Four Things Your Wedding Really Doesn’t Need


And five it definitely does

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

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When I talk about the mistakes I made when wedding planning (of which there were many), what it all really boils down to is this: I had a really hard time figuring out what wedding things were actually necessary, and what things were merely “necessary” for the wedding industry’s bottom line.

Case in point: chairs. My parents and I had a recurring argument over whether or not picnic blankets counted as adequate seating for an outdoor wedding in Maine in September. I was convinced that they’d been brainwashed by some wedding industry higher power hell-bent on making me spend my hard earned money on useless things like chair rentals. Turns out? They just wanted a place to sit down. Preferably with an inside option for when things get cold. Unreasonable? No. But at the time, I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

While most people aren’t quite as blind to the realities of event planning as twenty-two-year-old me was, the reality is that your wedding is probably the first time most you’ll throw an event bigger than your friend group’s annual Halloween party. And even that probably stresses you out a little bit. (Just me?) And the information available online and in traditional wedding literature is often contradictory, or just plain irrelevant to your wedding. So today, with help from the #APWPlanner (now officially available for purchase), here are some things your wedding definitely doesn’t need and a few it really does. For those of you who got your planners last week and want to follow along with a hard copy of the book, I’ve included page numbers below on where you can find expanded information.

Your Wedding Doesn’t Need

A ton of details: “That wedding would have been so much better if they had bigger centerpieces.” Said no wedding guest ever. While Pinterest has a lot of us convinced that details are crucial to the wedding experience, the truth is that pretty is not a feeling. And most of us can’t even remember what the decor looked like at the last wedding we went to. As Meg says in the #APWPlanner, “What you do remember are the big things—that the ceremony was moving, how fun the crowd was, that they had a bonfire, that you got to eat really yummy cake.” So remember that next time your budget has you stressed out and you’re considering taking a week off from work so you can make a hundred invitations by hand when you don’t even care about paper. (For more advice on how to not get lost in the details, see page 22 of the #APWPlanner.)

A Full Service Bar: It’s common (but totally not required) for the hosts to cover all or a portion of the bar tab at a wedding. But that doesn’t mean you have to stock your venue with three different kinds of vodka, plus specialty liquors, just so your guests can order their own signature cocktails. Instead, an easy way to balance cost with options is to offer just wine and beer, or wine and beer plus a signature cocktail. You can find more options for modified bars in the #APWPlanner, or get the inside scoop on how to set up a DIY bar here and here. And if you’re not covering the bar tab? (No shame; we couldn’t afford it ourselves.) The most important thing is to let people know in advance so they can remember to bring cash money with them. (For a whole bunch of options on how to provide food and drink to your guests, go to chapter five of the #APWPlanner.)

A Strict Design Theme (or Colors): Just because the Internet likes to categorize weddings by color or theme, doesn’t mean you have to as well. And you definitely don’t have to pick two colors and stick to them for all of your wedding related projects, decor, and outfits. APW contributor Michelle Edgemont explained in the #APWPlanner that instead of picking the traditional two wedding colors, a pro-move is to pick five to six, to create more of a palette. This can make decorating feel less restrictive and more organic. #LazyGirl approved. (For realistic advice on how to decorate your wedding without having a Pinterest meltdown, check out chapter eight of the #APWPlanner.)

Wedding Party Gifts: I know the wedding industry really wants you to buy those matching engraved flasks for your wedding party, but don’t be fooled. Nobody signed up to be a bridesmaid because they were in it for the matching robes. Still want to tell your best people (who might also include your parents, your officiant, or any other close wedding helpers) that you’re grateful for having them with you on this super important day? A thoughtful note will take you there, and probably last a whole lot longer than anything with your wedding date on it. (For more on thank you–gift etiquette, visit page 100 of the #APWPlanner.)

YOUR WEDDING definitely NEEDs

A Timeline: Meg writes, “A good timeline takes care of people, gets them fed on time, and minimizes how long they have to stand around thinking, ‘Are they done taking photos already or what?’ It builds guest activities into times when you’ll be otherwise busy (they drink while you pose!) and ensures that people won’t arrive at the reception at 6:00 p.m., hungry for dinner, but not have food put in front of them until a ravenous 9:00 p.m.” So even if your day is laid back and mostly unstructured, do yourself the favor of creating a timeline and then passing it off to the people helping you. The goal is that you and your partner never have to field any questions about what’s happening next. The #APWPlanner has a whole section on what kinds of things you’ll want to include in a timeline (from extra wiggle room for getting ready to making sure you allot time to get from the ceremony to the reception), and when you’re ready to write it all down, you can download a free template here. (For advice on building your timeline, check out chapter eleven of the #APWPlanner.)

