you don’t have to…

Weddings are wrought with traditions. This can be a good thing, unless we carry on things that don’t make sense for us just because we’re “supposed” to. Here is your permission to break some rules. You don’t have to..

Invite your mother’s fourth cousin. Once upon a time, the family of the bride was responsible for footing the bill for the wedding, and so got the privilege of making many of the decisions surrounding how the money was spent (including the guest list.) These days, it’s the couple that pays for the bulk of the wedding expenses. In Greene County, you can expect to spend between $100-$120 per guest, so not inviting distant relatives and friends of parents is not a matter of disrespect, but a matter of finances. My rule of thumb? If you wouldn’t recognize the person on the street and they’ve never met your significant other, there is no reason to feel obligated to send an invitation. If  mom is adamant about someone in particular, gently explain your budget limitations and your reasons for not inviting this person. Trimming the guest list is the absolute best way to keep your out-of-pocket cost low and ensure your day stays intimate instead of chaotic.

Wear uncomfortable shoes. Or an uncomfortable dress, or a silly suit. Modern fashion rules dictate that there are no rules, and that includes your wedding day. Brides and their grooms choose to get married in whatever style they wish these days, from full-on tuxedo and ballgown, to denim and skater-dress with cowboy boots. The point is- don’t wear something you’ll be uncomfortable in. The day goes by waaaaay too fast to suffer blisters on your feet, a corset poking your ribs, or to feel like a penguin all night (for the fellas.) One fashion recommendation I do have? Keep it classy. Though celebrities seem to believe sexy gowns are the way to walk down the aisle, believe me, Grandpa and your future teenage son have no interest in seeing your breasts hanging out of your top. Save a secret for the wedding night, no?

Buy your guests a favor. They are there because they love you. And because you are buying them dinner. And because weddings are pretty much the only occasion we can get super spiffed-up for these days. You don’t need to spend an extra penny on an item that, quite honestly, will be in the trash by the end of the month. Upgrade your DJ instead to make sure they have a great time.

Send save-the-dates. Save the paper, postage, and time spent on Pinterest trying to find a unique idea to let people know that you are sending this piece of paper to let them know that soon you’ll be sending a piece of paper that will tell them to mark the date you are sending them now on the calendar. Whew. I wasted time just writing that. Seriously, if you think someone will need longer than 8 weeks to make arrangements to attend, just give them a call.

Spend an entire year planning a wedding. Especially if you’ve hired a coordinator (which I know you have, right? Right?!?) six months can pull together an amazing shindig, no problem. Less time just means you may have fewer options for vendors, photographers, caterers. More time means you have more options. If you and your honey can’t wait to get married, though, don’t fall for the traditional advice that says you need a year to fully plan. You don’t.

What about you? Any traditions you’re ditching for something that makes more sense for you?

 

Continue Reading

the beauty in simplicity

It is sooooooo easy to get caught up in picky details. We live in a world where every best moment is posted, every mediocre moment is deleted, and Pinterest-induced comas are epidemic among brides and wedding coordinators alike.

Our reasons are good. We’re caught in a love bubble. We want our guests to feel special. We want to create epic memories. We want to put our very best foot forward.

Then time speeds out of control. Before you know it, the wedding day is here. You’ve spent every moment poring over favor ideas, playing with your menu options, finding the perfect song…and you realize you haven’t been on an actual date with your guy in three months. You realize you put some extra dollars toward the cake, the jewelry, the place settings, the whatever, leaving less cash for the honeymoon, or a down payment on a home.

The Big Day should be a blast. And it should be bigger than a regular day. But it is one day where sometimes less truly is more. Nearly ten years ago, my husband and I tied the knot with what I considered a balance of extravagance and simplicity. If I could do it again, there are some things I definitely would have simplified. There are also things I would have spent more on. Katie Fox over at The Art of Simple expressed similar thoughts in an article she wrote earlier this year:

Anniversaries always make me wax nostalgic, and Shaun and I enjoyed reminiscing about the time we spent dating, our engagement, and the wedding itself. If there were ever a contest for the simplest wedding, I think ours would be a pretty solid contestant. It’s still probably the simplest wedding I’ve ever attended.

Back when we got married, we were young and idealistic. We planned to move overseas after getting married, and we didn’t want to accumulate a lot of “stuff”. In the same vein, we scorned the excesses of the wedding industry and rejected the idea of an expensive, extravagant affair. In the words of Dewey Finn, you could say we had a bad case of “stick-it-to-the-man-eosis”.

So, it was a simple wedding. Really simple. We reserved a pretty little city park in the middle of downtown for $60. We rented white folding chairs, and we asked a talented artist friend to do our flowers. Some other friends provided the music. I wore a white linen sundress that I found at TJ Maxx, with little white sandals, and I asked my two bridesmaids to wear sundresses of their choice. The men wore khakis and guayaberas. My dad even wore a Hawaiian shirt!

The reception space presented a little conundrum, until my aunt and uncle offered their home. Perfect. We asked four friends to each make one cake, and our biggest splurge of the event was that we catered a bar-b-que dinner, so everyone could go home with full bellies. It was simple, and it was all we wanted. We were deliriously happy.

Of course, we were young and poor, and totally constrained by finances, so it’s hard to say if we would have done it differently, had we had gobs of money. But honestly, I don’t think so. After it was all said and done, we heard a lot of feedback:

“I loved your wedding!”

