He wants a wedding and I don't. Help!
October 13, 2010 12:47 PM   Subscribe

The thought of planning a wedding makes me (female, mid-twenties) want to break out into hives. Problem: my (male, mid-twenties) partner LOVES weddings and desperately wants one. HELP!

(Anonymous because he browses Metafilter when I'm logged into my account. Pretty sure he never looks at Ask, but better safe than sorry...)

I am a 24 year old female, my partner is a 25 year old male. In the last year, we have attended and/or been involved in the wedding parties of four weddings, with two upcoming next year. Because of the frequency of our attendance at weddings, we have spent a lot of time talking about engagement, weddings, marriage, etc in the last year. We agree that we want to be married. We want to have children together. For us, being married is an important step in the direction of building our new family. I know that his proposal is coming at any time. I know I want to accept. He knows I will accept. I cannot wait to be actually MARRIED to him and have a life together. But I am DREADING having to plan and throw a wedding.

I hate weddings. My partner loves them. I have NEVER wanted a large wedding. The big white dress, the flowers, the cake...none of it has ever appealed to me, even when I was a little girl who liked to play dress up. I personally cannot imagine spending so much money on anything so extravagant and so fleeting. I was raised by parents who taught me to feel bad about spending large amounts of money on anything even the least bit impractical. Thus, while my partner looks forward to throwing a large wedding where we will invite all of our family and friends, I would much rather invest our money in a house or in college funds for our future children.

Also, my involvement in weddings has always been extremely stressful for me. I have watched many of my perfectly normal friends morph into vicious Bridezillas and Groomthas due simply to the stress of planning their weddings. I have witnessed lots of bickering between the parents and the couple, or members of the wedding party and the couple, or vendors and the couple all in the name of one party thrown on one day...the whole process seems absolutely terrifying to me. I don't want to go through that. I have a lot of social/familial/work obligations already and would likely crumble under all the added stress of planning a wedding, especially one attached to a lot of drama.

My partner really, really wants a wedding, though. He wants a big proposal, an engagement party, he wants to pick a wedding party (and he has SEVEN close male friends he wants to ask to be groomsmen), have a bachelor party, host a rehearsal dinner, invite hundreds of guests to a lavish ceremony, and then throw a rocking reception. He considers marriage to be a social milestone (I see his point!) that he absolutely needs to celebrate with all of his family and friends. My partner is unwilling to just get married and NOT have a wedding. He does not understand my feelings about weddings. At. All. And I can tell from the way he talks about his friend's weddings that he would be very sad if he could not have his dream wedding. I can't stand the idea of him being sad. I love him very much and I want him to have a wedding if he really, really wants one. I'm just not sure how to give him that wedding without being reduced to panic attacks every day and being forced into therapy.

So. Questions! Would it be wrong or unfair to ask my partner to handle the lion's share of the planning of any wedding we do have, since he's the one who really wants one? I know he'll probably want me to plan the majority of it, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do so and keep my sanity and he seems to know exactly what he wants. Would this be horrible of me? How do you throw the cheapest wedding possible? Tips also wanted on ways to plan low-stress weddings, the kind where there's minimal craziness and high school level drama amongst the couple and the wedding party/family members/vendors. Thanks, all!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Can't you hire a wedding planner?
posted by halogen at 12:51 PM on October 13, 2010 [6 favorites]

Would it be wrong or unfair to ask my partner to handle the lion's share of the planning of any wedding we do have, since he's the one who really wants one? I know he'll probably want me to plan the majority of it, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do so and keep my sanity and he seems to know exactly what he wants. Would this be horrible of me?

Sounds eminently rational to me. The most important thing is communicating this up front- be clear about your expectations and interest level in all the bullshit, and stick to it.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:52 PM on October 13, 2010 [9 favorites]

Would it be wrong or unfair to ask my partner to handle the lion's share of the planning of any wedding we do have, since he's the one who really wants one? I know he'll probably want me to plan the majority of it, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do so and keep my sanity and he seems to know exactly what he wants. Would this be horrible of me?

men do this for/to women ALL the time, why would it be horrible of you to turn the gender tables? if he wants to do it let him do it. two friends of mine didn't give a shit about a wedding but the groom's mother is a party planner and basically freaked out until she offered to plan the entire thing herself. the couple said yes and all they had to do was show up in their respective outfits. the bride told me it was great because she didn't have to worry about a thing during the event.
posted by lia at 12:55 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think it's perfectly fair to ask him to handle most of the planning. If he wants a big extravagant affair, but doesn't know where to start, he could even hire a wedding planner to do most of the work for him. Then it just boils down to simple questions like "which venue do you prefer?" and "do you like the duck or the beef better as an entree?"