A storage and transportation plan: It’s an often-overlooked detail, but if you’re bringing your own decor to your wedding, then you will need a storage and transportation plan. Otherwise, it’s going to come down to you and how much shit you can fit in your bridesmaid’s hatchback. And don’t forget about the time leading up to the wedding. If you live in a tiny apartment, but you’ve got a DIY list a mile long and an eighteen-month engagement, you may need to figure out where you can stash your stuff so that your life isn’t overrun by glitter and homemade beer. (For more on DIY and decor management, see page 131 of the #APWPlanner.)

Extra Drinking Glasses: It might seem crazy that this would get its own bullet point, but few things can halt a party quite as quickly as a dishwashing break. Believe it or not, you actually want to aim for 5 to 6 drinking glasses per person (2 to 3 glasses per type of drink). People put drinks down mid-party, dead soldiers get abandoned. So especially if you’re renting and will have access to extra inventory, do yourself a favor and stock up. (Or, of course you can take the totally alternative approach of writing everyone’s name on a cup, and making them keep it. Or, disposables.) (For everything you ever wanted to know about rentals, head to page 36 of the #APWPlanner.)

Contracts: Whether you’re hiring a professional or giving your favorite cousin a few hundred bucks to help you out on the day-of, you’ll want a contract for any services rendered, and that includes friendors. Why? Because they protect everyone by asserting up front what your expectations are. If you’re working with professionals, they should have a standard contract that gets sent to you when you’re ready to hire them. (But know this: they are not set in stone. You can always negotiate!) As for friendors and other non-pros? You can easily download a standard contract online. There’s no need to get fancy with legalese, you just want to make sure the agreement is explicit and specific. (For tips on how to not be scared of contracts, visit page 49 of the #APWPlanner.)

Help: Meg writes, “The first time I was a bridesmaid, the bride spent much of the day rotating between screaming and crying. Needless to say, she didn’t enjoy her wedding very much, but no matter what the media would have you believe, she wasn’t crazy. She just tried to manage all the logistics the day of her wedding by herself. She was stressed, didn’t have enough help, and was trying to have an emotional experience while she coordinated a complex event, which is nearly impossible.” Which is to say, get help. And ask for it early. Even if you can’t afford, or don’t want a professional coordinator, there should be someone at your wedding (who isn’t you) who knows what should be happening next and who will serve as the main point of contact for people looking to find out. Because otherwise you’ll end up like me, giving your emcee all the names of your wedding party members when you should really be getting your photos taken. (For advice on logistics and when to ask for help, go to chapter eleven of the #APWPlanner.)

Not sure where to start? Download This Worksheet from the #aPWPlanner. We’ve filled it with a lot of common elements you might find at a wedding (many of which you won’t need). Circle the stuff you care about, cross out the stuff you don’t, and add anything that feels important.

WeddingThingsYouMightNotNeed

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Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Annie

    I would add onto list of don’t needs: You don’t need to stress about that one distant relative that is making a fuss. Considering parents’ input is one thing, trying to make everyone happy and meet their irrational desires is quite another.

    • Jess

      Having just spent a holiday talking to FMIL about an Aunt who was Very Upset About Random Things at a recent family wedding… Making sure that said Aunt is happy at ours is not on my top priorities.

      • Meg

        we had a cousin who was also Very Upset About Random Things at my wedding, and we all just kind of laughed about it

        • Jess

          That’s really the only response.

        • another lady

          there is always going to be that one person who causes a problem. at our wedding, I didn’t even hear it or know it was going on until after the fact! apparently, the other family members ushered her out and took care of it. no worries for the bride and groom! you can’t control everyone!

      • NTB

        This.

        It is impossible to please everyone. So, please yourself! ;-)

  • Meg

    Something for the don’t need list: if you’re getting married in a church or other stately institution like a city hall don’t worry about decorating it. They look nice enough as it is and generally have their own flowers (if it’s a church). The people at the church most likely prefer you don’t decorate it anyway.

    • emilyg25

      Same if you’re getting married outside!

