51 Comments

  1. I feel your pain. I also feel somewhat guilty participating in it, and it seems so much easier to elope (& cheaper!!). I think wedding budgets have gone off the deep end. Luckily, our venue is super beautiful, so I’m going to forgo pretty much all decorations, & just let the natural beauty be the back drop.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I got married in 2010 and since then I’ve helped several friends get married. I’ve found myself being really glad I got married before I knew about Pinterest or photography blogs because I didn’t quite know about all those little details yet:) My general rule of thumb is that as long as you’re having fun with it it’s ok to let those details seem important but the moment you find yourself crying because you can’t think of a cute way to display your escort cards (this happened to my friend) it’s time to remind yourself that they don’t actually matter at all. Good luck and happy planning! What a fun time:)

  3. Yep, I think Megan’s advice is great. Let fun be your guide. Not that every second will be fun, but overall, a wedding is a celebration of love and life and a way to show hospitality to those who celebrate with you.

  4. I totally hear you on the wedding industry thing. I blame Pinterest. 🙂 I’m not about to be married or anything, but I think I’m going to try to just focus on the celebration itself, instead of obsessively trying to be original. Who has time for monogrammed little cocktail flags, anyway.

  5. You’re on the right track, and you’ll make good choices! I got married in 2005 (sheesh), and it was very low key – I was lucky to have no Pinterest pressure and a low budget – it was easier to keep things in check. Now that I’ve been married 7 years, the wedding seems almost inconsequential in the scheme of marriage. Yes, it was fun, and yes, it was special, but it was a blip on the radar of real life together. Our committment to each other has nothing to do with what cake we had and all to do with relying on the Lord and treating eachother unselfishly from that day forward. The satisfaction of a good marriage will give you far more joy than monogrammed wedding favors!

    • Laura

      You seem like the type to have monogrammed wedding favors and bacon-wrapped jalapeno shrimp:) But, really, thanks for this – you always give good advice!

  6. When I got married, I hadn’t been to many weddings. Now that I’ve been to tons of weddings, I can say that if I were to get married again, I would do things differently.

    Here are some notes that are most important to me as a guest:

    -Plentiful food (#1 priority. My favorite weddings have had plentiful appetizers, dinners, alcohol and desserts in variety and quantity)
    -More than one bar – so the line isn’t toooooo long
    -A swift moving schedule (I don’t mind a cocktail hour and dinner divide, but I don’t enjoy weddings as much when you have to wait forever for the next “event” or because the couple is trying to make the evening last longer so they wait until 10pm to cut the cake or postpone dinner when you’re starving because they do all the dancing and speeches first and you can’t concentrate and enjoy them! Or you are herded from one spot to another spot to another spot and can’t pick a table, put down your purse and relax until the final destination)
    -Being able to sit whereever I want. (I know you said you still want assigned tables, but I hate it as a guest and wish we hadn’t done it at ours)
    -Don’t worry about favors, menus, champagne toasts and details so much – all I really care about as a guest is a pretty venue, good food and ample seating
    -And cake. Please have a cake, cupcakes, pie bar or some kind of special dessert 🙂

    • Nikki

      Wow. Here I thought weddings were about watching the ones that WE love celebrate THEIR love. Honestly nothing like that has ever crossed my mind at a wedding. I’m usually thinking about the couple and grateful that I’ve been there to share in the day.

      Good luck in your planning, and do what’s right for you – not anybody else. Life is too short!

      • Kate

        +1

        Yikes.

        You said it yourself, and I couldn’t agree more: “…at the end of the day, the experience is really more about Matt and I than anyone else.”. Your guests will appreciate that and should be happy to be there with you both to celebrate, however the two of you decide to do so.

        Matt anf you are a beautiful couple and will have a beautiful day, regardless of the details!

      • Kimberly

        I agree with Nikki! As long as you are gracious to your guests, do whatever you want. It’s your wedding! If you want assigned seats, I’d say go for it! Especially since if there aren’t assigned seats, couples or groups of friends can end up not being able to sit together because there aren’t enough seats together. Enjoy your planning and your day! When I’m at a wedding, I don’t look around and critique everything. I just love to celebrate with the bride and groom and seeing how they chose to do everything is fun, even if it isn’t how I would have done things. I don’t think most people are as critical as the previous commenter.

