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In a world where you expect most celebrities to splash out to mark their big day, Dax and Kristen opted for something charmingly small and low-key. Do they regret their decision?

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard became one of Hollywood’s most beloved, inspiring couples, but we can’t say we aren’t grateful for their swift ascendancy. 

At each and every turn, the duo has shown what it means to love with empathy, understanding, and endless patience. Both of them have faced their fair share of challenges over the course of their 15-year relationship, some of which threatened to dismantle their family for good; however, they have always been focused on supporting each other through the tough times, regardless of the sacrifices required from each party. 

Look no further than their impromptu courthouse wedding in 2013 — which cost all of $142. In a landscape where people spend a great deal of money putting together grandiose ceremonies to mark their nuptials, it’s actually refreshing to see a couple take a different route to achieve the same end.

Here’s what we can take away from their love story.

The couple wanted the “lowest-key day possible” for their wedding

The couple has been adhering to their principles since day one. Though they announced their engagement in 2009, they said that they wouldn’t get married until their same-sex friends were granted the same privilege. “We’re not going to have a party when half of our friends … can’t do that thing we’re doing,” said Dax Shepard on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live.  In 2013, when Supreme Court terminated the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Kristen Bell tweeted at her future hubby, saying, “will you marry me?” hashtagging #loveislove. 

Their steadfast commitment to not only each other but their values is a shining example of how we need to be thoughtful about our love. Not everyone can have the self-restraint to wait, especially if the objective is about instituting equality across the entire country, but Dax and Kristen have always been ahead of the curve. Even when they decided to tie the knot, they didn’t want an obnoxiously lavish affair to merely entertain the crowd; they wanted the occasion to be about each other and their little family. 

I think the idea of weddings — in my opinion, I don’t fault any girl for whatever she wants — but in my opinion, I see it getting out of control and it’s not what I would want. A. I’d prefer the cash and B. I feel like that’s why we did it tiny and at the courthouse. We want the rest of our lives to be that party.

Kristen Bell via UPI

Elaborating on their decision, Kristen said, “We wanted the lowest-key day possible.” The two simply completed the paperwork online and went to the courthouse to pick up their license. At the courthouse, they realized they would need an actual officiant for the process. Since nobody else was available on the day, someone from the courthouse offered to marry them. They said their vows, signed the papers, and took off to get sandwiches: it was as straightforward as you can imagine. Kristen understands that not everyone will want such an understated ceremony, but as celebrities, they have experienced enough parties and luxurious soirees to last a lifetime. “I don’t fault anyone who wants a big day – especially girls, [but] we get more than enough attention in our everyday lives.” 

Kristen didn’t want the “stress” of wedding planning and wanted to keep the ceremony intimate 

Kristen Bell and Dax Sheppard (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Beaches)

Additionally, Kristen shared she didn’t want to deal with the stress of planning an extravagant wedding. Anyone who has remotely bore witness to the ins and outs of wedding planning can attest to how it’s an intrinsically anxious and demanding ordeal. You have to maintain tradition, you have to look as perfect as possible, you have to carefully curate a guest list that satisfies everyone and offends no one, the catering has to be impeccable, the band has to be epic — the list goes on and on. “The last thing we wanted to do was take something and add stress—Who’s invited? What’s for dinner?—since we’d rather buy a family member a house,” Kristen told The Knot

We did not want a wedding […] The total was $147, and I believe that included the gas in the car and the playlist. He bought all of my favorite songs from high school to play in the car on the way there and those $1.99 single tracks, the total for the day was $147.

Kristen Bell on The Knot

Of course, many people simply cherish the preparation and draw their energy from the chaos, but for others, it can be an unnecessarily onerous stage they’d rather bypass altogether. Kristen and Dax decided it would be far more fulfilling, not to mention economical, just to get hitched at the courthouse. Yes, they had ample money to throw a Big Fat Hollywood Wedding, but it was about maintaining intimacy between the two. Dax even compiled a playlist of Kristen’s favorite songs from high school for their ride to the courthouse: just because you’re being thrifty doesn’t mean you can’t make the experience special.

What’s more amusing is that Kristen returned to work mere days after saying ‘I Do.’ When asked why she wasn’t on her honeymoon, the Veronica Mars actress said, “My honeymoon will be the rest of my life.” The actress did admit how deciding to forego a traditional wedding didn’t sit well with her family but, at the end of the day, they weren’t the ones getting married. She and Dax wanted the celebration “contained,” she said, adding that a traditional gathering can get “out of control” quite rapidly if people don’t watch themselves. 

Our culture places so much value on the social aspect of marriage that it can be hard to distinguish the individual’s wishes from that of the group. Kristen and Dax’s courthouse wedding may have been low-key and quick, but if that’s what the two wanted, more power to them. Historically, marriages were thought of as social undertakings that were more about building alliances and wealth than uniting two people in love. Times have changed, and so have attitudes. Kristen herself acknowledged the power of “public promises,” and that it can be an illuminating experience to witness someone going through such a monumental change. However, it’s not what she wanted for herself, and we should respect that.

Your expression of love is unique to you

Not everyone is the same; what’s a dream for you can be a nightmare for someone else. The essential thing is to keep sight of what matters to you and your future spouse. If you believe you need to celebrate your love among many people, that’s your wish. If you want to ensure it’s a quiet exchange reserved for only you and your partner, you shouldn’t be shamed for your choice. Kristen and Dax’s courthouse moment interrogated the very foundation of the wedding ceremony and the lengths to which some couples go to showcase their love. It can undoubtedly be quite remarkable to celebrate the day with a big group of people, especially if it’s an opportunity for you to bring the family together and have a massive party. At the same time, some couples would instead proceed with something that matches their expression of love. As long as we stay above the noise and focus on the relationship, it should be enough. 

You Decide What Matters
 “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – John Lennon