If you want to check out an awesome wedding without all the craziness, I recommend A Practical Wedding. She does a good job explaining the balance between wedding and marriage, and talks about how to keep your cool in all the wedding craziness.

Also, it helps if you think of this less as "wedding ceremony and reception" and more "we're getting married and then there's going to be a party". Distance yourself from the whole Wedding Industrial Complex, and just focus on what will be fun and manageable for you and your guests. Don't worry about favors and engraved cake-cutting knives and champagne flutes and garter toss and letterpressing and calligraphy. All you need is an officiant and a partner. Everything else is negotiable.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:57 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

Would it be wrong or unfair to ask my partner to handle the lion's share of the planning of any wedding we do have, since he's the one who really wants one?

I think that sounds perfectly fair! He wants, he plans. That said, you'll still need to be involved at some levels- like deciding on a budget and giving input on the guest list. And I hope you'll be able to have fun as much as you can- don't hold onto your picture of a wedding as this Big Stressful Thing to the point that you're making it one all by yourself. Once the two of you have decided what sort of wedding you're going to have, don't pout, don't sulk, don't look at the receipts and roll your eyes. Go into what you've committed to with a good attitude.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:57 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

So does your mom, future mother in law, sister, future sister in law, best friend, love planning weddings? Because honestly I've seen so many weddings taken over by relatives or friends. Usually relatives. I've been to two weddings this year where I know for a fact that bride did very little and loved it. The sister/mom/aunts were on top of it. Dear god were they ever. There are people out there (mostly women I will admit) who LOVE planning weddings. Everything about it. You give them an inch, they'll take a mile. You give them a mile, they'll plan the whole damn thing.

Start asking for a lot of advice. Bring a lot of people with you to pick out stuff. One of them will take the bull by the horns if you let them. Then you step aside and profusely thank them for their help.

Also, if your fiance wants a big wedding. He needs to take on the lion share of the planning. It's really that simple.
posted by whoaali at 12:58 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

He knows you don't want a big wedding. And you're willing to have one! For him! Because it matters to him! That's wonderful of you. Of course it's normal to ask him to do the majority of the planning for it, as it's something he wants and you do not. You should figure out what things you will be okay taking charge of -- choosing your bridesmaids, your dress, maybe food or flowers or music or a photographer, whatever you care about more, or think you could do effectively or without upsetting yourself -- and things you can do together (BUDGETING). Or, sure, a wedding planner, as long as you can find one who will go to your fiance-to-be with questions instead of you.

FWIW, my parents said the most stress-relieving part of their wedding was having a buffet and no assigned seating (my father's parents were acrimoniously separated at the time).
posted by jeather at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Of course, it is fine to ask him to do it. It does sound important that you two agree on a firm budget number first, though.

I'd also suggest you ask him to plan with some constraints like not breaking your mutual piggy bank, not making you do too many lavish things, and at least consulting you first (versus relatives, friends, planner, caterer) before making major decisions. (You can always default to the tried and true -- "whatever you think is best, dear" when it is not in fact something important to you.)
posted by bearwife at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here was my attitude towards wedding planning - I got my then-fiance's consent and it worked out well:

(1) If We Want It, We Do It Together - so chosing a caterer, chosing a venue, chosing our outfits, set list, etc were all done mostly as a team.
(2) The One Who Cares, Does The Work - my mother-in-law wanted a big rehearsal dinner, so we let her plan the whole thing. I showed up, smiled and waved.
(3) If No One Wants It, We Don't Do It - This is tremendously liberating.
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2010 [11 favorites]

Forgot to add: Seconding that y'all should sit down and set a budget with whoever else may be contributing. This may be the best way to convince your fiance that a huge wedding is not going to happen.
posted by muddgirl at 1:06 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. It is absolutely okay for him to take most of the planning.

