Discover more from Cody West's Newsletter
How I Got Married for $87 in 4 Minutes
Last year I got engaged.
Like most people, Erin and I started planning a wedding without much thought because, well, that’s what you do right?
Our vision was a small-ish group of 30-40 people all staying together in a dope Italian villa drinking wine, eating pizza, and participating in drunken shenanigans.
Sounds fun, but that’s not a wedding.
That’s a party.
All the wedding stuff like walking down the aisle, the ceremony, saying “I do”, etc. sounded torturous.
To me, weddings feel performant and inauthentic.
Like we’d be playing the main characters in a Broadway play in front of all our closest friends and family.
But less than half of Americans would be able to cover a $ 1,000 emergency expense without turning to a credit card or loan.
We were also surprised to find many of the venues cost 30% more for a wedding.
Call it a birthday party and get a 30% discount… how does that make any sense?
There’s a great book called Wanting about a concept called Mimetic Desire.
It’s the human tendency to “mimic” desire, meaning, our wants come from what we see others have.
The wedding industry preys upon this deeply rooted human tendency by advertising to us perfect dresses, tailored suits, and expensive parties.
Take engagement rings and the “3-month salary” rule — the idea that men should spend an equivalent of 3 months of salary on the engagement ring.
So spend 3 months of salary on an object with zero utility that will fall victim to hedonic adaptation, just like every other possession?
And even more ironic, most marriages fail because of money problems.
Marriage and weddings are historically rooted in religion. But with religion on the decline in the US, they’re more of a cultural phenomenon nowadays.
And culture is changing.
So why not challenge the concept of a traditional wedding?
Erin and I decided we would, so we stopped planning our “wedding.”
In 2022, I almost died climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (you can read that story here).
That near-death experience was a pivotal moment in my life that brought me closer to the inevitability of death and the fact I nor anyone else can plan for it.
Although marriage is just a legal contract, there are benefits to that contract.
I had recently heard a horror story of someone whose partner had passed.
They weren’t married which caused significant problems in accessing assets.
I would hate for something to happen to me and there be any issues like that for Erin.
So with that and other unromantic reasons (like taxes) as motivation, Erin and I decided to go get legally married.
We drove to the closest courthouse to us (55 minutes from the cabin) and picked up a marriage license for $83 plus a $4 fee for using a credit card.
Now we just needed an officiant and 2 witnesses to sign it.
We were planning on flying out to Austin in a few days for a party for a new Austin-based community two friends and I started called the Welpr Group.
Our friend Ben is an officiant who also lives by the airport so I called him and asked if he’d be around right before our flight to help Erin and I get married.
He said he would be.
Now we just needed 2 witnesses.
The day before we leave for Austin, we call two of our 2 friends, Trey and Shannon, and ask them to meet us at Ben’s house.
But we don’t tell them why.
They happily agree because:
They’re good friends
Erin loves baking with sourdough and other treats and is always surprising them with baked goods.
Our 4-Minute Wedding
The next day, we start driving down to Ben’s giving ourselves about an hour to get married and catch up with our friends before we have to be at the airport.
45 minutes into the drive we hit traffic that’s at a dead stop.
To get to the airport from our house, you have to drive a 2 lane highway and that day, there was an accident and the highway shut down.
We didn’t know how long the highway would be closed for so we opted to turn around and take another route that set us back an hour.
We needed to be at the airport at 2:45pm to catch a 3:45pm flight and we arrived at Ben’s house at 2:30pm, which meant we had 10 minutes to get married before we needed to be back in the car driving to the airport.
Right as we pulled up, so did Trey and Shannon.
Erin and I got out of the car, greeted them, and started walking into Ben’s.
I asked if they knew why we asked them to meet us and they said “Cookies?”
I flashed the marriage license.
Trey didn’t skip a beat, but Shannon was so surprised, her brain appeared to be malfunctioning.
We walked into Ben’s house and Ben’s wife Laura had dressed their two dogs up in tuxedo costumes and bought flowers and balloons.
I let everyone know we needed to move fast so we didn’t miss our flight.
I slap the marriage license down on the counter and Ben signs it first, then Trey, then Laura, then Erin and I.
Boom, officially married.
We’re giggly the entire time because of the ridiculousness of it all, especially the rush we’re in.
Shannon is still in shock, barely holding it together in the corner.
We take pictures, say our goodbyes, and head off to the airport.
Next thing I know, we’re sitting at the Los Taquitos in the Phoenix Airport eating crappy burritos and laughing at what had just transpired.
We looked at the photos we took and the time between when the first photo was taken and the last was 4 minutes.
So that’s how we got married in 4 minutes for $87.
A few days later, Erin realized we got married on the exact date that I had returned from Mt. Kilimanjaro the year before.