So yeah, the "wedding" is no longer. Still getting married though, fo sho. I'm pretty sure that part matters more. What we're envisioning now is, basically, exactly what I've been saying I didn't want to do. We'll have a very simple ceremony, probably in the park somewheres (for which you don't need a permit unless it's more than 20 people, which it won't be), and then we'll go to dinner. But - and this is the clincher - we've tacked an extra bit onto the end. The day after the ceremony, we'll leave for a week's vacation. You could call it a honeymoon I suppose, but we're not really thinking of it like that. We'll go somewhere from Sunday to Friday, and that somewhere will likely be Boston. We'll stay in a nice hotel or a bed-and-breakfast, and we'll eat wherever we want to, and we'll shop. We'll spend way more money than we usually would on such a trip. And in the end, we'll still end up spending maybe a fifth to a quarter of what we were going to spend on the original wedding.
Outside of saving a significant amount of money, there are other benefits as well. It shifts the focus away from throwing a big party that's really for other people, and moves it more toward the event of our union. It also removes an immense amount of work and stress from me / us. Starting a marriage by doing something hugely expensive and taxing - where is the wisdom in that? If it wasn't so hard for us to do - for instance, if there was a lovely catering hall that we could walk into, choose a few options for a vegan buffet, pick out two kinds of flowers, and hand over $5k for the whole shebang, well sure. We'd wedding the night away, we'd wedding out little hearts out... maybe. But it just isn't like that. Not only would a catering hall kind of wedding cost way more than that anyway, but it would also just feel like it was for someone else - cookie cutter we ain't. I just can't see it working.
So it really isn't only about the money. Of course it's a huge factor, but if it was the only issue we would figure something out. The fact is that we've both had reservations from the start about the whole thing. There are problems on every level, from timing to social and family relations stuff to having to defend our decisions about what "traditions" to ignore to the hardly anticipated food difficulties to finding appropriate attire for ourselves and the wedding party... It just shouldn't be so hard. It became a question of, what are we fighting for? (Answer: something we don't really want to deal with.) What our we fighting against? (Ourselves, our financial status, and our current living situation.) In the end, I think this is much more realistic, and will be less stressful and as such more enjoyable. Party or not, we will still be married as of March 20th, 2010 - emerging from this little cocoon of engagement as fully formed husband and wife. And without the stress of trying to plan a wedding to get it done, we're pretty psyched about it.
I think the wedding that I was putting together would have been beautiful, and honestly I think I would make a pretty good wedding planner. With the details being less personal, I could be less obsessive - plus I'd be working with other people's money, which is always a plus. I've thought of putting myself out into the world as a strictly vegan wedding planner - as far as I can tell there aren't any, even in New York. I thought my own wedding would be good practice. Ah well, at least in the planning that I did do, I learned a lot. I know, for instance, what venues will allow you to bring in your own caters, and which ones have on site kitchens, and which caterers don't bother to return your emails when you mention "vegan" and "low guest count" in the same request. I know who will and won't attempt to make a vegan cake. At some point, hopefully soon, I'll compile this info into either one post or a collection of posts, for anyone who might want to do this crazy thing called a vegan wedding - and actually has the will and the funds to follow it through. (Well, in New York at least.)
I'll keep posting here as the details of our small ceremony and post-wedding trip come into focus. Who knows, plans may change again - but this is not just another waffle. I've jumped the fence, and I'm not going back. I don't want to work on a wedding. I want to work on a marriage. And now I have the time and energy to do it.