The Cost of Things: Eloping in England
by Fiona Zublin
I love weddings. Watching my friends get married — and sharing their open bars and barbecue buffets — is one of my favorite activities. I’ve been a bridesmaid, an officiant, and once I had to get up in front of an entire room of wedding attendees and play a song I wrote on the ukulele about how love is a construct. But I never really wanted to get married myself, and I hate planning things, so when my husband and I decided to get married there was no question about how we would do it. We had a time crunch, my family was on another continent, and neither of us cares about weddings at all. So to the registry office we went.
For a courthouse wedding in England, you have to register at least two weeks in advance, and since one of us is American we had a smaller list of places we were allowed to register. Luckily, the registry in our borough of London was on the list.
Ceremony Fee: $74
We decided to do it on a Wednesday, which is significantly cheaper than doing it any other day, presumably because Wednesday is for bare bones secular ceremonies of people who can take the day off work.
$3 for a giant fake diamond ring from a charity shop, which I bought to stave off an anxiety attack about the fancy ring shop we had just been in that made me feel like we were doing boring wedding stuff and not something we would do as our actual selves.
$45 for a placeholder wedding band for my husband that we could use during our wedding ceremony. They didn’t have any small enough to fit my tiny fingers, so I used a ring of my grandmother’s we already owned.
$90 for two proper wedding rings, bought on our honeymoon in Berlin from a crazed-looking German artisan who claimed he rubbed the silver with lemon to make it shine.
Clothing: $15 for a blue waistcoat from a charity shop. Everything else we wore we both owned already, but my husband was concerned that he didn’t look festive enough. Besides, he told me, it’s old, new, AND blue.
Flowers: We forgot to buy any, but the coffee shop we stopped in before the ceremony had little jars of yellow roses on the tables. We asked if we could take one, just for an hour or so, and brought them back after they’d done their part.
Photography: We only had two witnesses — which let us in for mocking from the curmudgeonly Scottish registry employee — but one of them is a great photographer, though he’d never shot a wedding before. It turned out well; he said he wasn’t used to taking pictures of happy people but that it was a nice change.
Cake: Provided by very excited and creative friend, who somehow sourced a Jurassic Park-themed cake with 48-hours notice after we proved to be very bad at secret-keeping and confessed to her that we were getting married.
$8.50 for two bus fares to the registry, twice
$15 for a small plastic replica train. Our photographer/witness has never been in a wedding before, and I told him that if he wanted to be a bridesmaid, he could carry my train. Yes, $15 is a lot to pay for a pun.
Emotional distress of trying to figure out who to tell and when, mostly paid back by people being genuinely happy about the whole thing.
$45 of drinks bought for our witnesses in the weeks preceding the wedding, on the disparate evenings in which we tried to work up the nerve to tell them the news.
Fiona Zublin lives in London, kind of. It’s complicated. She tweets under the name @bear_foot, which was funny at the time.