Back from the Wedding in the Wild West

There are people who love weddings and people who hate them. This is only the 4th one I’ve ever been to, and the score is even between love and hate. This one, I loved – and that’s despite constant altitude sickness (migraine-like headaches, nausea, moments of gasping breathlessness, fatigue). I had three drinks the entire 5 days I was out there: champagne toast at the rehearsal bbq, champagne toast after the wedding ceremony, and my personal favorite – the shot of tequila with my fellow bridesbitches on the way from the ranch house to the outdoor “aisle”. Mom caught us (we’re 29, 37, and 39!) and hissed. Highlights included a rap battle between the bride’s BFF and one of the band singers (tall leggy blond girl v. short badass blond boy) and a ceremony written by the “preacher” (the friend who introduced them) and approved by the couple. It was a sweet roast – apparently they met when she shot him in the head with a paintball, then they became roommates a few years later, and the groom apparently has a track record of turning roommates into girlfriends.

Looking for a financial angle? There was one in the ceremony – “And with a single kiss, J got himself a girlfriend and M saved $600 a month rent” (which isn’t quite true, but it was a cute line). And in the Best Man’s toast, there was a joking reference to J being a multimillionaire based on his large amount of toys (snowmobiles, bikes, etc), so when it was my brother’s turn to make a little speech, he started off with “I’ve learned so much about them as a couple from their friends, and the best part was that J is a millionaire. Love ya, bro!”

FLIGHTS: It was a shockingly cheap weekend, considering this all happened in Aspen. Sure, it’s technically off-season, but they had six weddings going on that weekend, so the Denver-Aspen flights were packed and the hotels were happy. I booked my flight 3 months in advance, and it cost me less than it ever has in the 10 years I’ve been travelling out there – $270 including taxes, plus $30 for checked luggage. I flew Frontier, Denver airport is awesome, only one hiccup that could have been disastrous for getting me there, but magically they had a spare plane (does that ever happen with such a small airline? wow, lucky).

AIRPORT TRANSFERS:  Getting to LaGuardia airport cost me a lot less than expected. Normally I’d take a taxi for $25 + tip, but with all kinds of unpredictable frozen zones on the eastside, I opted to take the subway out to Astoria for $2.25 and then take a taxi the rest of the way, usually $10 including tip. However, the M60 bus to the airport was right there when I got off the subway, so I took it (free transfer). Got picked up by little sister Starfish at the other end. Would have taken the free public bus to the airport to fly back, but it didn’t start early enough for me to make a 7am flight so I splashed out on a taxi, $22. Then back in NYC, the woman who runs the almost-official shelter for young adults about 10 mins from the airport picked me up and drove me home – wouldn’t even take gas money! I’m not sure she realizes how much that meant to me.

HOTELS:  I suppose we were staying at the budget end of things, but the cute cabins at L’Auberge d’Aspen were pretty awesome – kitchenette, comfy bed, and a jacuzzi-tub in addition to the communal hot tub outside. Including taxes, that ran $85/night for 2 nights (shared with my Mom, but I paid). A month earlier, the bride reserved the 3BR ranch house at Avalanche Ranch and I paid my $100 share ($50/night per person) back then. I spent my last night at Mountain Chalet in the center of Aspen for $77/night including breakfast – very plain room, but great amenities, service, and 7am-10pm coffee/cookie/lemonade buffet (Mom paid for that).

RESTAURANTS/FOOD:  Extended family kept picking up the tab for non-wedding meals together, we cooked breakfast at the ranch house, I arrived so late on Wednesday that eating out wasn’t an option and when I got to the cabin, Mom was at the stove boiling me up some tortellini from the supermarket (cuteness!). And my last night I was so whacked with altitude sickness that I spent the evening in bed – Mom brought me back her Mexican leftovers but no utensils, so I scooped rice, mashed beans, and 1.5 delicious enchiladas with my paws. Attractive, I’m sure. I spent maybe $10 in tips and $2 on an iced tea? Oh, and because everyone kept buying the meals, I left the big room tip at the ranch house – one cleaning (upon leaving), 3BR…$15, and we ran the dishwasher for them.

WEDDING APPEARANCE:  I wasn’t openly bargain-hunting for a dress, but the only one out of 20 that I tried on that looked decent on me happened to be on Clearance at Lord & Taylor, and I had a coupon for 20% off any one clearance item: $148 reduced to $88, paid $70. Given the outdoor venue, I deliberately cheaped out on the shoes – $20 dark silver flats, and it was a smart move because as soon as the sun went down, most of the girls ditched their dressy shoes and pulled on their Uggs. But I did splash out on having the hairdresser do my hair – $75, not a “wedding up-do”, looked pretty snazzy! None of us are particularly into make-up, so we did our own.

OWED:  I think I owe my mom about $30 towards food and incidentals that she, for simplicity, paid for on my behalf, but she owes me about $50 towards the difference in hotel bills. Eh, I won’t ask her for it, but I suspect she’ll figure it out and pay me anyway.

GIFT:  I’m planning to pick up the tab for some aspect of their honeymoon, which they’re tentatively planning for January/February (she’s only been in her job 2 months, needs to put some more time in to earn 2 weeks). How much I spend will depend on how much I manage to earn over the next few months, anywhere from $200-$500.

TOTAL:  $670 + Gift ….. Considering that it was a destination wedding, 5 days in a resort area, and I was in the bridal party, I did way better than expected. I wasn’t intending to cheapify anything but the airport transfers and the shoes, so all the other stuff was an unplanned bonus!

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9 Responses

  1. $670 is great for a wedding. You did very well without sacrificing too much.

  2. ooh well it sounds like a nice time was had by all, barring altitude sickness. what a bummer. but you are a trooper…. good for you!

  3. That is amazing! I almost spent that much on a wedding this summer that I was also in and I didn’t even travel for it! I am a wedding junkie though.

  4. That is a pretty cheap destination wedding. Too bad it’s over, no more bridezilla posts! I hope your sister and her hubby are very happy.

    • Oh, there will be more Bridezilla posts in the near future – but it will be the OTHER sister. Her boyfriend of nearly 5 years got my grandmother’s engagement ring from my mom in August, just got it cleaned, and is planning to propose on her birthday, Nov 1. He was overheard discussing his intentions by one of my uncles at Bridezilla #1’s wedding, and the uncle can’t wait – everyone fell in love with Colorado and its people. My future BIL said “it won’t be a big do like this”, to which my uncle said, “I don’t care. I’ll even pay for it” (pretty sure he was joking – it was just an indication of how much he was enjoying his whole trip).

  5. That is really cheap for a destination wedding. I was just in a friends wedding and spent nearly $400 plus the cost of the engagement party. The wedding was only an hour drive from where I live, so I don’t even have airfare or a hotel in that cost.

  6. You did extremely well-I spent over $500 on my friend’s shower alone, not to mention dress, shoes, hair/make-up, gift, hotel rooms, etc. And my husband was in the wedding too (so tux, bachelor party etc.)

    • Yup – her friend’s weddings always involved at least $700 worth of airfare, dress and gift — often plus all that shower/bachelorette stuff, a hotel, and bridesmaid stuff (shoes, pedicures, hair). And so she opted not to blindly “follow tradition”. Phew!

  7. You received a wedding present by not spending a fortune! Lucky girl! Glad you had fun too.

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