Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 2

Before we go any further, I have to be completely honest here, lest someone try to call me out as a hypocrite. I had a big, fancy wedding. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done and I don't regret it for a second. The reasons why it was so fun were: I was marrying the right person for the right reasons, no one was suffering financially or going into debt over our wedding, many people were genuinely happy about our wedding and because we had the right attitude about the whole thing.

I never imagined that I would have a wedding like I did. Unlike a lot of women, I wasn't given to a rigid, unchanging ideal of what my wedding had to be like. I think I kind of imagined something small and intimate, maybe at my parents' house. At one point I thought the San Francisco Court House was perfect, maybe with a quiet dinner somewhere really nice afterwards. All I wanted was my husband. The rest wasn't a big deal, but I wanted it to be meaningful if we were going to do it.

My family was really excited when I got engaged. No one in my family ever had a wedding. My parents were married in their apartment, by a friend who was a lawyer, with no family members present to celebrate their love. I know my mother has always wished she could have had something more traditional. Aunt Kiki never had a wedding and neither did my grandparents. If I had an actual wedding ceremony, I would be the first. My mother really wanted to give me a dream wedding and had money set aside for it.

She put the money in a bank account and told me that she didn't want to meddle or force her ideas on me at all.

"Go plan your wedding however you want and don't go over budget," she said.

Naturally my first idea was to run to the courthouse, spend a weekend in the Keys afterwards and use the money to buy a house, although thank God I didn't. The housing market was about to crash and I would have lost my ass. When I ran this idea by my mother she practically threatened my life if I did that.

"You have to use it for a wedding and nothing else," she said, "and you must spend all of it. If you have any left over, we'll use it to help people travel here. You can't cheap out and try to keep the money."

Because of course that's exactly what I was going to do.

So Husband and I, modest, shy people, found ourselves in an unusual position. We had money, but we could only spend it on a wedding. We were a little uncomfortable and self conscious. We discussed it and realized that if we were to have a wedding, we would be making a lot of people really happy and that's what we most wanted. We decided that the wedding was going to be a big reunion, a celebration of many different families and a celebration of all kinds of loves. It was not going to be "our day." It was going to be everyone's day and a gift to our guests. It was ultimately this attitude that made our wedding as successful as it was.

As we began planning our wedding, Husband and I made some ground rules that worked extraordinarily well. Here is our list:

1. The wedding would not be about us. It would be about our friends and families. The wedding was a gift from us to our guests.

2. There would be no "must haves."

3. We would not have preconceived notions or ideals about what our wedding was supposed to be like.

4. It would be very fun, not stuffy and would include traditions from the many different backgrounds represented.

5. The wedding would represent our personalities.

6. We would also be mindful of how extraordinarily lucky we were to have this opportunity and we would be constantly thankful and appreciative of all that we were given.

These were very easy rules to stick to.

If you're going to have a wedding, these rules work well. I highly recommend them. It doesn't matter the scale or budget of your wedding either.

So while weddings can often be wasteful, excessive, self centered, dreadful affairs, they can also be beautiful, meaningful events that bring loved ones together and create life-long memories. Judging from the first half of my wedding guide yesterday, one might think I'm anti-wedding. I'm actually not. I really enjoy most weddings, but I can't stand the princess "My Day" attitude of entitlement that so many people seem to have these days. I don't like seeing people married for the wrong reasons, spending and spending to satisfy a void within themselves, trying desperately to prove something.


Albany Jane said...

Rockin guide! That's basically how my wedding was planned. It was more "We're getting married. And we'd love to have all of the people that we love get together for a night and have some tasty food and drinks on us"

And, true to form, there was a whole lot we left unplanned, like, say, who would do the clean up. Thank goodness for family, is all I can say.

Consultant Calamities said...

