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A Wedding on Your Terms: The Stuff

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I never imagined myself getting married; of the many fantasies I entertained as a child, the most exciting probably involved building a life-size LEGO house or excavating a lost tomb — not an excessive, floofy wedding. Needless to say, when I recently got engaged, I was left a bit — well, lost doesn’t even begin to cover the emotions I’ve wrestled. As a clueless bride-to-be, I knew nothing about registries (“But I don’t need anything!”), how to find a dress that felt like me  — more cynical than Cinderella — or planning a wedding that felt meaningful while remaining true to our relationship. Then I discovered A Practical Wedding, where the tagline reads, “Weddings. Minus the insanity, plus the marriage.” I was hooked.

As such, I’m so very pleased to introduce Meg Keene, the founder and executive editor of A Practical Wedding & Reclaiming Wife, who’s here to share some of her epic wedding wisdom. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was released in January 2012. Here’s Meg.

The thing about getting engaged is that suddenly, inexplicably, everyone around you seems to develop a laser-like focus on The Stuff. From the moment you utter the happy news, the stuff questions commence and will not stop: “What does the ring look like?” “What are you going to wear?” “What are your bridesmaids’ colors?” “What’s your wedding style?” And on and on and on. And the problem is, the stuff is really pretty. The stuff is really fun. And in our quest to find just the right stuff, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that on your wedding day — well, the stuff doesn’t actually matter very much.

I mean, look: I’m not anti-consumer. I don’t think any of us who hang around on Etsy are. I love a well-made dress by an independent designer. I want to gaze at that lovingly handcrafted artisan jewelry. I want to fondle that well-designed letterpress invite, thank you very much. So I’m not saying we shouldn’t buy stuff for our weddings. I’m not even saying that we should feel guilty buying things for our weddings (No More Guilt! That’s the independent wedding planning woman’s motto!). In fact, during my wedding planning, I had a realization that I was privileged to use my wedding budget as a personal independent-artist-and-business-owner stimulus plan. I realized that how we spend our money is more important than how much we spend.

So I’m not telling you not to buy stuff. (Fact: if you’re inviting more than four people to your wedding, chances are you’re going to have to buy stuff.) What I am saying is that the stuff is not what really matters. Not by a long shot.

When I look back on our wedding day, the first thing I think of is not my (amazing) vintage cocktail dress, or my handmade hair flower, or even our artisan wedding rings. What I think about is the pure overwhelming emotion of the day. I think about the dizzying feeling that accompanied waiting to walk down the aisle. I think of the gritty hyper-present-ness of the ceremony. I think about the joy that radiated from our friends, which felt as though it lifted me off the ground. I think about crying on my husband’s shoulder as we danced. I think about the laughter. And then, when I stop for a minute, I might think about the dress. (Because it was a really great dress.)

So as you dive into shopping for your wedding, focus on what you’ll really remember (and it’s probably not what the wedding industry is selling you). I wrote a sum of of what I learned about money planning my wedding, but these are my very best tips:

  • Spend your money to support your values. You might not have a wedding budget amount of cash again for a long time, so support businesses and values that really matter to you. Trust me, it will make a world of difference to those artists and business owners.
  • Make it yours, and then let it go. You probably want to make your wedding look and feel like who you both are. But once you’ve achieved that on a basic level, stop stressing. Trust me when I say that no one is going to remember your escort cards and table numbers anyway.
  • Spend your money on things you care about, and cut the rest. I remember the potluck wedding with the 1940s-style big band as “the one with the happy couple and the amazing dancing.” I don’t remember what I ate, because it didn’t matter.

And write this on your fridge or hand: “I will not remember what my wedding looked like. I will remember how it felt.” Because at the end of the day, even really cool stuff is just that: stuff. It’s the love you share, the people who hold you up, and those precious moments of bliss and joy that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And none of that is for sale.

For more wedding advice, visit Meg’s blog or check out A Practical Wedding, available from Amazon or an independent bookstore near you.

More Handmade Weddings Posts

Meg Keene is the founder and executive editor of A Practical Wedding and Reclaiming Wife. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was released in January 2012.

5 Featured Comments

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  • AngelInk

    AngelInk says: Featured

    When planning your wedding think in terms of making memories. Choose things that matter to you both and that will make you smile when you look back 10 years later.

    2 years ago

  • riricreations

    riricreations says: Featured

    I was honored when our daughter asked me to make most of the arrangements for her beach wedding last September. She was very decisive about what was important to her: having it at the beach, the dress, having family and close friends there, and having a great photographer- (we found hers on "the Knot" ) and for the rest of it, she let me know what style and colors she liked and I did the rest. It was a fun day; in fact the entire weekend was fun, for everyone. She and her (now) husband and friends hung out on the beach the morning of the wedding...people were amazed that we (the bride's family) chose to say in a house with the groom's family the whole weekend. I think it really was about the couple, and their love for each other, and it was exactly what they wanted without costing a fortune...

    2 years ago

  • alopexia

    alopexia says: Featured

    Thank you so much for this! Immediately after we got engaged, my Mom started planning this HUGE wedding. It was getting out of control. My fiance and I wanted something simple and special. So, we did it. We got married in the garden of the art museum where he proposed. It was pretty stress-free. Oh by the way, all the traditional bridal salons I went to could not understand why I wanted a small, simple dress. It is so disheartening that the mainstream bridal industry makes it seem as if your wedding day will be the only beautiful day you will have has a couple, so you better make it perfect and if it's not then it's a failure. In reality, it is one day in a string of many happy, beautiful days.

    2 years ago

  • DowntownDame

    DowntownDame says: Featured

    Ignoring the expectation of what a wedding should be is exactly why we will treasure the memory of our day. My husband and I ditched the idea of a huge extended family event, and went with immediate family only. We had only 16 people at his parent's house on a beautiful October day, and a friend did the ceremony for us. We bartered with our photographers to cut a deal. We made appetizers before changing into our 'fancy dress' for about two hours (including photos). Then we changed back into regular clothes and everyone made dinner together. It was everything we hoped for, and we spent less on the whole event than some people do on a photographer. With a fledgling artisan business, we just couldn't afford more - and with a focus on sustainability in our personal lives, we just couldn't feel good about doing it any other way! Some friends told me that they couldn't remember their wedding day due to the number of people invited, the variety of activities and the length of the day. I am so grateful we did what was right for us. I remember every moment and got to spend time with everyone there. Cooking great food brought us all together in a way that a superficial event never could.

    2 years ago

  • SquidWhaleDesigns

    SquidWhaleDesigns says: Featured

    So true! And I appreciate the sentiment about making it about BOTH parties involved. So much of wedding culture is about the bride - her day, her vision, etc. It's alienating to grooms. If you just ask what they care about - huzzah! They actually have an opinion! And then you two can work as a team together on this big, exciting expression of your love. Because it really is a lot more about the marriage than the wedding. PS - Read Madeline L'Engle's "A Two-Part Invention". It's about her marriage and it is heart-rending and beautiful.

    2 years ago

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar says:

    So true. I was at a loss as well for my wedding, and registering was actually one of the hardest things to do. Why did I want nice china? We don't formally entertain and I will inherit my mothers' china one day. So I didn't register for it. The company, dress, cake, rings are the most cherished parts of a wedding, in my opinion. The rest is just fun.

    2 years ago

  • OneLittleStar

    OneLittleStar says:

    The things that were important to us were good food, good drinks, good friends and it was the best time! I was also very happy to have the chains of 1,000 paper cranes my husband and I made for our ceremony and I loved seeing them hung in our family and friend's homes after the wedding!

    2 years ago

  • garconniere

    garconniere says:

    EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS PERFECT. i got hitched this summer and was much like alison's situation - it was not something i had dreamed of, and especially as a couple who already lives together, navigating things like registries, gifts, who to invite, etc. left me feeling completely out of it. i hope other future grooms and brides take your words of wisdom and don't sweat the small stuff either! makes for the best day!

    2 years ago

  • jojosvintagecupboard

    jojosvintagecupboard says:

    Simple and sweet are always the best weddings. It should be fun and enjoyable, not a headache!

