The Wedding post

I could have sworn we already did this post, but I think I was just remembering all of the times I’ve left really long comments on other peoples’ The Wedding Posts.  Too bad I can’t remember where they are so I could just copy them…

We had a big wedding for under 3K. We had an outdoor wedding in the rural Midwest (there was a wooden shelter area in case of rain), didn’t buy a photographer, flowers, favors etc. The most expensive thing was food and drink, but getting a barbeque catered runs under 1K in the rural Midwest and 1K buys quite a bit of champagne. We had JCPenny’s prom dresses and rented tuxes (MIL insisted on the tuxes). Friends flew and drove in from all over and we put them up on the floor of my parents’ place. We’ve been to a couple of similar weddings in Northern CA since then that were a bit more expensive but not terribly so.

For us, the most important part of a wedding is the shared joining of two people together in front of their friends and family– those who mean the most to them. It is a shared day but it doesn’t have to be an expensive day.

As a guest, what most people seem to notice are if the bride is beautiful (she always is), if the couple is happy, if the venue is nice and if the food is good, timely, and there’s enough of it. It’s also nice to be able to catch up with or meet new people at the reception. That can all come at $40,000 or it can come at $500. People don’t remember the flowers or the favors or a million other details that can drive the planners crazy at the last minute. They’re not important.

I have noticed an inverse relationship between the amount of money spent on a wedding and the fun had by guests. Usually that’s because fussy formal weddings are no fun and stressed out brides are no fun. Often the DJ has the music too loud, the photographer is constantly in the way recording an event that didn’t really happen (is the photographer really supposed to come down the aisle backwards before the bride?), and there’s a huge wait between wedding and reception which are in two different venues. Sometimes people are blessed with a wedding planner who takes care of things and everything runs beautifully, but more often than not, the fancy wedding is a much more unpleasant experience than it needs to be. Less expensive weddings just tend to be more relaxed.

The best weddings we’ve been to were simple ones full of love and shared commitment. The ones we’ve left early obviously cost a fortune.

As we’re getting older the weddings we go to tend to be simpler rather than fancy, even among those who have cohabited for years. The couples are paying for them instead of the parents, and our friends in their 30s are more focused on what their wedding means to them (and learning from previous weddings they’ve attended) rather than some external dream of a fairytale wedding.

Side note: If you’re having an outdoor reception… don’t choose shrimp as an appetizer. Wasps like it too much.

#2 chimes in:  NEVER have an outdoor reception.  They are hateful.  Even though #1′s wedding was nice.  Not my taste, though.

#1 disagrees:  All my favorite weddings have had outdoor receptions (and an emergency place in case of rain).  #2 is just scared of the day-star.  Possibly allergic.

How was your wedding?  What are your favorite kinds of weddings?  If you haven’t had a wedding yet, what’s your dream wedding like?

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21 Responses to “The Wedding post”

  1. eemusings Says:

    Mine… a simple dress with clean lines, no veil. Good food (maybe a dessert wedding?) Probably no or little booze, ideally (my parents don’t drink, the rellies on the boys’ side would probably take advantage and overindulge). I don’t drink.

    Maybe a church. I don’t really know. Indoors for me, but hopefully somewhere where we can take pictures outside too. Having a good photographer would probably be the other place I’d like to put money into. Not so fussed about decorations and the like.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Indoor/outdoor plans are a great compromise. I agree about a good photog, but at my sister’s wedding actually most of our favorite shots came from guests’ personal digital cams!

  2. First Gen American Says:

    People do remember bad food, cheezy dj’s and long waits.

    You’re right on about the inverse relationship between fun and money spent. Almost always the casual weddings are the most fun which is why I was inspired to do a backyard reception of my own. I’ve been to expensive fun weddings too, but those are more rare and mostly were fun because the guest list was smaller and we could actually hang out with the couple.

    My photographer also married us and also was one of our best friends. He’s a professional photographer now, but wasn’t at the time. He took great photos that were so “us.”

    I really hate seeing wedding albums and having them all be the exact same poses, just the bride and groom have different faces on them. I concur on all points.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It’s true — I remember bad parts of weddings far more than most of the good parts. This is kind of sad, but at the same time, all the good parts sort of blend together into a mental blur of love-happy-kissing-dancing-family-raucous-joy-contentment-friends-kissing. Bad parts stick out.

  3. imawindycitygal Says:

    My wedding (in 1997) cost about $2,500. My dress was off the rack from a specialty dress shop (not a bridal dress shop), but it cost just over $100. The veil was borrowed. My sister was my bridesmaid and she bought her dress at a major department store in a style that she could wear again for formal occasions.

    Reception and ceremony was outside at a friend’s house that borders a forest preserve. We had beautiful Midwest October weather: sunny, warm (not too hot) and breezy. We wrote the ceremony (borrowing heavily from a great humanist ceremony that was available on the Internet) and had a judge marry us. It was mid-afternoon so we only had appetizers, cake (a gift from my aunts who are fabulous bakers), and simple drinks (soda, wine, beer, and champagne, of course). I made mix tapes that we played for music. Where there were gaps in the type of music I wanted, I borrowed CDs from the library.

    We got the photographer by putting up a notice at a local university with a strong fine arts and photography program. We wanted mostly black and white candids with very few posed photos and they turned out great. In the contract we stated that we got the negatives, so we could have full control over how much and how many prints we wanted.