      • nicole

        Agree!! I have NEVER thought about what the couple “should have” done while a guest at a wedding. It’s a pretty happy day, so usually my MO is to sit back and enjoy. Do what makes you happy! Personally I don’t want a wedding at all, precisely because you inevitably end up offending people/dealing with others’ whims/etc. This actually is maybe the one day in your life that really IS all about YOU — do whatever you want!!

        • Laura

          Thanks for all the comments, guys! Kath was just laying out some notes for things that she might do differently in reflecting on her own wedding. I think her point was not to worry about the little details so much, because guests are generally just happy to celebrate and eat lots of food. While I agree with all of you that the day is totally about Matt and me, I do want our guests to have a good experience, especially considering the time and money they’ll be spending on travel.

    • Michelle

      Wow, I sure hope these so-called friends whose weddings you attended didn’t know about all your peeves.
      I think most of your guests will just be so happy for you and happy to celebrate with you. With that in mind, have whatever wedding food, music, traditions, trends you and Matt love because you’re right, at the end of the day it’s about the love that you share and I think the vast majority of people you invite will feel the same way.

    • melissa

      Yeah, I’ve been reading for awhile, but don’t typically comment. . .but this, I felt was kind of necessary. MOST of your guests don’t care about anything at the wedding expect the two of you. I have been to amazing weddings, and “awful” ones (no food, no date, didn’t know anyone) but at the end of the whole shabang I had two friends declare their love and commitment to one another and that is the only thing that mattered to me. Do what you TWO decide is best, and try to keep opinions to a minimum (which is obviously nearly impossible since they’re like of like a-holes. . .;))
      Good luck with it though. You’ve got great style, and you and Matt seem very happy together and it will naturally shine through!

    • Jay

      Wow, I agree with Nikki above. Laura, I promise you not all guests are this self-centered! You keep doing your own thing, focus on you and your husband-to-be, without worrying too much about pleasing others. If they are your real friends/family, they’ll only care about seeing you happy.

    • Livia

      WOWWWW….The wedding is about what makes the couple happy and the way that they feel is best to celebrate their big day..as they just have one day all about them to remember for the rest of their life together. Kath please reassess the way you go about enjoying the celebration of ANOTHER couple’s relationship (i.e. thinking about them and not about how hungry you are and the order you like to do things…maybe just bring along a snack just in case if you can’t resist until the meal time).

      • Livia

        Oh and about the assigned tables…I had them at my wedding and personally think it’s the best call because I just went to a wedding where at the rehearsal dinner (of 60 people) there were not assigned tables and…well unfortunately a few couples end up getting screwed (or even single family members). I think you end up more equally dividing people up if you assign seating and during the cocktail hour and dancing they can mingle around and mix it up to talk to everyone.

    • Allyson

      As someone who had to plan their wedding with a conservative budget, this comment really hurts. I had to make a choice to serve “plentiful appetizers” and multiple bartenders or more friends that wanted to be there for us. Luckily I chose people who truly wanted to be there and celebrate our vows over pleasing guests like you.

      If there is one thing I can offer from planning my wedding it is to do things that make you and your groom happy. At the end of the day, they are your memories and moments you will remember for the rest of your lives. Friends and family who truly love you will remember seeing you happy and in love, not how long they had to wait for a drink.

      Good luck with your planning!

    • Liz

      As someone who is currently sweating over what I now understand to be an extremely limited budget for a reception, this comment particularly stings because I know even the people I consider my good friends would probably be thinking this on the inside while smiling on the outside when they see my clearly strict budget-minded reception of only 100 guests.

      Kath, you need to check your privilege. Not all of us can even remotely afford plentiful gourmet appetizers and multiple bartenders and all that. Some of us are scrambling trying to figure out how the hell we are going to feed 100 people enough food so that they aren’t totally drunk or totally starving. We’re trying to figure out how to avoid the dreaded cash bar wedding, but these things cost money. It must be nice to have not struggled to put together your own wedding – I can’t imagine how else someone would have such a self-absorbed list of snarky don’ts while attending the most important day in the lives of the people you are supposed to be there to love and support.

