When Natalie Zfat showed up for a friend’s wedding in Montauk, NY, she didn’t expect to meet her future husband. Zfat, 33, and Brad Farber, 45, both arrived early to the celebration. The two exchanged small talk and spent a good chunk of the night just sitting and talking.
Nine months later, they were engaged. He proposed at an art gallery in Napa Valley (both of their moms are artists, so the location was meaningful to the couple) with a simple gold band. “The idea of a diamond on my hand always felt off,” she admits. “I don’t want anyone to make an assumption about how much money people think I have or don’t have by looking at my hand.”
When it came down to planning the big day, the couple didn’t want to formally organize one at all. “We’d been engaged six months, and the reality is that neither of us was super inspired to do a big wedding,” says Zfat. “Travel is more inspiring and exciting to us than having an expensive celebration.”
Deciding to spare costs on an elaborate multi-day event in favor of saving up for upcoming trips, they married at the groom’s parents’ house in Lutz, Florida. The venue was free, tallying the total cost (including travel, photography, food, and alcohol) to less than $3,000. What’s more, they were able to plan the entire event in (gasp) under two weeks.
A Quick Turn Around
Around the six-month mark of their engagement, the couple decided to get married in the presence of immediate family members only. “It was Thanksgiving weekend, so we already knew family members had their flights booked,” explains Zfat. Airfare for the couple, departing on Thanksgiving Day (including a welcomed free upgrade to first class) were in the ballpark of $500.
They only spent about two weeks on planning, which included making decisions about food and securing a Rabbi. They skipped out on fancy invitations. In fact, they didn’t send any. The guest list topped at 14, including the couples’ immediate families (and the Rabbi, of course).
Keeping Their Plans Top Secret
Before flying south for the holiday (and their pseudo-surprise wedding weekend), the pair got their marriage license at the Manhattan courthouse. They called their parents separately that Wednesday to tell them we getting married on Saturday. “We purposely didn’t give them enough time to do anything other than pack what they wanted to wear,” says Zfat. “Otherwise, I think they would have made it a whole ordeal.”
Dressed Last-Minute (and By Their Own Closets)
Though many brides have fittings months before the ceremony, Zfat waited until the last minute to choose a gown. “I went to the Yigal Azrouël showroom and I tried this one on two days before the wedding,” she says. She wore a pair of sandals she already owned and did her own hair and makeup. Farber also found inspiration in his wardrobe, wearing a custom blue suit found in his closet.
Taking Care of Necessary Details
The photography was the most expensive element of the wedding, says Zfat, who hired Storyline Collective to capture images of the special day for $1,500. A necessary splurge for a bride who works in social media.
Under a tallit huppah on the water, behind the family home among a forest of trees, the two exchanged “I Dos” on November 24, 2018. The couple’s ceremony started at 8 p.m., after sundown and Shabbat. Leading up to the nuptials, everyone was hungry. “I ate a slice of pizza in my wedding dress three hours before the ceremony,” says Zfat. “Brad ate four slices in his suit, which I thought was funny. That’s a real testament to how casual our wedding was. We ordered pizza—that was our cocktail hour!”
For the reception, the couple ordered food from a kosher caterer, and Farber’s father made skirt steak and grilled veggies on the barbecue. $1,000 was spent on food (including the delivery pizza), wine, and liquor. There was no need to rent tables, chairs, plates or silverware. Everything was already available at the house. Now married, they’re able to enjoy what they really wanted all along: seeing the world together.