  • MABie

    #1 is on point. You really don’t need a ton of details. Case in point: we went to a wedding over the weekend where the couple had five different guestbook-type things for people to sign. It was confusing, and most guests didn’t sign any of them. On the other hand, there was not nearly enough food (and they had indicated that they would be providing dinner). Nobody will remember the guest books, but people will probably remember not having enough to eat.

    To the list of needs, I’d add CLEAR COMMUNICATION with your guests and your family/bridal party. Communicating what people should and should not expect at your wedding is huge for managing expectations and keeping people happy. If you can’t afford to provide dinner, just plan for it and tell people not to expect it. They’ll eat beforehand, and they’ll enjoy themselves at the wedding. If you don’t tell them you’re not feeding them, but you have a reception that starts at 7 p.m., you may have some grumpy guests on your hands.

    • ATLawyer

      100% agree that being unexpectedly hungry at a wedding is the worst!

    • Amy March

      I would go a step farther, and say that if you can’t afford to provide dinner, don’t have a dinner time (whatever that means where you are) wedding! You don’t need to have a Saturday evening 6-11 party if you don’t want or can’t afford to!

      I think communication is important and helpful, but also just not setting yourself up for a situation where there is a big expectation/reality gap saves a lot of trouble down the road.

  • Kara

    You also don’t have to have programs / menus / extra paper. Programs might be nice, but they are not necessary. People tend to figure out what’s going on — people walk in, someone leads the ceremony, people get married, and then people exit :).

    • Eenie

      Not necessary at all, but if anyone wants to do them and wonders if people read them – I do! I love reading the programs as I sit there and wait for the ceremony to start. I saw one program that only had: “We walk in, we get married, we celebrate!” I wished they had just not worried about programs to your point.

      • As someone who spent considerable time and energy on our program, I’m glad some people do read them and like them!
        I agree they’re not necessary by any means, but it was personally important to me that every element of our interfaith wedding was explained– what it was, what it meant, and why we chose to include it in our hybrid ceremony. Hope someone appreciated it!

    • Agreed. I only find them helpful if it’s a particular religious ceremony, and the program gives me cultural context and helps me follow along. Otherwise, I don’t need to know who groomsperson #5 is or what song played as the flower girl came down the aisle.

  • Sosuli

    I’ve recently been clashing with my FMIL over an issue and I’m not sure whether I’m being idealistic or she’s too committed to wedding industry expectations. We’re having our ceremony and afternoon in one place and moving to another venue for the evening. There is a 10 – maximum 15 – minute walk between these two places, along a well-paved riverside and past a few bars. The eco-friendly bride in me is thinking awesome – wedding parade! People will get a chance to see some of town and stretch their legs, we can get taxi’s for the elderly. FMIL thinks we should get a bus for everyone because “if it rains your wedding dress will get wet”. Seems a little much to me, especially since there isn’t as direct a driving route between the venues, so it would actually take longer to get everyone on and off a bus than to round people up and walk. I get the rain thing is a concern, but unless it’s pouring down I feel like umbrellas would probably fix that issue… am I being unreasonable and impractical? It doesn’t help that FH is on the fence about it, but wants at least the two of us to have a car just so we can have a wedding car.

    • Lisa

      I think having a rain plan would be important, but my SIL did this in sunny California, and it was a lot of fun! I think she and her husband took the limo back to the hotel from the church, and the rest of us walked back together. Husband and I were tasked with manning a water wagon filled with water bottles in case it was too hot. (It wasn’t, and it was pretty unnecessary, but it was really fun to hand some of the leftover name-labeled bottles out to people on the street!) I think you could easily turn this into something super super fun by passing out noise makers, bells, etc., and encouraging your guests to make some noise along the way!

      As for your wedding dress getting wet… I mean, anything could happen to it between putting it on and the end of the reception. Just ask my friend whose dress got grease on it from getting in and out of the car or clumsy me who managed to get some sauce from a mushroom cap on my front. You can’t prevent everything, and as long as the dress isn’t some super delicate material that will crumble up upon contact with water, you should be fine.

      • Eenie

        I fully plan to spill on my dress. It’s no more immune than my everyday outfits.

      • My mom both dropped a mascara wand down her wedding dress and had my dad spill a full glass of Guinness (DARK BEER) down the front.
        Both times she dropped the skirt in the sink and washed it with white soap. White soap is in every wedding mishap kit I have ever made, because of this.

    • greenish

      By brother and SIL did this – a walk from the location to the eating venue, about 15 minutes, and it was lovely. A couple of cars took the older folk there, everyone else was delighted to walk and took the opportunity to chat before they sat down in their set places. It was a super moment and I’m glad they did it.

