Let me start off by saying, I never dreamed about my wedding as a kid. I never even really thought about marrying someone until my husband came along (love you, Brian). It was weird, because everyone else had Pinterest boards for their wedding once that became a thing and I had no idea what Pinterest even was! I repeatedly told Brian during the planning stages that I was cool to elope to Maui where we had previously planned a vacation about two months before the wedding. But nope, too much family and societal pressure. From every direction.
So, let's break down the mistakes I made, and why I wish I had eloped…
I didn't have a day-of coordinator
I was the one running between vendors making sure stuff was done. The first dance? I made sure that happened by working with our (albeit FABULOUS) DJ. Same with the father/daughter dance. Time spent managing things: almost all day. Time spent during the reception with my husband, not including the first dance: five minutes. And that was when we were eating.
The venue was my parents' ranch
While it was free, that came with its own challenges. At an all-inclusive venue, you don't have to worry about setup or take down. My friends and family helped set up, but guess who was left to take down the tables, chairs, and stack dirty dishes in jeans, a t-shirt, and their wedding hair/makeup? My new husband, a groomsman, and me (save for a couple of guests who felt bad when they realized we would be the ones cleaning up. Embarrassing.).
My poor mother and aunt
To save on catering out at the rural ranch, my aunt (who is an amazing cook) offered to cook some savory comfort food. It was delicious, but my aunt couldn't enjoy the day as a guest and honored family member. Also, my mother? I later found out that she didn't enjoy the day at all because she was so busy trying to manage things. Particularly while I was gone getting my hair and makeup done.
“You have to invite Aunt Carol”
Okay, I don't have an aunt Carol, but I got SO much flack from several collective people about who I should and shouldn't invite. This was probably the biggest factor in me wishing I had eloped.
I had calls from family members pressuring me to invite people who had flaked out on me during some of the biggest moments of my life. I also had some people call my husband and end up nosing their way in with an invite because Brian's the nicest person on the planet.
I even had some in-laws bring uninvited guests that I had never met, despite being told multiple times that we didn't have the room/budget. That led to a minor scene being caused as place cards were handed out, and in turn kicked some people out of their seats (including my mother-in-law who thought I was personally slighting her).
On top of all of the above reasons, some guests arrived almost an hour an a half early and were giving me a bad time while everyone was trying to have portraits taken, the weather was spotty for an outdoor gathering of this magnitude, and the amount of leftover food and drink (we calculated how much alcohol to buy with one of those online calculators) was enormous. We were left with about 75% of the alcohol we bought initially. All of that had to go with somebody.
I realized I was doing all of this to please other people.
“My parents would be hurt if we didn't have a ceremony.”
“You're TOTALLY inviting me to your wedding right?”
“Fine, if you don't invite them, I'm not coming.”
“You don't have to invite so-and-so, but if they inquire, I want you to go ahead and say they can come.”
Yeah. Those are just a few things I heard throughout our relatively short engagement period of six months.
We ended up spending money on things we no longer have or forgot. I spent money on decor, food, and pleasing other people when the day should have been more about Brian and myself. About two months before our wedding, Brian, who was now helping out more with the wedding plans, turned to me and said, “Is it too late to elope?” I, of course, said yes, because we had so much non-refundable retainers out in the world that we'd be losing money. Looking back, that's a pretty sad reason to go through with something that you're both not super hyped about. My preference would have been to elope to Maui or Las Vegas, or somewhere else epic and invite a handful of people at most.
You know what happened after the wedding? Brian and I went home and I cried. And not happy tears.
Something else I should not have done…
I looked at those ridiculous wedding boards on the internet. Know the ones I'm talking about? All those boards do is allow couples to judge each other because they don't have $7k restroom facilities towed in for their guests. Their opinions on elopements and intimate weddings are rude, and downright cruel. And also? Those opinions don't matter.
With all that said, I'm here to say this: YOU DO YOU. If you want to have a gorgeous and huge wedding with all the trimmings, go for it! But if you're more like me, who never really thought hard about a wedding until you were with your life partner, and you love the outdoors, more intimate ceremonies, and really just can't wait to marry the love of your life without all the trappings of a more traditional wedding, I've got your back.