These couples put a ring on it. Then COVID put a damper on it.
But lovebirds who planned to break the bank on their 2020 nuptials are now using those big-day budgets to live out their wildest dreams.
“We saved up every penny for our wedding,” Natalie Lamb and Shervin Esfahani told The Post of their would-be $30,000 celebration.
After canceling their May 2 “I Dos” for fear of putting their 120 guests at risk, the Baltimore boos repurposed their special-day savings toward exploring their “Instagram fantasy” — nomadic camper-living.
“We had the money and we were like, ‘Let’s do something fun. Let’s do something for us,’” Natalie, 34, told The Post.
They purchased an $11,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in July, and shelled out another $3,000 on decor. Over the next six weeks, the pair transformed their commercial van into a “hipster” mobile home.
“Doing a full renovation was hard,” Shervin, 35, told The Post. “But it was an enjoyable experience for us to share, especially after being so sad about canceling the wedding.”
After decking out their crib on wheels — complete with a lofted queen-size bed, kitchenette and solar panel energy system — the couple drove the camper, nicknamed Bonnie the Benz, to Florida. There, Natalie and Shervin hosted an outdoor vow ceremony in front of Bonnie for a few friends and family in September.
“Afterwards we spent about a week camping out [inside Bonnie the Benz] in the Adirondacks,” Natalie said of their honeymoon. “Since then, we go camping in it all over the East Coast as often as possible.”
New York newlyweds Phil Bassis and Carly Catalana swapped their $100,000 wedding festivities in the West Village for an $18,000 intimate rooftop ceremony in July.
He and Catalana, 31, are now putting their leftover matrimony monies toward a down payment on a $2 million downtown loft to call home.
“Instead of rescheduling this big extravagant party that’s literally gonna last one day, we said, ‘Forget that, let’s use the money to get the apartment of our dreams,’” Bassis, 34, told The Post.
The wedding industry suffered a $30 billion drop last year from its $52.5 billion gross profit in 2019 thanks to the pandemic, according to research in Wedding Report, an industry-research platform. Calling off costly weddings to purse long-term goals is a new, but growing trend amongst brides and grooms in the wake of the outbreak.
Natalie and Joseph Scarpitto’s $20,000 Jersey shoreside vows were washed out in June due to the virus, and again on their rescheduled wedding date in October.
The pair finally chose to get hitched in a $500 ceremony held at Joseph’s parents’ home in Ocean County, New Jersey, over the summer. In the fall, Natalie learned she was pregnant.
“We’re going to put a huge chunk of [our wedding money] towards the baby,” Natalie, 26, told The Post. She and Joseph are expecting a girl in June.
“We’re planning on buying a new place that has a lot of room for the baby,” the blushing bride turned mommy-to-be added.
“Rather than having a big, elaborate wedding, we want to put the money we saved, and the money we’re still hoping to be refunded, towards our growing little family.”
For Sebastian Cina Jr. and Jaclyn Hockenjos, feeding families that were financially affected by the pandemic became top priority on their earmarked May 16 wedding date.
Unable to walk down the aisle for 500 guests inside a New Jersey event hall that day, Cina and Hockenjos, 26, instead launched a campaign called #WithThisRingYoullBeFed.
Through their initiative, in partnership with Monmouth County food bank Fulfill NJ, the couple raised 1,000 pounds of food and $25,000 in cash contributions for the food insecure in their community.
“It was important to us to get married on May 16,” Hockenjos, an elementary school teacher, told The Post. “But since we couldn’t do that, we turned our negative into a positive that day and started the campaign to help others.”
She and Cina hope to be bound by fewer social-distancing guidelines on their rescheduled wedding date this April.
“Giving back has always been important to our families,” said Cina, a manger of an auto repair franchise. “We were happy we dedicated what was supposed to be our special day to doing something special for those in need.”
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