I got married a few weeks ago and the days after were filled with compliments from friends and family. People said our wedding felt intimate, personal and “us.” They danced during the reception (from a mix that my husband custom made) and cried during the ceremony, filled with vows we wrote and a sermon from a friend of mine.
Over the course of planning my wedding, I learned a lot about the process. People always say it’s your day, but then they expect you to do the things they did. We decided very quickly we wanted to have the wedding we wanted. Luckily our parents were supportive and didn’t force us to use their ideas.
Here’s what I learned is not important to having a great wedding:
Flowers are not the focus
I loved the flowers in my centerpieces and my bouquet. I spent hours searching for ideas via Pinterest and emailing back and forth with my florist. When it came to the day, I could not care less. Flowers are pretty and unless they’re wilted or smelly, no one will mention them to you. Consider grabbing a few bouquets at Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, or Costco and call it good.
Skip the bouquet and garter toss
I’ve only been to one wedding with a garter toss, but I was immediately horrified. Are you telling me your new husband has to put his hands all over you in front of all your friends and family? I was so nervous about telling my then-fiance that I didn’t want him to feel me up in front of my father. Thankfully he felt the same way.
I also skipped the bouquet toss. I hate having to be forced to go on the dance floor and pretend to care about catching the bouquet. After the wedding a good friend asked me if we did the bouquet and garter toss and she had missed them. I told her we skipped them and she said, “THANK GOD.” For the most part, grown women don’t want to be forced to pretend like all they care about is getting married.
You don’t need a beautiful cake
I love dessert more than most people I know. When it came time to decide on our cake, I chose one of my favorite bakeries in town. When the owner asked what kind of decorations I wanted, I asked if we could do a sheet cake. My husband and I didn’t want to do a cake cutting so it seemed silly to spend more money on the exterior of the cake.
Our guests loved our cake – chocolate with ganache filling and American buttercream. Because we didn’t need an intricate design, we didn’t have to use fondant. Fondant is the worst dessert invention of all time, after sugar-free anything.
Another cool option is a donut bar or wall. Take a look at this tutorial from The Budget Savvy Bride.
I’ve always been shocked at the prevalence of the tradition of matching bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits. When it came time to decide what we wanted our bridal party to wear (which always seems so bossy to me), we decided to give them basic instructions and let them choose their own outfits.
I asked my girls to wear purple dresses, any shade, any length. They decided on nude shoes and gold jewelry. As it turns out, dark purple is a flattering shade on most people and my girls looked beautiful the day of. Some chose dresses that cost what most bridesmaids spend ($150) while others snagged great deals for gowns that cost $50. I was happy that they each chose something that made them feel beautiful and that fit into their budget.
While some people still like having a gift registry, so many of us have been “living in sin” with our significant other for much of our relationships. I personally didn’t need another crockpot or bedding set, but I did need to pay off student loans. Therefore, instead of a traditional, consider a “Honeyfund.” Instead of physical gifts, your loved ones can give you cash. Sure, you’ll still end up getting some random presents, but most people are happy to give money over gifts.
If you care about the above things, then you should make them important. By focusing our energy on the things that really mattered to us, we had enough energy to make those decisions well.
No one seemed to notice much or care that we skipped these traditions. People remember how they felt during your first kiss, during the best man’s speech, during your last dance. They remember how easy it was to get to to the venue, if you had affordable hotel blocks, if you offered vegetarian food options.