    We limited the guest list to 50, and there were no fusses over people getting excluded. (I think people sometimes dread getting invited to weddings where they are not very close to the bride or groom.) Everyone said that it was the best wedding they’d ever attended.

    The divorce was 11 years later and it cost about six times as much. *sigh*

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think writing your own ceremony is key! Sorry about the divorce. Unfortunately, my family alone will fill more than 50 seats so limiting the size is not going to work for me. It worked for #1, though.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #1: Hey! We didn’t limit size. We invited everyone we knew. And way more than 50 people showed up according to the guest book (that my MIL had my SIL do as her part). It just seemed like less because it was in a big area outside… and many of the grown-ups left right after the wedding itself.

        Also we had a second reception where DH’s family lived so a lot of his relatives didn’t make the trek up to the wedding itself.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #1: We totally did not write our own ceremony or do anything complicated (though I generally appreciate those who do and have a soft spot for unity candles). It was 100% by the (religious) book. There were options and we always picked the shortest one. #2 did a biblical reading for us about love. :)

      • imawindycitygal Says:

        Ex-husband had a small family but I have nine cousins (!). With their spouses and children, the guest list would have exploded pretty quickly. So I made the decision to just invite my aunts and uncle. The cousins didn’t seem to mind at all and everyone understood the reasons why we couldn’t have a larger wedding.

  4. Valerie Says:

    We rented a summer camp for our wedding! It was sooo much fun!!! (and cost effective!) We most wanted to spend time with people and make it easy for guests to eat and have fun. We also were having a half Indian, half American wedding, which made for many events and possible confusions. We simplified by just having the camp, and having all our events there (so no need to rent multiple places for extra Indian wedding events). Our families alone were somewhere around 90 people (both have parents with lots of siblings, so tons of aunts/uncles/cousins), and total we probably had 170 guests.

    About half our guests stayed at the camp with us, in cabins with bunk beds. We had a campfire, played dodgeball, danced (a LOT), ate in the dining hall. We did have some regular wedding things: a square dance rehearsal dinner, a garba raas (gujurati dinner/ dance), mehendi, and regular old wedding/reception thrown in. It was a lot of fun. (We also wrote our own ceremony, which turned out to be INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED mixing American and Indian parts of teh ceremony together).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Did you have an elephant? Inquiring minds want to know!

      • Valerie Says:

        Ha! We considered the elephant, but turns out it’s pretty hard to get one outside of a zoo. We did, however, have a horse. And, unlike some Indian weddings in the states (where the horse goes from one side of the hotel parking lot to the other) the camp setting meant the horse and procession went through a lovely, lovely stretch of outdoors.

        Best part of the horse is that the camp was by a bunch of horse farms so agreed to supply the horse in the contract. Turns out horse farms weren’t so happy to lend, so the camp ended up getting a horse from the Indian wedding rentals horse people. I don’t know how much that cost the camp, but we ended up getting essentially it free thanks to our contract.

  5. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Short ceremony, goode foode, goode music, plentiful booze, goode friends. And don’t make people wait around or have to travel again after the ceremony before they get to start drinkin their asses off!

  6. Money Reasons Says:

    We had a very inexpensive wedding too (I think it was around $2,000). As a guy, I just went through the motions…

    My sister’s wedding was awesome though, but probably because I loved seeing my kids out dancing on the dance floor there! :)

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Dream wedding for me:
    * awesome fiance
    * non-religious
    * Mom gets to come (she really wants to)
    * other people get to come
    * cream-colored lacy dress with whooshy skirt
    * good dance music and a big dance floor (current idea–make our own CD with the wedding music, plus, for the guests, an extra disc with “deleted scenes” (not-quite-right music) and “alternate ending” songs)
    * good food from known sources – pot luck or pizza delivery, etc. If catered rather than potluck–must have trial run party earlier. Heh.
    * a place at a table for each person
    * comfy chairs for old people
    * Have friends and relatives do what they’re good at–brother DJ’s, Dad organizes stuff, Mom makes challah, sister helps with dress and decorations, etc.
    * provide milk to go with the cake
    * very silly borrowed knife to cut the cake with (machete? sword? Star Trek thingy?)
    * no head table–just one empty space at all the regular tables so bride and groom can mingle at tables as well as on the dance floor
    * origami at the tables
    * I also fantasize a little about seating charts, with little hints about what the strangers have in common. And about playing this barnyard animal game to move people from the ceremony location to the reception place (hopefully just a room down the hall)

  8. everyday tips Says:

    This new job of mine has my blogging all screwed up. I am getting resentful! :)

    Anyway, I believe you put a post on my site about your wedding at one point you could have cut and pasted from. Your wedding sounds wonderful. I was young when I got married so we did what we thought we were supposed to do instead of what we really wanted. I would have loved an outdoor ‘day’ wedding. But, we are in Michigan, and you never know what kind of weather you are going to get, and it can be chilly and rainy in July.

    We paid under 10k for our wedding, but that was 20 years ago. I know it was just under 20 a plate for the meal/drinks/horsd’oevres, and we paid for 130 people. I think our wedding was around 6 thousand now that I think about it.

  9. I LOVE YOU, DH! « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    [...] Related posts:  The proposal.  The wedding. [...]


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