In our weeklong series, we sent a team of correspondents around the globe to witness unique ceremonies and understand what marriage means in different cultures. In our second report, we're introducing you to a couple who met online and are bucking traditions to make the wedding work for them — and their budget.
Data analyst Fawn Caplandies and student Shawn Stevens met on Tinder. Caplandies initially didn't think Stevens would match with her and Stevens was impressed Caplandies was getting her doctorate.
But there "was instant chemistry," Stevens said. "She just got me."
The two bonded over camping and outdoor sports. "I think the second date, you told me you loved me," Caplandies said.
"Yes," Stevens said. "I saw the sun and it was reflecting off of her hair … I could imagine growing old with this person and all the sappy stuff that men don't want to admit, but you know, I wore my heart on my sleeve, and I just said, you know, let's just give it all you got."
First came love. Then came the marriage proposal. Then came a long wait. The Ohio couple considered waiting five years to save $60,000 to wed at their dream venue: Zingerman's Cornman Farms in nearby Michigan.
The United States is one of the most expensive places to get married, according to the 2019 Global Wedding Report by The Knot, WeddingWire and Bodas.net. On average last year, couples tying the knot spent more than $1,600 on the dress, just over $500 on cake and more than $2,400 on flowers, according to The Knot. In all, the average 2018 wedding cost nearly $34,000.
"You're also taught that it has to be big. You have to invite everyone, and you have to have the alcohol tab," Caplandies said.
But then, another path down the aisle popped up on her Instagram feed.
"They started posting about tiny weddings … we're like 'OK we could do this,'" Caplandies said.
The posts were from Cornman Farms, where this year owner and chef Kieron Hales is trying something new.
The venue's tiny wedding package is a bite-sized version of the lavish parties that range from $17,000 to $250,000. But with an eight guest maximum, a tiny wedding costs around $2,000. That's because the 90-minute celebrations of vows, cake and champagne are stacked back-to-back, with the same officiant, decorations and photographer.
"Are you seeing fewer people that want to do the big traditional wedding?" Diaz asked.
"I think that it's not fewer. I just think that now we're seeing maybe the newer generation of those guests getting married now in like their 20s and 30s are definitely moving more to our intimate style," Hales said. "I think that that group of people is a group of people that, as far as the wedding industry, we have under served."
And now he's serving them where they are: their phones, where an entire tiny wedding can be planned in seconds. Couples select a date and time and then simply checkout.
"To have everything done and pulled together for me was super easy," Caplandies said.
All in, Caplandies and Stevens spent $8,000, including the dress, tux and party favors. The venue just had them pick their cake flavor and music, and buy their rings and show up.
"She came around the corner and I was just taken aback," Stevens said about Caplandies walking down the aisle.
"I absolutely am happy that we went this route. … We can now buy a house and then I can get my dog," Caplandies said.
"PhD puppies we like to call them," Stevens said.
"I think that is very American that we can put our own twist on it. We can build this wedding that we really want and it's OK if we only have eight other people there," Caplandies said.
"If you're with the person that you love and then you share that moment with them, that's all that matters," Stevens said.