I’m taking the “wedding” out of our wedding and it changed everything

Guest post by EcoBeatleGeek
love cake

Let's call this my epiphany post. So first, we were planning on having an elegant-ish, small, rustic wedding in a lodge in a State Park. Then we decided the lodge wasn't very practical, and we wanted to invite more people. So we decided to go with a community art gallery that could hold more people, and scale back the fancy-factor. Then I started acting like I gave a crap about color-coordination and bartenders and favors and formal engagement shoots, etc.

Finally, I had a little hissy-fit in my head: Who the hell does this wedding belong to? WHOSE WEDDING AM I PLANNING, BECAUSE IT SURE AS HELL AIN'T MINE.

I live in a land of mismatched furniture and plastic cups at sit-down dinners. I buy fresh veggies and I turn them into ugly messes that taste decent, but won't be featured in Gourmet any time soon. My favorite pictures of us as a couple are unposed and spontaneous and taken by artistically-inclined friends. Our room always has dirty clothing on the floor, books never make it back to the bookshelf, and our bed sheets occassionally match and that's usually by accident. I buy prints that never make it into a frame, let alone get hung up on the wall for others to enjoy.

In short, I realized that I never cared about formal photos before, or registries, or themed parties (other than alcohol and pirates/zombies/etc, does that count?), or catering, florists, fancy cakes, or venues. So, why do I want a giant one-day event that doesn't reflect EITHER of us? Just because it's… you know… expected?

I always felt I would be an Offbeat Bride who didn't give a crap what anybody thought and would do what made me happy. But I STILL kept falling into this whole mindset of “this is my chance to act like a real adult who does floral arrangements and changes their household decorations to match the season like a live-in Jo-Ann Fabrics.” Even though it wasn't me, I still sort of wanted to do all of those things, just because I had the excuse. Wait, what? That makes no sense.

What made all this worse was that I had a serious argument going on inside my head this entire time. I was stressed out, because I felt like I was acting fake, and then because I was worried I'd “miss out” on something that might be fun, but was rejecting because it was too “normal.” I was collecting a large amount of stress, and that was just THINKING about planning!

Then about two weeks ago, I happened across a posting about a wedding held at a summer camp I was familiar with as a kid. This wasn't just wedding pr0n for me, it wasn't just material for an inspiration board — I was actually INSPIRED. Tears came to my eyes. The sudden realization that I could have my cake and eat it too, that I could have a celebration that was authentic without offending anyone, that there WAS a place out there that I could be excited about… all made me cry.

In short, it's not a “wedding” anymore. It's an awesome-palooza weekend filled with friends and family and fun. It will be the wedding equivalent of a barn raising, with everyone involved. I'm planning a huge fun party that is going to be messy, tacky, and it sure as hell ain't gonna be elegant. We will have the blow-out party of the century, we will invite who we like, eat what we want, and celebrate the way we know best.

Just taking the word “wedding” out of it has done so much for me. Not just in terms of vendors (not calling it a wedding helps there) but for my own piece of mind. Since it's a party now, and not the loaded W-word, suddenly, all those expectations disappeared. It felt like physical weight fell off my shoulders. I'm EXCITED now! It's no longer an obligation, it's something to look forward to! I realized that the fewer expectations I have, the less there is to go wrong or mess up. How can something that was never planned fail?

So, the new motto is: “Whatever will be, will be.” And that. feels. awesome.

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Comments on I’m taking the “wedding” out of our wedding and it changed everything

  1. I think we share a brain. We’re having a house party for our wedding for the exact same reasons. YAY!

  2. I am the same way: color coordination, frames, patterns, what? What is all that? I don’t even know nor have I ever cared. Most people that walk in to our apartment think it’s a bachelor pad (only *slightly* cleaner).

    When people ask me about the color scheme, type of flowers, or things of that nature about our wedding I just shrug. Some people are really taken aback and are shocked that those things don’t concern me nor am I thinking about them. I just really don’t care about those things at all. I just want to be with my FH and our loved ones to have a great time!

    The only things that I care about is that we get married, friends & family get fed, and that we dance the night away to our iPod mix. Lastly, I do care about my dress but even then I have not liked any official “bridal” dresses because none have really been “me”.