2. Sit down and have him lay out the things that he wants. List them on paper. Go into as much detail as you can (even down to the names of people you do or don't want to invite, no matter how early this is in the process). Do the same for yourself (even if your side might include things you DON'T want). Match them up and see what the negotiables and non-negotiables might be.

This is a really good exercise to do as a couple as you prepare for other big life events. Which brings me to my third point...

3. Be VERY CAREFUL here, as this has huge implications for the rest of your relationship. I'm guessing that things will turn out fine, but remember that if you can't come to a good compromise on this, how can you come to a compromise on other things in your marriage, or move past something that might feel like a disappointment to one or both of you? This is a money issue, a family issue, a how-much-time-you-spend-with-the-guys issue, an introversion/extroversion issue, an are-you-paying-attention-to-my-needs issue... man, those are pretty much every one of the top contenders for things that can cause huge rifts between spouses. To be blunt: you MUST come to an acceptable arrangement or break up. Period. Follow your gut.

(Whew! That was scary. As you were...)

Please feel free to MeMail me for tips; I planned one low-stress but fabulous wedding and am about to embark on a second :) The marriage wasn't so great, but the wedding ruled *giggle*
posted by Madamina at 1:06 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

He wants a big fancy wedding and wants you to plan the big fancy wedding? This alarms me a little.

It actually kinda sounds to me like he just wants a big ass party with you and himself at the center of attention. That's totally fine if you have the money to do that, and hey, maybe it's less stressful for you if you reframe it as 'hey, this is just a big party, not a formal event that has to be JUST SO.' If you don't want white everything and flowers and cake, that cuts a ton of costs and then you have money for an open bar and that will definitely make everybody happy. Have a talk where you discuss a budget and your general feelings about the tone you both want. He does need to do most of the planning or hire a third party, no question.
posted by slow graffiti at 1:15 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

The person who wants the big wedding plans the big wedding. Planning a wedding is stressful. If you don't want the wedding, that stress is going to translate into resentment towards your fiance.

How do you throw the cheapest wedding possible? Tips also wanted on ways to plan low-stress weddings, the kind where there's minimal craziness and high school level drama amongst the couple and the wedding party/family members/vendors.

I found the forums at Offbeat Bride to be a great place to get wedding advice, without the risk of being pulled into the cycle of 'of course I need a signature cocktail! Everyone else has one' that can happen at other wedding sites.

The 'wedding' tag right here on Metafilter is also a great resource, particularly for advice on cost cutting.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 1:16 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dude, if he wants it, he plans it.

Leaving aside the money issue, which is a whole separate discussion, I don't see anything wrong with him planning the wedding of his dreams. HIM planning it. (I actually just this weekend was at a big "white wedding" where the bride wanted a quickie at the courthouse and the groom wanted the giant fancy party. So the groom did a LOT of the planning.)

And if you don't care about the details (why should you? you don't care about a huge wedding at all!), there's nothing to get all wound up about. My flowers almost didn't make it in time, and I totally didn't care, because, um, I'm pretty sure you're still married even if you aren't carrying flowers. The DJ ignored my "no chicken dance" request but what did I care? It's just a song. Two of my bridesmaids last-minute ditched the rehearsal, but what does that matter? If they walk to the wrong place, it's no skin off my nose. It's not like the ceremony doesn't go on. I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing because as long as there was a church with a priest, and then some food and music at the party, and we actually ended up married, I considered it a win. If he wants seven groomsmen, that's fine -- you can still have just ONE bridesmaid. (This is like my top wedding tip: THE SIDES DON'T HAVE TO MATCH. That kills seriously half the interpersonal drama right there. Ask who you want, don't ask who you don't want, don't care if the sides match.)

(I won't lie, it was still SOMEWHAT stressful, but only because any event that large and any life-change that large is ALWAYS somewhat stressful. It was sort-of like starting a new job stressful combined with doing a high-stakes work presentation stressful for me.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:19 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

My wife did much of the planning but specifically asked me if there were things that I would like to plan. I ended up picking the caterer (after we decided on a whole roasted hog,) making playlists, organizing the tent situation at the venue (admittedly quite easy since my dad is the director of the nature reserve where we got married), rings, and some other stuff I'm not remembering right now.

