POWELL COUNTY (WDKY-TV)– According to one recent survey, the average cost of a wedding today is almost $34,000. But in these days of a pandemic, many brides are getting away from the idea that bigger is better.
For Leah Pederson and Austin Honeycutt of Lexington, the path to matrimony was steep and rocky… and beautiful. And they did it on a budget, without any witnesses.
“I just remember the first time I saw her, I was immediately caught off guard and in love and remember thinking, ‘that’s who I’m gonna marry. I’m gonna make it happen, no matter what,” said Austin.
He made it happen with the help of a business called “My Tiny Wedding,” which performs ceremonies outdoors in the Red River Gorge.
Rachel Crowe, co-owner and officiant, said, “It’s like Easter every time we pull into the parking lot. We don’t know what kind of eggs are going to show up.”
Crowe and her business partner, Janet Carroll, organize weddings in the gorge mostly through email and seldom meet the couples until just before the ceremony begins.
“It’s very rare,” Crowe said. “When they come out and have fairy wings, we’re like ‘we’re doing a fairy wedding today’ or light sabers: ‘we’re doing Star Wars.’ It’s your day. You make it how you want to make it.”
But most weddings, like Leah and Austin’s, aren’t themed. They are just quiet ceremonies where nature supplies the visuals.
Couples choose how many guests they’ll have, if any, and if they want music, flowers, photography or a reception. “My Tiny Wedding” also has a reception hall near Natural Bridge State Resort Park, for those who might want a full catered meal.
“You’d be hard pressed to go over $7,500 with us (for the top-of-the line package) and can go as low as $595,” Crowe said. In normal times, the guest list is capped at 40 people. Right now, with COVID-19 restrictions, ten is the maximum.
A year ago, Warren Cobb surprised Renee Collins by telling her they were going to do a photo shoot in the gorge. The shoot became a proposal, an engagement and a wedding, all in a matter of minutes.
Renee said she was taken off guard but wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“We had a friend recently tell us how much work it was to get married… and I absolutely thanked him after the conversation because I didn’t have to do any of that,” she said. “It was the absolute perfect way to start our lives as husband and wife.”
At tiny weddings, even if you don’t plan for onlookers, you may get a few. And it may be simple, but no high-paid decorator could do any better than the handiwork of God.
Couples don’t have to walk down the aisle to start off on the right foot. In the Red River Gorge, a walk in the woods will do just fine.
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Still photographs provided by Erica Chambers Photography.