My Philosophy on Weddings

12:35 PM

Color scheme (just add green!)
I'd always wanted a simple wedding -- a stress-free, uncomplicated, enjoyable wedding. It worried me that brides postponed marriage because they could not afford the wedding. It confused me that brides spent more time on Pinterest than reading marriage books. It bothered me that the important things like guests, special moments, and the marriage itself got overlooked because of things as silly as decorations.

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!

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6 impressions

  1. Your wedding sounds like it will be absolutely lovely, and perfect for the two of you and your families.

  2. It will be wonderful! My own wedding was done very very inexpensively- the church was mine and free, the only thing not borrowed but rented was 200 chairs (because I was NOT going to be married inside!) Since I had an insanely loooong engagement of 6 months (because my younger husband had to finish college and all that), I had time to plant my own flowers. Flowers were the big deal to me, I LOVE flowers, but not just any flowers, I love wild flowers, zinnias in particular. So I bought $30 worth of wildflower seeds, used every single pot, flower bed and even tilled a huge plot out back, and by August 1st we had hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous wildflowers- poppies, bachelor's buttons, black eyed susans, sunflowers, and of course zinnias. The decorations were borrowed except for about $50 worth, and mason jars made up the vases for the wild flower bouquets. The boutonnieres and bouquets cost about $4 for jute twine and straight pins, and they were each hand crafted by my dear friends who are amazing with flower design. The dresses for the brides maids were sundresses that all cost under $40 and they can wear again, even my dress I bought for $100 is wearable again (thanks to my fantastic husband who just didn't care), the groomsmen wore white shirts with jeans, the only cost was suspenders and bow ties. We didn't have a full meal either, again, amazing friends pulled together a gorgeous display of more food than you could imagine for less than $400- for over 200 guests! I don't like cakes, so we had popcorn (popped fresh in the church lobby) and Skittles (my fav) and JellyBellies (his fav). We had Civil War reels and dances to round out the evening's entertainment, and the whole entire thing start to finish was very cost effective. We really wanted to pour our money into honoring our guests- friends and family that had been such a part of our lives. We had all 6 of our collective siblings in the wedding party, and had our parents pray over us during the ceremony, and asked our fathers to pray over us again at the reception. I can honestly say there is nothing I would have changed about the entire event, other than the fact that I was super tempted to just get married with only our immediate families present! Enjoy the process, and don't stress about it. Hold loosely your plans and trust God to make Himself the center of the day. It's so much more important than dresses, locations or decorations! So excited to see where the Lord takes you on the journey of marriage!

    P.S- Sorry I'm so wordy... Oh! Another thing- make sure you take lots of pictures of the event! Pictures were the one area I splurged on, pictures become family heirlooms and I wanted good ones. Plus, I was marrying a photographer, so he was very opinionated on good photography. ;) The photographer was the most expensive aspect of the wedding at $800, but very much worth it in the long run. Just something else for you to think about!

    1. I LOVED reading about your wedding!!! This gives me such great ideas. I actually love the popcorn and Skittles thing. :D We're definitely splurging on photography -- $1000. But it'd so worth it, and I'm happy to support my amazing photographer friend at her full price.

  3. I have been thinking about American wedding extravagance quite a bit recently because my brother just got married (his bride had 10 bridesmaids, so do not feel weird, his five sisters and hers). I am unfortunately not close to having my own day, but there is just so much to think about in theory. I am naturally a spendthrift while my family is more, um, tightwad, but now I am trying to find the balance. I feel like American weddings are more for show and to get gifts and to create a princess/bride/diva rather than a family gathering which I find irritating.

    1. Yeah, I don't get this princess/diva thing that fuels the bridezillas. I'm all for spending money on things you love, but the idea that we MUST spend a certain amount and that it's totally okay because it's YOUR DAY is not acceptable!


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