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Plan a wedding that is simple, beautiful, and personal. The trends of pared down ceremonies, guest lists and menus is allowing brides to showcase what really matters. Your wedding can be genuinely you without breaking the bank.
2020 may go down as the year of plague and pestilence, but my eldest got married in September… so in the album of my memory, 2020 will always be remembered as the year I got a daughter. (Insert all the hearts and flowers here).
My eye doctor was telling me last week that his daughter got married this summer as well. He was contrasting her wedding to her sister’s from a few years ago. ‘Of course they were both beautiful,’ he said. But he went on to describe this summer’s wedding with words like: personal, lovely, simple, intimate, and special.
Sigh. Who doesn’t want that wedding?!
I see you… the girl in the back jumping up and down with your hand raised. You want the full princess. Horse-drawn carriage, 5-course meal, diamond tiara…the whole works. Sister, if your budget and conscience allow–go for it. If not, let me tell you a secret: you can feel like a princess on a much smaller budget. ‘Princess’ is a mindset more than a dollar amount.
Two Very Different Simple Weddings
At the beginning of September my son got married, and my niece got married this summer as well. She and her fiance decided, however, to ditch the big wedding plans they were making (that they weren’t sure they’d even be able to have anyway) and hold a small ceremony in his dad’s backyard instead.
Both weddings I’d describe as simple, but they couldn’t have been more different. Let me tell you a little about each one and maybe you’ll get some ideas for your big day.
What I hope you you take away from this is that your personality, your taste, who you are…can shine through regardless of your budget or venue or guest list. And your day can be magical and beautiful and perfect.
Beautiful Backyard Ceremony
When my niece and her fiance decided to nix the huge wedding they had planned and instead hold a family only ceremony in the backyard, I imagine some wondered if her day would be as special as she hoped.
I think it definitely was. And here’s my expert opinion:
What made it truly special was that she made sure to include the things that mattered most to her.
My husband (who is not a pastor, priest, or minister) was privileged to be asked to deliver the message at the wedding….don’t worry, a real pastor said their vows with them. And while the bride and groom weren’t picky about specifically what was in the message, they were very clear that they wanted lots of stories about the two of them woven in. They wanted it to be personal.
Another personal addition was that the groom’s father happens to make a killer cheesecake, so they had him bake the wedding cakes. Along with them they had some other treats and beverages.
Cancelling the big wedding also meant cancelling the big dance the couple had been planning. But the father daughter dance and the couple’s first dance were things that were important to them, so they did them despite it being a very different setting.
Tons of tiny lights on the big tree made for the most beautiful focal point for the simple ceremony and an enchanting backdrop as the evening went on.
The lesson here is that you don’t have to eliminate the things that matter to you because you think they won’t fit in your budget, or venue, or plan. You may have to alter your expectations of what those things will look like, but if you want a first dance…girl, dance.
The couple headed out to a flurry of sparklers. And you know, I don’t think they will look back on their day and pine for something more magical or special or lovely. Because it was all of those things.
Naturally Homegrown Wedding
My eldest son and his fiance got married at the beginning of September on a day that could not have been more perfect and I’m certain I am totally unbiased.
Knowing that some family and friends would be unable or uncomfortable attending the gathering due to current circumstances didn’t deter them from planning the day they had envisioned.
Unlike his cousin, my son and his bride wanted their ceremony short and sweet. And it was, but it was remarkably emotional and fit them to a T.
This story sums up the vibe of their wedding day to me:
Early in the wedding planning process, the bride was describing to her mom what she wanted her dress to look like. “That sounds like Nana’s dress,” her mom said. So they drove over to her grandmother’s house and tried on the dress that both the bride’s mother and grandmother had worn in their weddings and it was exactly what she had been imagining.
Deep roots. New growth.
This day celebrating a new beginning was filled not only with tons of literal green and growing things, but with people stepping in to help in a myriad of ways to make the day wonderful. Showing their love in such real and tangible ways.
Having had nothing to do with the decorations, I feel I can brag a little. They were amazing. Totally beautiful. Our church is not particularly…. pretty. (Sorry church, but you’re not. You have a great personality, though.) And I’ve never seen it look more lovely. Never.
The bride’s mother began growing the plant boxes that are lining the aisle back in April, and grew the large pots of plants in the foyer as well. Her father made the arch at the front of the church.
Also in the foyer, we used pallets to display pictures of the bride and groom growing up as well as pictures of them together.
