Journal Relationships

I’m Happily Married And My Wedding Didn’t Cost Twenty Thousand Dollars

I’m Happily Married And My Wedding Didn’t Cost Twenty Thousand Dollars
Written by Traci Rhoades

 “How about we ditch this whole hometown wedding thing and get married in Greece?”

These were my now-husband’s very words to me about two months before our wedding. Although our engagement only lasted six months, he was already done with the planning and the waiting. Dangling a trip to Greece before me was a bit like offering a toddler a cookie – no way could I pass that up – and he knew it.

Except one thing; my husband wasn’t just marrying me. When we exchanged I do’s, two communities came together. From that day forward, our families joined as one. No matter how enticing Greece sounded, I couldn’t do it. Now, if he’d only offer me that trip again after 14 years of marriage…

So we went ahead with our plans and got married on the gravel road in rural Missouri where I’d spent my entire childhood. We wanted to have the ceremony at my dad’s pond – a picturesque setting surrounded by varying shades of green prairie grass, rolling hills and spring flowers in full bloom. Following that, we’d hold the reception under a big, white tent in the backyard. April showers convinced us a plan B was in order. The morning of our wedding, we made the decision to move our outdoor ceremony to the country church up the road from my family’s home place. The church never locked its doors, and our neighbors (the church caretakers), told us we could certainly use the church that morning. Fortunately, it stopped raining long enough in the afternoon for us to still hold our reception under the tent.


Some brides would have lost it over this last minute decision. I read about these weddings that cost upwards of $20,000 and the first thing I do is wonder what on earth people do for a living that they can afford to spend that much money on one event. Then, I realize that’s not the kind of wedding I wanted at all. I made my decision the day my husband asked me if I’d be willing to get married in Greece. I only wanted one type of wedding, a simple day surrounded by loved ones, and that’s exactly what we had.

Altogether, our wedding cost under a thousand dollars. For decoration, we placed Mason jars with silk lavender stalks (the ones that were to sit beside each row of white, wooden chairs outside) to the front steps of the church. My former Sunday School teacher offered to help us set up, and he was responsible for moving the collection of items that had accumulated in the choir loft to the church basement. Two of my cousins, my best friend, and my husband’s best friend provided the music. My aunts made my wedding dress. A local violinist played as I walked down the aisle. My husband’s cousin took our wedding pictures. My youth pastor officiated the ceremony. The redbud tree in my parents’ yard offered a scenic shot for pictures. Everyone’s shoes got ruined traipsing around in the mud all day. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law made the wedding cake. My friend’s dad, who owned a local restaurant in town, carved the whole hog. Our local Hy-Vee grocery store prepared the side dishes, and my mom’s co-workers served the food. Admittedly, I did get a little fancy, ordering chocolate-covered strawberries.

It was a far cry from Greece, but we were surrounded by some pretty important people. The ones who had invested in us our whole lives, invested in our wedding day as well. A friend of ours in attendance that day always tells me, of all the weddings where she’s been a guest, ours was her favorite because I wouldn’t let anything put a damper on our day (and there was plenty of dampness I assure you). It wasn’t about the money, and it wasn’t really about the location either. It was, as any special ceremony should be, about the people we love.

About the author

Traci Rhoades

My name is Traci. I live in southwest Michigan, somewhere in a triangular section connecting Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids with all things Lake Michigan. My husband and I parent one daughter. We have dogs, cats, ducks, pigs and chickens. Their number is always changing, as farm animal counts tend to do. I enjoy watching sports, reading, cooking and all things Bible study. I am a writer. When I first started blogging, I wondered about what unique voice I could bring. I’ve landed on this one line: A country girl goes to church.


  • I love this!!! My parents have always emphasized the emphasis of the marriage over the wedding, and it’s sweet to see how you talk about bringing two families together, and that a wedding just isn’t a party!

    • We’ve tried to always be intentional about making our marriage and ongoing relationship a priority. The longer I’m married, and now a mother, I can see how it can become very routine. I’m glad it resonated with you, Kristen.

  • This is awesome! My husband and I also went for a simple wedding. When people asked about my priorities for the day, I explained that they were 1) get married to Ben 2) no one gets hurt 3) people have fun. Going into the wedding prioritizing the union before God helped us stay calm with all the little details.

    Congratulations on your anniversary! I loved reading about the sweet details, especially with how many people helped.

  • I love all of the sentiment included in your wedding. This is wise advice coming from a newly wed!! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Oh, my, Traci! Your wedding story brought to mind sweet memories of my own which was 39 years ago. Our wedding was also inexpensive and very much homemade. My mother made my 70’s style ivory dress as well as all three of the bridesmaids. The reception was held in the church fellowship hall and included finger sandwiches, punch, and cake. I think something precious is gained when this special day is surrounded by loved ones who have invested in your life. I’ll never forget the contributions friends and family made to make our wedding a joyful celebration of God’s love over our marriage.

    • My mom made my bridesmaids dresses too (less than $20 for the four of them). I couldn’t include all the details 🙂 I’ve been to so many weddings like yours (ours) and they all hold special memories. So true, my friend.

  • I can relate and totally concur that nobody needs to spend a fortune on a wedding. I was also tickled that I already knew some of the details… 😉 have a great day!!