Hubby and I paid for most of our wedding, plus some money from my grandparents. So, no debt afterwards and I really planned everything as carefully and frugally as I could. But, we still had everything that we wanted, and everything turned out great.

we "only" spent about $ 1997! LOL and that included a big, sit down dinner for about 80 people. and a very good photographer (biggest costs were the food and the photographer.)

I about GAG when I see what some people are spending for weddings these days...I was mad at myself for going over my budget of $5,000!

Aleta said...

I love how your Mom set aside money and it was only for the wedding. What a beautiful gift that she gave to you and in turn, what a wonderful attitude and gift you gave to your relatives and friends in your wedding!

For Greg and I ~ he comes from a large family and when we married, it became a "family reunion" on my side (relatives from Cali to Maryland came in). The wedding was at my parents' home ~ ceremony in the driveway (sounds white trash, but it was beautiful - under a tent and the driveway was lined with green carpet and the side garden was incorporated into the scenery). It wasn't fancy, but it wasn't overly simple. It was family and friends and man, what a blessing!

Melanie said...

My family was quite poor, so I thought my father was being unbelievably generous when he gave me 500 dollars to spend on my wedding. This was in 1980. Someone loaned me a beautiful wedding dress. Another lady had a back yard that was filled with thousands of beautiful flowers, of which she told me I could cut as many as I wanted. Another friend made the wedding cake and a grooms cake. I have never regretted having a wedding on the cheap. It was still beautiful and all the guests had a good time.

kerry said...

Fascinating. I like your style! I bet your wedding was fun!

Anonymous said...

We spent less than $6000 on our wedding - dress, rings, catering for 75, venue, flowers, and honeymoon included. We had friends and family who wanted to help do so by taking photographs, dj-ing, helping to set up the tent and tables, etc. My mom made wedding pies instead of cake, my husband's father, brother, and and uncle played for the processional, recessional, and during the wedding (jazz trio), and my uncle and aunt were our ministers. This was years ago and I still get people saying how incredible our wedding was, how it was the best wedding they ever went to. One of our expenses was to rent a bouncy castle for the kids, but the adults loved playing in it as well (I bounced in it in full wedding attire!). And the best part was I got to marry my best friend.

Anonymous said...

Please tell us the story about your wedding day!

Anonymous said...

OMG! I wish that my soon to be SIL had read this guide while planning her wedding. She is the ultimate Bridezilla which is hilarious considering she normally can't be bothered to wear makeup or anything other than a track suit. Her parents had set aside a reasonable amount of money for a "dream" wedding and enough for a down payment on a house as well. She's spent so much money (of theirs) BEYOND what they planned for both the wedding and the down payment that her parents now can't afford the down payment and have been hinting that they may now be in so much debt that they may lose their house now too. But she'll "only have ONE wedding". I seriously want to punch her in the face.

We had a great wedding and spent less than $1,500 and most of that was for tents and tables and chairs. My mom and I cooked all the food ourselves (except for the wedding cake) and we had a rocking barbeque for almost 300 people. You can't buy that good of food anywhere for any amount of money.

Since our wedding three couples have pay our parents to use the part of their property where we set up my wedding for theirs so obviously it went over well.

Two weeks after STBSIL's wedding, no one will remember it from among the millions of other weddings at the same country club everyone else in the entire area of the country has had their receptions at. Boring.

JoeinVegas said...

Wait a minute - you left out Elvis.

Decorina said...

That is wonderful!

My husband and I got married in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator. Because no one else was there we had a party later.

My cake was lime green (to match my wedding dress) with Day of the Dead skeletons as bride and groom and even a skeleton Elvis. I decorated the cake with fresh flowers - it was beautiful.

Amy said...

This was EXACTLY our attitude at our wedding! We have had a lot of weddings in my family, I have a huge family on my mom's side and my dad's side. But we wanted to really make it like a huge, fun celebration/reunion/party. That was all I wanted. It was great and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

anandos said...

You, my dear, are fantastic. In case you wondered. In fact I just linked back to you from my totally unvisited new wedding site (people keep telling me I should start consulting for weddings).

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