Basically, let him know that planning a wedding really squicks you out but you would be willing to maybe plan somethings that don't freak you out. Consequently, if he wants a wedding then he'll know that he will be bearing the lion's share of planning.

Above all, be honest and clear and he should have the info he needs to make a decision.
posted by schyler523 at 1:20 PM on October 13, 2010

Adding -- if he doesn't see why if he wants it, he plans it, I think that's a bigger issue. If he wants a big white wedding and is willing to plan it (and you're content to go along with it), more power to him. But if he wants the wedding with YOU planning it, it sounds like he actually wants you to BE SOMEBODY DIFFERENT, which would be a big red flag.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:20 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

Absolutely he should be the one doing the bulk of the planning! If he wants a big wedding and you don't, it's only reasonable that he tackle much of the planning. As far as you not wanting to spend a lot of money on "impractical" things, one way to help alleviate that feeling is to make a list of priorities for wedding spending. For my husband and me, we wanted everyone to have a good time, so we focused our budget on food (for the rehearsal and wedding dinners) and a good DJ. Grocery store flowers and cake did us just fine, as did my dress from eBay. Good luck!
posted by epj at 1:27 PM on October 13, 2010

He who wants it the most gets to do all the work for it, in my opinion. If having a BIG GIANT WEDDING, which it sounds like he's already planned a quarter of in his head anyway, is non-negotiable for him, then HE gets to do that work. And I mean that for reals, not in the "he's supposed to, but he calls you fifty times a day to get flower opinions and nag you to call people for him" sort of way. You're gonna have to make that clear to him that HE is in charge of doing all the work. And hold your ground on it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:29 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

The person who wants the big wedding plans the big wedding.

I cannot emphasize that enough. Wedding planning is a part-time (or full-time!) job on top of whatever else you have going on in your life. That's awesome if you enjoy it and want the party, but stressful and resentment-inducing if you don't. I think it's perfectly fair for you to say, Fine, you want this big party, YOU have to plan it. He might decide to do a smaller event once he sees how much work there is to do.

Full disclosure: I just had a wedding that I planned mostly myself, that I was fairly ambivalent about. Before I was engaged, I didn't want any number of things, including fancy dress, fancy cake, any flowers, lots of people I didn't know...but I wound up with a white dress worth a rent payment, a fancy (and delicious!) cake, beautiful flowers, and a handful of people that I couldn't identify. After I was engaged, I still didn't want a lot of those things, but I did want pictures to show our kids someday, and my vision of the pictures included some of the things I never wanted. It was weird. And there were a couple of times when I wished I had stuck to my guns and eloped at city hall and told everyone later. But ultimately, having a lot of the things that I said I never wanted (most of which I delegated to someone who cared) meant that our families and friends came together and celebrated us in a way I would never have expected that just warms the burly cockles of my heart way more than any pictures every will. I only hope the photos can do justice to the feelings I experienced that day.

Um, off track a little. Basically, be prepared for your opinions to change a little. I'm not saying they WILL, but just that they might, because it's one thing to plan for something oh, you know, someday, and another thing entirely to plan for something next November 17 at 6 p.m. The reality somehow makes things....real.

But if your heart's not in it, don't get roped into planning it. That's not at all fair. Wedding planning is very good practice for marriage, as there's lot of negotiation and money and family issues all rolled up into a party.

I second both Offbeat Bride (and the forums) and A Practical Wedding, as well as the book The Smart Couple's Guide to Planning a Wedding.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:32 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Completely agree - if he wants the big wedding, and you don't want the stress, its up to him. We're just coming out of recovery from what was meant to be (and really was, in hindsight) a fairly small wedding, and it exhausted the heck out of both of us. Make sure he knows what you care about, and that otherwise its all on him.
posted by korej at 1:40 PM on October 13, 2010

I know he'll probably want me to plan the majority of it

Why? Has he said so? This is definitely something to discuss. If it's a stretch for you to even have a wedding--and that's a stretch you're willing to make because you know it matters to him--then it's pretty unreasonable for him to expect you to do most of the planning for it. That said, he may not understand your feelings about weddings, but if he knows that you have those feelings, he may be more reasonable on the planning issue than you'd think (and if he isn't, well, that's a problem).

