Have you read a wedding planning checklist yet? There are long lists of details that I could never imagine had to be present in my wedding. I don’t like stress. I don’t like unnecessary waste. And I don’t like clutter. How is that going to work when planning a wedding?
As a “child of the earth” who has swapped countries several times, my values are a mix from all over, and I don’t feel any need to include any rituals in my wedding which are outlined by implication. I am not practicing any religion and not feeling any particular bond to a specific cultural traditions either.
My fiancé has a Jewish ancestry and we will have a kind of Jewish ceremony, we are including some meaningful elements as a node to his background. I am looking forward to decorate our chuppa with a green garland and lengths of chiffon, crushing the glass and everyone shouting Mazeltov! It will be exotic and personal!
But other than that, the other wedding day elements we have picked are those we feel are close to our heart, and others have been entirely excluded. I don’t want my husband to remove a garter in front of everyone I know, and tossing a bouquet seems to me like superstition and a waste of good flowers.
Traditional or not traditional, I find that many of these to-do-items seem irrelevant. I feel so lucky that I am planning a wedding in times when it is accepted to create a totally unique and different wedding, even in vouge!
With this article, I just want to remind and encourage you brides out there that we don’t have to follow a set of rules to get married – there are no criteria we have to fulfill -apart from the legal required procedure – the rest of the day is up to us. We decide exactly how traditional or avantgarde we want to be, how typical-of-a-wedding day we’d like, or if we take this as the perfect opportunity to create our new traditions, our way.
This list is one part frugal, one part time-saving, one part de-stressing, and one tiiiny part cynical towards standard wedding norms.. 😉
Less relevant (in my opinion):
Save the dates: They are pretty and alluring, I agree. But isn’t this a very recent invention? Sending out the invites 2 months before is plenty notice. For your international guests, a personal email or phone call is much nicer. Just another reason for stationery makers to separate you from another chunk of your wedding budget. An option is to create your Save the date digitally, and send as an email.
Teeth whitening – if you brush 2 minutes twice a day and floss every other day, how bad can it possibly be?
Pre-wedding manicure – I appreciate that many girls are already in a nail routine and love it, but if you are not then I don’t see any need to start one during your engagement just because you will show your ring to people. They will look at the ring, not your nails. Keeping them clean is enough. For your big day, it could however be a nice treat for a bit of “princessification”. I’d recommend to choose a timeless nail design as you will look at the photos when you are 80. What is in fashion now quickly goes out of fashion.
Elaborate Centre pieces – candles and some foliage such as olive or penny gum goes a long way. Maybe a potted plant or cactus from your existing collection? A basket of colourful fruits and vegetables? Remember that not every table has to look the same either. Fewer, well executed decorations are going to be much more effective and stylish than big and over designed ones, if you ask me. Im a fan of the potted plant concept – they cost the same but last a long time (given you treat it right).
Favours – No one in South Africa had heard about it before Pinterest. It is a nice gesture, but your guests are really not going to mind if they didn’t get a bag of homemade popcorn or a mini jar of decantered honey. Your invitation and hosting is plenty. (In some cases, they might be relieved). They will rather have a great selection of cheese to nibble on at the wedding.
Aisle carpet or decorations – total overkill. All the guests are just looking at you, and you and the groom are just looking at eachother. The bride will be decoration enough! Keep it simple and focus on beautiful bunches of foilage and flowers on the arch, at the entrance to the aisle or on the ceremony table. That is where people will look at and appreciate it.
Programs – another irrelevant piece of paper that will be looked at momentarily only to then be tossed. They all know what will happen: The officiant will speak, someone’s gonna sing, somebody else might read something nice, more music and then vows, kiss, confetti, hoorays!
Bridal beauty pressures such as Wedding day perfume – whats wrong with your normal one? Or if you don’t usually wear, why should you now? You might end up spending the day sneezing, or your husband might not enjoy it – how we smell is how we subliminally are attracted to eachother, so wearing a brand new perfume could be a bit of a gamble.
Beating yourself up in the gym or through a starvation diet – unless you loose more than 7 kgs, very few people are going to notice anything anyway. You are getting married, not signing up for bikini model school. Size 10 is no better than size 12, and 12 no better than 14. Your sanity is priority. Stick to your normal routine. Your dress will work the magic if it fits you right.
Facials every month leading up to the wedding – it is a nice pampering treat which could be good for relaxation. But your skin is probably not going to be visible through the ultra-photogenic foundation you’ll be wearing on your wedding day. Washing and moisturizing regularly and a face pack once a week will go a long way.
Talking about makeup – most of us knows how to prettify ourselves to look a bit more polished – there are plenty of online tutorials too. Use what you would spend on the makeup artist to buy your own professional makeup instead, that you can use again and again. The natural, understated look is always going to be more pretty and timeless in the end. Go for a look that you will proudly show your children.
My advise is: don’t try to be or look like anyone else than yourself.
Fancy backdrop or floral wall– ribbons, makramé or foliage attached on string will be plenty decorative, pin-worthy and unique. Minimalists might favour strings of lights or some beautiful fabric instead.