  7. What has kept me sane while planning my own wedding for this October is going to OTHER people’s weddings in the meantime (friends and relatives) and realizing that real life does not equal blog pictures/pinterest. No one has a perfect wedding…but the details don’t matter as much as the actual celebration of two people pledging themselves to each other! Plus, the actual day goes so fast and details someone spent hours agonizing about end up being trivial background things. I will also say though that planning a wedding makes me a much more appreciative guest!

  8. JessicaE

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said its really about you and Matt, NO ONE else. Of course its nice to make a pleasant environment for your guests, but if they don’t like the way you chose to do something, whether its food, arrangements, schedule, etc, that’s too bad. You and Matt only get one wedding. It should be exactly how YOU want it to be. 🙂 <3

  9. Sari

    Just make sure onions are plentiful (I kid, I kid). It’s your day – don’t let anyone else take the reigns – have a blast and try not to let the details bog you down; the point should be to enjoy time with all of your loved ones – what better day is there?

    • Liz

      Yes, I concur. A robust, onion-heavy dish is crucial to any wedding meal. But seriously, I have say to you: It’s not so much about assigned seating as it is about making sure there is enough seating. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding a couple of months back and I had to eat my dinner STANDING UP. Can you even believe it? It was awful. That couple was more concerned with cramming as many people as possible in there even though their tight budget didn’t allow for it. I’d say quality over quantity.

      • Laura

        Standing up at wedding sounds horrible!

        PS: I hate onions too – they make for terrible breath, especially when you at a social event:)

  10. Elle

    I agree with everyone who said the wedding should be what you want. My parents have been married 35 years and they had the most low key wedding imaginable – they went to the registry office with 10 people and then down to the local pub. I’ve been to massively expensive weddings where things didn’t work out for the couple. I like Katie’s point about how the day itself is a little blip in your new lives together and it’s important to focus more on that than the material things.

    Megan – I have no idea what an escort card is!

    • Mari

      A wedding of 10 people at a pub actually sounds way more appealing to me than some over the top, orchestrated affair! I bet it was so much fun!

      I agree with what most everyone has posted: The day is about you and your fiancé, do what you want, do what makes you the most happy because in the end you two are the ones who will remember this day the most!

      The best weddings I’ve went to are the ones with great music and lots of dancing! Dancing is the best way to celebrate love! 🙂

      Just have FUN!!

  11. Courtney

    To begin, as a wedding guest, the last thing I’m thinking about is how the bride should have made me feel more comfortable (i.e. more than one bar and swift moving lines). I enjoy watching the ceremony and how happy the families are on that special day.

    I married in Las Vegas at a chapel with only 12 members of our closest friends and family and let me tell you, it was the best decision. We let everyone know that we were only going to have cake at the reception in our suite so they would be forewarned. We did have booze which more than made up for the lack of appetizers and dinner. The point of our reception was for everyone to mingle, laugh, and talk with great company.

    The one thing you will find with planning a wedding is that there are family members who want you to do it their way. You do what you want and don’t let others criteria regulate how you plan your wedding.

  12. Katie

    I think one way to keep the budget from getting out of control is limiting the booze (sorry Kath). I know people expect the booze to flow freely but that costs a whole lot of money. Sure, have some drinks, but don’t think you need to keep everyone swimming in alchohol. The weddings I’ve been to with unlimited booze were just drunk fests afterawhile. People doing insane things they normally wouldn’t do (all in front of your Grandma:) I’d much rather tell my guests they are going to just have to cool it with the drinks and drink more punch instead and use that money for awesome wedding photography or something – rather than feeling the need to keep everyone sufficiently buzzed. If they are upset by that, they aren’t good friends anyway. Good friends are there to celebrate YOU TWO – not allowing their alchohol consumption dictate whether they will enjoy being there or not.

    • melissa

      Agreed whole heartily with this! We limited alcohol to beer and wine and even that made a huge difference in our cost. I wasn’t a big liquor drinker at the time, so I figured people could go out afterwards if they felt the NEED to drink more (um, which may mean you have a problem if not drinking for several hours makes a downer of an event). You guys obviously enjoy drinking, too, so maybe thinking outside the box with local brewers or even recruiting your BIL to do some home brews would be a unique touch and cost effective.

