No one ever thought I would get married. Except I actually love weddings! I watch bridal shows and browse the stories and DIY projects on Offbeat Bride. When friends get married I'm super happy for them. But I can't stand the thought of having a big wedding party for myself or see myself as a princess in white.
So when my *spoiler alert* husband took me shopping for a ring, I didn't immediately think of a proposal. He knew if he would pop the question the chance to getting a “no” was really high. I knew he wanted to give me a beautiful ring but I refused year after year. We'd been together for 10 years already so I felt quite safe and wanted to grant his wish to give me something nice for once.
The day arose when he sat me down on the floor and thanked me for the past ten years and gave me the ring we chose together (a rock not too small for him and not too big for me). But then he popped a question after all! The smart bastard didn't ask me to marry him but provided me with a multiple choice question:
A: Keep things as it is
B: Review the living agreement we had
C: Registered partnership or,
And so it was that we decided to get married that day. In Holland it's the only way to be considered family by law without being of the same blood. If we decided to rearrange things then what better change to make than to become family. I already chose to live my life with him. With that decision we also decided to throw a party. There we have our challenge.
How to organize a wedding that's not too much of a wedding:
Step 1: Adopt a “fuck wedding etiquette” attitude.
Step 2: Think about all the things you like (together).
Step 3: Make a budget and spend that money wisely.
Step 4: Don't be afraid to disappoint people. If they can't be happy for you, you don't need them in your life.
Step 5: Don't aim for the best day of your life — that's something for the movies. Strive to make every normal day to be the best day of your life. That's much better than to live on the memory of one day in particular for the rest day of your life. It also prevents disappointment.
And so it was that we organized this awesome day we still look back to with a big smile and our hearts filled with joy.
How to get started on your non-wedding:
- Make a list with all things traditionally considered “wedding-y,” Then, individually cross off the things you don't want/need personally and compare lists. Never spend any more time or thought on things you both crossed off and compromise on things one of you feels is important. Definitely spend money on the things you both want and that make you happy. Add things you think will contribute to a memorable day, even if they aren't part of a “normal wedding day.”
- Happiness doesn't have to cost anything, whatever budget you have.
- Use tradition to your advantage. It's totally acceptable to spend money on a dress you'll probably wear once. So I spend money I normally wouldn't think of spending on a dress I was drooling over for quite some years — totally not bridal (in an non-offbeat sense) but certainly to my liking.
- If you want to keep things small, don't worry too much about scratching family, friends, and colleagues off the guest list. See step 4! You'll have more time to spend quality time with all the guests.
- Give clear instructions to your guests. We included a letter with the invitation. It started with the sentence; “YES it's a marriage but NO it won't be a standard wedding.” We included some context and do's and don'ts to manage expectations early on.
- Don't be afraid to cut the legal stuff loose. We got married for free on a Monday morning in less than 10 minutes and did our own little ceremony thing on Friday. The “wedding” itself was more about eating and the party.
- Don't be scared to be your own master of ceremonies and/or best (wo)man.
- If you don't like dancing 'til midnight, don't. Don't hire a band or DJ if that's your choice. Hell, you don't even need to party until the early morning. We ended the day before ten.
- Make sure to make memories and be in the moment! Preparing and the actual day should be fun and relaxed. If it's not, adapt to your style and feelings more. Stress isn't worth it.