    I too was wondering though if I should start caring about those other details since it seems that it is expected. Thank you for this post! It reassures me that what matters most is what WE want, not what anyone else wants. 🙂

  3. “In short, I realized that I never cared about formal photos before, or registries, or themed parties (other than alcohol and pirates/zombies/etc, does that count?), or catering, florists, fancy cakes, or venues. So, why do I want a giant one-day event that doesn’t reflect EITHER of us? Just because it’s… you know… expected?”

    Wow, so much this. My man-friend and I feel the same way, and just want a fun party where we can be with our friends and families. We could care less what color the napkins are, or if there are flowers and professional photographers. Other people may feel differently, and want that kind of wedding, and that’s fine. It’s just not who we are.

  4. Yes! I’m actually into some of the designy things – but I’m more crafty than, say, color-coordinatey. I’ve been struggling with not feeling “fancy” enough for our wedding for the past week or so (since trying on long, fancy wedding dresses). My fiance said, “Let’s make our decisions, and decide not to care what anyone else thinks of them” – and he’s so right.

  5. We’ve long said that when we finally get married, we’ll have a “commitment party”, not a wedding- otherwise we’d be inundated with relatives expecting white dresses and aisles! Instead we’re just going to invite all the people we love, have lots of food, and lots of music… it’s likely there won’t even be a ceremony (maybe a toast with vows). Because what better excuse do you need for a party than being in love with someone awesome?

    • ” Because what better excuse do you need for a party than being in love with someone awesome?”

      This is SO true, and I think a lot of people tend to forget that, at the end of the day, thats the whole reason youre doing it.

  6. “In short, it’s not a “wedding” anymore. It’s an awesome-palooza weekend filled with friends and family and fun.”


    I had a similar realization early on when I was like “Uh, flowers? Why am I freaking out about flowers? I don’t even LIKE flowers.” And … now there are no flowers. Except the metal ones in my brooch bouquet. Because, um, I’m not about to shell out a precious five hundo for something I don’t even like. Also? That’s why we chose Hawaii … so we wouldn’t have to fuck with shit like flowers. And wouldn’t have to worry *much* about decor. Now I can focus on my glow-in-the-dark bocce ball.

  7. Bravo! I’ve told myself the same thing, our “wedding reception” is, in fact, a “dinner celebration”. Somehow thinking of it that way seems so much better, and puts my mind at ease. Especially these days when so many people seem to hate the idea of weddings and having to go to them.

  8. This post is so awesome! I am afraid this is going to happen to me because of pressure from parents. It’s great to see that you have turned yourself around and are going back to your true vision that suits you! Also, I go to Hood College! 😀 I’ve never run into anyone on the internet that also goes to/went there (here)! AWESOME!

  9. On the one hand I agree, it’s your wedding, or whatever you decide to call it. Make it big, make it small, do what you want to do.

    On the other hand weddings are relatively rare occurrences. (Ideally just once, but I’m being realistic.) So why not do something that’s a little out of the ordinary for you? I’m not saying go crazy and serve steak if you’re a vegan, but it’s okay to buy into the fantasy a little bit.

    • This is sorta the “smidge above” rule I talk about in my book. If wedding stuff isn’t meaningful for you, I absolutely believe you can plan a really special, amazing, rare event without making it feel foreign or wedding-y.

  10. Amen sisters!

    I remembered freaking out at the sound of the word colour scheme. My laundry, lounge and stuff always looks like a rainbow just threw up and I’m happy with that. Our wedding was always going to look like rainbow puke because that’s what we’re happy with, that’s us. 🙂

  11. I needed this a few months ago, this is an amazing article. But with just 5 days before my wedding, I feel like its not mine. I’m trying everything I can to make it mine, but then the ever influencing family jumps in. I never wanted a large wedding, with the color schemes (my least favorite question “What are you colors?”), ‘beautiful’ decor and all that. But I am going to make my wedding the best it can be!

  12. Thank you! (BTW, my bouquet will consist of a couple bunches of flowers from the grocery store. Bam! Done!)

  13. This is absolutely the perfect post and so true. Your wedding can not be for some else or you will regret it. You have to enjoy the planning and every moment. It is what us girls dream of. Plus a day you will remember for the rest of your life. Can’t wait to hear about all of the plannings!

