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Couple Goes High-Tech And Low Cost For Their Big Day


June brings basketball championships but also weddings. And when the big day comes for engaged couples and their families, often the only thing more overwhelming than the love is the bill - especially in cities like New York where the cost of everything is high and logistics can be a nightmare.

So the story of one New York couple might give other lovebirds inspiration. Naa-Sakle Akuete and Kyle Healy organized their wedding using almost exclusively online startup companies. And it looks as though they will be able to tie the knot for less than $10,000 in a city where the average wedding is - wait for it - nine times that cost. They were profiled in a recent story in Fast Company magazine, and the happy couple is with us now. Welcome. Congratulations.

KYLE HEALY: Thank you.

NAA-SAKLE AKUETE: Thank you so much.

HEALY: Thanks for having us.

MARTIN: So before we get started, you know I have to ask how you met.

AKUETE: So Kyle and I actually met on OkCupid.

HEALY: This is the start of our Internet romance.

MARTIN: OkCupid. OK. So who saw who first?

AKUETE: I saw Ky first.

HEALY: She saw me.


HEALY: Yeah.

AKUETE: ...And messaged him. And he responded, thankfully.

MARTIN: So how did you come up with this idea of kind of trying to do it this way? Was this just a - natural for you? Or was it that you kind of researched the traditional ways of putting on a wedding and thought to yourselves, you know, I kind of don't want to be in debt for the first five years of my life, and we've got to do something else?

AKUETE: So we had a pot of $10,000 for this ceremony and...

HEALY: ...Based on what we could scrape together and what - you know, obviously, sometimes parents can chip in which we're very grateful for.

MARTIN: So you knew what your budget was which is a good - which is also a good thing.

AKUETE: Exactly.

HEALY: And we decided we were not going to go into debt to get married and start our life out that way, as you said.

AKUETE: And, for the most part, venues start at at least, like, $5,000 which we didn't want to do. And in addition to being kind of expensive, they put constraints on you with regards to which caterers you're allowed to use. So I think right off the bat, we found a better alternative to that.

And so we came across Airbnb. And after we made that decision which was, like, kind of a pretty huge divergent from the norm, I think things just kind of organically sprung up in different tech startups that we started to notice.

MARTIN: How did Airbnb help you because - what? - you were able to find a space where you didn't have to have all these restrictions?

AKUETE: Yeah. Exactly. So you can search apartments by number of people that they can house, features that are available to them.

HEALY: We wanted outdoor space.

AKUETE: Exactly.

HEALY: That was very important to us to have, like, a - optimally, like, a rooftop garden party experience

MARTIN: And so you found a rooftop - I won't disclose the location.

HEALY: Thank you.

MARTIN: We'll follow the Jay Z, Beyoncé rule. We'll just keep that all very private. I understand that you also used TaskRabbit to find staff. How did that work?

AKUETE: Yeah. TaskRabbit was hugely useful. We found a photographer, cater waiters, a cook for the brunch the next day that we're also hosting at the same Airbnb apartment, cleaners - at definitely a fraction of the cost it would've taken to have, like, a proper crew come up and do that for us.

MARTIN: What about the food - kind of important?

HEALY: That was very important. That's right. The food was very important, and that's one of the reasons that we decided to save on the other costs so we could really go all out when it came to the food.

MARTIN: How is that going to work?

HEALY: Good question.

AKUETE: (Laughing) So for the ceremony itself, we're ordering from one of our favorite barbecue places and having a TaskRabbit pick it up for us. And then for the brunch the following day, we've ordered from Instacart which is kind of like Peapod.

But it delivers from a number of different grocery stores which is kind important because we don't have a Costco membership, for example. And they can pick things up from Costco for you. And they can also deliver alcohol which was useful.

HEALY: Very useful.

AKUETE: So we're having all of those delivered to the apartment and then having the TaskRabbit cook for us.

MARTIN: Oh, that's awesome. That's great. Now are there any downsides to this? I can imagine that generally with weddings, you invite family members of different generations. Everybody's not as computer savvy as perhaps - not stereotyping - because the fact is we do know that there are a lot of seniors who are very tech savvy, but, sometimes, that kind of varies across the board. Have there been any people in your kind of universe who've had trouble with the whole thing? Have you had any difficulties there?

HEALY: Yeah. Actually one of the sites that we used was Paperless Post for the invites which you think is, you know, just lickety-split - one, two, three. Put everybody's e-mail down and blast it out, and everybody can respond on there, you know, on their own time. And we get their feedback instantly. But it turns out that some of the older generation were not on the e-mail so much. So...

AKUETE: And then, similar to that, we have our wedding website on The Knot and pretty much all the information that you could possibly want is there. I talked to my mom last weekend, and she still didn't know that she had to book a hotel room. So, like, things like that where...

MARTIN: Mom doesn't have a hotel room?

AKUETE: But, yeah - things that I didn't really think of have popped up as problems, it turns out.

MARTIN: Well, it does make sense, though - so kind of on the leading edge of this kind of experience. I think a lot of people are used to maybe doing one or two things online, but trying to make the whole thing that way, you know, kind of new.

So we are certainly wishing you well. We are certainly hoping all goes as you hope. I'll just tell you right now, it won't. But you'll be OK.

If you were, now, to give this advice to other couples who are starting out on this - are there kind of one or two things you would really want to flag?

AKUETE: So actually, we've been trying to be pretty flexible will with this entire thing. And so a new technology that we came across, actually, this week is called Pixobook.

A problem I've had going to weddings in the past is that I'm taking pictures, all of our friends are taking pictures, but the bride and groom never see them. And so Pixobook is going to help us reach out to the guests and scrape through, like, Instagram, Facebook and different social media outlets and pull that information together and make an album for us. And I think that that is really going to be helpful especially for people who don't necessarily have a photographer.

So I think be flexible is one of our biggest things. And then also, if you are nervous about planning at all, this is almost certainly not the way to go because, for example, even last week, we got an e-mail from Airbnb saying that our venue had been canceled. And they were wonderful about it - very, very helpful - and it turns out that the host canceled it by accident. But definitely a few hours of panic there.

HEALY: Yeah. It was not a comfortable e-mail to receive.

MARTIN: You mean it was a mistake?

AKUETE: It was a mistake. Yeah.

MARTIN: So all is fine now?

AKUETE: All is fine.


HEALY: All is fine. Fingers crossed - it's going to be fine. We have chosen to believe.

AKUETE: But, I guess, be flexible, and don't be an anxious person.

MARTIN: Well, good luck. Best wishes - keep us posted. Let us know how it all goes. OK?

AKUETE: Thank you so much.

HEALY: Thank you very much. We will.

MARTIN: All right. And we are wishing you well. Kyle Healy and Naa-Sakle Akuete joined us from our bureau in New York. Best wishes.

HEALY: Thanks for having us.

AKUETE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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