Let's be honest here for a second and talk about the normal wedding experience.
The moment you get engaged to your significant other, your brain starts to put puzzle pieces together on how you want your wedding to go.
In your mind, the wedding day will be flawless, it will be the best day of your life, and one you will never forget.
But then as the planning starts to begin, and you start to work out the details, you realize something about weddings:
- They cost huge amounts of money
- There is way more stress than you could ever have imagined
- It seems everyone else has their idea of what YOUR special day should look like
- Apparently everyone in your family HAS to come
- The day becomes less about you, and more about pleasing everyone else
Right now the average age of people getting married is in the middle to late twenty's. This age group typically doesn't have tens of thousands of dollars to drop on weddings and venues, and the stress of building careers is already high.
So why do we fall into this trap of putting on weddings to satisfy others, even if it means depleting your bank accounts? Well, society pressure is a real thing, but people are starting to fight back.
This is the story of how Sarah Carroll (Kish) and Bryan Carroll decided to fight back against the normal pressures placed on weddings.
Finding the Perfect Venue
When Bryan and Sarah first got engaged, they were instantly bombarded by family members asking for details.
Pretty much every single conversation was "Congrats you two, when is the wedding?!".
I mean come on, when people get engaged, it is already an emotional moment. At that point you just want to be in the moment with each other. But according to everyone else, you should already be well on your way to the next step in your relationship.
Even in the below video they made when they got engaged, they mentioned "Don't Ask"...
Making the Decision
Everyone's ideas of how the wedding should go started to roll in. They heard everything from a traditional wedding in a Catholic Church, to going to Vegas and having Elvis marry them.
Most of the ideas that came through (minus the Elvis idea) would cost a lot of money, and didn't represent who Sarah and Bryan were. They knew that spending a lot of money on one day (money that could be used for important stuff, like a new car, a home, or even travel) was an irresponsible way to spend their budget.
So it became decision time. They came together to discuss what THEIR ideal wedding would look like. And that involved:
- Having close friends attend
- A venue that represented the people they were
- Minimizing costs
- A truly special day they will never forget
So what did Bryan and Sarah end up deciding?
They decided to have their wedding in the mountains of Washington in an area where they could only have 8 people with them, and the amount of people in the region is limited by permits.
Logistics of Setting Up an Alpine Wedding
First off, the destination they chose has a lottery system attached to the permits, so there was quite a bit of luck involved in getting permits.
Their entire wedding was relying on winning the lottery. In an area where over 15k+ people enter the lottery for just a handful of permits, they needed any luck they could get.
Bryan's previous attempts at winning the lottery before they got engaged had turned up with no winning attempts. But, they were hopeful, and to their surprise, they received a coveted permit for the best location in the region.
The Costs of an Alpine Wedding
Compared to most other wedding venues, the cost of permits for their wedding location was around $200.
Sarah ended up finding the dress she absolutely loved on the rack, and ended up paying around $800 for it.
Bryan's suit was around $1600, but with the classic "Buy One, Get One" from Men's Wearhouse, he split the cost of the suit with a friend, making his total around $800.
Then you have to factor in the costs of food, which Bryan and Sarah have their own freeze dryer from Harvest Right and made food for nearly the entire party.
All in all, the alpine wedding cost under $2000. Considering the average cost of a wedding is nearly $26,000 (not including honeymoon), a wedding in the mountains saves a ton of money, and is kind of a mini honeymoon!
What If You Have More Than 8 Friends Who Want to Support Your Wedding?
For many people, including Sarah and Bryan, there are more than 8 people who want to support them on their wedding day. There are ways to incorporate an intimate wedding, and a larger reception into your wedding plans.
For Bryan and Sarah, they wanted to make sure their special day was more intimate and less stressful. While trekking into the perfect spot for photos is hard work, for them it was worth every moment of the trip.
But, they also wanted to satisfy family and friends for the reception. They ended up doing a separate reception 1 month after their wedding day to celebrate their marriage with others. This also gave the photographer, Aaron Frank of aaronfrankmedia.com time to finish the photos so they could share it with everyone.
How to Create a Low Cost Option for Receptions
For most weddings, it is the venue that costs the most money. This is why doing the ceremony and reception at the same time is the most cost effective. However, the term "wedding" boosts the prices of renting anything.
When it is just a reception, then instead of the venue being used for a "wedding", it becomes a "gathering" or an "event". This helps to significantly reduce costs.
Sarah used her "frugal momma" skills (this is her self-proclaimed name for herself) to find a venue, get supplies to put on the event, and provide food and alcohol for everyone.
In fact, Sarah and Bryan provided a taco bar for food, and they cooked all of the food themselves! A taco bar provides meal options for pretty much any dietary restriction (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.).
At the end of the day, the entire reception cost about $700. This brings their total for both wedding and reception to under $3000, which is far below the average wedding cost!
Is the Alpine Wedding Worth It?
For Sarah and Bryan, they believe that your wedding day should represent who you and your significant other is. If you are outdoorsy and would enjoy an alpine wedding, then get out in the mountains and have fun! If going to Vegas and having Elvis marry you is more your style, then do that.
No matter what, remember that it is YOUR day, and to stand your ground so others don't take control of your wedding. It is supposed to be about you and the love of your life, and everyone else can keep their opinions out of it!
Backstory About Sarah and Bryan
We had met in the summer of 2014 through mutual friends. At that time, neither Sarah or myself were looking to be in a relationship, and were more interested in meeting new people and enjoying the single life.
Then, a few months later while I was enjoying all of my solo hiking, I received this message:
Sarah had stepped up to the plate and asked me out on a hike!
Which worked really well for me because I was always the shy introverted type who would never make the first move. At this point, I was going into the hike with the mindset of helping others to get outside, and not the mindset of this possibly becoming more.
