My husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage last month. We decided to splurge, and headed to New York City for four nights. It was fabulous! We ate amazing food, saw the sights, and even stuck to our resolution that while we were there, we would not hurry to get anywhere. It was so good for our souls, AND our marriage (it was our first real vacation since 2006, before the kiddos came along!).
Anniversaries always make me wax nostalgic, and Shaun and I enjoyed reminiscing about the time we spent dating, our engagement, and the wedding itself. If there were ever a contest for the simplest wedding, I think ours would be a pretty solid contestant. It’s still probably the simplest wedding I’ve ever attended.
Back when we got married, we were young and idealistic. We planned to move overseas after getting married, and we didn’t want to accumulate a lot of “stuff”. In the same vein, we scorned the excesses of the wedding industry and rejected the idea of an expensive, extravagant affair. In the words of Dewey Finn, you could say we had a bad case of “stick-it-to-the-man-eosis”.
So, it was a simple wedding. Really simple. We reserved a pretty little city park in the middle of downtown for $60. We rented white folding chairs, and we asked a talented artist friend to do our flowers. Some other friends provided the music. I wore a white linen sundress that I found at TJ Maxx, with little white sandals, and I asked my two bridesmaids to wear sundresses of their choice. The men wore khakis and guayaberas. My dad even wore a Hawaiian shirt!
The reception space presented a little conundrum, until my aunt and uncle offered their home. Perfect. We asked four friends to each make one cake, and our biggest splurge of the event was that we catered a bar-b-que dinner, so everyone could go home with full bellies. It was simple, and it was all we wanted. We were deliriously happy.
Of course, we were young and poor, and totally constrained by finances, so it’s hard to say if we would have done it differently, had we had gobs of money. But honestly, I don’t think so. After it was all said and done, we heard a lot of feedback:
“I loved your wedding!”
“Your wedding was so YOU!”
“Man, you guys had the coolest wedding EVER!”
(I think that comment was from a fellow sufferer of stick-it-to-the-man-eosis.)
Today, if we were going to get married, would we do it the same way? Honestly, probably not. But that doesn’t mean that we would go all the way to the other end of the spectrum, either.
After all, the wedding industry is anything but simple. It’s designed to suck us in and make us want to blow our budget on the ultimate event. All the “must-haves” can quickly add up – and I got married long before the days of Pinterest. But I can also understand the desire to make the day truly magical.
Interestingly enough, there have been some articles in the news lately about the correlation between happy marriages and cheap weddings. If those studies are true, then the odds are definitely in our favor. And it’s pretty obvious that starting off a marriage by going into debt to pay for the wedding is no bueno.
So, we looked at it like this: it’s just one day. One very important day, yet still – only one. But now, we’d probably do it differently. We might invite more people, or serve different food (I’m not even much of a bar-b-que fan!). I might wear a fancier dress, or choose a different location…who knows?
The point is that we no longer have the desire to buck the system simply for the sake of bucking. It’s okay to splurge and celebrate a wedding. It’s wonderful, actually (as long as you can afford it). Life is full of moments that are worth celebrating, that are worth the splurge. And we are learning to do justice to those moments.
As with everything, it’s finding the balance that’s the challenge. In the face of our comparison-driven culture, it’s not always easy. We can get swept up into thinking that every possibility is a “must-have” without even realizing it.
10 years down the road from our sweet little wedding, we look back on it with great fondness and affection. But honestly, it’s everything that’s happened since then that really matters. Weddings last a day, but a marriage will (hopefully) last forever. I’m glad we did it simply.