Oh, today’s wedding. What to say? It contains the cutest ‘just married’ picture I have ever seen. It reminds you what weddings are about in the first place – forming a new family, celebrating with your greater family, laughter, tears, joy. It reminds you that it doesn’t really matter if everything is cute and blog-worthy and detailed, because in the end you are never going to pour over the pictures of the wedding stuff you had, you’re going to pour over the pictures of the wedding love you had. And just when this all sounds too sweet to be true, it reminds you that part of planning a wedding is growing into your role as a fully-fledged, fully-recognized grown-up in your community, and coming into the power of your ability to say NO! Because I swear to you on everything, saying yes to things that are not right for you will end up more painful, than just biting the bullet and kindly but firmly said, “No way.” And with that, I leave you with a thank you letter, written to this community:
Dear Meg and Team Practical,
I wasn’t sure about writing a wedding graduate post, because our wedding planning experience was so easy and stress-free that I didn’t want to make other people who are already stressed feel any more stressed about how other people have lovely stress-free weddings. But I did want to let you know that these weddings really do happen and why our wedding was like this.
To be honest, it boils down to Team Practical and all the wise couples who have shared their experiences. I wanted to share our story as a huge thank you, but also as evidence of the impact your blog and blog community is having on people like me.
Unfortunately I think genuinely easy and simple weddings are almost like fiction in our highly commodified consumer culture. My hope is that stories like mine, the experiences of other practical graduates, and the important conversations being had around the blogosphere, are slowly building to create a new story that couples can look to on their wedding day, and that is a story, or rather millions of stories, of love and joy and tears and memories on each couples’ own terms and not those of the narrower world of wedding expectations (WIC or otherwise).
My partner and I honestly planned a beautiful stress-free wedding in a couple of months. We had no arguments (and we are not one of those couples that never argue, because we do) and we tried to keep everything as simple as we could.
Around the time we seriously started planning our wedding, you featured a series of posts about not going indie/blog wedding crazy, wedding styling, and weddings not being shows or fashion shoots (actually that may have been East Side Bride), which were truly the best gift for any bride-to-be. To all brides and grooms (and brides and brides and grooms and grooms) out there: a (relatively) stress-free wedding IS possible as long as you take the advice of Team Practical. Wise people have been down your path and their experiences can help you.
So, our wedding. It really was simple and lovely and stress-free and here’s how we achieved that:
Our day consisted of a morning ceremony with family (and some friends who just had to take a peek) in a local park. Then we walked to a nearby hotel and had lunch in their award-winning restaurant, after which our friends arrived and we continued to party with them in the bar area. A simple, fun, and truly lovely day.
Another thing I should mention is that we planned our wedding for the same weekend as my father-in-law’s 70th birthday, as well as a good friend’s wedding. The beautiful thing about this was that it meant the weekend and our wedding were not just about us. We were able to celebrate many things and our wedding was just one joyful event among all the celebrations.
I could tell you all about the thrifty and creative and sane things we did, but really, there weren’t that many. Actually, maybe the sanest, thriftiest and most creative thing we did was to insist on this simplicity. The general advice I could share has already been said many times over on your blog and that is decide on what matters to you, compromise on things that matter to key people, ignore everything else, don’t go DIY crazy, and be present on the day. And honestly, when the day arrives and when you and your partner (and your baby and little dog) are right inside the wedding, all you will notice are the happy tears and the smiles on everyone’s faces.
But, I do have three pieces of advice that were specific to our wedding planning process that might help couples out there. The first is something I have never heard anywhere else before, and that is; if at all possible, try keeping your engagement under wraps for a while. We didn’t tell anyone for about 2 years, which is probably a little extreme, but life got in the way. Even if you keep it a secret for just a few weeks, it will give you and your partner some time and space to digest your new situation, and to think about all things marriage and wedding before the clutter and noise and expectations of family, friends, and broader society start to close in and confuse you. For us, having that time, allowed us to have many (many) conversations about marriage and make hypothetical wedding plans so when the time came to actually plan everything, we knew what we and other important people wanted as most of the groundwork had been laid.
The second piece of advice is about saying no. As I said before, decide on what matters to you, compromise on what matters to key people, and say no to everything else. Practice saying it. Say it out loud. Say it often. No to anything you are not comfortable with. No to wedding expectations that do not reflect you as a couple. For us that meant no engagement shoots, no save-the-dates, no bridal party, no rehearsal dinner, no getting ready separately, no first looks, no to being given away, no first dance, no receiving line, no table numbers, no escort cards, no guest books, no groccoed napkins, no monogrammed doorways, no signature cocktails, no candy bars, no favours, no chalkboard notices, no menus, no programs, no flip flops, no vintage hand-embroidered handkerchiefs, no parasols, no photo booths, no DJs, no grass bands, no playlists, and no bits of fancy paper everywhere labelling every single detail.
What did we have? We had flowers, we had amazing food, we had cake, we had sunshine, we had love, laughter, tears, family, friends, babies, and each other.
And the third piece of advice concerns the dress. Everyone’s dress journey will be different, but do try find something that makes you feel beautiful and something that you are comfortable wearing. However, when I say beautiful and comfortable, I am not just talking aesthetics, rather, for me, beauty and comfort also meant practical and affordable. In fact, so much so, purchasing my dress ended up being an extremely liberating and defining moment in the whole wedding planning process. I was lucky enough to find a lovely designer dress in a non-bridal shop for an incredibly low price. I tried it on. It fit. It was nice. I looked at the price tag $1000 reduced to $50. Thank you very much. Done.
I walked out happy thinking it was only $50 so if I found something else it wouldn’t matter (and then I broke into a run in case the shop had made a mistake). But the more I thought about it the happier I got. I actually really came to love my dress. It was beautiful, affordable and practical, and from then on that is how I thought about our wedding planning. It was a truly liberating wedding moment where all the typical stresses and expectations seemed to evaporate. I think if I had chosen a more costly or impractical dress (could I really wear fine French silk or lace with a 7 month old son?) I might still be harbouring some wedding stress and guilt.
Again, thank you Team Practical. Your voices are making an impact.
Vendors: You mentioned recently that your Australian readers sometimes complain about there not being many vendors mentioned that are local to them, so here are mine. Anything not mentioned we already owned, DIYed or just didn’t do.
Celebrant/officiant: Russell Hansen
Dress: Leona Edmiston (Specifically the discount sample shop in Rozelle, Sydney).
Hair accessory: Powder Blue Bijoux
Restaurant/Bar: The Riverview Hotel, Balmain
Photographer: Kate Baker, a very talented family friend and her partner, who is not a wedding photographers so I cannot share anymore details.