Newlyweds defend decision to banish traditional wedding

On May 31, 2012, Sarah-Ann McKeeman was in her kitchen cooking dinner when her boyfriend of almost five years, Ryan McKeeman, asked her for a hug. When Sarah-Ann turned around, Ryan held a blue box and asked her to be his forever.

 “I was in shock. After waiting four-and-a-half years it was crazy that it was finally happening. Of course I said yes. How couldn’t I? I was so happy I couldn’t stop crying,” she said.

Sarah-Ann and Ryan began planning a huge wedding with friends and family for Sept. 4, 2012. However, after buying her wedding dress, Sarah-Ann began to question why all these materialistic stresses would be important in showing how much they love each other.Newlyweds Ryan and Sarah-Ann McKeeman, said that their Vegas wedding was perfect for them.

Photo courtesy of Ryan and Sarah-Ann McKeeman

In Canada, the average cost of a wedding, including the honeymoon, is $31,110. This large price along with the planning of vendors, decorations, dresses, and the guest list all had a stressful influence on Sarah-Ann and Ryan.

“The wedding was a huge expense. I was having anxiety with the huge crowd and couldn’t wait to marry Sarah,” said Ryan.

The newly engaged couple was already going to vacation in Las Vegas, so they decided to elope while there. Ryan and Sarah-Ann thought having a wedding with just the two of them would be more romantic and ideal.

Ryan and Sarah-Ann’s original plan was to have their big wedding on an acreage outside of Grande Prairie, which is owned by Ryan’s mom, Dianne Tink. So when the couple decided not to go through with these plans, they acknowledge that Tink was most affected by their decision.

“He did call me and said, ‘Mom we decided not to do a big wedding. We’re just gonna take off, just the two of us.’ And I have to admit when he said that, my heart just sank. Ryan’s my first-born and it’s one of the things you think about when raising your kids and what that day will look like for them,” said Tink.

All their family members reacted in different ways. Ryan’s dad and stepmother, along with Sarah-Ann’s mom, were happy with the couple’s decision, while others like Sarah-Ann’s father shared a similar reaction to Ryan’s mother.

“He seemed a little hurt that I would be his only daughter that he wouldn’t walk down the aisle. I told him our reason for eloping was that a marriage is a commitment between two people and God … After explaining that to him he understood.”

Sarah-Ann’s father accepted her decision to elope because he understood where she and Ryan were coming from. Sarah-Ann’s mother and father also eloped, but at the city hall.

Ryan’s mother, Dianne Tink, said, “The experience was wonderful for them and it looked like it was very romantic and intimate just the two of them, and they are very happy with the choice they made.”

Photo courtesy of Ryan and Sarah-Ann McKeemanOn March 28, 2012, Ryan and Sarah-Ann tied the knot at Red Rock Canyon in Nevada at 6:30 p.m. with a sunset as the backdrop. They explained that just being there together was relaxing, and they were able to focus on their commitment instead of worrying about “speeches, dances, vendors, decorations, food and all the little things that people add to weddings that really don’t even matter,” said Sarah-Ann.

Ryan’s mother, Tink, said that parents try to raise their children to be themselves and to make their own decisions, and sometimes those decisions aren’t what the parents want. She said she’s proud of them for making a choice that was right for them and for not giving in to social expectations.

Looking back, the newlyweds don’t regret not having a traditional wedding.

“This was one of the best decisions we have ever made in our relationship and we couldn’t have been happier with our day. Ryan and I have been married for almost six months now and we are so in love. It blossoms every day, and our love will be expanding on May 7, 2013 when baby McKeeman arrives,” said Sarah-Ann.

amajowski@cjournal.ca