Because planning a wedding--well, as much as I enjoyed my wedding, and as low-stress as I tried to make it... it was still kind of a pain to plan the thing. There may be some things that are nice to do as a couple--looking at venues, maybe, or cake tasting--but the tedious or frustrating stuff like negotiating with vendors or making reservations? Whether he does it, a relative does it, or your wedding planner does it, you shouldn't have to.

(And mark this milestone with a few sessions of couples' counseling--my husband and I found it extremely valuable to have a designated time to check in with each other and our therapist every week or so while we were dealing with family and wedding stress and, you know, each other.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:41 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, fuck gender roles. If he wants a big fancy deal, then he does the work for it. No question. Pick the things that are important to you, such as total budget, what you wear, etc., and leave the rest to him. He may scale back his plans once he gets how much work it is, or he may love the whole process and throw a great party for both of you.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:49 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the "he wants it, he plans it" advice.

But after that. . . the best piece of advice I ever got was to figure out what three things matter the most to the two of you, and plan around those three things. Those three things, you can stress about; everything else just has to be good enough. Our three things were my dress, the music, and the ceremony, and we poured a lot of effort into them, but everything else was just "that'll do." We booked a venue before my fiance had even seen it, who came with their own caterer; we called the caterer and said "buffet lunch, under $22/head, make sure there's a vegetarian option." I went down to the local florist and dropped off swatches of my dress fabric and said "I like tulips, go nuts." It took us 15 minutes to pick out our wedding cake.

My mother REALLY CARED about coordinating linens and candles on the tables, so I let her handle that. My dad REALLY CARED about there being enough wine, and the wine being of sufficient quality, so I let him handle that. At the last minute I had some sort of wedding-related seizure and decided I needed favors, so I bought 120 sage green silk organza bags and 40 pounds of jelly beans at CostCo and sat up until 3 AM scooping jelly beans into tiny bags, but I think that was the only thing like that I went through.

It was a great wedding, super low stress. The food was delicious, the flowers were gorgeous, the cake one of the best I've ever eaten. Your vendors are professionals, and they can do something nice without you riding their asses over details. And at the end of the day? I was married to the man of my dreams. :-)
posted by KathrynT at 1:55 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Tell him to plan the wedding, and if he needs help, to hire a wedding planner.
posted by davejay at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2010

I agree with just about everyone else - if he wants a big wedding and you don't, then he needs to make sure it's planned without putting the burden on you. Whether that's achieved by planning it himself, enlisting some other relatives or friends, hiring a wedding planner, or some combination thereof, the onus is on him and it would be unfair to expect you to take up the task. It's really not that uncommon to do it this way.

I also agree that you'll need to be consulted on at least a few of the details, particularly the budget if you're paying for it in whole or in part.
posted by hootenatty at 3:21 PM on October 13, 2010

The person who wants the big wedding plans the big wedding.

I could not agree more. If he wants a wedding and you're willing be there for him, then he should feel free to plan it!

One word of warning: if your experience is anything like mine, people simply will not believe that the groom is responsible for a lot of the nuts & bolts of wedding planning, and they will pester you about details even after you have clearly and repeatedly told them that your partner is handling things. We split the tasks of planning our not-fancy wedding, but many many family members (and some vendors) with questions or suggestions seemed completely unable to retain the idea that [whatever] was strictly my partner's province and that discussing [whatever] with me was completely pointless.

It takes a lot of patience to continually and civilly remind people that you're not handling [X], but that patience is well-rewarded by the simple joy of not handling [X].
posted by Elsa at 3:27 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

The person who wants the big wedding plans the big wedding.

So agreed.

Also, is there a chance he doesn't realize how crazy expensive weddings are? And that his expectations will scale back when he finds out? I had ZERO idea until a few of my friends had "cheap" weddings how expensive all that stuff is. Maybe try running some figures by him for actual real weddings from some of the websites people have suggested, and see what happens.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:46 PM on October 13, 2010

I had the same issues as you, years ago.

Let me encourage you, that at least in my case once the day arrived I was glad I did it my husband's way. In my case an older married lady friend of his did most of the planning. I still wanted to pull my hair out, but again, day of ceremony all went just fine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:14 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agreed, the person who wants the big wedding is the one who plans it. The person who isn't willing to do any of the planning is, by default, agreeing to whatever the one who is willing to do the planning wants.