      Of course you want your guests to enjoy yourself, that’s part of being a thoughtful hostess. But, I think the part that riled everyone up was that you clearly expressing stress about making everyone happy. . .brides need more reassurance that this isn’t the guests most important day of their life (and that’s a good thing!) so the things that they think MOST guests are analyzing and criticizing, no one notices. Yes, show them a good time. Be thankful for their presence. Be gracious. But don’t work up a fret for it because you will miss out on the whole experience.

      • Laura

        I would LOVE to have Kanz (my BIl), make some home-made kegs of beer, but sadly, the venue won’t allow outside alcohol. Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Karen

      Agreed. We had many small children at our wedding (one of the joys of marrying the sixth of seven kids, all his siblings had kids already!)). We opted for no open bar; there was one champagne toast, but guests could go to the hotel bar and purchase their own drinks. We were not interested in funding anybody’s drunk driving, or risking kids picking up random drinks and tasting them.

  13. The wedding industry really is a crazy one. I’m definitely glad I got married before the days of Pinterest…

    When I got married, my husband and I discussed the few key things that were important to us in throwing the party. Those were the things we focused on and we didn’t bother making ourselves crazy with things we didn’t care too much about. Overall, I really enjoyed my wedding because of it. We had fun with our friends and family and in the end, the only thing that mattered was that we got married.

    Good luck figuring out what you want!

  14. Mela

    I’m almost to the end of wedding planning (9.29.12!) and I know exactly what you mean about getting caught up in all the details! It seems there are such high standards set by social media to have the “perfect wedding.” I cannot say enough about Etsy. It has been a lifesaver throughout my wedding planning- both for tailoring the wedding to perfectly fit our wedding style and our budget. If you would like the names of vendors I’ve used let me know and I’ll send you an email. I think the most important part of wedding planning is to have fun and enjoy the journey with your fiancé! What others expect of your big day doesn’t matter (and trust me- EVERYONE will offer their unsolicited opinion).. Love this quote I saw on Pinterest recently: “A wedding is a party, not a performance. If at the end of the day you are married to the one you love then everything went perfectly!”

  15. Things you need: A good DJ/band (a crappy/incompetent one can really ruin the flow of your dance and suddenly everyone is standing there while they get their $hit together…I’ve been to too many weddings where this has happened…wth). A good photographer (because if your photos turn out terribly, you can NEVER re-do them and that’s the fail-safe for your memory).

    Otherwise, just plan everything with the understanding that you won’t notice and/or care about 90% of it day-of (hello, focused on other things) and enjoy. It is about you and Matt. Period.

    p.s. Open bar is definitely a personal choice but quite honestly, for the cost of ours (my in-laws were passionate about having one) we could have legitimately paid for college. While we’re fortunate to have to worry about that never, I still feel a bit weird about the whole thing.

    • Laura

      I’m already worried about music! A band might be out of the question considering that we’ll be on an island and I’m a little hesitant about a DJ, but definitely so important!

  16. Livia

    Here is a good article about cash bar weddings… http://www.laineygossip.com/Mobile/Details/18504/Not-a-cash-bar-wedding
    I agree with the writer in that if you go all out on spending for everything else (cake, cards, dress, meal) but then people have to pay for their own drinks, it’s not very cool. I got married in Italy and here it’s not really an open-bar per se but it’s more like they just kept the prosecco/wine flowing and if you wanted something different you could go out of your way to ask for it at the bar.

  17. Maggie

    I did have the big fancy wedding with all the bells and whistles. I ended up seeing the bill towards the end by accident and practically burst into tears. I was fortunate that my parents and my husbands parents were paying for it, but I think the price tag was embarrassing.
    There were a lot of things that were unnecessary, and looking back, not needed at all. However, it was what made others happy.
    One thing I will say is that I loved being able to provide my guests an full open bar with top notch choices. To each their own, but that and the amazing band were the two things that were well worth the money in my opinion!
    Giant flower arrangements… not so much.