    2 years ago

  • ThomasHaskettArtist

    ThomasHaskettArtist says:

    LOVE the cake decoration :)

    2 years ago

  • ParrisImpressions

    ParrisImpressions says:

    This is such a nice subject to touch on...I've seen many friends get married and the whole production takes on a life of its own...a scary-monster-kind-of-life where every detail is life or death. I will be planning a wedding this year and want to look at things through the lens of this article :)

    2 years ago

  • AngelInk

    AngelInk says: Featured

    When planning your wedding think in terms of making memories. Choose things that matter to you both and that will make you smile when you look back 10 years later.

    2 years ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie says:

    Planning a wedding should be so much fun! It shouldn't be a stressful event at all. As said before, don't sweat the small stuff!

    2 years ago

  • PaperAltar

    PaperAltar says:

    Congratulations, Alison !! Enjoy the journey ... navigating all that comes with a Wedding. The best advice someone gave me before mine was to - stop - take a breath - hold your partners hand, look around & take in all the LOVE. All the best & of course have fun !

    2 years ago

  • LoveNaturally

    LoveNaturally says:

    What a fantastic article! And so true!

    2 years ago

  • PolClary

    PolClary says:

    Lovely article. My wedding was pretty much the most low key thing ever. We did it because we loved each other, not because we felt we had to throw a big party (and because my now-husband was in the military, and would get extra benefits while being away on duty instead of having to pay extra for room and board). We picked Thursday morning, because it was the cheapest time to get married at city hall. I wore a pantssuit, one of my brothers was the best man because he wasn't allowed time off from work if he was anything but, and we had cheese and cold cut sandwiches after. My daughter thinks this is pretty much the best wedding story ever, and I tend to agree with her. ;)

    2 years ago

  • mmarine

    mmarine says:

    Sincerely i couldn't agree more with you.That is exactly what many of us think and i was very touched by the way you brought it up.Etsy has been a very inspiring source of humanity for me and i rest my soul not to be the only one whom believes in true beauty of life .Laughter,smiles and chocolate! Great post that made me shed a tear of emotion.

    2 years ago

  • riricreations

    riricreations says: Featured

    I was honored when our daughter asked me to make most of the arrangements for her beach wedding last September. She was very decisive about what was important to her: having it at the beach, the dress, having family and close friends there, and having a great photographer- (we found hers on "the Knot" ) and for the rest of it, she let me know what style and colors she liked and I did the rest. It was a fun day; in fact the entire weekend was fun, for everyone. She and her (now) husband and friends hung out on the beach the morning of the wedding...people were amazed that we (the bride's family) chose to say in a house with the groom's family the whole weekend. I think it really was about the couple, and their love for each other, and it was exactly what they wanted without costing a fortune...

    2 years ago

  • rivahside

    rivahside says:

    Wonderful article! The bride and groom are the two most important people in a wedding; not impressing people with a $40,000.00 wedding, as so many think they need to do these days.

    2 years ago

  • connietownsart

    connietownsart says:

    Wonderful article and useful advice!

    2 years ago

  • SQUIDYINK

    SQUIDYINK says:

    I got married on the cheap.. in a OLD barn...with lots of pumpkins and hay and a big BBQ.. over 9 years later and people still talk about how great it was! Brides get SO caught up in what they think it should be...just do what you want and it will be better for it :)

    2 years ago

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns says:

    I loved my wedding..... last minute..... barefoot.... flowers in my hair..... everything handmade from Haymarket Square in Boston..... 20 years later..... I still dig him!!! Great article!

    2 years ago

  • BlueOrchidFloral

    BlueOrchidFloral says:

    Fab-u-lous! As one with many years of weddings (500+) under my belt (um, I mean, garter belt) as a wedding florist and event planner, your wisdom is perfection. I can't tell you how many times I encountered a bride literally melting down in the days and weeks leading up to the big day, so overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of details and decisions -- and then, it all vanishes the moment she begins her walk down the aisle. After that, the rest of the day is all happiness -- sprinkled with love, joy and good times! That's when I think a bride is at her most beautiful -- when she once again remembers exactly what is most important about the day -- the bride and groom, the families, the friends, and the sheer joy and fun of it all -- but most of all, the love of it. Priceless!

    2 years ago

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop says:

    Beautifully put.

    2 years ago

  • DCFraulein

    DCFraulein says:

    I definitely empathize with Alison's initial feelings and Meg's approach. I had never imagined my wedding. When we became engaged I only knew what I did not want and the majority of the wedding industry is just brain pollution. Regardless of the weather, the clothing, the food, the music you will still be married in conclusion. That is the point of a wedding, right? I am happy that we had a quintessentially "us" celebration in August; mostly handmade by me or artisans (thanks Etsy!), our family and friends, great beer and wine, music late into the night, and plenty of h'ordeuvres.

    2 years ago

  • kendallgardnerdesign

    kendallgardnerdesign says:

    Great article. Weddings should be about sharing the day with those you love. It shouldn't have to cost a fortune!

    2 years ago

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls says:

    What insightful article! Thank you for sharing these thoughts on "the stuff".

    2 years ago

  • googlegoldfish1234

    googlegoldfish1234 says:

    Such a wonderful artical and great advice :)

    2 years ago

  • lilinspirations

    lilinspirations says:

    Great article! Love everything wedding!

    2 years ago

  • sonyarasi

    sonyarasi says:

    I'm planning a simple wedding. Focusing on good food and company!

    2 years ago

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush says:

    Yes, yes, yes could not agree with this article more!

    2 years ago

  • 2007musarra

    2007musarra says:

    Perfect! If I ever had a wedding it would simple anf very meaningful. It may never happen but one can dream! I dream about the man not the wedding :)

    2 years ago

  • MyEverAfter

    MyEverAfter says:

    Very good advice. I remember how much stress I had planning my wedding, trying to get everything just right. Originally I had planned on making the food for the reception myself, but as crunch time came I didn't have enough time and we couldn't afford to have someone cater it. Fortunately the ladies at our church stepped in and provided a wonderful buffet. To this day I don't remember what we ate, or how everything looked (and this was only three years ago!), but I remember it being a beautiful and wonderful evening!

    2 years ago

  • kirstenann

    kirstenann says:

    Wonderful article!!!

    2 years ago

  • letl260

    letl260 says:

    Refreshing insight from a young lady, after 24 years I cherish the memories the most. I still have the dress and momentos of that day. The anniversary of your wedding will become your own special holiday to celebrate for the rest of your life (Yes, it's for life).

    2 years ago

  • styleforlife

    styleforlife says:

    Darling! love the advice. xxxx EL Vintage

    2 years ago

  • volkerwandering

    volkerwandering says:

    Great words of wisdom!

    2 years ago

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello says:

    Yes! Thank you! Great advice! As someone who got married while working at a place where I assisted people in either ordering their wedding invitations or making their own (which we did), I saw it from all angles. And I completely agree with what DCFraulein said about all of the hype from magazines and media being brain pollution!! We did not want to start our new life together having spent all kinds of money for this one day and managed to keep things manageable. Next, give yourself PLENTY of time (in the eleven months we were engaged, we planned and made most of what we needed in our spare time). Next, if you are planning a big wedding, be careful about what, if anything, you will want to make yourself. I saw so many people I worked with stressing over so many things like if the bridesmaids' dresses matched the save the date card! Craziness! Ease up, have a Plan B for everything that you can and just remember that something will probably go wrong, but how YOU handle it is vital. But the most important thing is this: at the end of the day, you will be married and that is all that really matters!

    2 years ago

  • kittyiah

    kittyiah says:

    I just found this book "A practical wedding." It's the most reasonable thing out there these days! So grateful! Thank you so much for the reminder of what matters. <3 Kitty

    2 years ago

  • ashleymalo

    ashleymalo says:

    Lovely. Im planning my wedding, and this article shouldnt knock some sense into brides though, what really matters should be obvious.

    2 years ago

  • miniMEbakery

    miniMEbakery says:

    That's the way to go....simple and unforgettable!

    2 years ago

  • vynsimplicity

    vynsimplicity says:

    “I will not remember what my wedding looked like. I will remember how it felt.” True to a T ! Memory is so much more then what we see, it is the scents we smell, the feeling of sun on our skin, the taste we experience and the warmth of a familiar voice. Long after the visual memory fades it is these that will stir your memory and your emotions. Love the posting, Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Melissa

    2 years ago

  • littleshopofphotos

    littleshopofphotos says:

    Lovely article. I was a very "practical" bride during my wedding planning. I just wasn't so concerned with all the small details. Everyone else drove me crazy though! Really made me feel like the actual wedding had very little to do with my husband and me...this article is fabulous and smart.