The suggestion to "choose three things that matter and focus on them" is a good one, I think. For our wedding, we decided to splurge on one ephemeral item (the food, including a cake that was both attractive and tasty) and one lasting (the photography). Everything else was budget/discount, second-hand, borrowed, done-by-a-friend, etc.
posted by Lexica at 4:23 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just got married last year, and we had over two hundred people and did it for less than 6K. We had it on a good friend's farm. We hired a rental company to deliver a tent, the tables, chairs etc, and some porta-potties (nice ones with running water for hand washing). We roasted a pig, had like 5 kegs and did a potluck style dinner using this website to plan and organize it between our guests. We made sure to include the potluck link on the wedding invite.

My wife had 4 bridesmaids and I had 7 groomsmen. We didn't tell them what to wear, we just told everyone to be comfortable. Some folks wore flannels and blue jeans, others wore suits and ties. Not choosing dresses and tuxes and stuff eliminates quite a bit of headache.

At the end we almost broke even, with the wedding gifts that we received. It was an incredibly fun time, and everyone had a blast!

Oh, and you two should decide how many guests you want your parents to be able to choose, and let them know that number as early as possible. Most parents are going to expect that they have some say in the guest list (argh) and you should clear it up as early as possible!

All I'll say is, you two are going to be compromising with each other for the rest of your lives. You're both going to have to meet the other half way on this one...
posted by Glendale at 4:59 PM on October 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm like you...my biggest worry would be about the expense of a large wedding. Even if you do as little as possible for the reception (i.e., disregard a bunch of the silly, expensive, wedding-specific things like a fancy tiered cake and flowers for all), it's still going to cost a pretty penny.

I do remember a colleague explaining (with great relief!) that monetary gifts received at his large wedding more than covered the cost of the wedding. It's basically impossible to estimate the likelihood of that happening, but it's still something to think about.

As far as the stress and the drama, stick to your smart consideration of this event as a party to celebrate your marriage rather than a wedding. A wedding has strange customs and complex requirements that must be met to be considered "successful." A party is successful as long as most people have a good time, and no one gives a shit if the napkins match the cake.
posted by lovelylucy at 6:47 PM on October 13, 2010

I disagree with a lot of the previous comments. If you don't care about the wedding then it makes sense for the person who does care to do the planning. But you've made it pretty clear that you do care and that you don't really want a big wedding. You don't want all the stuff that goes along with it. Well, that means that you two are going to have to get together and see if you really have what it takes to be married

By coming to a mutual agreement. Compromising. The "C" word.

He doesn't get a big wedding just because he's willing to plan for it and you don't get a small one just because you hate weddings (I'm not a huge fan of weddings myself, to be honest). You want no attendants and he wants seven a side? How about three? The rest of his buddies can be ushers (they won't care. They really, really won't).

There are lots of ways to cuts costs if you are creative (unfortunatly, most of them start with "invite fewer people"). I went to a wedding that was catered by Outback Steak House (good food, too). I've been in weddings in backyards, city parks, and even an aquarium. A wedding doesn't have to be in a church and it doesn't have to be officiated by a priest, rabbi, high priestess, or anyone else official (check local laws). I've been to four weddings that were outdoors, in public (or mostly public) locations, and officiated by a friend/family member (including my own). It can be done, but you have to do it together.

Good luck.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:49 PM on October 13, 2010

Oh, and skip the rehearsal + dinner. Rehearsals are for performances. A wedding is (ideally) not a performance.
posted by lovelylucy at 6:52 PM on October 13, 2010

As someone with a degree in liturgy who just performed a wedding this weekend, please don't skip the rehearsal. Weddings are not performances, but they are ceremonies most people do not participate in on a regular basis. It takes all of twenty minutes to walk through it and find the problems. And you will always find problems.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

My wedding (in '94) cost under $1000, and that included my dress, and we had about 200 guests.

We did not hire a florist, or a photographer, or a cake-maker, or a caterer. I was lucky in that I had friends and family who wanted to make food for the reception. (I know not everyone can count on that, and you don't want to be presumptuous asking for it.) We covered all the supplies. The reception, which was lovely, was in my parents' backyard. My sister made the unprofessional but delicious cake, a spice cake topped with nasturtium blossoms.

