Forget The Wedding, Spend Your Money On An Adventure Instead!

“Calm down,” Mr. Brendel said. He was sipping black coffee and the steam fogged up his glasses. “There’s no reason to worry.”

He smiled flatly, the first sign that there was plenty of reason to worry.

“Thank you,” I managed, after a deep and unsettled breath.

We were sitting in a coffee shop outside of Denver, Colorado. I’d been emailing Mr. Brendel every day for the past month until he finally agreed to meet with me. I remember the scene with some horror. I unfolded a worn piece of paper, read hastily through my scribbled notes, and then asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

“I don’t think so,” he said at once.

Nailed it.

Mr. Brendel went on to explain, in great detail, why I wasn’t fit to marry his daughter. He told me I was a narcissist, an alcoholic, and deeply, deeply troubled. He may have had a point, but that didn’t soften the sting of rejection. After a short, ego-shattering conversation, I stumbled out of the coffee shop — bewildered and angry. The engagement ring jingled in my pocket as I fished for my car keys.

Please don’t feel bad for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but Mr. Brendel was saving me from the biggest mistake of my life. His daughter and I broke up shortly after I asked for her hand in marriage, which means Mr. Brendel also spared me the expense of getting married in Colorado — $30,000, on average.

I sold the ring a few years later for $500 (which is much less than I paid for it) and used the money to go on a short weekend adventure. It was then that I realized that travel was a far superior way to spend my income. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the romance of marriage and all that horse sh*t, but there are many costs associated with holy matrimony that are, for lack of a better term, idiotic.

Regardless of where you fall on the matter, it’s a fact that weddings are extremely expensive. If you’re planning on having a big, classic ceremony in any of these American cities, then please, allow me to humbly suggest an inexpensive trip to the courthouse followed by a far superior alternative.

Average wedding expense in New York: $82, 299

That’s right, the average wedding in New York costs more than $80,000, which is more than the average salary paid to teachers, nurses, and social workers in the United States. But hey, it’s your special day, you deserve a white dress that you will never ever wear again.

Or, if you’re more adventurous, you could spend that $80,000 on something undoubtedly spectacular. For roughly $16,423, you could buy yourself and your dearly beloved two first-class, round-trip tickets to Santorini, Greece.

It’s one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, and pretty much universally considered one of the most scenic places on the planet. The landscape was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century, which gives Santorini a signature ruggedness, complete with breathtaking cliffs and unparalleled seaside views. Blue domed luxury properties line the coast, like the Chromata Hotelv — with premium rooms renting by the week for the low, low price of $2,905.

Once you’re on the island, you and your partner can enjoy a private tour of the Santorini Winery for $400. You’ll taste wines pressed from grapes that were harvested in vintage years, sure to delight your palate and also get you very drunk.


Next, it’s time to take to the seas. A private tour of the island, aboard one of Santorini’s many local sailboats, will run you about $400. It’s the perfect way to see the sights, soak up some sun, and sober the hell up. But, don’t forget, this is Greece. So the captain of the boat will likely keep your cup filled with fine Grecian wines. Don’t you love this? Don’t you wish you had your own rustic vessel? Buy the damn boat. A well-worn kaiki will cost you around $15,000, which you can totally afford.

And then, before you know it, it’s time to return to New York. But what are you supposed to do now that you’ve experienced the pristine beauty of the ancient world? You’ll likely be obsessed with Grecian culture, which is okay, because you still have the $46,170 needed to study ancient history at NYU for a year.

Grand Total: $80, 328, with a savings of  about $2,000.

Average wedding expense in San Francisco: $39,250

Who knew that the cost of getting married in San Francisco would seem semi-reasonable? Don’t worry, at just under $40,000, avoiding a wedding in the Bay Area is still a cost effective decision and one that will free up some extra income for the adventure of a lifetime. Unlike most cities in the United States, San Francisco offers direct flights to major destinations throughout Asia — including Tokyo.

Two business class, round-trip tickets from SFO to Tokyo will cost, depending on the time of year, around $9,998. You’ll be pretty exhausted when you land, but that’s okay, because you can spend an entire week in the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo for just $3,724. Not only is it one of the finest hotels in the entire world, it’s also nested in one of the most travel-friendly parts of the city.

You’ll be right across the street from the beautiful Tokyo Bay.


To escape the hustle, take a bullet train from the nearby monorail station to Mt. Fuji for a day trip. Two tickets cost $300, and include travel and a full tour of the area surrounding the mountain. You’ll be starving when you get back to Tokyo, so why not try the famous Sukiyabashi Jiro (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame). One meal for two people should cost you around $1,000. But man, this sushi is really good, so why not just eat there every night?

A week of dining with Jiro will only cost you $7,000. That’s chump change!

Of course, you’ll want to bring home a souvenir. There’s nothing more representative, more beautiful, and more flat-out badass than an authentic katana sword. You can pick one up for a little over $9,000, but don’t forget, you’re with your partner. You’re going to want to get custom “his and her’s” katanas which will run you about $18,200 total. SO MUCH BETTER than matching towels, right?

Grand Total: $39,222, with a savings of about $25.

Average wedding expense in Alaska: $17,361

Let’s say you live in Anchorage, Alaska. Good on you! Alaska is — statistically speaking — the cheapest place in America to get married, with the average wedding costing a paltry $17, 361. It’s also home to some of the coldest populated areas on the face of the Earth, which means you’ll want to spend your wedding expenses on a vacation to someplace warm, for the love of god. Let’s go to Iran’s Dasht-e Loot Desert, also known as the hottest place on Earth.

A special thermometer installed on NASA’s Aqua satellite recorded temperatures at Dasht-e Loot around 159.3 °F. The hottest part of Dasht-e Loot is a large plateau, covered entirely in lava, called Gandom Beryan. It’s roughly 190 square miles of hell on Earth. Two round-trip tickets from Anchorage to Bandar Abbās (the closest airport) will cost you $4,336. From there, you can hire a private car to drive you to the desert for around $100 (but you might want to hire private security for the week, so let’s add on an additional $1,200).


You can stay at the local Bandar Abbas Homa Hotel for an entire week for just $910. Generally speaking, your personal security can double as your tour guide, though you’ll likely just want to spend your time baking in the almost comical heat of the Dasht-e Loot desert.

But let’s be real, a trip to Dasht-e Loot isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, with average temperatures hot enough to induce heat strokes and horrific dehydration. After you get back to Alaska, why not take another trip, this time to Hawaii. Two round trip tickets will cost you $1,500, and a week in a 4-star hotel will run about $3,080. If you get bored, you can take scuba lessons every day of the week, totaling just $700 for both you and your partner.

Grand total: $11,526, with a savings of about $6,000.


Listen, I’m not trying to argue against weddings, but I am trying to argue for spending your money, time, and resources on things that truly matter. If you want to have a large, expensive, all-out wedding extravaganza, then chase that. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to spend your life savings on a wedding just because it’s the norm. The costs used to create these fake adventures all come from national averages… but who wants to be average?

Besides, when you do find someone worth spending your life with, won’t you want to show them the world?