    2 years ago

  • StarJewels

    StarJewels says:

    Actually, I remember in great detail what my wedding looked like. It was beautiful.

    2 years ago

  • PaperAffection

    PaperAffection says:

    Thank you. I needed some confirmation that getting married is really about the marriage! My fiance and I are having such a hard time budgeting this event, and we've barely begun.

    2 years ago

  • Littlezozo

    Littlezozo says:

    nice article

    2 years ago

  • cactusscraps

    cactusscraps says:

    That was probably the best and most well written thing I've ever read on this entire site. Lovely and true.

    2 years ago

  • lexically

    lexically says:

    I had a last-minute wedding (also barefoot with flowers in my hair, like an above commenter!) - but I definitely remember and love my stuff! However, I only had about 2 weeks to obsess over it, so maybe I only had enough time to develop a deep fondness for it, instead of a year of frustration like many people.

    2 years ago

  • uniquefabricgifts

    uniquefabricgifts says:

    Great article, great advice!

    2 years ago

  • thevicagirl

    thevicagirl says:

    I agree, and I also want a life sized lego house... put that on my list....

    2 years ago

  • my2handsstudio

    my2handsstudio says:

    My wedding was lovely,the sun was shining and I married my husband beneath the gazebo at the park. We had hamburgers and champagne and thought we were the luckiest people alive. We still do after 17 years.

    2 years ago

  • raniprimmer

    raniprimmer says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • Eccolo

    Eccolo says:

    Spot on!

    2 years ago

  • PonyosBubble

    PonyosBubble says:

    Very well put, great piece.

    2 years ago

  • Kimmay

    Kimmay says:

    OMG I love this post. Planning my own wedding right now and trying to figure out the balance between hosting the wedding I want and hosting the wedding that still "makes sense" to other people. It's so silly. I just sent this link to everyone involved in our big day and told them that this was exactly how I felt :) And I hope that they agree. Thank you so much for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • KKSimpleRegalJewelry

    KKSimpleRegalJewelry says:

    When I get married... I want to marry the "guy", not the wedding celebration! ~KK~

    2 years ago

  • Cause2Be

    Cause2Be says:

    love this post, well put!

    2 years ago

  • foxegurl266

    foxegurl266 says:

    Thank you for this article. I had so many people wonder why I didn't want to go over the top while I was planning my wedding, but after the laid back and stress-free celebration, I received countless compliments for such a wonderful care-free event!

    2 years ago

  • alopexia

    alopexia says: Featured

    Thank you so much for this! Immediately after we got engaged, my Mom started planning this HUGE wedding. It was getting out of control. My fiance and I wanted something simple and special. So, we did it. We got married in the garden of the art museum where he proposed. It was pretty stress-free. Oh by the way, all the traditional bridal salons I went to could not understand why I wanted a small, simple dress. It is so disheartening that the mainstream bridal industry makes it seem as if your wedding day will be the only beautiful day you will have has a couple, so you better make it perfect and if it's not then it's a failure. In reality, it is one day in a string of many happy, beautiful days.

    2 years ago

  • alopexia

    alopexia says:

    P.s- We only had three requirements of a reception: good food, great music, and cold beer. :)

    2 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    I enjoy reading reading article! Cute!

    2 years ago

  • hovish13

    hovish13 says:

    I.Love.This.<3

    2 years ago

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm says:

    Great article~ we've got a wedding this summer in our family going to send this link to the bride to be.

    2 years ago

  • LaceAnneQueen

    LaceAnneQueen says:

    This article couldn't have picked a better time. Thank you for putting things in perspective for a bride planning a wedding. :)

    2 years ago

  • GracefullyGirly

    GracefullyGirly says:

    I've read and admired your blog for a few years! You have lots of wonderful and meaningful things to say, not the least of which is about the most important thing... the emotion of the day. It's not so much the stuff I remember about my wedding day but the love of my husband and my family and friends. I tried to create the best event for us all, on a limited budget, and I think the best part is that I still remember (years later) the love and connectedness and emotions. I have a few important things I couldn't do without, like a wonderful band (friends) and beautiful food and venue for my guests and some of my special things like a dress and accessories I will hold onto and cherish forever (an pass down to my daughter). I was fortunate to have some other wonderful things to make the day more special but at the end of the night, the most important thing was the new bond with my hubby. Some things are eventually forgotten but I'll never forget the emotions!

    2 years ago

  • starstanford

    starstanford says:

    Less planning = less stress. Less stress = a better memory of your special day. The more details you add, the more that can go wrong. Keep it simple and remember to really LIVE that moment.

    2 years ago

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite says:

    With all the things that could be, I see how it can be easy it is to lose sight of what's really important. Noted for future reference. . .

    2 years ago

  • TabbyRed

    TabbyRed says:

    Love this! My fiance and I have a LOT of immigration paperwork to pay for, as well as moving me and my belongings across the Atlantic. It seems like the entire wedding industry is based on having huge weddings. Even the dress needs to be huge. It's so nice to read that there are plenty of other people who feel like me! I already have my vintage dress (thanks Etsy) and have the rings picked out (thanks again, Etsy) but everything else is a blur! Like other commenters, I too want to spend as much of our limited budget as I can with small businesses and their handmade items. That reflects us as a couple more than a $20k wedding.

    2 years ago

  • MarKhed

    MarKhed says:

    this could not come at a better time for me! Getting married in June and am swimming in "the stuff"!

    2 years ago

  • SomsStudio

    SomsStudio says:

    It is so true that the entire Wedding planning can get overwhelming. I say do what matters most. :)

    2 years ago

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen says:

    such a perfect article :)

    2 years ago

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen says:

    thank you

    2 years ago

  • BlueBirdandAssoc

    BlueBirdandAssoc says:

    I love to reuse vintage item. This is such a great idea!!

    2 years ago

  • BlueBirdandAssoc

    BlueBirdandAssoc says:

    * sp - items

    2 years ago

  • maryhahlbohm1

    maryhahlbohm1 says:

    My daughter is getting married after 8 years of dating her man! Wooohooo finally! I was starting to wonder about him! Great guy though, and i couldn't be happier. Anyway, she , growing up, always wanted a big beautiful amazing wedding. But, after many years of attending typical traditional weddings of her many girlfriends, she 1) grew tired of not being the girl walking down the aisle, and 2) started to grow weary of the traditional predictable wedding and reception schedules. She (28) has chosen to get married at San Fran, City Hall (beautiful venue, by the way) with 14 of us (immediate family only) to witness the vows. Then off to Africa for the honeymoon. Then a BIG FUN party back at home, 100-200 guests (a venue with a live band) to celebrate with everyone! I am pleased with her choice, for her sake, she will be more comfortable with a small ceremony, and have more fun at the later celebration (her bow has understandably given her carte blanche with the wedding/reception decisions) I LOVE a traditional wedding, but am not disappointed in the least. This is a wonderful choice for my girl. Just wanted to share my joy with my etsy friends and share one happy girls plan. p.s She found her beautiful ivory lace, long sleve, short lenght dress, and ivory high heels in one day of shopping! We spent more days searching for her prom dresses in High School. How refreshing. I am a happy mom, and she is a very happy bride to be :) Happy weddings plans to all you! Mary

    2 years ago

  • melaniedk

    melaniedk says:

    Love you and the blog, Meg! It made me feel like we weren't crazy when we were in the midst of planning a wedding. We did want to spend some money (not a ton, but not $2000 either), did want it to be meaningful, didn't want a lot of tradition, and something unique, but still didn't feel quite "offbeat". The advice and examples of you and your husband and other practical brides really helped! Thank you!

    2 years ago

  • m0hu

    m0hu says:

    This is great advice for brides-to-be. My husband and I really focussed on what we wanted for our wedding - not what other people wanted. We had a very small and intimate wedding. It was absolutely beautiful and perfect and serene and completely memorable. Before the wedding my parents and others were a little upset because it was so unconventional, but they changed their minds when they saw how everything turned out, and how happy we were.

