When newlyweds Samantha and Ben Friedrich were planning their wedding, they knew they wanted a small party…on a small budget.
“I had set myself a budget goal not to exceed $5,000, because no one said it was possible and I was going to prove them wrong,” Samantha said. “[But] when we started doing a headcount, it was already a huge wedding. It started getting up there in price, and details and time, and I didn’t want that.”
With the average cost of a wedding a whopping $35,000, Samantha and Ben started researching small weddings and found Pop Wed Co., a Washington, D.C.-based wedding and elopement-planning business.
For a base price of $2,900 during the week, and $3,200 on the weekends, Pop Wed Co. takes care of every detail of your wedding day—suggesting a venue, officiating the ceremony, and providing the photographer and wedding cake—before sending the newlyweds off with a marriage certificate and a celebratory confetti toss.
Couples can pay additional fees depending on which venues they choose, which range from $50 to $2,000. This fee could also include more food and drink options than the cake Pop Wed Co. provides with their packages, according to Maggie Gaudaen, who with her husband, Steven, cofounded the company.
“Pop Wed Co. is a fun way to have tiny weddings,” said Steven Gaudaen. “It’s all-inclusive elopements—all you have to do is show up on your wedding day in your favorite outfits and get married!”
Steven and Maggie started Pop Wed Co. after working as wedding photographers. The weddings were fun, but they also saw the stress that came with planning large events. Maggie began photographing elopements, which seemed less stressful, but lacked personality, Steven said.
“We wanted to combine the two [weddings], so we came up with Pop Wed Co., and we have the best of both worlds,” he said.
The wedding package includes working with Maggie and Steven to choose a place that fits their personality and vision for their wedding—for Samantha and Ben, it was a yoga studio with exposed brick walls they decorated with romantic touches like string lights and paper lanterns. Pop Wed Co. has also officiated weddings in museums, parks and monuments around Washington, D.C., and have plans to expand in the next few years.
For the Friedrichs, the process was painless, something Steven attributes to their business model of creating a “minimum viable wedding.”
“Basically all you need is the couple and the marriage license,” he said. “Everything else you can add on for what makes you happy on that day.”
Samantha and Ben called Pop Wed Co., signed a contract, and then flew to D.C. from California the night before the big day.
“We called them, set it up, and after that it was really, what little details did we want? What dress am I going to wear? It was super simple,” Samantha said.
The cost also sped up their weddings plans, something they were both eager to do.
“As far as finances and a budget, it was doable for us this way,” Ben said. “A big wedding just wouldn’t have been doable. We would have waited and we didn’t want to wait!”
Steven recommends couples to focus on what they want to see at their wedding, instead of feeling pressure from others.
“Think about what you truly want in a wedding,” Steven said. “It’s your day. You should make it special for yourself.”
After a ceremony where Samantha and Ben read their vows in front of Ben’s grandparents (and no other guests), danced together after their I-dos, and cut into a cake with Pop Wed Co.’s signature dinosaur cake toppers, the couple said they had no regrets about their tiny wedding.
“The wedding is about you,” Samantha said. “This is our style, this is our time, and our moment, and I wasn’t creating a party for everyone else to enjoy. This is my time, and our love,” she said.