  18. I’m late to chime in but I agree 100% with everything that has been written. I’ve never been married but I have been a wedding guest many times and as long as the hosts were generally hospitable and not overly demanding of what they expected from guests (the latter is more applicable to being in the wedding party) I’m really more caught up in the overall celebration than noticing the details. Yes there have been times where I have commented that something a friend did was ‘cute’ but I had just as much fun at the weddings of guests who had to be frugal and had cash bars and not as many ‘touches’ as those who were perfectionists and went all out. Really what touched me most was just being able to celebrate a milestone of someone I cared about so much. If anything, I think the things I’ve noticed the most were those that felt specific to the couple.

    Really I feel like all the pressure is coming from blogs, pinterest and the media and thankfully they won’t actually be at your wedding! I also think part of the issue is since many girls dream about their wedding days from a young age sometimes the bride herself is the one generating so much of the pressure, just like we’re often our own biggest critics of our weight, career, life, etc.

  19. I will also add that my personal favorite wedding touch was to do an informal afterparty. It was less about me as it was that for many of my friends’ (the ones who were getting married) it was a chance for them to relax and not have to worry so much about managing every detail or going through every tradition. It also could be a really great way to showcase that homebrew.

  20. Emma

    I think it’s a big mistake to spend too much on a wedding – wouldn’t you rather have a car or house down payment than spend thousands on a costume you’ll only wear once? – but I also think that you kids are on the right track. Do what you like without making it a big Hollywood production. You’ll be happy and all your guests will be comfortable.

    Eloping was great, but since it was just the two of us and the county representative, there wasn’t anyone to take a picture of us – I think that’s the only think I’d do differently is maybe ask the guy who performed the deed to take a picture!

    • Laura

      I would rather have a car, but if I can find a dress under 2k, I might be able to have both one day:) But totally agree overall!

  21. Heather

    I think everyone came down on Kath really hard. I applaud you, Kath. You spoke up about what 90% of people really think about when at a wedding, but don’t have the guts to say.
    Of course watching your family member or friend commit their life to another is a beautiful & wonderous event to witness . . . it also lasts about 10 minutes and then it’s time to get the party started.

    I was married in ’09 and thankfully didn’t have the stress of Pinterest either (because really, I now have a very unhealthy addiction to the site and would likely still be planning my wedding on my virtual corkboard if it had been around then). I planned my ceremony with my husband & I in mind, and I planned my reception with my guests in mind. My way of thinking is that the reception is your way of saying, “Kick-ass, I’m married now!! Thanks for being with me today!! Let’s party!!”

    I guess it depends on how many guests you’ll have whether or not you’ll need two bars.
    A swift moving schedule is great too – more time to mingle with everyone and you’re not stressed out wondering if you’re “on-time” as far as all the “activities” go.
    Lots of food!! Om nom nom!! One of the most talked about/memorable items about your wedding day is going to be the food – I guaruntee it. Buffet is awesome – cheaper than plated, more convinient than plated, and more enjoyable. Mmm, seconds.
    I had a dessert table at my wedding as well, seperate from my cake-table. A variety of mini-pastries, lemon loaves, fruit, etc. for people to nibble on prior to the cake-cutting.
    Assigned seating is going to stress you out . . . that’s a promise. Just make sure you have enough chairs for all the tushies that will be at the reception, and leave it at that. Add a few extra just to make sure. Let people mingle & meet other/new people, and switch seats as the night goes on. So much easier.
    I made my own wedding favors – I had a fall wedding, and made caramel apples for each place setting at the reception with a little thank-you card tied to the caramel apple stick with raffia ribbon. Easy. Inexpensive. Meaningful.

    You can do this, Laura 🙂 And don’t let anything upset you. You’re not going to want to look back on these exciting months leading up to your special day and remember only that you were stressed beyond belief.

    And as a little helpful push . . . I planned my wedding (including my gown, hubby’s tux, church, venue, and food for 100 guests) on $2500 . . . and stayed on budget. It is possible to have an exceptionally beautiful & memorable wedding if you’re willing to put in a lot of (fun) work. Also, I was in a very serious car accident 5 days before my wedding and had my 29th birthday 2 days before my wedding . . . and I still had a fantabulous time 🙂

    Enjoy!!

    • Laura

      Wow! Thanks for the very thoughtful reflections and advice!! Glad you were still able to be at your wedding after an accident!

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