(Photo by Cresswell Photography)
These days, weddings have to be Hollywood-perfect. A grand entrance, intricate decorations, bespoke bonbonnieres, handmade invitations and a flawless bridal party. Read: lots and lots of money, and lots and lots of stress.
Don’t get me wrong, even if you skimp on the above, a wedding generally still costs lots and lots of money, and can be super stressful to organise. But I assure you, you can choose a wedding that is affordable, enjoyable and relatively stress-free.
The secret? Care. Less.
I, for one, am HIGHLY susceptible to becoming a perfectionistic people-pleaser when making important decisions, but decided that for my wedding, it just wasn’t worth the stress. We wanted to genuinely have fun, enjoy the lead up and, ideally, NOT trigger the anxiety I am prone to when time is limited and the stakes are high.
So we decided to care less. To care less about what tradition, culture, our faith community, relatives, friends, magazines, movies, Pinterest, etc. say we SHOULD do, and just do what we really wanted to do. While my husband had the right of veto, he was more than happy to leave most of the gritty planning to his super organised fiancee, especially as we shared very similar ideas about how we wanted it to be.
What we did (and didn’t do!)
Having been to nearly forty weddings (yes, truly!) in my relatively short lifetime, I was pretty clear on what I did and didn’t want. My main conviction? We are not going to do something just because that’s what people do at weddings.
Don’t get me wrong, we value tradition. We had a church ceremony, I wore a white dress, we had a bridal party, there were some flowers and speeches and stuff. We even did a first dance (I took a lot of convincing) – which was NOT choreographed, and in the end, heaps of fun!
We don’t, however, subscribe to tradition for tradition’s sake. We went with traditions that meant something to us. But we also opted for online invitations (thank you, Paperless Post!), a cocktail ceremony and Connoisseur ice cream sticks instead of a cake. We also intentionally omitted all of the following:
* inviting relatives, friends and family friends we didn’t know well
* throwing the bouquet
* ordering fresh flowers (Found some fab silk ones on Etsy!)
* making guests either travel or wait for hours between the ceremony and reception
* making the bridesmaids wake up at the crack of dawn to do hair and makeup
* basically holding a church service with some wedding vows thrown in
Our main goal? That everyone there, including the bridal party, would have a genuinely good time – feel comfortable, joyful and relaxed.
I’m definitely NOT saying that anyone who did the things listed above somehow did something wrong. In my opinion, everyone’s wedding should be just that – their wedding. But we weren’t just going to do stuff for the sake of it – no way.
My advice for a stress-free wedding
The wedding I described might not be your ideal day. And yes, you may face more family or cultural pressures to do things a certain way than we did. If that’s you, I feel for you. But I would encourage you to still take ownership over the parts of your special day that you CAN influence (there are always some), and pick your battles, rather than feeling resentful over the constraints that are there. Perhaps you can embrace the non-negotiables as part of your shared heritage, or give them your own meaning.
If you are lucky enough to have the kind of freedom we had, you may still fall into one of the following categories:
* You kind of want to get married but hate the idea of all the fuss
* You’re planning a wedding with limited funds
* You’ve just gotten engaged and are daunted at the prospect of how much there is to do between now and the big day
I have good news for you. This is YOUR day. There are actually NO rules (except for the legal stuff of course!) Do as little or as much as you want and focus on your priorities.
What are your goals for the day? How do you want to remember it? How do you want your guests to remember it? How do you want to feel in the months and weeks leading up to it?
Agree on your goals and keep your eyes fixed on them. It sounds sinister, but everything and everyone around you will try – consciously or unconsciously – to tell you how your wedding ought to be. Stick to your guns. And say no to wedding magazines! (Or maybe that’s just me…)
A lot can be acheived – cost savings, stress reduction, improved relationships – by limiting what I call ‘the unnecessaries’. When developing your wedding to do list, or checking off the items, keep asking yourself: ‘Is this necessary to our joy? To the joy of our guests? Is it important to our relationship or values?’
In my experience, these principles will help you cast off excess tasks and expenses and leave you with a fun wedding that is within your budget and genuinely ‘you’.