I am out of town, but a few people volunteered to contribute guest posts while I am away. Here is Rachelle to talk about how she made her “big” wedding feel smaller and more intimate.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about marriage (and all relationships, really) is that you have to learn to compromise. For us, planning our wedding was one of the first important compromises we had to make. I had always dreamed of eloping but my now-husband really wanted a full on wedding to celebrate our marriage with the people we love.
We ultimately decided to go with the “big” wedding but we worked hard to find ways to bring some of the simple, intimate elements of the elopement I wanted to our wedding day.
Here are a few ideas you can consider doing to make your wedding a little more like an elopement:
- Limit your guest list. We decided to invite family and close friends only. It wasn’t always easy to explain to our parents why they couldn’t invite their own friends (especially when those friends had been invited to our siblings’ weddings) or to handle the awkwardness of not inviting any coworkers, but in the end it was worth it because we preserved a feeling of intimacy that was very important to us.
- Skip the large bridal party. We chose to have my sister and brother-in-law serve as our maid of honor and best man and they were the only people who stood at the altar with us. The four of us were also the only people in the processional (no parents, grandparents, small children or dogs!). You could even skip the bridal party completely – we still had bachelor/bachelorette parties and got ready with our close friends the morning of the wedding without having them as official bridal party members.
- Get ready together. The night before the wedding, we slept at our apartment like we always do. We woke up together in the morning and got bagels and coffee before heading to the venue. We chose to separate for the actual “getting ready” part but doing that together would also be a wonderful way to work in more time with each other.
- Say your vows in private. Before the ceremony, we met up alone and read each other private letters we had written. We consider those letters our “private vows” and have not shared them with anyone since. I love that we are the only people in the world (well, and our lovely photographer) who know what those letters said. Our legal ceremony in front of all our guests included standard, traditional vows.
- Keep the ceremony simple. I wrote our ceremony myself and made sure it was poignant but brief. The officiant made a few remarks about marriage that I pulled from various popular wedding readings but we didn’t have anyone do full readings or sing.
- Run away for some alone time. Directly after the legal ceremony, we went back to the bridal cottage to eat and have little time alone together before going to the reception. It was so nice to sit still for a few minutes and just take in the feeling of being newly married.
- Have a private last dance. After the giant dance party that was our reception (a huge plus to having a “big” wedding!) everyone went outside to get ready for our exit. During that time, we had the DJ put on one last slow song that we danced to completely alone. Our last dance ended up being more meaningful for us than our first dance because we could enjoy being together without the awkward awareness of everyone staring at us. It was definitely one of our favorite parts of the day.
In the end, I loved our “big” wedding but I was also extremely grateful for all the things we did to preserve the sense of simplicity and intimacy that I had always dreamed of.