My Philosophy on Weddings12:35 PM
|Color scheme (just add green!)|
When my mother missed praying for my sister before she walked down the aisle because the cheesecakes still needed prepping for the reception, I vowed to make my wedding as minimalist as possible.
The image that keeps popping into my mind as I plan my wedding is one of the last scenes in BBC's Emma, where Harriet marries her farmer boy. She's wearing a simple white dress and bonnet, holding a bouquet and her husband's hand, as she nervously says her wedding vows. The church has no decorations. There is no mention of a reception. This image highlights what the wedding is -- two people saying vows. Were that the only thing to happen, a marriage would still occur. That gave me hope.
I focused my attention and excitement for the wedding on the ceremony itself. I wanted the ceremony to be beautiful, highlight the love between Erich and me, and point to the deeper meaning of marriage. And by beautiful, I don't mean decorations -- I mean liturgy, song, and meaningful moments.
We're marrying in a historic church that Erich and I attended for the past three years. Marrying in a church was non-negotiable for both of us because of marriage's sacredness. Fortunately, the church is gorgeous, which made it an easy decision to forego all ceremony decorations. We're hoping to craft our own liturgy, basing it mostly on the Presbyterian marriage rite and adding a few Catholic and creative elements to honor his Catholic and my evangelical background. We're using the Presbyterian marriage rite because of its soundness, beauty, and congregational involvement. We believe that each guest is an active witness to the marriage, and must share in the responsibility of supporting our marriage.
Because we belong to music fraternities, we're getting a choir together to lead congregational songs and provide the music for the rest of the ceremony. My favorites are "This Marriage" by Eric Whitacre and "Entreat Me Not to Leave You" by Dan Forrest.
As far as meaningful moments go, I want my entire family to "give me away." It's important for me to not include patriarchal elements like the idea of a father transferring his authority over an adult woman to another man. But I love the non-patriarchal idea of giving away -- this idea that my parents, both mother and father, have faithfully raised and loved me, and are now supporting me as I leave and cleave to start a new family. I also want to emphasize that Erich and I are vowing to and before God as well as to each other. Marriage is a spiritual act, a vocation that daily requires God's grace, love, and strength. We'll be saying vows to God as well as to each other.
The reception will then just be cupcakes, punch, toasts, and dancing to a Spotify playlist. The reception takes place at another church's gym -- a nice, all-white gym used for their church services. It comes with a huge kitchen, a stage, a sound system, and enough tables, chairs, and tablecloths for the 200+ guests we're inviting. We'll set up a make-your-own sandwich bar for the wedding party and family, with the rest of the well-wishers coming later in the evening for dessert and dancing. I handed over the reins to decorating to my bridesmaid who actually enjoys party planning. She has a budget of $0 (meaning, we're borrowing everything we need, and if we can't borrow it, it's not worth purchasing). This is how little I care about decorations. :)
The most stressful part of wedding planning (besides finding a reception venue) was finding affordable wedding attire for a wedding party almost exclusively made up of broke college students. I finally bumped my wedding dress budget up to $200, which made finding beautiful dresses easier and less stressful. I can't wait to show you photos of the dress, which I found on sale for $216 at a little bridal boutique in Jackson, MI. I hadn't expected to find my dream dress so quickly and painlessly. I credit that stress-free experience to my three friends who accompanied me and gave me great advice, a perceptive store owner, and a year of researching wedding dresses late into the night.
For the bridesmaids, I asked them to purchase this gorgeous skirt and then allowed them free rein on tops, nude shoes, and jewelry. I chose each of my eleven (yes, eleven -- don't judge, I've already faced the backlash) bridesmaids for their unique contributions to Erich's and my relationship and their special friendship. Why would I want to stifle their personal style on the day I'm honoring their friendship and support? Plus, I hoped that selecting a skirt instead of a dress would encourage them to get more use out of the $60 they spent. So far all the girls love it, even the less girly ones.
Finally, for the gentlemen, Erich's wearing the suit he already owns and encouraging his ten groomsmen to do the same. They'll just purchase matching $16 ties.
We tried to cut expenses on everything else too. I'm getting a dozen white roses from Walmart or Kroger for my bouquet; we're not doing boutonnieres in any form; the bridesmaids will hold a single flower and some greenery; the DJ, make-up artist, sound system runner, musicians, etc. are all volunteers; and we'll print our own invitations and programs.
Sometimes I get a little nervous, wondering if people will enjoy the wedding less because the ceremony won't have decorations or the dinner will just be sandwiches instead of a three-course meal. But then I think of all the stress I'm avoiding and money that I'm saving and time that I'm gaining to sneak kisses with my new husband and hugs with my family and laughs with my friends. I'm genuinely excited for this wedding!