      • Sosuli

        This is kind of my ideal scenario. I’m definitely going to share your experience with FH.

        • AP

          I’ve also been to a wedding where there was a short walk (maybe 5-10 min?) from the ceremony to the reception venue. It was lovely and casual- older guests drove, younger guests walked, even though it was a really hot day. The photographer got some really cute photos of guests during the walk as well. And since the bride and groom walked, people wanted to walk with them and congratulate them, so it kind of worked as an opportunity to have some personal time with guests. I can see how 15 minutes in heels would be tricky, though.

          • Sosuli

            I checked googlemaps, and it said there is 0.4 miles between venues and the walk would be 9 minutes. I find I always walk a lot faster than the googlemaps estimate, but I imagine 15 minutes would be more realistic when thinking about a big group of people having a leisurely stroll.

          • Jess

            Just walk. As long as it’s clearly communicated it’ll be fine. Have a plan for the elderly that you’re close to (cab / uber etc.).

            I too got a lot of pushback on walking between our locations. A bus was proposed. We did not get one and I’m really glad we didn’t spend the money on it. Everyone was fine walking and my grandparents cabbed it.

            People had fun in the walk too!

      • Meg

        yeah maybe the FMIL could help organize people driving between the venues to cover all the older folks?

    • Amy March

      Is there an option for those of us who absolutely will not be walking 15 minutes in our fancy wedding heels thank you very much? Can I hail a cab, or call an Uber, or take public transit, or just drive myself?

      I don’t think a wedding parade sounds awesome, honestly, I think it sounds like a blister inducing slog requiring me to carry extra flats in my purse meaning I’ll need to buy a new evening purse, and I don’t need to stretch my legs or see the town, and traipsing along the river in the rain and a cocktail dress just sounds soggy. But I don’t think that means you need to rent a bus! As long as your venue isn’t so isolated or specially situated that I can make my own plans to get me where I need to be in a way I’m comfortable travelling, I’m perfectly happy to do so.

      Perhaps reframe the issue a bit for her? Not “yes exciting wedding parade,” which to my mind is difficult to embrace, but “our guests are adults, there are plenty of ways for them to get between the two locations, and I’m sure they will figure it out!”

      • Lisa

        “Our guests are adults, there are plenty of ways for them to get between
        the two locations, and I’m sure they will figure it out!”

        So much this! As long as events and expectations are clearly communicated, then you’ve done everything you need to do. This is where it’s really helpful to have a wedding web-site where one could communicate. “You are welcome to join us for a walk through town to the reception following the ceremony. If you would prefer to meet us there, here are your list of options for making that happen” would certainly suffice.

      • Sosuli

        Thanks for the perspective! I guess I don’t always remember that for some people 15 mins + heels is understandably not okay. Your reaction also reminded me that we need to make it clear to guests that as long as weather is good, most of the afternoon is going to be spent outdoors in the gardens on grass.
        I should also say that I haven’t called it a wedding parade to my FMIL, but rather said people can get taxis if they prefer or don’t want to walk and that we could call a company to send a few over at a specific time – taxis are super cheap in our town. But she doesn’t seem to think that’s good enough.

        • Amy March

          In my book, if it is actually a reasonable expectation that enough taxis will be available to transport anyone who wants one (and if it’s raining, I think you should anticipate nearly everyone will), then you’re good!

          But if you’d be fine with a bus and just don’t think one is necessary, it might also be a good time for “awesome! if you want to organize and pay for a bus go right ahead! we need to leave venue A at xyz time.”

        • Saxyrunner

          Then don’t wear heels if you know there will be a 15 minute walk? If people know there’s a walk they can figure their own footwear out.

          • Caitlin

            Some people can’t walk 15 minutes, even in flats though. My grandmother would get winded going from the car to the house even though it only involved 3 steps.

          • ML

            Yup, and pregnant ladies may have a hard time also. Just speaking for my larger than life, third trimester self. People need alternatives.

          • Sosuli

            Yeah, as I said in the original post, I always saw this plan as involving taxis for the elderly or otherwise unable to walk!

          • Caitlin

            I missed that part. One other thing though – there may be people who would be embarrassed to admit they can’t do it.

          • laddibugg

            See, I am one of those people who could do it, but just flat wouldn’t want to.

