We Spent Less Than 3K on Our At-Home Wedding (Airfare Included)

When Natalie Zfat showed up for a friends wedding at The Surf Lodge in Montauk, NY, she didnt expect to meet her future husband. Zfat, a social media entrepreneur, and Brad Farber, a hedge fund manager, both arrived early to the celebration. The two exchanged small talk and spent a good chunk of the night just sitting and talking.

Nine months later, Farber, 45, and Zfat, 33, were engaged. He proposed at an art gallery in Napa Valley with a simple gold band. The idea of a diamond on my hand always felt off-brand, she admits. I dont want anyone to make an assumption about how much money people think I have or dont have by looking at my hand, which I know unfortunately happens a lot.

When it came down to planning the big day, the couple didnt want to formally organize one at all. Wed been engaged nine months, and the reality is that neither of us was super inspired to do a big wedding, says Zfat. Instead, they were toying with the idea of an elopement.

The two didnt elope in the end. They married at the grooms parents house in Lutz, Florida. The venue was free, tallying the total cost (including travel, photography, food and alcohol) to less than $3,000. Heres how they planned the intimate wedding in under two weeks.

A Quick Turn Around

Around the nine-month mark of their engagement, the couple decided to get married in the presence of immediate family members only. It was Thanksgiving weekend, so we already knew family members had their flights booked, explains Zfat. Airfare for the couple, departing on Thanksgiving Day (including a welcomed free upgrade to first class) were in the ballpark of $500.

The couple only spent about two weeks on planning, which included making decisions about food and securing a Rabbi. They skipped out on fancy invitations. In fact, they didnt send any. The guest list topped at 14, including the couples immediate families (and the Rabbi, of course).

Keeping Their Plans Top Secret

Couple by a lake on their wedding day
Photography by Storyline Collective

Before flying south for the holiday (and their pseudo-surprise wedding weekend), the pair got their marriage license at the Manhattan courthouse. They called their parents separately that Wednesday to tell them we getting married on Saturday. We purposely didnt give them enough time to do anything other than pack what they wanted to wear, says Zfat. Otherwise, I think they would have made it a whole ordeal.

Dressed By Friends (and Their Own Closets)

Zfats wedding dress, which retails for about $750, was gifted by a friend. I went to the Yigal Azroul showroom and I tried this one on two days before the wedding, she says. She didnt need to make any alterations, it fit perfectly. She wore a pair of sandals she already owned and did her own hair and makeup. Farber also found inspiration in his wardrobe, wearing a custom blue suit found in his closet.

Taking Care of Necessary Details

Jewish ceremony under a huppah
Photography by Storyline Collective

The photography was the most expensive element of the wedding, says Zfat, who hired Storyline Collective to capture images of the special day for $1,500. A necessary splurge for a bride who works in social media.

Under a tallit huppah on the water, behind the family home among a forest of trees, the two exchanged I Dos on November 24, 2018. The couples ceremony started at 8 p.m., after sundown and Shabbat. Leading up to the nuptials, everyone was hungry. I ate a slice of pizza in my wedding dress three hours before the ceremony, says Zfat. Brad ate four slices in his suit, which I thought was funny. Thats a real testament to how casual our wedding was. We ordered pizzathat was our cocktail hour!

For the reception, the couple ordered food from a kosher caterer, and Farbers father made skirt steak and grilled veggies on the barbecue. $1,000 was spent on food (including the delivery pizza), wine, and liquor. There was no need to rent tables, chairs, plates or silverware. Everything was already available at the house.

Splurging on the Honeymoon(s)

Zfat says one benefit to having an inexpensive wedding was spending the money they had saved on travel. In the past year, the couple visited Hawaii, Iceland, London, Paris, and Switzerland. They have an upcoming trip planned to Africa. Travel was always more inspiring and exciting to us than having a more traditional or expensive wedding, she explains. With a little resourcefulness, the couple was able to focus on what really mattered.

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