    2 years ago

  • pantsandpaper

    pantsandpaper says:

    Lovely advice. I always think if I could do it all now I would have a big picnic in the park afterwards and all the guests bring their blankets and picnics. I think it would be great fun.

    2 years ago

  • cadreams

    cadreams says:

    Wonderful article! "How you felt" So True!

    2 years ago

  • CestSuperbe

    CestSuperbe says:

    Such a great article! With a wedding it is no different than any other event in your life: focus on what YOU value most. If that's great food, then that is an important part of the wedding for you. If it is The Dress than that is. Everybody is different. So focus on the things you value in your day to day life and it will be an amazingly special day! Just don't get lost in the Have To's. :)

    2 years ago

  • laralewis

    laralewis says:

    Such great advice!! I wish I had read this a few years ago when I was hyper-stressed about "the stuff." Now, when I look back on our wedding day, I remember laughing with my husband and having a wonderful time and not about all those little things that I thought would be so important.

    2 years ago

  • mattyhandmadecrafts
  • sianykitty

    sianykitty says:

    amazing article!

    2 years ago

  • quiltedhappiness

    quiltedhappiness says:

    This has been a lovely article to read and stupidly brought a tear to my eye. having got married a number of years ago, I have always felt very proud of not getting caught up in it all. I had no posh car, no photographer, no fancy flowers, one bridesmaid,my Goddaughter, and one of my favourite memories is of walking through the town from the church to pub for the reception, in my dress with my new husband, the best man and a few utterly special friends. Well done for reminding people of the importance of the marriage not the day.

    2 years ago

  • TheCottageCheese

    TheCottageCheese says:

    Wonderful article! This is what my husband and I did for our small family wedding, and it was absolutely perfect! We married at a seaside house on a quiet inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, seagrasses waving in the background. Etsy provided my husband's ring and our cake topper. We made most of our own food (which included about 25 dishes for 14 people!). My husband loves pie, so we had a key lime pie in addition to our wedding cake. My Mom made the gorgeous flower arrangements and my bouquet. We used my Dad's old sailing trophies that were mint julep cups as vases. We found other vases and serving pieces including our silver cake stand at thrift stores. We created our 5-hr long wedding playlist and played it through the iPod on a good stereo. The only thing that I would have possibly changed would have been to have a professional photographer there. I thought it would kind of ruin the vibe, so we (the family) took pics with about 5 different cameras. We still ended up with lots of great pictures though! The whole wedding - including 3 nights of house rental and our wedding attire - cost only about $2,000. It was so very personal to us. Did I mention it was perfect?

    2 years ago

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas says:

    oh where was Etsy when I got married.......

    2 years ago

  • HeatherLucille

    HeatherLucille says:

    Wonderful advice - I concur about making a budget then picking out what's most important to you as a couple. Sound advice, while still keeping your day meaningful and fun! Your wedding is going to be beautiful and cool, Alison! Just like y-o-u!

    2 years ago

  • LWDress

    LWDress says:

    Oh my goodness! I LOVE APW and am so happy you guys featured Meg! If you are engaged, about to be engaged, in a committed relationship, or married, or divorced even, the APW community is for you!! I was soooo releived to find a whole community of like-minded individuals who have allowed me to let go of "all the stuff" and have a meaningful wedding. Such a great group of people. Seriously, go the website!

    2 years ago

  • BlueMoonLights

    BlueMoonLights says:

    Great post!

    2 years ago

  • CopperheadCreations

    CopperheadCreations says:

    I know it's not for everyone, but this is exactly why my husband and I eloped! :) We spent $100 on our wedding, including dinner, and because we wore clothes we already owned. It was very intimate, low stress, and we have wonderful memories of that day.

    2 years ago

  • DowntownDame

    DowntownDame says: Featured

    Ignoring the expectation of what a wedding should be is exactly why we will treasure the memory of our day. My husband and I ditched the idea of a huge extended family event, and went with immediate family only. We had only 16 people at his parent's house on a beautiful October day, and a friend did the ceremony for us. We bartered with our photographers to cut a deal. We made appetizers before changing into our 'fancy dress' for about two hours (including photos). Then we changed back into regular clothes and everyone made dinner together. It was everything we hoped for, and we spent less on the whole event than some people do on a photographer. With a fledgling artisan business, we just couldn't afford more - and with a focus on sustainability in our personal lives, we just couldn't feel good about doing it any other way! Some friends told me that they couldn't remember their wedding day due to the number of people invited, the variety of activities and the length of the day. I am so grateful we did what was right for us. I remember every moment and got to spend time with everyone there. Cooking great food brought us all together in a way that a superficial event never could.

    2 years ago

  • NicoleNicoletta2

    NicoleNicoletta2 says:

    great advice, thanks

    2 years ago

  • JeezumCrowVintage

    JeezumCrowVintage says:

    The description of how Alison felt at her wedding made me tear up. Thanks so much for sharing this, I love all of the ideas. The two blogs presented are awesome, too! :o)

    2 years ago

  • KoroitBoulderOpals

    KoroitBoulderOpals says:

    Enjoy your day,without any hassle.

    2 years ago

  • Jaxx317

    Jaxx317 says:

    agreed 1000% Alison! thank you for sharing this! much of my "stuff" was handmade, or purchased from etsy sellers. i had sooooo much fun making things, and i loved that the stuff i got from etsy was made just for me, most of it custom requests! i look back and i remember having the best time ever. there was lots of laughter and lots of love, as it should be!

    2 years ago

  • tintinn85

    tintinn85 says:

    I was engaged for 21 months before tying the knot (thanks to the military for the delay there...) and it really gave me time to settle on the things that I wanted and things I could have cared less about. The money went to places that we cared about - a fantastic location with a view of the Manhattan skyline/Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island for our ceremony and reception. A great DJ and photographer that I never had to worry about. No huge fancy dresses, decorations, centerpieces, no dresses on the chairs... I found my veil and facinator, ring pillow and most of my wedding parties gifts on Etsy. I can remember the tropical storm that paid a visit to NJ that morning, mimosas at my parents house as all the girls were getting ready, floating up the aisle surrounded by my friends and family with my parents beside me, I looked at the man I loved (who was now my husband) in awe that we managed to pull it off, and I danced the night away with him. I don't remember the food, the centerpieces, the invitations or place cards, or even when the weather finally broke so we could see the skyline. The best comments I heard afterwards was that my family had an amazing time (they are still talking about it today) and that our 'look' was timeless and elegant. In my mind, it was and still is, perfect!

    2 years ago

  • Craftelina

    Craftelina says:

    Just right! We had this approach in our wedding and we know everything you say is true. Many thanks for the article! Warmest wishes.

    2 years ago

  • Zaheroux

    Zaheroux says:

    Wonderful article! I got married a few months ago and I remember that it was just me and my mom doing everything. I also remembered how hard I tried to keep it simple and handmade and that in the end...I'm marrying my soul mate, who cares if we forgot some silly little detail! I bought my dress and our drinking goblets here on Etsy. I told my bridesmaids to buy a dress that they will wear again and we had SO much help from some amazing friends. (One was the DJ, another helped decorate and made the bridal jewelry, my mom made up the flowers, I made and printed out the invites at home, some of my fellow dancers provided entertainment later in the evening.) We untilized friend connections for our photographer who is now a good friend and my husband got us a live band who we know well. Do NOT be afraid to ask for help from your friends! :) Not only will they love to help you but it'll also help keep cost down!

    2 years ago

  • MaggiePaggieDesigns

    MaggiePaggieDesigns says:

    Wonderful post ~ enjoyed reading!

    2 years ago

  • buildforfun2007

    buildforfun2007 says:

    Great article!! Wishing you many Happy memories!

    2 years ago

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • BrightonCrock

    BrightonCrock says:

    For our wedding day it was important that we felt relaxed and that everyone had fun. Afterward our party ran down to the pier and went on all the rides!

    2 years ago

  • Stamposaurus

    Stamposaurus says:

    I have just spent the entire day phoning venues for our own wedding with little success. I decided to take a break from looking and browse etsy with a coffee, when i find this article. Perfect timing and some very wise words! Wish me luck as the venue hunting continues. x

    2 years ago

  • lagitanachicana

    lagitanachicana says:

    Thank you for this amazing and much needed post. :)

    2 years ago

  • alwayscoco

    alwayscoco says:

    Thank you fo adding this.