            Would I complain about it to the bride or groom? No, but I’d be bitching about it to my partner or in my head.

            Would I be able to ride in a car or are those reserved only for the old and infirm?

    • Kara

      It also depends on the season. Could you expect rain + cold or rain + hail + wind + lightning? Is there protection from the elements at the ceremony location (not just for the elderly folks sake) in case people can wait out the weather?

      Walking just 10 minutes in potentially severe weather is not safe. If it’s just misting or drizzling, adults won’t have it too bad. But if there are other options (taxi, Uber, pedi cab, etc.), make sure people know they have access to them.

      • Sosuli

        It’s July in the UK so rain is always a possibility but storms are unlikely (at least where we are).The weather protection for people waiting for taxis is a good point I hadn’t thought of, thanks. I just feel like having a bus is a bit much, I appreciate the suggestions coming in for a compromise!

        • Kara

          No problem :). Glad to help. Good luck!

    • emilyg25

      I don’t think you necessarily need a bus, but you do need some options for your guests. I’d probably drive myself because I like to wear heels to weddings and I’m not paying for a cab.

      • Sosuli

        That’s interesting – though also not an option, since our evening venue is right in the centre of town, so the closest parking is probably by the daytime venue. This is the UK we’re talking about so parking next door to a place is rarely a given – at least in little medieval towns like ours. But most guests won’t have cars anyway, since my relatives are flying in and FH’s are heavy drinkers. I’m making a mental note to make this clear in the invitation info though.

        • Maybe have a sign up sheet on your website for people who want transportation vs will walk. If there’s more than a couple cabs worth then yeah, maybe bus is the way to go.

          • Amanda

            this is very organized!

          • Scalliwag

            We did this, to only moderate success. So definitely a good base gauge, but we definitely had some people who said they’d be on the bus we provided that weren’t, and some that didn’t register but still used the bus. We were getting it either way because for our set up it made sense. But also, know your people and/or reach out specifically to those who may need a little more direction, though I guess that’s true of many items for a wedding, or every day life.

          • We did this for our rehearsal dinner which was more of a cocktail hour open to everyone from out of town (80some% of our guest list). Yeah, some people said yes and didn’t come, some people said no/didn’t respond and then came. It gave us a good ballpark to know how much booze to buy.
            I think it’d at least show the OP if there was enough interest in a bus to make it worth it… and give her data she could show her FMIL, too.
            Also some wedding websites (we used Wedding Jojo and it did) have an RSVP feature you can use for this sort of thing.

    • Eenie

      If people driving themselves might happen be careful about the parking situation. I’ve been to weddings where the “carpool” message wasn’t well communicated.

      How are people getting to the first venue and back “home”? That would be my question. I’d be fine with a walk, but is my car at the ceremony spot? If it is, I’m not going to do that walk twice when I can just drive and then drive off at the end of the night when I’m tired.

      In terms of having a wedding car, use it for your exit from the reception. Extra points if you convince a friend to be chauffeur for you ;)

    • Jess

      So, on one hand, a 15 min wedding parade sounds like a blast to me and a great opportunity to be relaxed and interact with people as you move to another location.

      On the other, more “accommodate everyone” hand, we have some family members for whom walking more than 5 minutes is a struggle (and would not like a cab by themselves because they would feel like they were inconveniencing everyone and missing out)… so just know your people.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I’ve worked a handful of weddings where the couple did this. Some people are going to love it; others are going to hate it. That’s the nature of weddings. I think the important thing is advanced notice. I’ve gone to events where there was a LOT more walking than I anticipated and I wore the kind of shoes that can ruin a night if you have to walk more than five minutes in them (15 minutes is enough walking to work up a nasty blister.) But as others have mentioned below, I think as long as there are options for those who can’t walk or choose not to, you’ll be fine.

    • Amanda

      I think if you have 1) notice (I’ll be wearing wedges, thank you!) 2) plan for elderly/non walkers (taxis! a few people play chauffeur! people can drive & park in the venue parking lot!), you’re in the clear. Just make clear that there is a plan.

      I personally think those buses are the worst and would much prefer a taxi in all circumstances. I’ve been at good weddings gone wrong, where the only thing people remember (because it was the last thing) was the bus being late, crowded, or missing it entirely. Also, being on a bus with drunk groomsmen singing college fight songs while waiting for everyone else for like, half an hour, is my idea of hell.

      • Sosuli

        Yeah that’s sort of my feeling on buses – it always takes longer than you’d expect to get everyone on.