“Your wedding was so YOU!”

“Man, you guys had the coolest wedding EVER!”
(I think that comment was from a fellow sufferer of stick-it-to-the-man-eosis.)

Today, if we were going to get married, would we do it the same way?

She talks about how difficult it can be to weigh the decisions in the wedding consumer-driven industry, and to keep your eye on the must-haves in a world of options. I know this pressure, too–in fact, when I meet with a bride, the very first thing I do is ask her to set her top three priorities. Knowing what those are going into the planning process keeps us on track for the vision. Katie finishes her beautiful post with this…

So, we looked at it like this: it’s just one day. One very important day, yet still – only one. But now, we’d probably do it differently. We might invite more people, or serve different food (I’m not even much of a bar-b-que fan!). I might wear a fancier dress, or choose a different location…who knows?

As with everything, it’s finding the balance that’s the challenge. In the face of our comparison-driven culture, it’s not always easy. We can get swept up into thinking that every possibility is a “must-have” without even realizing it.

10 years down the road from our sweet little wedding, we look back on it with great fondness and affection. But honestly, it’s everything that’s happened since then that really matters. Weddings last a day, but a marriage will (hopefully) last forever. I’m glad we did it simply.

You can read the whole post here. What about you? What are some ways you are simplifying your Big Day? What are you splurging on?

Continue Reading

capture the moment

You know the moment I’m talking about. The music swells. The doors open. The inhale. There you stand, the most beautiful woman in the room.

You’ve taken his breath away.

I’m not sure there is a moment in the entire wedding day that is quite like this one. The lucky groom savors the beauty walking into his life forever. The glowing bride will cherish the look on his face for a lifetime. Then she gets to the end of the walk. The music stops. The words begin. The moment is over.

Ideally, your photographer was able to capture that moment- despite a sea of guests, precious few minutes, and dark ceremony lighting. If only we could press pause in order to get a perfect shot that will live on your mantle forever. Or slo-mo it to make it last a little longer.

Tell me, have you considered a first-look photo? Many brides balk at this suggestion, but I’m a HUGE fan of moving the first look from the ceremony to a private moment before the chaos of the day, and here are a few big reasons why:

Intimacy. I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind seeing your guy react in a BIG way when he sees you in that gorgeous gown. A little jaw drop, a misty tear, a giant grin, whatever. I’m also guessing that, if your guy is like many men, he would rather eat shoes than cry in front of 150 people. That’s my guess. Or maybe in all the hubbub YOU are the one who will realize you didn’t look at your groom AT ALL until you made it to the end of the aisle. Things like this happen, and there is no rewind button. But when your coordinator and photographer work together to set up a moment with just the two of you, you are completely free to react in whatever way you want. He can fall to his knees. You can cry real happy tears without worrying that your mascara will be running down your cheeks for the rest of the ceremony. You can squeeze each other for dear life, you can kiss without Grandma in the front row, you can just have a moment to breathe together in the middle of the whirlwind of the day. So precious. So priceless.

Technical details. Ceremonies are notoriously bad places to get good photographs. There is always someone standing awkwardly in the background of an otherwise great shot. The lighting is usually poor, and the photographer typically has to work from a distance or at odd angles. In a setting put together for a first-look photo, all those factors are out of play. We can choose a spot with great lighting, naturally making the bride and groom look their best. We can manipulate background objects to create the best possible setting. The privacy eliminates the random bridal party member slouching in the background of an otherwise perfect moment. The best part? The photographer has complete freedom to move all around you, getting the best angles and not missing a single up-close emotion on your faces.

Timing. Question. How many weddings have you been to where you’ve had to wait FOREVER for the bride and groom to join the reception before you could eat? Know where they are? Taking the photographs they couldn’t get before the ceremony. The bridal party is getting hungry (read: grouchy), and everyone has stopped trying to be nice about who-should-stand-where and when-are-we-going-to-be-done-already? With a first-look photo, all those formal shots with the bridal party and family can get out of the way. Sweet ceremony transitions to celebration without delay.

Nothing is lostMany brides get worried that the walk down the aisle loses it’s impact with a first-look moment. It’s just not so. There is still something about the stillness of the moment, the attention on the bride, that will cause hearts to pound with excitement and make those minutes special. In fact, in many cases, that walk down the aisle is even more precious when the couple has had some time together before the festivities begin.

Let me paint a new picture. You, in your big white dress. Your makeup fresh, your hair perfect. You take some fun photos with the bridesmaids to get warmed up, then it’s time. The moment. You take a deep, shaky breath, and find your beloved. He is simply stunned. You laugh, then cry together, whisper the sweet words of lovers, and the photographer nails every moment. Maybe your parents come in (or maid-of-honor and best man) and the photographer captures even MORE amazing, emotionally charged shots with the VIPs. Then the laughter through the tears as the bridesmaids touch up eye makeup. Things get silly. Formal shots with the bridal party and the family take place while everyone is laughing and caught up in the excitement of what is about to happen: two people joining for a lifetime. Your man can squeeze your hand as many times as he wants to. You catch the other’s eye for a smile while the photographer rearranges mom and dad. The happy families part ways to prepare as the guests are seated for the ceremony. And afterward, when that fun song starts pumping through the sound system announcing man and wife, the whole crowd is ready to party without skipping a beat.

Need more convincing? Check out the photo slideshow over at BridalGuide.com to get a good idea of how special this can be.

Continue Reading