    2 years ago

  • SquidWhaleDesigns

    SquidWhaleDesigns says: Featured

    So true! And I appreciate the sentiment about making it about BOTH parties involved. So much of wedding culture is about the bride - her day, her vision, etc. It's alienating to grooms. If you just ask what they care about - huzzah! They actually have an opinion! And then you two can work as a team together on this big, exciting expression of your love. Because it really is a lot more about the marriage than the wedding. PS - Read Madeline L'Engle's "A Two-Part Invention". It's about her marriage and it is heart-rending and beautiful.

    2 years ago

  • FlowerThyme

    FlowerThyme says:

    Exactly on the money! The most intense memory of my wedding was the pure joy and honor it felt to be surrounded by my closest family and friends -- these people traveled (some across the country) to support us during our special ceremony. I was totally overwhelmed when I really thought about the effort (both time, money, and energy) everyone made to be there for us. Thinking about it now (more than two years later) I'm still moved to tears :) Thanks for the great post!!

    2 years ago

  • slatevintager

    slatevintager says:

    enjoyed reading!

    2 years ago

  • NaturalandVintage

    NaturalandVintage says:

    words of wisdom!! even when you DO buy things, pick and choose which things mean the most! i got lots of great things for my wedding that were inexpensive. i also pulled old things out, like a crocheted tablecloth my grandmother made. that was more special to me than buying a new expensive one! i remember the fun and love. i remember being surrounded by friends we hadn't seen in a while.

    2 years ago

  • AyeCHIHUAHUA

    AyeCHIHUAHUA says:

    Wonderful ideas! I am getting excited about my wedding in March, 2013! There is much to plan and Etsy is a great resource!

    2 years ago

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss says:

    Wow, good words! I'm not engaged (yet) but I'm starting to worry about the pressure to live up to other people's perceptions of good wedding "stuff" too. This is so very encouraging.

    2 years ago

  • ForeverYoursTruly

    ForeverYoursTruly says:

    Simple weddings are definitely the best! I had a small budget, and pretty much planned everything myself. My dress came from a consignment shop (beautiful dress that still had the tags on it!) for about 1/5 of the original price. We found an awesome photographer who would give us a cd of all of our pictures, so that we could print photos ourselves. The church only seated 100, so that forced us to hold down the guest list. No one will remember the details of your wedding except you. Just make it fit your personality, and enjoy it! The day goes by soooo fast, but the marriage lasts forever.

    2 years ago

  • orchardfarmsoap

    orchardfarmsoap says:

    wonderful sentiment on the meaning of LOVE we had an amish style wedding ten years ago in my dad's back yard in chicago. we are not city dwellers(we're in rural Idaho) but choose to be where the most family lived. everyone was in shock at the simplicity of the ceremony but having all my family there speaking whatever words they wanted to ended up being the best gift i could ever imagine!

    2 years ago

  • Pjm2498

    Pjm2498 says:

    I have read that the wedding industry is anywhere from a 70 BILLION dollar industry to 125 BILLION dollar industry. I must say, I think there are a lot of excellent and inspiring caterers, venues and event planners. I'm just not sure who is leading --the consumer or the industry? Nice article.

    2 years ago

  • essentialimages

    essentialimages says:

    Hats off to Meg Keene! I'm proud to be an APW vendor and hope I really do help me brides to be "practical".

    2 years ago

  • NancysGarden

    NancysGarden says:

    Meg thanks for writing this book for Brides- to be. Thanks Alison for helping promote it. ETSY is such a wonderful place. I have been reflecting the last few months about my upcoming anniversary. It will be our 40th year together. I do remember our Wedding Ceremony and reception. It was traditional for the time but sensible. My dear mother's twin sister - my aunt was a caterer and asked to do my food. It was wonderful but simple. My 6 sisters and my mom and I are all sewers so we worked on bridesmaid dresses together. My 17 year old sister made my dress. There weren't many professional photographers around then so relatives took pictures. My Mother worked on my Backdrop. I had fresh white roses for my bouquet. Our colors were red and white. My dear, love of my life; Tom stood by me as we were sealed for time and eternity. We both cried at the time because we were so grateful for this moment. We have lived through so very many things together. Almost losing children, each of us almost losing each other because of health issues, watching heart wrenching health and other problems with children and grandchildren. I know when his hand slides quietly into mine, that everything will be alright. We also have faith in God and we share that in our lives and our actions towards each other. In conclusion, I would say to have a wedding that you (the bride) and your groom decide on before you announce it to your families whether it be small or large. Love and stand by each other from the very beginning. I have catered thousands of weddings, and seen so much joy and seen some who were overspending and trying to impress (which doesn't work anyway). Take the best from those around you who want to help and enjoy your time with them. Make this day yours even if it means making your wedding cake out of candied popcorn, or planning to jump in the pool together in your Tux and Gown. I had a bride and groom do this once. They floated in the water at sundown kissing. The mother of the bride was furious! I took her aside and had her take a deep breath and look at the moment. The tux and bridal gown would be fine - they can go through a lot. But, the guests will never forget how beautiful that was with the bride and groom floating around the fountain in the pool at sundown, kissing. Make it yours! You are each others".

    2 years ago

  • dirrj

    dirrj says:

    Love this, thank you so much for posting!

    2 years ago

  • GoingHoLLyWood

    GoingHoLLyWood says:

    Fantastic article. Thank you so much for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • TastefulThings

    TastefulThings says:

    I wish I had this book when I planned my wedding! well, I am sure it will benefit many brides to be! thank you!

    2 years ago

  • glusk

    glusk says:

    This is so true! Thanks for reminding me about the important things from my wedding day.

    2 years ago

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ says:

    What great ideas! I can't wait to share this with my friend, she's getting married in June and will just love this!

    2 years ago

  • andiespecialtysweets

    andiespecialtysweets says:

    So true! You will remember what it felt like, not what it looked like : ) I really appreciate the wisdom shared here. The more one is able to not be caught up in the stuff -the better the memories, and the less disappointment when something doesn't work out quite as planned.

    2 years ago

  • GardenDaisiesStudio

    GardenDaisiesStudio says:

    I wished I had seen this before my wedding in October! We tried to keep everything low-key, handmade, and "us." If my bridesmaids, mother and I didn't make it, it was found right here on etsy and mostly custom requests. My mother in law drove me crazy though, being the mother of two boys, she really thought this was "her" day and not ours, to the point where we talked about eloping more than once. The wedding was not what I had ever dreamed it being - I felt like I was forced to have this 100 person wedding and all I really wanted was close family and friends, and my husband. I don't remember much from our wedding day, but I do remember a few quiet times with my husband and we cherish those.

    2 years ago

  • SarahGrasman

    SarahGrasman says:

    It's true...I look at my pictures from almost 8 years ago and I don't remember much of the 'stuff' that I so worried about beforehand. I remember the precious moments!

    2 years ago

  • 2bloomsdesignstudio

    2bloomsdesignstudio says:

    Great tips and a wonderful post.

    2 years ago

  • BelladonnasJoy

    BelladonnasJoy says:

    I love everything wedding. I love this posting, thanks for sharing. I have had many custom orders from brides, and enjoy working with them. I sense confidence & courage from the bride that chooses unique, non-traditional styles. I see on TV wedding shows that often the bride and groom try to meet or exceed guest expectations, and that can be a nebulous thing. And I wonder if a nice, simple venue would be more comfortable for the guests, than a lavish one. I love the SQUIDYINK post because it just beams energy of comfort, love and fun. Do your own thing!! Sometimes it is easier to elope, when the family expectations or control gets to be too stressful. We had a beach wedding, simple but elegant $200. dress, (no train) & cost less than his tux $250. My hubby and I made our own wedding cake, seriously. It was fun and unforgettable. Local Frangipani in my updo, no veil, & local White Gardenias in my bridal bouquet. The cottage owners presented us with large local Tiare Maori flower leis and eis!! Amazing handmade gifts. WOW. Then after the pictures, he insisted we go to the most popular restaurant, still in our wedding clothes. I was shy about that but did it anyway. They were so honored, our dinner and drinks were free. 15+ years later, we are still romantic and in love. Thanks so much for the post.