Flowers everywhere – it s expensive, only lasts a few hours and is costly for you and the environment. Unless you can forage wildflowers or cut flowers from somebody’s garden – reduce the wastage and expenditure by choosing greenery over florals, having an organically produced bouquet, have bridesmaids carry a single stem flower and keeping flower decorations to a minimum. Choose your favorite flowers and display them where they will be appreciated for years to come – such as in your hair, on your wedding cake and your bouquet (as they will be photographed the most here)
People hardly notice what is hanging in the trees or above the tables anyway.
Sit-down starters – Why not let the starters happen during cocktail hours as canapés and fingerfoods. Less formal and more dynamic mingling and interaction.
100s of homemade signs with slogans/ rhyming instructions on. It is only cute up to a point, then it quickly gets corny. Stick to 2-3 essential ones, such as directions to the toilet and where to sign the guest book.
Groomsmens outfit – rent or borrow, or look for more or less matching wardrobe items such as white shirt and grey trousers, then coordinate with a matching tie or bowtie. Mismatched is also great!
Co-ordinating bridesmaids makeup, hairstyle, earrings, bangles, nail polish… having them wearing more or less the same colour and hairpiece/ crown is plenty enough. No one will notice the details. Your wedding is not boarding school. As for shoes, let them pick a matching colour from their own wardrobes – for example white, black, or metallic. I’ve asked mine to wear leather sandals because they are nice and everyone has got a pair.
Wedding music – for the background music and DJ, an ipod playlist will do just as good job, as long as there is someone who can press the stop and play button as needed.
Individual wedding menus – guests will look at it once. Printing one per table will be enough, or writing it on a bigger board for more to see.
Paper invites – easier to manage RSVPs’ if you send from a wedding website. People prefer to do everything online these days anyway. Cheaper, less time consuming, and less paper waste too (yes you do know they will end up in the bin soon enough?) No guest is going to turn down your wedding because they didn’t think the invites where goo enough.
Fancy table runners and napkins – table runners are just an unnecessary detail and can make tables seem overly busy. All that napkins need to do is absorbing the dribbling soup starter and your smudging lipstick, so thread count and colour is never gonna be worth remembering. I ensure you: nobody is EVER gonna say “Oh do you recall cousin Mark’s wedding – the napkins were just SO stylish and soft”. I guarantee it. Spend that money on great wine instead, that’s something guests will appreciate more. (You do need napkins- don’t get me wrong – but in this area there is no need to go for top quality)
The extraordinary wedding cake– these days wedding cake designers seem to have taken up the challenge of making each and every cake into a more elaborate and bombastic design than previous.
My take on wedding cakes are similar to dresses: less is more. Instead of paying for good looks, focus on the essential stuff – which is that the cake tastes amazing. Asking for a simple white fondant cake is much more practical too – (less risk of sliding, collapsing or melting, and the cake will keep moist even if on display for a few hours.) Easily transported and easily assembled means less risk of cake accidents. Decorate with fresh flowers, succulent or fresh berries and fruit, and you will have a stunning and unique cake.
Another idea is to have several smaller cakes instead of one big cake – this way you have more possibilities to unleash your creativity.
DIY ALL the decor – it is pretty time consuming, actually often more expensive, stressful and after a while quite repetitive. I feel embarrassed when I compare my dream catchers to those on Pinterest, and the tin vase table scape that looked so great online, to me mine look like a kindergarden recycling activity. And I thought I loved DIY!
Unless you have loads of time, money, ingenuity, persistence and crafting experience, chances are that your projects might end up rather sub-standard. Consider freshly foraged local flowers, naturally found objects and greenery instead.
If you DO want to DIY something, I dare you do do something you DIDN’T find on Pinterest but invented yourself (isn’t it time for some new creations now?!)
My second tip is to produce or buy decor items that you could also make use of after the wedding: such as lanterns, candle holders, picture frames, concrete pots, copper pipe candelabra, coffee table or a nice artwork for your home. It would be both beautiful and practical keepsakes.
My third and last tip is to select 1 or 2 projects, take you time with it and lovingly do them really well.
Decorated champagne flutes for the newlyweds – the ones you buy look mostly tacky. And why are they neccesary? Be minimalist stylish and attach a twig of rosemary instead, or a simple bow of twine.
Formal posed photographs with every possible combination of family members. Why not let them be more organic and documentary style – they will be more natural and representative of what the day really was like.
First dance with elaborate steps requiring dance classes? I personally do not feel enthusiastic about the prospect of showing off my dancing skills, and will gladly avoid this wedding tradition. If I did, I would probably do a slow shuffle to Bryan Adams – like I did on school disco’s in the 90s. Just for a laugh.
A fancy carriage – Ever heard of Uber gold? It will be cheaper and easier in every way, you will conveniently get a jazzy car for less. Or ask around in the network – someone ought to have a cool car or a characterful old truck. Few will take notice your mode of transport – spend the money on guest comfort instead such as comfortable chairs, cozy blankets and great wine.
Please take my advice with a pinch of salt! All I intend to do is to question why we do certain things, and if we really have to. There is nothing wrong with being traditional. But there is also nothing wrong with going your own way.
The essential elements on your wedding where it IS worth paying more attention to, even if it means spending a bit extra, will be presented to you in next weeks Wedding planning post!
In the meantime, I hope you feel inspired to find ways to de-clutter and re-organize your wedding day so that it makes better sense to you. Cut the unnecessary details out and rather focus on meaningful elements that will add real value.
The less fussy details – the less to worry about. More room for love, happiness and quality time with your groom and guests.