How I got married in 12 days

On Wednesday, August 16th my partner and I decided to get married. We chose Monday, August 28th as the marriage date because it was my 50th birthday. I figured if we got married on such a significant date the chances of my partner forgetting my birthday AND our wedding anniversary would be slim. (Yes, it was totally driven by self-interest!)

What this meant was that we had 12 days to pull everything together. The following is a list of what we did (and what we chose not to do) in order to make it happen. There is a countdown of tasks and a list of costs at the end of this post.

1. We opted for a ‘marriage’ not a ‘wedding’

We chose to get married in a registry office and to forego the whole ‘wedding’ thing. We only told close family and friends about our intention before we got married and we were very careful about how we timed it (enough time for them to get used to the idea but not enough time for it to turn into a ‘wedding circus’).

2. We chose NOT to have wedding rings

I appreciate that wedding rings are important for many people but we decided not to have them. I know that some of our friends were challenged by this and initially we were too. At first my husband was very keen to give me a wedding ring and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of not having one. But after thinking about it for a while I started to feel uncomfortable about wearing a wedding ring because we weren’t getting married in a church, neither of us are religious and the idea of ‘tradition’ being the reason to wear one just didn’t sit well with me. In the end we let go of the convention.

3. We had minimal photography

I asked a friend for recommendations for a photographer and she put me in touch with the lovely Catherine Adam. Catherine specialises in ‘documentary style’ photography which was perfect as I really only wanted a record of the day. I specifically asked that we not do any staged photography – no photos of us holding hands and looking into each others eyes, peering around trees or walking into the surf together. I did not want to have a photo session beyond the ceremony and the lunch. Catherine met us at the registry office where she took photographs of the event, then she followed us to the restaurant and took photographs of our lunch. The digital photographs were in my inbox within 3 hours of arriving home from our lunch – amazing.

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4. I did my own hair and makeup

I’ll admit that I did stress out about this. I am hopeless at makeup and because I have thick, coarse, frizzy hair I was really nervous about doing that too. I invested in do-it-yourself hair treatments in the lead up to the marriage ceremony and I also did a hour-long tutorial with a makeup artist to learn how to apply the make-up I already had. On the day I looked like a slightly more polished version of me and I looked incredibly happy – a perfect outcome.

5. I wore a regular dress and my flowers were from the supermarket

I’ve never been a girly-girl and so even though this was my first (and only) marriage I was completely OK with not having a big, white wedding gown. Initially I shopped for a vintage dress but I couldn’t find anything I liked. Then I decided to make my own dress but that looked set to end in tears when I couldn’t get the pattern or fabric I wanted in time. So seven days before the date I went online and bought a nice dress. It arrived two days later. Two days before the ceremony I bought my flowers from the supermarket and just replaced the wrapping with white ribbon.

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6. We had a nice restaurant lunch afterwards

We asked two friends to carry out witness duties for us. Afterwards all four of us enjoyed a celebratory lunch at one of my husband’s favourite restaurants. He had visited the restaurant beforehand to discuss the menu and ensure that they could prepare vegan options. I had checked out their website and noted that at times, the venue could look a little casual. I requested that our table have a table cloth (to convey a sense of occasion) and they happily complied. They even allowed us to bring in our own vegan cake. All the food they served us was delicious and they gave us a complimentary entree course and champagne. The service was excellent and very much appreciated.

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Countdown of events

Here is a list of what we did and when so you can see how it all came together. I’ve also included approximate prices at the end so you can see how much it ended up costing.

Wednesday 16th August

  • Registry office booked and paid for
  • Restaurant booked
  • Vegan cake ordered and paid for (cake was delivered to the restaurant on the day)

Thursday 17th August

  • Visited hairdresser for advice/products to improve the condition of my hair. Started at home treatments immediately.
  • Started searching for a dress.

Monday 21st August

  • Started asking around for photographer recommendations.

Tuesday 22nd August

  • Dress ordered online.
  • Photographer booked.

Thursday 24th August

  • Dress arrived.

Saturday 26th August

  • Flowers/ribbon purchased.

Sunday 27th August

  • Makeup tutorial completed.

Monday 28th August

The big day!


  • Registry office – $180
  • Photography – $250
  • Dress – $190
  • Hair (treatments) – $65
  • Makeup tutorial – $120 (I was able to exchange the cost of the tutorial for products)
  • Flowers – $35
  • Restaurant – $300
  • Cake – $150
  • Total – $1,290

Have you ever considered a similar low-key approach?

For me, this approach was perfect. It was low-key, relatively stress-less and efficient. I am interested to know if anyone else has enjoyed a similar approach. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.




Author: homemade and humble

Hi, I'm Ana. Welcome to my blog. I live in Wellington, New Zealand with my partner in a little cottage on a hill. We are working to build a life free from the rat-race, where we get to design our days around spending time together, enjoying good food and hunting for treasures for our home. We are both homebodies and prefer homemaking and cooking to outdoor pursuits and sport. This is where I share stories of our experiences as we set our course for a life full of warmth, comfort and beauty. I hope you enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “How I got married in 12 days”

  1. I’m currently planning a larger wedding for next year but I’m also planning on similar ideas, especially picking up any flowers I want from my local Trader Joe’s the day before. It sounds like your marriage will be a beautiful one, and congratulations.


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