    2 years ago

  • KCWyoBling

    KCWyoBling says:

    That cake topper is awesome!! I just love it!!!

    2 years ago

  • bigbluebed

    bigbluebed says:

    My husband and I were married less than a year ago. We (especially him) are very shy people so our wedding was smallish but it was perfect. The whole easy, relaxed, loving atmosphere reflected who we are. I was lucky enough to have jewellery and my hair flowers lovingly made by my etsy friends. And gifts like that made our day special. My sister made our flowers and included flowers from her garden. We had a simple buffet in a lovely old pub overlooking the waterway. To many brides seem to want to spend massive budgets on matching this and that. And although that may be right for them - it is not right for everyone. After 9 years together and with our 7 year old daughter as bridesmaid, our day was very special.

    2 years ago

  • thehappycouple

    thehappycouple says:

    As a seller of wedding items, I love "the stuff". I think it's great to have a fun party, awesome decor, and feel amazing because of the way you look. I also think people should spend within their means, have a ceremony and celebration that reflects who they are, and keep everything in perspective.

    2 years ago

  • Myartspace

    Myartspace says:

    I was so fortunate to have the dream wedding I always wanted........we already had one photographer and a cook in the family, needless to say photos and cake made with love all just for us, then I designed my flowers, including my bouquet, me and my mom created the centerpieces from white orchids.......and I had a gorgeous handmade dress.....a dream :) I know :))...me and hubby chose all the songs, so we were at all times in sync and in control of ever detail :) it was original and romantic, not practical or stressful as my friends all warned me it will be :) so it's just a matter of knowing what makes you thick!

    2 years ago

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly says:

    Love budget weddings, I created a treausury called "my under $300.00 wedding" (it was created under my other etsy shop, kathyjohnson3, but everything from the gown to the ring, decorations, etc, were all from etsy!

    2 years ago

  • funkyjunkyart

    funkyjunkyart says:

    Wonderful post! You are SO right, it's the "feeling" you remeber!!

    2 years ago

  • bnmerry

    bnmerry says:

    The APW book is great and I'll let you know what I remember in about 6 months!

    2 years ago

  • bedouin

    bedouin says:

    A 30 year high end city florist here ~ have mos def seen trends of $$$ come and go. We got married by an Elvis impersonator 25 years ago and had a blast ~ still do !!!

    2 years ago

  • shannonkristina

    shannonkristina says:

    A beautiful wedding does not need to break the bank. As a florist for over 25 years, I have seen the most beautiful budget weddings and the biggest disasters on way too much planning! I once had a wedding booked for 3 years! Do what makes you happy. Not everyone else! Our wedding cost 2,000. over 30 years ago and we are still here!

    2 years ago

  • BowMoBBB

    BowMoBBB says:

    This is all soooo true. My little business actually started out by making wedding "stuff" for my daughter and then her friends who had dreams of what they wanted until they found out what the price tag was. It was so much fun seeing their faces when we gave veils, baskets, etc. to them. Then everyone encouraged me to start my shop. It's so much fun now . . . but it was awesome then.

    2 years ago

  • junkgarden

    junkgarden says:

    I have a feeling I'm going to be helping plan a wedding soon so I really enjoyed this article.

    2 years ago

  • SF2012

    SF2012 says:

    Brilliant article. The planning should be fun, and enjoyable. We planned our wedding sitting around our kitchen table over a few Friday nights whilst drinking a bottle of wines, wrote a list of everything that we wanted, stuck it to the fridge and then worked our way through it, crossing things off as we went. Picture here: https://twitter.com/#!/S_thingForever/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2F3tbzKMZi I made the rings, the dress, we put the flowers together, wrote our vows, sewed huge with phrases that meant something to us. It was really relaxed, I didn't worry when the big red bus carrying everyone to the ceremony broke down! And we had the most fantastic day. And the best part by far...saying the vows, which if I am honest wasn't the part I thought would be. It gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

    2 years ago

  • michaelhutton1

    michaelhutton1 says:

    Big or small, expensive or not, your wedding day should be filled with friends and loved ones. Lots of joy, laughter, and love continuing throughout your lives together. A day to look back on filled with wonderful memories!

    2 years ago

  • saraaires

    saraaires says:

    Howdy!! Bride-to-be, here too, and also absolutely clueless about the whole thing... I am truly identiyed with this article, thank you for such precious info!

    2 years ago

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat says:

    I think the best wedding I've ever been to was my brother-in-law's... there were only a couple of dozen people there, so it was relaxed, informal, totally stress-free & great fun! Everyone there did something towards the day, flowers, cake, invites & food were all provided free by friends as part of the celebration. You could literally feel the love in the air & it was definitely a day I'll never forget, so I can only imagine how much it must have meant to the bride & groom. Personally, it's my idea of hell to have the most special day of your life hijacked by others, so my advice is always to do what YOU want. The two of you are adult enough to get married so you should be trusted to be able to choose the type of celebration you'd like the best. There will always be folks who disapprove, but they'll get over it... "those who mind don't matter & those who matter don't mind". And it's not their day, it's yours!

    2 years ago

  • ruchla

    ruchla says:

    love the article!!!! thanks!!

    2 years ago

  • WeThreeTrees

    WeThreeTrees says:

    I never dreamt about a big wedding, and when I got engaged I started to plan a little wedding ceremony, but just couldn't decide on anything. I ditched those plans I started to make. My husband and I got married at a courthouse, with only our parents and my brother in attendance. Then we went out to a great lunch afterward, then drove to a big city and stayed in a hotel for a couple of days. It was low-key, inexpensive, and very memorable to me. Getting married, for us, was about- US. :)

    2 years ago

  • retromanvintage

    retromanvintage says:

    BEST post EVER!... thank you.. happy love for everyone for always too ♥

    2 years ago

  • SerendipityCrafts

    SerendipityCrafts says:

    One of the BEST weddings I ever had the privilege of being invited to, was also the one with the lowest budget. it was simple, intimate, and chock full of love. Better to build a foundation for marriage rather than stressing over the details of the wedding day.

    2 years ago

  • FeyFripperies

    FeyFripperies says:

    Wonderfully put! I agree that it is the memories and feelings that are the most important. The more you make the wedding an extension of your favorite activities, the better it will be. My husband and I had a simple Renaissance theme wedding and had to give up the music to afford the catering and I didn't get the dress I wanted, but the overall effect blew everyone's mind. The best compliment we have received was that ours was an event everyone remembers fondly because it was different from the typical wedding.

    2 years ago

  • Cinnamons

    Cinnamons says:

    I'm in the middle of planning my wedding for October 2013 and already am over-stressing! I wanted a DIY wedding but then figured for not much more, I could have a lovely ceremony and reception at a local place. I'm still figuring out how to save money by make wired ribbon rose bouquets, make my own pocketfolders for invites, etc.!

    2 years ago

  • melcocrafts

    melcocrafts says:

    Best wedding I ever went to was my brother's. My sister in law's family was in town visiting them for a week, they lived across the country so seeing each other in person wasn't always possible. So they decided, while her mom was there, let's get married! They are very active in their church, so planning was easy. My brother's best friend performed the ceremony. The reception was in the church hall. All the church members pitched in, one owned a flower shop and gave her the bouquet and some arrangements. Another member made the cake; many made different dishes. Music from the organist. She found a lovely dressy white suit at JC Penney. Not enough time for mailing invites, so phone calls and word of mouth served as notice (this was well before email!). So what do I remember about that day? How much they were loved by their church community. The impact they had on their friends, who were so willing to lend a hand at a moment's notice. How radiant they were with joy. The wedding was about them, not a big party that only serves to impress others.

    2 years ago

  • yogiodie

    yogiodie says:

    OMG- I saw this article and thought this is me! This is Alison! This is an article Alison and I would GET! Then I see it is written by my wonderful daughter Alison! Great job Alison - you do me proud every day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOM

    2 years ago

  • Trolia

    Trolia says:

    Where were all you guys (and your insight, ideas & tips) when I got married 20+ years ago???

