As Tessa Torrente said her vows to her husband a cat appeared from nowhere and attacked the tulle on her dress. “The little cat was playful, but wouldn’t stop eating the tulle on my dress and eventually threw up a small amount onto the dress itself,” she recalls.
But she just laughed it off. This ceremony outside a castle in Rothenburg, Germany, wasn’t her and her husband’s only wedding. Considering that what is called the “average” wedding in the US costs $30,000, the couple ditched that idea to travel the world. Instead, they had mini-ceremonies in nine different countries, and are now helping other couples to do the same. The pair from New York are among couples who would rather spend a few thousand dollars travelling the world, rather than having what is essentially an enormous, albeit lovely, party on one day.
Writer Tessa, 27, was working as a bartender in Nashville, Tennessee, when her then-trainee lawyer boyfriend Matt, a 26-year-old lawyer, was offered an internship in Switzerland. But travelling the world still isn't cheap, and their trip didn't come without sacrifices.
“I decided to work as hard as I could and make as much money as possible to enable me to quit my job and go to Switzerland with him. We also sold as many of our possessions as we could to make the internship possible, including Matt's car.”
To remember their trip, they balled up their wedding clothes in their backpacks, and set up their tripods at beauty spots in countries including Ireland, Morocco, Norway, Spain and Switzerland.
“A lot of the times it was changing in back alleys or in the back of our rental car. I still wonder how my dress looks so nice in pictures,” Tessa says.
As well as a cat throwing up on her dress, Tessa fondly recalls how she and Matt set up a tripod outside their Airbnb to capture the northern lights in Norway in -26C as their camera struggled to stay on in the freezing weather.
“The shutter had to stay open for 20 full seconds to capture the northern lights, so during those 20 seconds we couldn’t move or even shiver. It sounds like torture but it was honestly so much fun.”
And she looks back on how they woke up early in the morning in Zermatt, Switzerland, and had to rush into their wedding garments one hour into a three hour hike when the clouds parted to reveal the top of the Matterhorn.
“In the picture, I am still wearing my jeans and snow boots under my dress. We only got a chance to take five pictures before the clouds surrounded the top for the rest of the day.”
Acrobats and business owners Cheetah Platt and Rhiann Woodyard from Las Vegas, meanwhile visited to 13 countries, 6 continents, for $3,000 each.
While Cheetah was well-travelled, Rhiann had not been more than 600 miles from where she was born.
“As of today we have married each other 58 times and held ceremonies in the USA, Colombia, Spain, Ireland, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, India, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Canada, and Mexico,” Cheetah told The Independent.
“In two months we are leaving on our next around the world wedding trip and will be getting married in: Japan, Maldives, Bali, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Czech Republic, Dubai, France, Scotland, Italy, England, Iceland, and Canada.
“We plan to hold our 100th wedding ceremony in front of the Washington Monument on the 4th of July this year. But we don't really make strict plans, so we'll see what happens.”
The pair also have some arguably more interesting stories than the usual fare of family tiffs and awkward speeches as memories for their wedding.
“We hold our weddings with the camera and tripod as our witnesses to every ceremony,” Rhiann half-jokes.
“In Thailand at the Elephant Sanctuary when we were trying to hold a beautiful wedding with elephants in the background of was so hilarious and wonderful to see my handsome husband running in circles trying to set up ‘the shot’ with these giant, majestic creatures who revised to hold all of stay where he wanted them. It was magically funny to spend the afternoon with enormous animals, sharing their space, sharing our love, and laughing as they constantly knocked over the tripod checking of the camera and kept 'photobombing' in front of the lens. It was a perfectly romantic disaster.”
The couples are keen to stress that, although they are lucky to travel extensively, they aren’t rich or “self-indulgent millennials who are so rich they are throwing lavish weddings all around the world," as Cheetah says.
“We are saving so much ninety by getting married this way. We are not rich. We are average Americans who save their money all year and decide to spend it on travel instead of clothes and fancy food,” he adds.
“Every single photo holds days of memories. Laughter, worry, joy, fear, romance, stress, beauty, happiness, exultation and love. I know many people think that these are just photos of our wedding ceremony, but they need to remember that the fantastic photo getting married on top of the island mountain in Fiji for example, doesn't show the incredible hike to the top, the gruelling mountain trek, the sweat and the sore muscles, the views and the sounds of the birds we had never heard before. The way the water tasted once we'd reached the top, the sheer and utter joy of reaching the summit and the crosstalk of dropping and cracking the cell phone at the top. Every single photo contains hundreds of amazing memories for us.”
Both couples are now happily fielding requests from others interested in replicating their story.
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