Since they had done all of their pictures before the wedding, after they took a short time to pray together following the ceremony, they were able to join the guests right away.
The dessert reception was simple and perfect. Cookies, fruit, lemonade, and tea. Their cake was a small cake (actually made of giant chocolate chip cookies) not intended to feed the masses.
Can I insert a personal opinion here about receptions? When did we decide that couples had to feed 300 guests a buffet dinner? Wedding guests used to be lucky to get some mints with their cake and punch in the church basement after a wedding. I think we’ve gone a bit far. Let’s take the chance to reel this back in a bit, shall we?
Besides the tables from our church, the bride’s father had secured a number of large industrial spools from some friends that we tipped on their sides and used for tables as well. Super cool.
Burlap and lace table cloths and/or runners pulled everything together along with the simple centerpieces. Favors for the guests (seed packets to match the natural vibe of the day) were left on tables to snag.
No dancing at this wedding. Not that they don’t like it, but the bride and groom prioritized visiting with guests. And they didn’t particularly savor the idea of a hundred pairs of eyes all focused on them during a first dance.
Have I mentioned that making your day personal means making choices about what makes you happy more than what you think you’re supposed to do?
There was a tent in case of rain, or to get out of the sun. But we were so blessed with a perfect weather day we hardly needed it. The bride and groom headed out to a bubble send off and went and had dinner with their bridal party (I loved that idea!) before leaving for their honeymoon.
What makes a wedding special
A wedding day is not made memorable because of dollars spent or even expectations met. It’s memorable because you add touches of you to the day, because your heart felt like it was going to explode out of your chest when you saw your bride, or because your niece layed down on the grass during the ceremony flat on her back, or carried a potato chip down the aisle.
It’s memorable because the people you love made it happen for you because they love you that much. And most of all it’s memorable because at the end of the day, you’re starting the next day with the person you love the most in the world.
I only took about three pictures on my son’s wedding day. This was while they were getting ready for the photographer. I know it’s not fantastic photo quality, but I really love it nonetheless. Here’s that lovely heirloom dress I told you about. Isn’t she breathtaking?
A friend of mine told me the day after the wedding that his three year old daughter had asked him at the wedding,
“Daddy, does that man get to go live with that princess now?”
So you see… you don’t need to spend a fortune to be a princess on your wedding day, ladies!
Bonus Peeks at Showers and Grooms Dinner
Since this is my mega-wedding post, I thought I’d share a few pictures with you from the bridal showers I hosted both for my now daughter-in-law and for my niece, as well as from the groom’s dinner. Might give you some ideas if you’re looking!
At my daughter-in-law’s shower, we made flower crowns. I put vases of flowers around the deck, and a tray with supplies and instructions on the table.
Here are some of the lovely creations:
I’m not big on shower games, so I thought that the crown making was a fun alternative…I think the ladies agreed. Here’s where I found the instructions for making the flower crowns, btw: Easy DIY Flower Crown
The bride chose a brunch-themed menu. We had:
Simple and totally yum! Of course, I forgot to take a single picture of the food table. (Reminds me of my son’s graduation party all over again)
For my niece’s shower, we had pasta salads and finger sandwiches, but the star was the desserts she chose. We did deconstructed pies. Lemon cheesecake and french silk. Oh my. Totally delish.
We held the groom’s dinner at a park about 5 minutes from our house. There’s a lovely covered pavilion with picnic tables and a giant stone fireplace.
The couple chose jambalaya as their main course, so we kept dessert DIY and (taking the cue from the fireplace on site) opted to do a s’mores bar.
(I got these telescoping roasting sticks for the marshmallows and they worked fantastically, btw…loved them!)
We opened the dinner up and invited extended family as well as out of town guests that were travelling in for the wedding…a great idea we got from some friends several years ago. It was a wonderful way to get to spend some extra time with people who came into town for the event!
Having it at a park allowed us to spread out, there was a playground for the kids, we brought Spikeball and Ladderball and some other outdoor games to play. And, most importantly… I didn’t have to stress about cleaning my house!
Weddings. Showers. Whatever you’ve got to plan… make it your own. Add some personal touches that scream: YOU. Why have a wedding just like every other wedding that’s ever been had? Your wedding can be whatever you want it to be.
I, for one, have my fingers crossed that once Covid is long gone that brides and grooms are still planning weddings that are simpler and more personal. This trend can stick around!