just go get married in Vegas!” — Danny & Audrey
We googled “Las Vegas wedding” and stumbled upon a company doing helicopter rides into the Grand Canyon and did wedding ceremonies there.
We booked it that same day. It cost us 4k, and included the helicopter ride, the photographer, the celebrant, the limo ride on the strip in Las Vegas, champagne, and a wedding cake.
We called a friend living in San Francisco at the time and asked him to be our best man. Since we didn’t know anyone else around there, his girlfriend at the time became our maid of honor. We met her 4 days before getting married.
We got our rings in San Francisco 5 days before the wedding, and rented our tux and gown from a rental shop in downtown Las Vegas 1 day before the big day.
To this day, I still don’t know how Audrey agreed to this craziness!
We left in the afternoon from the helipad near the Luxor in Las Vegas. It was our first time taking the helicopter. We are excited. We took off, and everything was so amazing. But there’s one thing I didn’t take into account — I get motion sickness.
So when we were above the Hoover Dam, well, I missed it. I vomited in the vomit bag. Thankful they prepared for that! My friend filmed the whole scene. Glamorous!
So the first kiss my wife got as a married couple was likely not what she expected… Somehow, she must have predicted that though, since she carried mints with her! Phew!
30 minutes later, we landed on a platform on the Grand Canyon where only helicopters can go.
The landscape was breath-taking, and everything looked so perfect. Nothing could have gone wrong.
Yet our video proves us the exact opposite. It turns out, we probably couldn’t have gotten a worse video, and that’s what made it great.
Our best man filmed the ceremony. He was filming with my phone.
Remember how I was mentioning that only helicopters can land where we were? Well, there were a few of them. 30% of the time, all you can hear is the sound of helicopters around us.
And when you don’t hear that, you hear the sound of the rocks cracking below my friend’s feet as he’s moving around. And at some point, he just decided to switch the phone to portrait mode. You know the effect that has, right? The video was now rotated at 90 degrees. We basically have to tilt your head 90 degrees to follow along!
Then came time for me to repeat after the pastor. My English was certainly not as good as it is now. I stumbled fives times over the words “lawfully wedded wife”. I look so dumb on camera.
And when came time to say “I do”, the phone ran out of space. My friend had to switch to using a cheap phone his girlfriend got from China. So we missed the most important part, and the rest was filmed in terrible quality.
It turns out, that pieced-together video is the best souvenir we could have hoped for. It just shows the reality that wedding days are not perfect, and that’s okay. We had so much fun and that’s what matters.
We got back on the helicopter at sunset to get back to Las Vegas.
Guess what happened on the way back?
Yup, I vomited again…
What a day! Still, no regret doing that!
We toured the strip in the limo with champagne and took photos all around while collecting an endless stack of stripper cards.
The coolest part was collecting high-fives from everyone and feeling like we were touring across the world.
We went back to our most amazing suite at the Venetian, drank some more, and had dinner at Le Robuchon.
I had the balls to return my steak twice. The first time it was under-cooked, the second time, well, I eat too slow and it was cold, so they put it back on the pan — not my proudest moment…
There’s plenty of nightlife around in Las Vegas. We had heard 50 Cent was at one of the clubs, so we sneaked past security to avoid the $50 cover charge. It seemed like a fun party. I wish I could report that we hung out with 50 Cent, but he was probably in a VIP section and never saw him. We were bored and went back to our rooms, exhausted from our crazy past 5 days.
The lesson here is that there are less costly, less stressful, and more fun alternatives to traditional weddings.
I recognize not everyone can do what we did. And if I make it sound like it was an easy decision to do it without family and friends, let me assure you that it wasn’t. Our families organized parties for us that same summer to celebrate our union, so at least we were still surrounded by our loved ones after.
So I dare you to go out of the norm and do the wedding that’s right for you as a couple. We did it differently and couldn’t be happier for it.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading, and sharing! 🙂
Originally published at medium.com