  14. Thank you so much for posting this! It came at the perfect time, as I had a huge mental breakdown yesterday and have been feeling increasingly depressed about my “wedding”. I feel that I am supposed to want and be all of these things that I am not. While it is a small wedding, it has become more about other ideas and ideals and less of a way to celebrate me and my FH’s relationship. Thinking about it as a party and not a wedding makes much more sense and takes a lot of stress away!
    Thank you!

  15. Eeee thanks so much for the feature, OBT!!! It’s an honor… and it’s increasingly reassuring that others feel the same way. Stay strong, ladies! 😀

  16. I totally agree with you and I feel the same way. You just put into words what I have been trying to explain to my fiance.
    Thank you.

    • Me too! And that is super hard since he’s still all “but, we should have it somewhat traditional” despite not knowing what that even means or why we “should”.

      We know what needs to be there for us, family, friends, fun, food, music and dancing. The rest is optional .. oh and clothes :P, they’re pretty necessary.

  17. I feel you. Our living room is full of craft supplies and nerdy bits, criss-crossed with cables and tiny shreds of fabric. So naturally we’re having a DIY-palooza nerd wedding. Photos are troubling though as there’s really two known photos of us. One is two years old taken at a club and the other is from our “first date” with both of us rolling face, greased with Vicks and I have no eyebrows! At least for the sake of the wedsite we might have to have photos taken.

    • Oh, and there’s one of us kissing as we’re each astride the barrel of an anti-aircraft gun at night in Provo, lol.

  18. Hear, hear! For anyone else taking this (gasp!) deeply personal approach, just be sure to keep yourself focused on what you want. Our wedding has gradually picked up tidbits of extra stuff – nods to family and religious rituals, traditional accouterments, etc… – that we really didn’t intend, but basically need to include in order to make family feel properly represented. We’ve managed to do all this in creative ways that don’t make us feel compromised, but it’s been tough. Stick to yer guns!

  19. I’m refusing to even use the ‘W’ word as it holds so many expectations. We’re having a BBQ with a side of marriage 😉

  20. We’re 18 days away from the same sort of thing and I’ve been having lots of discussions with friends about it.

    We’re getting married on a 160 acre ranch with 100 friends/family camping out – no electricity or water. The ceremony part will be 15-20 minutes of a relaxed & fun weekend.

    Now that I’m close to the big day, let me share an ‘aha’ moment. I’m fine as long as I’m event planning – that mentality & OBB has helped me keep my sanity these past few months.

    But now that that day is nearly upon me, I realize that it’s time to wrap up my event planning role & hand it off to others so that I can shift gears & be a good friend for others who want my time. I’m not ready to get all ‘bride-y’ but I do realize that the sweetest gift I can give to the people who love me is to be present when they want to share their love with me instead of worrying about whether there are enough hot dogs for everyone to eat.

    • My fiance and I are planning on doing the same thing. There is a gorgeous overlook at a camping spot we often go to. We are in the final stages of announcing the wedding plans and date, but I am stressed about the lack of electricity, water and mainly no back up plan in case of rain or bad weather. How did your wedding turn out? What helped you get through these fears? I REALLY, REALLY appreciate your input. You NEVER, EVER see any weddings like ours. Thanks! Rachel

  21. Amen sister! I had the exact same feelings before our wedding. I wanted it to be OUR wedding to reflect who we are, but there’s a certain expectation from “normal” people to have the cake cutters match the tiara that matches the aisle runners that coordinates with the wedding cake and on and on…

    But that isn’t us. In the end, we wore jeans, no tiaras, no fancy hair and makeup, had a ceremony that lasted 9 and a half mins, and walked away with memories of the special time spent with relaxed and comfortable family and friends, just being ourselves.

    Two weeks later, I’m still hearing how much people enjoyed themselves. One friend even said his 3 yr old daughter had enough fun that she wants to know when the next wedding is.

    Being yourself is the best way (really the only way) to really celebrate this special time in your life. Your partner fell in love with you and wants to spend the rest of their life with you. Why should your wedding reflect someone you’re not?

