When S and I first started talking about getting married, we may not have been thinking clearly... "We're only inviting ten people!" "We can do it in my backyard!" "My brothers will do all the cooking and photography!" "I'll bake the desserts myself... pie, not cake!" "We have to get married at Saint John the Divine!"* "And we won't spend any money on anything else!"
(*in case you don't know, this is a huge Episcopal cathedral in New York City that would be akin to some random person in London claiming that they want to get married at Westminster Abbey)
But then our list of 10 people grew rapidly to 15, then 20, then 30, and now we're thinking we might just try to keep it under 60. If there are 50+ people, one person probably can't do all of the cooking and I would go crazy trying to bake enough pies in the days leading up to the wedding. The more things we have to pay other people to do, the more expensive the reception becomes, which takes away from the budget we thought we were reserving for the church. Also, because my father-in-law-to-be is an Episcopal priest, we really wanted him to do the ceremony, but if we get married at St. John the Divine, we don't know how much of the service he would actually be allowed to do. It feels like we're having to rethink our whole idea, which is unfortunate because our original idea was very "us."
One aspect on which I will not budge is that I want the "reception" to be a casual barbecue in my parents' backyard. I want it to feel like we're just hanging out and enjoying the company of our closest family and friends -- not a formal party with nightclub lighting, assigned seating, and elaborate table settings. I'm not judging anyone else's wedding choices... if there's anything I'm learning from this, it's that weddings are deeply personal and everyone should do what feels right for them. But when I watch wedding shows or think of other weddings I've been to, I just know that a big, fancy wedding is not what we want. We're low-maintenance people, so why would we have a high maintenance wedding?
Well, it turns out even a low maintenance wedding has some high maintenance parts to it. Right now, the biggest issue is that if we're trying to keep it small enough to be a [mostly] DIY backyard barbecue with minimal costs, there might be a lot of people who want to be invited (maybe even should be invited), but won't be invited. We will inevitably hurt some feelings. If we invite everyone who loves us and everyone we love, it would end up being a guest list of several hundred people. This is a happy problem to have -- how nice to be cared about by so many people -- but of course it's causing some anxiety at the moment.
I've found a few links on the internet that have strengthened my resolve and confirmed that I'm doing the right thing by trying to keep it small and cheap. If any of you are also considering a slightly non-traditional wedding or reception, these may be of use to you as well...
Offbeat Bride features quirky, independent vendors and real weddings that don't fit into the usual mold. I liked reading the featured brides' stories because they all say that even though they faced some challenges, they ended up having a great day and wouldn't have done it differently.
The Sensible Bride is a personal blog that seems to have ended in 2009 when the couple got married, but I still love reading it because the author is really snarky and helps me keep things in perspective.
A Practical Wedding is kind of like "The Knot" for people who want to keep it simple and not be Bridezillas. Like "Offbeat Bride," it features real, non-traditional weddings, independent vendors, and DIY craft guides.
This blog post on "The Billfold" is a mother's defense of her daughter's backyard barbecue wedding, thanking her for having such an economically reasonable wedding. It makes me feel like I'm making the right decision myself.
In a perfect world, I would have a mansion with a twenty-acre backyard, private forest, and personal kitchen staff so that I could invite everyone I care about. As long as I'm not living in the New Jersey version of Downton Abbey, I hope people will respect our decisions and still love us anyway. In the end, a wedding is something that should ideally happen only once in a person's life, so we feel very strongly about doing it according to our tastes and values. We apologize in advance for maybe being a little stubborn about basic things like the size, cost and location.