Golden sunset photos – $2500. Wild, messy-but-perfect flowers – $600+. Custom made gown and shoes – $2500. 3-course dinner for 120 guests – $7000. Hair and makeup for the bridal party – $800… and the list goes on. It’s easy to see why many young couples are starting their married lives under a whole lot of stress and a mountain of debt.
When every guest has a phone camera, and you just know your day will be plastered all over social media, it’s tempting to plunge yourself (and your friends and family!) into months of intense preparation and tension, not to mention debt. We had a chat to a few brides who seemed particularly chilled and happy on their big days. How did they manage to shake off the stress and just enjoy?
At Sara and Josh’s wedding, all the flowers were grown by Sara’s dad. Hearing that his daughter had her heart set on sunflowers, but was working within a very tight budget, he cleared his gardens and dedicated his backyard to growing sunflowers. It truly was a labour of love and added an incredibly personal touch to the whole day. Sara’s mum made the cake herself too – their love for their daughter was visible wherever you looked.
Unfortunately, in the summer heat, the cream cheese icing melted and slid off the cake, but Sara says it was no problem.
“The things that go wrong like that, you just can’t worry about them. Don’t take it too seriously. And anyway the cake was delicious.”
Once Caralise and Will got engaged, they quickly came up against what Caralise calls a “wedding culture”.
“Society tells you, as a bride, that it’s your day, it’s all about you, so just do what you want. But we didn’t agree with that. Yes, it’s about the bride, but mostly, it’s about a marriage. Not just a wedding day.”
Feeling the financial pressure, Caralise and Will found some ways to involve their family and friends from their church community who had offered to help. They decided to cater their own reception, which saved them thousands of dollars. Caralise made a deal with her local second-hand shop to purchase all the crockery and cutlery she would need to serve 120 guests for just $60 – and then she re-gifted it afterwards. She bought meat from a roast shop and guests brought sides to share. A local school had teens raising money for an overseas trip – so Caralise hired them to be waiters.
Her advice to future brides: “In ten years, no one is going to remember if their plate and cup were slightly different. Don’t spend too much on things that don’t really matter in life. Concentrate on the important things, like your marriage vows and your relationships.”
Joanna is one of the few brides who can describe her wedding as “pretty cruisy”. Her main focus was making sure all her guests had a good time, but she also wanted to honour her family. Instead of spending big bucks on floral centrepieces, the venue was kitted out with family heirlooms. Books, dolls, silverware, photos and ornaments decorated the tables and got the conversation flowing.
“I wanted the wedding to mean something to all the family. I wanted people to be happy, enjoy themselves, and get a feel for who we are – I wanted them to feel part of the family.”
We each get to decide what our wedding day will be about – so why not make it all about how it feels, and not how it looks on Instagram.