    2 years ago

  • jeweledlion

    jeweledlion says:

    My husband and I got married on Maui and invited only 14 people. Since it would have been difficult for me to plan a destination wedding we hired a fabulous wedding planner, White Orchid, on Maui. I cut out photos, etc to let her know what I wanted the wedding to look like and feel like and then I stopped stressing and let go. My fiance and I are both artists so we handmade the save the date cards, the wedding invitations, the menu cards, the favors,maps to the wedding site, and the programs. Since we planned a year in advance we had plenty of time to do it all and we enjoyed making these things together. I had no idea if the wedding would be how I wanted it or be "cheesy" as some people told me when we said we were going to Hawaii. My fiance and I determined that it didn't matter because the whole point was to get married with our friends and family around us - the rest was just "window dressing". Well, the wedding planner greatly exceeded our expectations and our wedding by the ocean with a conch shell blower, all Hawaian flowers, Hawaian priestess blessing the land, guitar player, and hula (real) dancer was so beautiful I can still cry tears of joy over it. We also contributed to the local economy and supported local artists. I both remember in vivid detail what the wedding looked like, and that was important to me and my fiance, and I remember what it felt like. It's ok to make things beautiful and special visually - just don't get caught up in having to have everything "perfect". Remember the purpose of the event - the culmination of your love for each other.

    2 years ago

  • fbstudiovt

    fbstudiovt says:

    YES!!!! My husband and I rented the restaurant where we had our first date for our wedding. We invited only 20 people - close friends and family who had been incredibly supportive of us. He wore a suit he picked up at good will, I wore a $60 vintage black and white polka dot dress that I adored and have worn several times since and a headband the 12 year old I mentor made for me. We didn't have bridesmaids or groomsmen. We gathered everyone in the restaurant (which is a seriously cool place that serves 90% locally grown food and it's in an old wine cellar) for a cocktail hour and then I piped up and told them it was time for us to get married. Our dear friend who is a JP performed a quick ceremony we had written ourselves (our vows were "I choose you from everyone in the world to be my partner") and then we all had a fabulous buffet dinner with an ice cream sundae dessert bar afterward. We had a blast. There was very little stress and a lot of fun. The whole event cost less than $1500 and we asked for donations to our favorite charity in lieu of gifts. It was a great day, which has been followed by many many more great days of marriage.

    2 years ago

  • pocketsaurus

    pocketsaurus says:

    Wonderful advice! When I got married in July 2010, my family was a little hesitant because of my "weird" choices -- Knee length wedding dress -- Oh lord! Birdcage veil -- that is too modern! Bridesmaids not wearing matching dresses NOR shoes? -- HOLY MOLY! Looking back I wish I would have done a few more "non traditional" things, but it was still great. I come from a small farmtown, and got married in my grandmother's church (one of those little brick & mortar churches on a corner in the middle of nowhere. With a cow farm next door) So I guess I understand why everyone was a little shocked by my "modern" choices.

    2 years ago

  • spottyhen

    spottyhen says:

    I love this article, this advice should be given out as standard procedure the moment the word 'wedding' is mentioned! Although I havent been on Etsy for too long I have always run a small family business dealing in wedding decorations and personalised wedding bunting, we have now extended our bespoke wedding service to Etsy and feel I should refer all buyers to this article! Over the years I have seen too many brides choosing colours schemes that their MUMS want them to have or heard them talk of dreams of a beach wedding, but their family expect them to marry in the same church their parents, grandparents etc got married in. It is a shame these couples are not strong enough to insist on the day of THEIR dreams, and shame on the families that dictate how things should be done their way! Please remember it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, HOPEFULLY never to be repeated!! I always tell my customers that wedding photos will be with them for the rest of their lives, so you have to be confidant you are comfortable with how your day looks. Do you want to be old and telling the grnadchildren " Nanny never liked that dress or colours, but at least my family did!!!! I DONT THINK SO!! You are unique EMBRACE IT and if your family love you they will want whatever makes YOU happy! Your day, Your choice, Your memories, Your Photos!!!!!!!

    2 years ago

  • normaharrell

    normaharrell says:

    Thank you for this article. THANK you! See that picture to the left of this comment? That's me on my wedding day almost 3 years ago. My then boyfriend and I decided on a Friday afternoon to get married that Monday. Yes, we "eloped." I didn't have time to buy a wedding dress...I had to shop my closet. I decided on a black turtleneck (looks chic with anything) and a floor-length white linen ruffled skirt from the J.Peterman catalogue I purchased ON SALE. And you know what? It looked GORGEOUS...in that very French way where it doesn't look like you're trying to be chic, yet you are. We got married with little fanfare, 2 witnesses, and we thank our lucky stars 'til this day that we had the prescience and the maturity to know what was best for Us. Not what was expected of us...not what would impress other people...but what we wanted.

    2 years ago

  • julsofparadise

    julsofparadise says:

    Fantastic article. Only wish I had read it before we were married way back in 1986! We did it our way, we both had inputs and planned it together and paid for it ourselves. Everything from the hotel ballroom dinner for 98 guests to the limos to the harpist during dinner to the fabulous 'surprise honeymoon' that everyone else at the wedding knew about except me! But after it was all said and done, just about everything that could go wrong, DID go wrong. This was before the days of a wedding planner, I was hiking up my dress (my Mom's dress from 1948) and marching around getting the dj back on track with our special first 3 songs, trying to find someone to put out steak knives for the filet dinner, reopen the bar when they mistakenly closed it 2 hours early...even the Wedding album was broken by movers several years later. Looking back we would have been just as happy with a short ceremony on the beach with hor'durves (sp?) and Margaritas at sunset. And we could have put a much larger down payment on our first home. Who knew. I will definately save this article and all the comments for my daughters to read before they decide to marry, maybe soon. ;-) In the end, those 2 days sometime in the future it will be whatever they and their husbands-to-be decide they want it to be.

    2 years ago

  • lkabeyta

    lkabeyta says:

    Fabulous and good for you. Brides and grooms to be, rake notice!

    2 years ago

  • junquete

    junquete says:

    this has been a fun read. When I got married we did it ourselves and didn't do all the pomp and flash. We had twenty people in our own apartment. I made the dress out of left overs from making a friend's dress, bought single stem roses and put them together, had one bridesmaid and best man, made the cake,(loads of rum) made the food and we had a great time. You might think this is odd but we did not have it back home where our families are. We had no family because both of us came from very large families and picturing the two parties going on scared the crap out of us. Oh and hubby and a couple of friends played for us. He's played a lot of weddings so we figured he might as well do this one too. We spent under 300.00 That was 33 yrs ago Jan. 13th! with a lot of Friday the 13th's in between.

    2 years ago

  • aalembo

    aalembo says:

    AMEN TO THIS POST!!! I can't tell you how many surprised and almost dirty looks I've gotten from people as I describe our upcoming Connecticut Barn wedding in October. Don't get me wrong, we're spending money and buying things...but we both understand the true meaning of day- to celebrate the joining of two lives and two families. That's what it is all centered around. Of course, we want our friends and family to have a great time; eat, drink, dance, all of that. But I think it's important not to lose sight of what the day is really about, and that's the two of you. Do WHATEVER you want...don't let anyone else influence you, or tell you that you HAVE to do something. Your day, your decisions. Fantastic post!

    2 years ago

  • KathysKreation

    KathysKreation says:

    Great article and lots of good advice.

    2 years ago

  • MotsDots

    MotsDots says:

    Oh, holy cow... how I wished this had been around in 1990... Our wedding wasn't "over the top" or lavish by any means. It was fairly simple... yet how I wished I could have incorporated more of my own values and preferences, used more artisan-made things, and not be influenced by the wedding industry and my mother. I would do it soooo differently now if I were getting married. The Practical Wedding is pretty genius. Thank you for giving brides "permission" to listen to their hearts and do what feels right to them.

    2 years ago

  • jpspringfiel

    jpspringfiel says:

    Such a great article! We all should be inspired to follow our hearts when creating such a personal affair as a wedding. There is too much influence from today's society on what the dress should look like, what theme you should have, and following what celebrities are doing. A personal, honest, heartfelt affair is sincerely the best!

    2 years ago

  • Sanmarcianart

    Sanmarcianart says:

    We were married in the front yard, under a really big cottonwood tree. Our officiant was a wonderful blues guitarist who had answered the ad in the back of Rolling Stone Magazine. Our families were there and some friends who had stopped by the house. Some with tubes, as they had been on their way to the river. My father took everyone who cared to come to our favorite little cafe for lunch after the ceremony. Then we loaded the PA into the van and set up for the annual Sing Out For Peace Day celebration, which kind of turned into our reception because friends brought cakes and snacks. 22 years ago and I'd do it the same way again.