There's nothing I've ever second-guessed about the wedding or reception, except that we didn't have alcohol at the reception (and that is a sizable expense, granted). Probably my best advice for cost-saving would be:
1) Do your own flowers. My wedding was in October, and we just picked wild bittersweet and tied it in bunches with ribbon. You can do just about anything with flowers; it will be beautiful.
2) Skip the photographer. Get friends to take lots of candids; they are so much more fun than the formal pictures anyway.
3) Find an inexpensive dress that you love. Since you don't want the "big white dress" wedding, just find something simple and elegant that suits you. The one featured in this recent askme question is beautiful and only $65.

Oh, and YES, let your boyfriend do the planning, if he wants the big ceremony! You can gamely chip in with help and opinions, of course, but there's no reason the bulk of this ought to fall on you.
posted by torticat at 8:27 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tips also wanted on ways to plan low-stress weddings, the kind where there's minimal craziness and high school level drama amongst the couple and the wedding party/family members/vendors.

A relative offered us her lovely large lakeside backyard for the wedding and reception. Once we had the location down, the planning went like this: if it seemed important to us, we arranged it. If it didn't seem important to us, we skipped it. If it turned out to be stressful, it didn't happen. We had a pretty big wedding (location meant that EVERY relative in the area stopped in, and they all had laaaarge families), but it ended up being very nontraditional and just what we wanted--and very, very low-stress.

People who tried to impose stress were told to either handle it themselves if they really wanted (whatever they were antsy about), or to go away and not come to the wedding either.

Among other things, we had a serve-yourself BBQ buffet and a watergun fight after the ceremony. We ourselves MC'd the ceremony, having taken care of the paperwork a few days beforehand. We had a prerecorded song mix that we played. It was really just delightful. I think our total cost was less than $3000. And we got a big, fun party--that we actually got to enjoy, most weddings notwithstanding--with lots of friends and a lot of family and a whole ton of semicousins who just stopped in because they heard "(mom-in-law)'s oldest is getting married here today!" That's worth some money invested, even if it seems frivolous.
posted by galadriel at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2010

One word of warning from someone who got married recently. The minute you decide to invite and feed hundreds of guests, especially out of town guests, things can get very expensive very quickly. People do have cheap large weddings, but keeping the price down frequently requires more effort on the part of the bride, groom or family. Many of the suggestions you're going to see for keeping costs down (do your own flowers, be your own DJ, make your own cake, have a potlatch) take time and energy which it sounds like you don't want to put into this.

In my experience, it was always a trade off between time and money. If you're not interested in spending much of either (which is completely understandable), then you should talk to your partner about what he's willing to give up or DIY to keep costs down.

One of the best ways to get around this, depending on where you live, is to look at venues that offer packages. We did not choose this option, but it would have simplified our lives. Many places will take care of the catering, alcohol, linens, DJ...basically the whole set up for a fixed price per guest. In my area at least, they're pretty well priced, especially if you choose a day other than Saturday. You don't get to personalize things as much but it doesn't sound like you care about your napkin colors very much anyway (I certainly didn't). You and your partner could choose a venue together and then he could manage whatever follow up was needed.
posted by oryelle at 3:25 AM on October 14, 2010

(I posted earlier) I was getting the feeling that you were most concerned with spending the money... My wife and I found that the less money we wanted to spend, the more planning we had to do.. At the end we wound up delegating. Once all your friends and family hear of the type of wedding you're trying to throw, they will probably all volunteer to help.

One of my best friends was the DJ. Another of my good friends ran a grill all day. Another friend roasted a pig. We had three volunteers to take photographs all day (which came out incredible, most of them look like a full time professional took them). A good buddy brewed and brought a keg of his own beer. A bunch of women got together and helped decorate the place. The next day, we had a few good friends stay behind to help break everything down...

When people ask if they can help, say "yes". Delegate!
posted by Glendale at 4:16 AM on October 14, 2010

Absolutely he should be doing the bulk of the planning.
But a suggestion: destination wedding. The place (hotel, cruise ship, whatever) has planners that do the planning for you AND most people can't afford to to go or won't, so it cuts the cost (but you still get to register and even if they don't show up, they usually get you gifts anyway)
posted by Neekee at 8:33 AM on October 14, 2010

« Older I just took a job. Should I continue looking for a...   |   I want to change careers, but not sure what to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.