How to Have the Perfect Low Cost Wedding
I was thinking about weddings this week. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the post about my 'End of Summer Essential' jumper and you may have witnessed the subsequent outpouring of capitalised thoughts on weddings.
In thinking about weddings, I thought back to my little sister Marion's. What a wedding it was. Not a normal hotel reception or manor house kind with bow-backed chairs and round tables, guests sticking together in their comfort clusters as staff weave in and out with trays and top ups. Instead it was the perfect low cost wedding - a village hall and a great team of family and friends doing all the work; setting up, collecting stuff, serving, clearing, eating, dancing, playing instruments and washing up across the whole weekend. It was amazing.
I realised something powerful when I was collapsing boxes on the Sunday morning by the recycling bin – the harder you work, the better the results feel. It’s so obvious, I’m sorry it’s so obvious – I have long struggled with the obvious.
If something seems too simple to believe, I have tended to dismiss it. I blame this entirely for my ridiculously disappointing GCSE results in 1989. Take Geography as an example - if the questions asks you to ‘Explain how the hydrological cycle transfers water from one location to another (2)’ all they want is for you to mention rainfall and runoff, but I’d be writing numerous paragraphs on sea temperatures and the wind blowing and clouds gathering and bringing in bathroom mirrors to explain exactly how a cloud becomes heavy enough to fall as rain, talking about altitude and completely missing the two simple words needed for the two easy marks.
That failure to focus on what’s obvious has not always worked well for me and so it’s time to start believing that simple truths can be, well, simply true. It was so true of this wedding. The harder we worked, the better the results felt.
Back to the recycling bins the day after; the thought that struck me was, that we are only really satisfied with a result, when we have put some effort in to get it. Without the effort, there is a feeling of nothing. If you have whatever you want all the time, you will soon be unhappy. How often do we hear of Hollywood stars who are battling their demons despite having access to all and everything they could dream of? When you can have anything, things will have no value to you.
If you are helicoptered to the top of a mountain for an incredible selfie opportunity, your eyes in the picture will not hold the same joy as the eyes of the person who has climbed up every craggy crux to get there. If we had been served at the wedding, waited upon, and cleared away for, we would have missed all the engaging with each other over the washing up, the fridge loading and chair stacking and we would possibly have found something to dislike or criticise about the way it was run.
In terms of weddings, and for that matter, any other big group celebration, what this means is that despite the very real feeling that you 'should' be treating everyone to the most glorious and luxurious day, the celebration is about marking your changed status within your family and community and it's entirely appropriate to bring them all into the day with little jobs to do to create a wonderful time that you will all feel an ownership of, and a huge sense of pride over.
Here are some of the things that Marion and Andy arranged for the day:
They hired the local village hall which had a kitchen where we all brought food and drink to and where we took turns to clear up and wash up.
Andy's aunty grew the flowers and arranged them herself.
Andy's mum made the cake. The cousins helped her to assemble it in the village hall kitchen.
Marion dried petals from all her flowers in the year up to the wedding and these became the confetti.
They bought stationery in a 70% off sale in January and saved it all for the wedding labels and name place cards.
They searched for Kilner and Mason jars in charity shops and used them for the garden flowers on the trestle tables.
The night before, we decorated the hall with huge tissue paper pom poms that we made ourselves after watching a YouTube tutorial.
They organised a team of us to set up the tables and chairs in the hall the night before too - this really helped the day after as we knew how to put everything back when it was time for the dancing to start, and on that note...
They band were all family and friends! (OK, she married a musician...)
We got the bus from the church to the village hall on the day! We all walked over to the bus stop, Marion in her gorgeous dress.
They didn't want 'staff' so they asked different people on the day if they could take over certain duties - pouring prosecco, arranging canapes, handing trays around, collecting glasses, setting the table! We all pitched in and we all loved being part of it. There was a buzz! A community were coming together around the couple.
A friend did Marion's hair and make up, the photographer was a friend.
We came back the day after and got the place cleaned up between us - we were all good friends by this point! The pulling together and doing little tasks throughout the day and night meant that the groups of people from the two different sides really got to know each other and got to share so many funny jokes as the day whizzed along.
So, in answer to the question, 'How to have the perfect low cost wedding' - I would wholly recommend getting your crew involved! See what your community can come together to create. They will be so happy to have a part to play!
This is where the magic of contentment and happiness lie. In the feelings of self-worth that we have from the hard things that we can manage when we pull together.
(Please add any of your own fabulous low cost celebration ideas below! )