    • Lawyerette510

      Like most of the other comments– I 100% support a wedding parade/ walk as long as people have notice. You’ll have things in place for the people who can’t (either because of physical limitations or preferences) make the walk, so you’re good. And as for weather, umbrellas are perfect and again, because you’re communicating with everyone, everyone will be accountable for being a responsible adult and bringing umbrellas.

    • TheOtherLiz

      At my friend’s wedding last month, there was a 10 minute walk from the church to the reception, and nobody complained. Some people said, oh should we drive over? And when I said it was a 10 minute walk they said oh, that’s easier, I’ll just follow you since you know the way. And that was at night, in DC, in December cold, and this included guests of all ages. Nobody was handicapped in a way that was visible to me, it’s worth noting, but nobody minded. Our wedding invitation came with a hand drawn map that showed us where everything was: the rehearsal dinner the night before, the ceremony, the party, the Sunday breakfast. It was easy to get the lay of the land and wasn’t a surprise to anyone. As her volunteer reception coordinator, I had also been entrusted with an envelope of $20 bills for cab fare for anyone who needed it.

      • laddibugg

        Just because no one said anything doesn’t mean no one minded.

    • NTB

      This is exactly like my wedding. We were married in downtown Denver; our church was a 15 minute walk to the reception site. We rented a limo for the wedding party only, since we did photos after the ceremony … it helped round everyone up and get into one car and made it easy to get everyone in the same place at the same time for photos post-ceremony.

      It was 105 degrees that day (rare for CO) and walking would have made my life pretty miserable. We had a Catholic wedding in which standing/sitting for over an hour was probably not the most ideal situation for our wedding party, so I am glad we had a car. If the weather had been nicer and I had been wearing my Nikes, I think walking would have been fine.

      I was *exhausted* at the end of my wedding day. I would try to minimize the exhaustion any way I could, especially for myself. For your wedding party, it’s totally up to you. We did NOT provide any other transit for guests, the elderly, or in-laws…and it worked fine. People made their own arrangements to get to the reception site. It was a non-issue for us, and hopefully it will be the same for you. ;)

  • macrain

    Contracts! I did not do a contract for my makeup artist- she insisted we didn’t need one- and sure enough, someone I had never laid eyes on ended up doing my makeup on my wedding day. Luckily it worked out and I loved the replacement, but the stress was not worth it.

  • You don’t NEED a wedding party. AT ALL. We had a small, destination wedding and decided early on that a wedding party was more stress and work (for us and our friends) than anyone wanted. If you want to, go ahead and have people stand up with you. It’s also perfectly reasonable to have your BFFs just be guests.

    See also: shower and bachelorette/bachelor party.

    • ATLawyer

      Agreed- you definitely don’t need a bridal party. (Though I will say two close friends of mine from college who would have been in a bridal party, had I decided to do one, didn’t even end up coming to our semi-destination wedding in theNew England area. One friend even said to me “it’s not like I’m backing out of being a bridesmaaid or something” when she told me she couldn’t make it because of a work conflict… Yikes.)

      That said, all of my other closest friends who were physically able came to the wedding (aka not pregnant or having just given birth) all came and got to wear EXACTLY what they wanted- and they looked fabulous. Most of our close friends spent the day of our wedding doing fun touristy things like a farmers market, a local swimming hole, hiking, or visiting a cheese factory before our late afternoon ceremony. I was so pleased they were able to treat it like a mini vacation and relax.

      • Eenie

        I had a friend who was trying to convince me that having people STAND up for you at the wedding was the most important part. I was so taken aback. I told her I hoped she knew what our friendship meant without actually being in the non existent bridal party. She felt better about it after I agreed to do a little bachelorette party that she planned for me. It’s funny how people want to show their support and celebrate you.

    • Ashlah

      We loooved not having a wedding party. Knocked out a big chunk of potential stress right from the get-go.

    • emilyg25

      Best decision ever. No hard choices picking among friends and family. No wrangling different people who’d otherwise never have a reason to work together. No stressing over suits and dresses and the expense of the whole shebang.

    • Eenie

      No bridal party for us too! So far I’ve only had one friend who was really hurt by the decision. Also nixed the shower and official bachelor/ette parties.

    • Lawyerette510

      Exactly, no wedding party necessary. The people who love you will love you and want to help regardless of whether you have a wedding party.

