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We couldn’t afford a $30K NYC wedding reception — so we had

We couldn't afford a $30K NYC wedding reception — so we had

Daniel Jean couldn’t afford to give his bride, Esmy Valdez, an over-the-top wedding. 

So, the Brooklynite took it underground — to the subway. 

“We didn’t have the money to do the dream reception that I’d always envisioned,” Jean, 39, a marketing manager from Flatbush, told The Post, noting the high cost of hosting nuptials in NYC. 

“I decided to surprise her by having a dope reception on the L train,” said Jean. 

Jean surprised Valdez with their L train reception this week. Calico Olu

He and Valdez, 38, a beautician, say they officially entered into holy matrimony with a private church ceremony on June 27.

However, the twosome toasted their claimed union alongside 20 friends — as well as a carful of complete strangers — on Tuesday, with an estimated cost of only $3,000. 

Exchanging vows with a standard ceremony and reception in the Big Apple can cost couples upwards of $63,000, according to a May 2024 report from wedding hub The Knot. 

The sky-high figure is approximately 80% greater than the national average cost of hitching in 2023, which balanced out to around $35,000. 

Train passengers joined in on the big day revelry, cheering on the couple as they celebrated their marriage. Calico Olu

Jean, however, tapped pal Jodell “Joe the Show” Lewis to pull off their thrifty subway soirée. 

“I emceed the reception, my friend Christopher Dupree helped manage the setup, and we hired a wedding planner, Anya, to assist with the overall production,” Lewis, 40, a standup comedian, told The Post. 

No stranger to partying with straphangers, Lewis has previously helmed several splashy shindigs on the train, including a wet and wild pool party. His engine-powered blowouts are buzzy attempts at cleaning up the city’s not-so-sweet reputation for being unsafe and unfriendly.

Lewis hosts events on trains to showcase New York City in a positive and loving light. Calico Olu

“We had food catered by Chef O of O’s Grill Spot [in Brooklyn], we had a cake, drinks and music from DJ Whoo Kid,” said Lewis of the wedding celebration. “It was an incredibly fun and memorable party for around $3,000 that would have cost $30,000 at a reception hall.”

As wedding costs continue climbing amid the inflation crisis, budgeted brides and grooms — like Valdez and Jean — are becoming increasingly creative when it comes to saving a few bucks on their big days. 

While some pennywise pairs are turning to AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, to dial back their “I Do” expenses, other frugal flames are even forgoing fancy wedding vendors and entrusting big box shops like Costco to handle their flowers, cakes and décor. 

And frugality worked wonders another way for Valdez: She told The Post that their wild-ride reception further deepened her love for Jean. 

“When I walked onto the train and saw everything, I thought, ‘Wow, I picked the right guy,’” gushed the newlywed.

Viral visuals of the festivities scored more than 363,000 views on TikTok.

“People in this city think it’s important for men to have expensive things in order to wow the woman of their dreams,” she added. “Our reception was all about love.”

Jean agreed. 

“You only hear about people getting robbed, slashed or pushed on the tracks,” he said, noting the recent string of subway attacks in Gotham. 

“But there’s nowhere else in the world you can have your wedding on a train and get so much love from happy people you don’t even know.”

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