The First "Unofficial" Date
Sarah and I planned out where we would hike, and the destination would be the Kendall Katwalks. Right before the day arrived, Sarah got cold feet and decided to invite a mutual friend "just in case I was creepy". Which was fine with me, like I said, I wasn't going into the hike with any intentions.
While on the hike, conversations were really great. At one point the mutual friend dove into the topic of what qualities everyone would like to see in their "perfect significant other". It was a neat topic, and was fun to hear what everyone was looking for.
But surprisingly, Sarah's "perfect SO" was very similar to me, and mine was very similar to her.
It was at that moment we started to realize there might be more to this hike than originally we thought.
The First "Official" Date
Once again my introverted self kicked in, and I wasn't planning on making any moves on Sarah. In fact, even though our "perfect relationship" profiles matched up well, I had no problem not pursuing it at all (that's how shy I was).
But then another message came from Sarah, this time asking me if I would be interested in Salsa Dancing the following weekend.
Funny enough, she wanted to push me out of my comfort zone, and see how I would handle being uncomfortable. What she didn't expect is that during my "single time", I was bored and had been taking salsa dancing lessons for a few months, so it was right up my alley!
I told her a couple days before the Salsa night that I knew how to Salsa Dance. This put her in a panic, and she spent hours having her dance teacher teach her the basic steps.
The Salsa night was going pretty well, until I spun her and she had her hands flying wildly in the air. Next thing I knew, her hand smacked my eye.
Luckily for me, I was in the middle of coaching wrestling season, so I just blamed the eye from wrestling, not her!
Soon after that, I asked Sarah to go out with me. I figured if someone was willing to go on brutal hikes with me, and was brave enough to give me a black eye, then it was worthwhile to make things official.
Getting My First Real Camera
While this may seem like a weird section to talk about in the backstory about Sarah and I, it actually has made a huge impact for both of us in regards to the relationships we have built and the connections we have made.
Prior to this point, which is about February of 2015, I had only ever shot photos from my phone. While these photos seemed really nice to me, and to friends and family, I knew that a real camera could provide better quality images.
I just had no idea how painful it could be to learn how to actually use a real camera!
After a lot of trial and error, this was probably my first photo I actually thought was decent.
This was the start of something greater. Once I finally had a photo I was happy with, it made me want to dive head first into photography.
Taking that dive gave me the confidence to reach out to a company I had been admiring for quite some time: Hyperlite Mountain Gear. They are an ultralight hiking and backpacking company whose gear has completely revolutionized the way we get outside.
I had reached out to them to share some photos of one of their packs that I took. I went in with the idea that their stuff is awesome and they can share the photos however they choose. Instead, they loved the photos and wanted more product shots.
Our relationship with Hyperlite grew, and it helped to force us outside nearly every single week since that moment I reached out to them. It has been our way to stay accountable to each other to take a break from life and enjoy nature.
Since that initial outreach to HMG, my photography has caught the attention of a few other outdoor companies who have asked us to shoot their products in the mountains as well.
Sarah with her "frugal momma-ness" was able to find an error-fare to Chile for $200 roundtrip from LAX. This was the perfect moment for us to knock out one of the places on our bucket list: Patagonia.
Since this was our first international trip together, and I knew how much Sarah had been looking forward to travelling to different parts of the world, it only made sense to propose to her while we were down there.
Probably the majority of the men out there who have proposed to their special someone have had unplanned hiccups occur during their planning phase. I definitely had a few:
- Her father didn't immediately say yes when I asked his permission to marry his daughter. He had to go and talk about it with his wife, which seemed to take forever.
- The ring was custom designed by Shane Co. However, a couple days before we were set to leave for the trip, they called and said that the process of creating the ring left a bunch of frail spots in the ring, so they had to remake it. Luckily, they had it ready the day before we left.
- I had the ring in my jacket the entire trip to Chile. In Mexico City, I was searched 4 fricken times, and was even getting hit on by the female TSA agents. However, they never found the ring (thank god).
- We missed our connecting flight in Santiago, and there were no other flights for a week to get down to Torres Del Paine. We had to go to a sketchy part of the city to get on a bus, bus for 30 hours to the next airport, and get a different flight. At any point, we could have easily been mugged, especially since my dumba$$ had no idea it wasn't smart to have my camera out in the open.
Luckily, we arrived safely to our destination, and was able to get into the park.
The toughest part was finding the perfect spot to propose. Every person we ran into I would ask them about the geography from what they had seen, where the secret pretty spots with less people were, etc. That way I could get an idea where to do it.
Then finally, the moment came. You saw the engagement video up above, and when I dropped down onto my knee, it felt like forever before she answered me. Lucky for me, she said Yes!
The Push for the Wedding
After the engagement, which no one knew was coming except for Sarah's parents, we started to deal with family asking when the wedding would happen. We were pressured for a little while until Sarah's cousin got engaged, which allowed us to sit back and let them take on all of the pressure.
We knew we wanted it to be a special wedding for us, and we knew that it didn't make sense to blow a ton of money on one day when that money could be used for better things in our life.
So that was when the plan for the alpine wedding came in. It was a special area for us, and we knew it would be hard to get permits for a trip in there.
But everything came together, and we had an absolute blast on our trip!
Special thanks to Aaron Frank of aaronfrankmedia.com for the amazing photography. It is unbelievably hard to find photographers who are willing to backpack for a photo shoot!
Another special thanks to Hyperlite Mountain Gear for their amazing gear that helped to keep our overall backpack weights lower than most people, even as we carried a suit and a wedding dress. You have been an amazing company to work with and support us, and we appreciate all that you are doing to revolutionize the outdoors community!