    2 years ago

  • urbancottage1

    urbancottage1 says:

    Bravo! We planned a holiday party, close friends were invited, one guest was clergy and only he knew the real purpsose of the party. I don't think anyone else had a clue until the three of us stood up and thanked everyone for coming and had something very special we wanted to share. It was the best! And, afterwards we have a fabulous sit down catered dinner. Fine food, good wine and good friends. I had been a designer and then a foodstylist, saw and created fantasy and over the top all day long. It was not important to me to look like a merangue going down the aisle, or have the usual scripted wedding events. And, the gold bands signified more than a large engagement ring.

    2 years ago

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • BellaBeads4U

    BellaBeads4U says:

    Fantastic article. I have been married for 26 years. Our wedding was small(20 guests)& catered reception at home, Church ceremony that deviated from the "norm". Quite a shock for my Venetian in-laws to deal with! My family just flowed with it; Mom and sister did the table arrangements in silk flowers. Even the bomboniere were crafted by my sister. All these years later, what I remember was the joy of family sharing such a wonderful day with 2 thiryish newlyweds!

    2 years ago

  • metalicious

    metalicious says:

    My wedding day was one of the best in my life! Not because of the money we spent, but because of being able to share such an amazing day with everyone we loved in the whole world.

    2 years ago

  • cyn775

    cyn775 says:

    Beautifully written and makes a great point. I have been to so many weddings where the couple spends a fortune then barely get a chance to enjoy themselves let alone enjoy all the details they have spent their money on. Or worse, put themselves in so much debt that the wedding day puts a strain on the marriage itself trying to pay it all off. Thanks for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • mela77

    mela77 says:

    Thank you for the post. My best friend and I are getting married this Summer and have had a great time getting the personalized details organized. The rings (tinahdee), guestbook and most of the decor have been selected from ETSY- we are, as the article states, spending our $$ in a way that supports our values and reflects us as a couple. We are being married in a small school house from the 1900's- with an intimate group of close family and friends. We most look forward to sharing our lovingly and thoughfully planned vows with our very special guests. I take to heart the advice given in this post an from the comments- that really it isn't the stuff that will be remembered so much as the meaning- thank you for sharing! All the best to the brides and grooms of 2012 <3

    2 years ago

  • smilzmuch

    smilzmuch says:

    I am new to etsy and am happy to find some really great wedding ideas! I myself am getting married in September and on a tight budget! My bridesmaids are being great and helping me come up with ideas that I can do for really cheap or free. I have one friend whose mother is doing my photography and others who have agreed to do whatever they can to help. I really appreciate the post that talked about doing your wedding for you and not trying to impress your guests with something that doesn't fit you. My fiance and I are really simple, laid-back people and that is exactly how our wedding is going to be. Small, beach wedding with mostly friends and immediate family. We are having a baked spaghetti rehearsal dinner, BBQ after the ceremony and the groomsmen in shorts. Thank God for simple weddings...don't know what I would do if the planning were any more complicated than it already is!!

    2 years ago

  • ezliving

    ezliving says:

    Great post ! Congratulation To everyone.

    2 years ago

  • lintang

    lintang says:

    How I love this article! It really helps me to plan all stuff for my wedding on next October. Thanks! :)

    2 years ago

  • InspiredStitches

    InspiredStitches says:

    I love the article and especially love all of the comments from the brides that "get it."

    2 years ago

  • PetDesign

    PetDesign says:

    WOW! The very first line of this describes me to a tee. Not a princess, never thought about or cared to plan a wedding before, and, as a kid, was obsessed with Egyptology and Legos (the real kind, only 3 colors and 4 shapes)! Today, I'm planning our wedding for this summer and thus was thrilled when I happened to come across this article! My friends think I'm a little nuts for not being all dreamy-eyed over these details, colors, flowers, cakes. I told them I didn't care what their dresses looked like, and there was an audible gasp, lol. I'm doing everything myself, diy cake and all. And what I can't do, well, then forget it, I guess. Thanks for all the helpful links and showing me that I'm not alone! Now I must read all these comments for more ideas...

    2 years ago

  • pogoshop

    pogoshop from pogoshop says:

    So lovely to hear, Alison! What a happy way to begin your lives together. So great when couples can skip the craziness and create a celebration that's sweet, intimate, and fun - which, in the long run, is exactly what a marriage should be.

    2 years ago

  • PurpleToedGypsy

    PurpleToedGypsy from PurpleToedGypsy says:

    wonderful advice! I can't wait to share this with my niece. thank you.

    2 years ago

  • meomok

    Duong T. Nguyen says:

    A potluck weddin is a great idea, ive never thought of an actual weddin for myself but all my future guests could be spared from expensive wedding gift now :p

    2 years ago

  • EvangelineBlack

    Evangeline Black from EvangelineBlack says:

    I wish more young couples would read this article and follow Meg’s suggestions when planning their wedding. I have seen so many of my friends go completely bananas during the preparation of their big day. I agree with what’s been said before – concentrate on making it memorable, without feeling the need to make it the biggest/most expensive wedding ever. There is really no need to impress other when it comes to YOUR wedding day!

    2 years ago

  • labner

    Lisa Abner from RememberWhenVintages says:

    Love this article.. Love getting back to the basics... It's all about the memories!!!

    2 years ago

  • MoKaCrafts

    Kath and Mo Gibson-Kelly from MoKaCrafts says:

    It makes me crazy when I see friends stressing about saving for their weddings, and the people who spend tens of thousands of pounds on their 'perfect day'. When we had our Civil Partnership, we spent no more than £1000 on the actual day itself, excluding our rings (which were artisan made and cost half the main budget again, but they're forever). We organised a day of things we love to do; a coach took our 25 guests to Loch Lomond to our favourite coffee shop where we all had 'soup and pudding' (although they had full run of the menu) in a reserved garden room, took a walk down to the beach for photos, and booked a loch cruise where we were the only group on the boat and gave all the ladies a ceramic favour that we made ourselves. It was an amazing day, that our friends and family still talk about 6 years later; about how relaxed it was and what a wonderful time they had. Some even go back to have soup and pudding for a treat! The bottom line is, it doesn't matter how much you spend on your wedding day; it matters who you spend the day with. It's about the marriage, not just one day.

    2 years ago

  • PeriniDesigns

    Vanessa Perini from PeriniDesigns says:

    Wonderful post! Last year one of the most interesting orders I received was from a bride who purchased 6 different pairs of earrings from my shop. She wanted to match earrings styles with those her individual bridesmaids personality. She recently send me pictures! Beautiful!!!!!

    2 years ago

  • loliecraft

    Lolie Jane from loliejanevintage says:

    I think what you said here.. "I realized that how we spend our money is more important than how much we spend." is very true. It's great that so many people love the small simple weddings, but my fiance and I wanted the big wedding (or at least big to us, 75 people) with all our friends and family, and we've been having an absolute blast planning it. We're lucky to have family that supports whatever we want to do, so it's definitely our style. We don't have big backyards here in the city, so we splurged on our dream location - an outdoor education centre in the forest, where all the profits go to environmental education programs. We've gathered lots of "stuff" from antique malls and thrift stores, and our family and friends, have been crafting up a storm, and have also spent a lot supporting businesses here on etsy. We got the fancy photographer, and had our invitations designed by a friend who runs a local design company. We've been so lucky to be able to make the choice to support local and independent small businesses. I definitely don't feel guilty about splurging on a big party that is completely our style. When else will we get this chance? Of course the marriage and not the wedding itself is the most important thing, but we're having so much fun! No stress at all. Of course, that's just our choice and it's not for everyone.

    2 years ago

  • motleyme

    Luca Kovacs from motleyme says:

    I really enjoyed this article. My wedding is approaching (quite fast), it's on 7th july. I'm quite relaxed about it, because I decided I don't need a perfect wedding, I just want to have fun with relatives and friends. I want to remember that we had a great time together. "Spend your money to support your values" - I agree with this. For example the groom's suit was made by a brilliant seamstress. She's not widely known, but she works wonderful and she was really thankful that we chose her.

    2 years ago