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An Impromptu Wedding: How To Get Married in 24 Hours Without Going to Vegas

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Recently I hung out with an old coworker. We were catching up and gossiping about friends we knew when casually she said, "Oh yeah, last Wednesday night I went to Caitlin's wedding." What? Who has a wedding on a Wednesday night? I was so surprised. That's when my friend explained that Caitlin and her fiancé were over being engaged, tired of waiting until there was enough money and decided on a Tuesday night, it's happening tomorrow.

I've been to a fair number of weddings -- big fancy affairs, backyard affairs, beach weddings, gay weddings, a Vegas shotgun wedding, vow renewals, DIY weddings -- but I had no idea how someone could do it in 24 hours. I sat down with Caitlin to ask her how she managed her impromptu wedding.

Let's back up. Caitlin and Drew (not their real names) had been engaged for more than four years. They were only 22 when they got engaged and due to money, jobs, and knowing they would have to pay for it all on their own, planning the wedding was put off for a later date. That later date turned into one, two, three, four years later. When your engagement lingers for years with no planning, friends and strangers will happily share their doubts, jokes, skepticism and teasing that the wedding will never happen. This joking came up for the zillionth time when Caitlin and Drew were out for drinks on a Tuesday. They'd been talking to a guy at the bar when he said, "If you want to get married, get married. Just do it." This hit a nerve with Drew. Later that night he asked Caitlin, "Do you still really want to get married?" Luckily for Drew, Caitlin said she'd marry him the next day if he would.

With a few more drinks in their system and some smartphone Googling, they realized they actually could. Having thrown down the gauntlet that they were getting married Wednesday, they set about doing it. Both work in the restaurant business and had the day off, which was the first advantage.

Caitlin said their first obstacle was finding someone who would marry them. Luckily, they found an officiant who would come to them and bring the paperwork.

Caitlin and Drew live in an adorable house, so having the wedding in their backyard was a no-brainer -- it was an easy and perfect locale. She and her mother called around and found a florist to make a bouquet and boutonniere for the couple and some extra flowers to use as decoration. They then went to Costco and got things for hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. They bought a simple white cake, and Caitlin wore a white summer dress (which worked thanks to LA's beautiful February weather). They used family rings, and Caitlin's mother and sister took her for a mani/pedi for some last minute pampering. In the morning, the couple started texting all of their friends and family about the evening's festivities. They knew it was last minute, but both sets of parents and siblings were able to be there (the luck of both living in the area), and about 40 guests were able to come. Friends and family took photographs and with some gumption, liquid courage and the resolve to do it, Caitlin and Drew got married.

It may not be every couple's choice, but there is something to be said for doing what you want without the stress, rules or obligations of what others want or expect from you. I asked Caitlin if she regrets not having a big wedding, and she said maybe someday in the future they'll have a ceremony, but for now she was just happy to be married.