    • ML

      YES. I am so glad we went without a wedding party. People still were involved, but without any pressure or added expenses of matching clothes or special flowers. It also was a relief to not feel obligated to be communicating wedding plans or decisions with anyone.

  • Kristen

    Things we did without and don’t regret at all:

    -Bridesmaids dresses: I just asked the bridesmaids to wear a knee-ish length black dress. It ended up looking like it was coordinated as each of them had a different neckline and looked amazing (as I knew they would).

    -A large registry and shower: I REALLY wanted to avoid feeling like our
    wedding was a gift grab. So, I did not have a shower. This allowed me
    to have a small registry for those who like to give actual gifts for the wedding. And we completed the registry all online and avoided the awkward walk around Bed, Bath and Beyond with that little price gun. So happy about that…

    -Favors: We avoided the whole favor situation by donating to a cause that we both support and leaving a note at each place that we made a donation in lieu of a favor. Still one of my favorite choices from our wedding.

    -Sweetheart table centerpiece: The venue included floral centerpieces and were going to include one on our sweetheart table. I asked for my bouquet instead of the sweetheart table centerpiece. They agreed and I saved about $100. Lesson here – think creatively about what seems unnecessary and negotiate! Also, my aunt put together beautiful (small) bouquets for the bridesmaids and we did not get boutineers for the guys.

    -Cake topper: For some reason, I really felt like I needed a cake topper for waaay to long but did not want anything cheesy (and that’s all I could find when I looked). One day I just decided to give up and it was totally fine.

    -Guest book of some kind: The venue provided one and only a few guests signed it. Oh, well…

    -Transportation: We had the reception at a hotel (with a parking lot) and the ceremony two tenths of a mile down the street. Then, we didn’t have to worry about transportation of any kind.

    I think that’s it, but we really were intentional about avoiding things that seemed unnecessary and concentrating on the aspects that people truly appreciate (good food and music and convenience, IMHO). Hope that is a helpful list!

    • Dal

      I absolutely love your idea for doing a donation instead of favors, will definitely be proposing that idea! I think it would be a great way for me to subtly honor my mother’s memory by donating to an organization which helped us a lot during her final months and who I know would use the money to help other families. Thanks for the idea!

    • kate

      we skipped all of those things as well and didn’t regret a single one.

      some others we skipped:
      -cake – we opted for a sundae bar from a local ice cream shop and it was a HIT. just two flavors and a couple basic toppings. it was easily cheaper than any fancy wedding cake and there ended up being WAY too much, so we could have even gone smaller in hindsight.

      -parent dances & first dance – my husband’s mom isn’t in his life and we also just felt odd about doing these as two people who really don’t like being the center of attention and aren’t particularly sappy, so instead we just skipped the parent dances (we involved them in the ceremony with readings instead) and kicked off the dance party by inviting everyone onto the floor with us for “signed, sealed, delivered”. this is the one that got the most skeptical or “you’ll-regret-this” reactions from people beforehand, but the way it played out was so joyful and we felt so much more comfortable than we would have being “on display” any more than we already had been, so it was perfect for us. and, bonus, it got everyone out of their chairs right away to help kick off mingling and dancing post-dinner.

      -resetting the room between ceremony & reception – if you’re having both in the same place/room, don’t discount this. we just had folks sitting at their tables for the ceremony and made no layout changes besides adding the head table after, which meant less moving around for those with mobility limitations and we could get by without moving rooms or requiring extra rentals/staff. we still had a post-ceremony cocktail hour so we could sneak away for some photos before dinner, but it not being strictly necessary gave us a lot of flexibility with the timeline when we were planning too. (www.floorplanner.com was invaluable for playing around with different layouts to see what would fit in the space)

      and re: registry – we also included the option for guests to make a donation to a few of our favorite organizations as a gift and a surprising number of people really latched onto this!

      we focused a lot on the same things as you and months later are still getting comments about how good the food was and didn’t hear a peep about anything that was missing.

  • NTB

    I am putting my two cents in here. My wedding flowers were beautiful, but I am embarrassed about how much we spent on them. At the end of the day, if flowers are making or breaking your budget – my advice is to go as simple as possible while staying true to your scheme/theme. A close friend who was married a month after me literally picked her wedding flowers moments before the ceremony (we were in a rural area with a lot of wildflowers, so it was lucky…) but they looked just as beautiful as any professional bouquet I’ve seen. I obsessed over our flower arrangements…looking back, that was something I would definitely do differently.

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