After the pandemic forced Jenny Dreizen to cancel her wedding, she and her partner broke up.
When she got engaged again, she decided on a micro wedding — it's less stressful and intimate.
This is Dreizen's story, as told to Ashley Abramson.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jenny Dreizen, the founder of Fresh Starts Registry. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My partner and I were together for 10 years.
We met in college, and our families were very involved with one another. We shared a group of friends and worked at the same place.
So when we got engaged, it was important to us to honor the community we built by having a large wedding. It just made sense for our relationship. The idea of having our wedding exactly the way we wanted with all our friends and family was exciting.
Of course, with a big wedding comes a lot of expenses. I'd worked in the wedding industry as a day-of event coordinator and as a professional officiant — so I knew how to budget and make my dollars stretch. Still, all told, my partner and I planned to spend a hefty amount on the big day.
Our plan was for the wedding to consist of three events. We wanted to have an intimate ceremony followed by dinner at a nice restaurant for our loved ones. The next night, we would rent an Airbnb and host welcome drinks at a local art gallery. Then we'd have a reception at a science museum the following night.
I had purchased four dresses to wear across the wedding events — a ceremony dress, a reception dress, a dress for dancing, and a spare my mother picked out for me to wear at the reception. I'm privileged that my father planned to pay for most of it, with my fiancé's parents, my mom, my stepdad, and I covering the rest. My fiancé's parents were going to pay for all the beverages and alcohol.
However, we never could have anticipated that a pandemic would ruin our plans. Our wedding date was scheduled for May 16, 2020, and in March 2020, we decided to cancel it. While it was upsetting, it was important to us that our guests felt safe and comfortable at our celebration. We planned to reschedule the wedding when the pandemic died down, but we instead parted ways in June 2021.
Because we canceled over the pandemic, we got a refund on some of our deposits. Our photographer offered a refund on our deposit due to COVID, but we asked her to hold it for us to use for our wedding once we re-scheduled it. After the breakup, I decided to convert the deposit into a lifestyle photoshoot instead.
An encounter with a Scottish stranger led to a new romance
After my ex and I broke up, I reconnected online with Thomas, whom I'd met at a museum in Scotland — where he worked — while I was vacationing with my mom. We began chatting, and Thomas and I exchanged information to become Facebook friends. We'd stayed in contact on Facebook over the years, and I developed a crush on him, so I reached out when I was single. I never thought it would turn into anything romantic. I was wrong. After we connected, the relationship moved quickly. The only problem was that he lived in Scotland and I lived in the US.
In October 2021, I went to visit Thomas, and we knew we had to figure out how to be together. I visited a few times for long periods, but eventually, we decided the fiancé visa was the best way to navigate our relationship, which meant I would move to Scotland. Within six months, we would need to be married. He proposed to me in December, and we started planning our wedding shortly thereafter.
When we decided to get married, I told Thomas I didn't want a big wedding. Despite working in events and weddings most of my adult life, I never really enjoyed wedding planning. Plus, the expense was a gut punch: I'd spent money living on my own post-breakup and racked up bills flying back and forth between New York and Scotland. On top of that, the idea of trying to coordinate a wedding with international guests felt exhausting. With Thomas, I wanted to focus on him for our wedding day.
Keeping our wedding small was right for us
We decided to schedule a micro wedding for September 8 in Scotland. It will be just us, the officiant, the photographer, and her assistant, who are also serving as our witnesses.
After the ceremony, we plan to go out to eat together, and we've ordered a 6-inch cake from Nice Times Bakery in Edinburgh, Scotland. I purchased a dress from Cider, and Thomas purchased an affordable vest, suit, and jacket. Luckily, the wedding site — a public beach — was free. For the wedding night, we're using Airbnb credits.
While I'm sad my family won't be present, Thomas and I have realized this approach is best for us. Keeping things simple has helped move the visa process along. Once it's official, I'll have to apply for a spousal visa, which can take a long time to get approved. In the meantime, we'll rent a place together in our married name and start our life together.
When we met, Thomas and I bonded over poetry. We're both romantics, so when I think about it, an intimate wedding just makes sense. We're excited about sharing this moment, one we get to craft just for us.
There's something special about focusing on the necessities and our joy.
Correction: August 28, 2022 - An earlier version of this story misstated details about the deposit from the wedding photographer.
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