  22. I’m actually single (yes, I’m one of *those* readers :p) but I know when I am planning to marry, I’m going to have a marriage (my groom coming to fetch me from my house, quick legal ceremony (think JP/courthouse but the UK equivalent), go out for some food together and then get on with some consummation at his house (now our house) 😀 To me, from a religious perspective, it’s the consummating of the marriage that makes us married – nothing else is necessary. A week later, we’ll have a big celebration with friends and family, preferably in a barn/marquee/semi-outdoors. This is actually the Biblical way – I’m sure you might not think it, but religious marriage ceremonies can be simple too 🙂

    My best friend recently got engaged – she’ll be joining the OBB Tribe once she’s got a date, we’re both big fans – and she’s already stressed!

    • I used to poke fun at people who spent time thinking about wedding plans before getting engaged. Now that I am engaged and spending an incredible amount of time just brainstorming what type of wedding we even want…you are very smart to know what you like beforehand! People keep asking us when the date is and I’m thinking, heck, we haven’t even figured out what season or state want yet. It’s like the world’s biggest craft project dropped out of the sky, and at this rate we’ll be engaged for years before we get around to shuffling through the details. It would have been nice if I’d spent a bit less time being coolly unconcerned about the whole thing (especially when the right guy had already been found). So, hats off to you and all the other single ladies reading this blog!

  23. Wow someone else who had the same melt down as I did?! If only everyone else in my family could see it that way.

  24. “I was stressed out, because I felt like I was acting fake, and then because I was worried I’d “miss out” on something that might be fun, but was rejecting because it was too “normal.” I was collecting a large amount of stress, and that was just THINKING about planning!”

    OMG YES! I’ve been feeling the EXACT same way! I really…don’t like weddings. But then I think, if I don’t do all the “traditional” things, will I regret it? This is a question friends keep asking me, too…”will you be sad later on if you don’t have this?”

    I LOVE your idea of taking the wedding out of the equation. That’s how I need to think about it. Getting MARRIED. No wedding.

  25. Whoa…how did someone get in my head and then post about it!? I’ve been in the same freak out mode the last two months with all these same thoughts but unable to articulate it. I got caught up in all the “fancy” game when we booked out venue now I am having sever buyers remorse. Using them will make us spend much more than I’d like and it’s very fancy which I feel won’t lend itself to my vision. In the moment I think I changed what I wanted to get a date/venue and got blinded by what I “should” be planning, not that I want. Now what? If we drop the place we are out $1700.00

  26. THANK YOU! I was totally there a couple of weeks ago (booked the first venue we found, without visiting it, had them pick the date, and called it an “event”) but somewhere in between not being able to find the right off-beat dress and invitations, I became a crazy B-R-I-D-E (yes, it’s a swear word to me!).

    I think it had something to do with the judge-y girl I met on Friday night that claims to remember the smell and taste of every second of her yellow-themed late summer wedding.. mocking my lack of a ring (it’s on special order because it’s NOT A DIAMOND, jerk) and refusal for all things match-y.

    Anyway, I appreciate your story SO MUCH. Glad to know that we all (including the commentators) share the same lack of a vision. Here’s to just letting it be what it is.. a great day.

  27. We got married 6 weeks ago, and explained to people that it wasn’t a wedding, it was a party that we were getting married at the start of. There was a bit of resistance to most of what we had planned (felt & button flowers, my black and red dress, the Shaun of the Dead zombie theme, the guests dressing up, my grandparents being ‘offended’ by our zombie invitations) but in the end everyone had a great time, and mum’s been overwhelmed by the response to the photos she’s been carting around to work/sport/friends, AND my dad asked for a copy of the zombie reading that we included in the ceremony.
    Our reception was just everyone gathering at the pub afterwards, and ordering the food/drinks that they wanted, and there were no formalities.
    It took us a while to work out what was most ‘us’, but it all came together beautifully and we had a really fun, largely stress-free day, which was what we most wanted it to be.

  28. Sooo awesome! This is exactly what I feel. Somewhere some how I just got lost and something crazy happened! I am totally not using the W-word anymore!

  29. You just helped take soo much stress off of my shoulders. Weddings are hard to plan but if its just a huge party it seems so easy. I will still have my flowers and my matching colors but it really helped me realize that weddings dont always have to be perfect and that it should reflect who we are.

  30. Such an amazing post on so many levels – we’re also thinking of a camp for many of the same reasons and also because it seems weird for all of our friends to come out here and then to only get to spend a few frazzled moments with them. Thanks for the great post – as a messy person trying to be something I’m not – I totally get it. I’ve named that voice in me – My Inner Bride. I call her MIB.

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