Weddings – I have been hosting and attending a lot of these lately and most of the time, I am in awe of the bride’s gorgeous and obviously expensive wedding dress, the opulent ornamentations, the fancy souvenirs, and other things that helped create these fairy tale weddings. Whenever I attend these kinds of weddings, I cannot help but gush at how well-prepared and beautiful they are. At the same time, I also cannot help but wonder “Gee, I wonder how much all of this cost?”
It’s a well-known fact that most girls, even at a tender age, already have an idea of their dream wedding. Little girls — before they can even spell the word “marriage” — already map out how they want their wedding to be like, from the flowers to the dress, to the music, to the non-existent groom. And then, these little girls grow up, and some of them decide that their dream wedding is one where they don’t go on debt after lavishly spending on a wedding gown they will never wear again or overpriced flowers that will dry up in a week’s time.
Being in all of these weddings made me realize that I really love big, fairy tale weddings – but only if I’m attending them, hosting them, or eating in them (hooray for free food!). But personally, I would much rather have a simple wedding.
It makes me sad that some weddings have become a spectacle. I once sang at a Chinese wedding held at the most prestigious hotel in the country. There were hundreds and hundreds of guests, and I thought that the couple belonged to a large clan or had a lot of friends. Later, I found out that the bride and groom did not even know a lot of those people at all! They were the friends and business partners of the newlyweds’ parents. That was just preposterous to me. I wouldn’t want to spend hundreds and thousands of pesos on feeding people I don’t even have any meaningful association with. Sad but true: after they have had their fill, some guests would just take off and not even stay until the rest of the reception program.
Sometimes, I attend weddings like these, and as gorgeous as some of them are, I find myself asking this question: “Who is all of this for, really? The couple? Or the guests they or their families want to please?”
A wedding is important to me. I just don’t believe that you have to blow all of your cash on one day when you still have the rest of your lives to think about. I also do not believe that a wedding needs to be grandiose for the couple and the guests to enjoy it. And most of all, I do not believe that a lavish wedding is correlative to a successful marriage.
So here are my reasons why, even if money was no object, I would choose a simple wedding:
1. I want my wedding to be a celebration of love, not a pageantry.
At a friend’s wedding, I heard her aunt – her own aunt! – complain, “what a boring wedding!” I’m not saying she’s a mean old lady for getting bored, but she probably said that because she has been to more, uh, theatrical weddings before. Naturally, she had a point of comparison. But it made me think: the main purpose of a wedding is not to entertain people, but to unite a couple as husband and wife. Of course, I would want a joyous and awesome wedding, but I’m not having one just for the sake of merrymaking. If I really wanted to entertain people, I would rather throw a barbecue in our garden with unlimited beer and night-long karaoke.
2. I want to have quality guests and I want to be able to spend more time with each of them.
I have over 2,000 friends on Facebook but the truth is, family and friends aside, I could count my “true friends” on the fingers of one hand. A lot of people invite throngs of guests for reasons like “Oh, we kind of work together so I have no choice” or “I’m inviting Person A and Person B, and Person C hangs out with A and B so if I don’t invite C, she might feel bad.” Who cares?! It’s YOUR wedding. You can invite or un-invite anyone. And if the people you choose not to invite really do care about you, they would understand. I’m not saying they don’t have the right to feel bad, but they wouldn’t hate you for it. And as for the non-negotiable guests (that is, guests that you want present, no matter what) that you did invite, you can get to spend more time with them on your wedding day. I remember when I threw a birthday bash in a small bar and invited about twenty people. I had to be a social butterfly and hop from one table to another and make sure that everyone was doing okay, pose for photos, and try to join in the conversation whenever I could. That was just a party for twenty people and I was already exhausted! What more if it’s a wedding with a hundred guests or more?
Another advantage of a small guest list comprised only of only your closest friends and family is that you will be more comfortable and you can totally be yourself. There is no one to impress or be on your best charm school behavior for because these people will love you for who you are – even if you have snot running down your nose while exchanging vows with your partner.
3. A simple wedding means less stress in the wedding planning.
June, a former co-worker of mine, told me last year that another co-worker of ours was getting married and wanted us to be her wedding planners and on-the-day coordinators. “Me?!” I asked incredulously. “Is she sure that she wants me – in all of my amateurism – to coordinate the most important day of her life?” I host weddings, not plan them. But the bride, cool and composed, said that yes, she was sure. After all, it was just going to be a wedding ceremony held in a small church and an intimate lunch reception in a small restaurant with just less than a hundred guests, comprised mostly of family and a few chosen friends. What could go wrong, really? (P.S. I personally wouldn’t recommend this, though. It’s best to get an experienced coordinator if you have more than a hundred guests!)
A big and fancy wedding entails a great deal of preparation and systematization. The seat plan has to be methodical. The centerpieces have to be meticulously organized. The choir’s music must achieve that dramatic crescendo as soon as the bride walks down the aisle. And if you could, you would probably edit and proofread your best man’s speech to make sure he doesn’t say anything damning to your reputation. With a simple wedding, you won’t have to stress yourself with making sure that everything is perfect. You just try your best to make sure that everything is done and executed as smoothly as possible. You can just relax and focus on having a good time while sitting pretty on your wedding day. Bridezilla? No sight of her in a simple wedding!
4. A simple wedding is more practical.
If I lived in a perfect world and Donald Trump was my father and Oprah was my mother and they gave me, say, 30,000 dollars to spend on a wedding, I would probably only spend 20% on the wedding and the remaining 80% on life after the wedding. Given, most weddings are already expensive to begin with, but there are various ways to cut down on costs for your big day. All you need is a little imagination. Take my friends Carlo and Mazie, for instance. Carlo is convinced that he looks like the Filipino actor John Lloyd Cruz (keep telling yourself that, Carlo! Hehe), who also happens to be the endorser of the paracetamol brand Biogesic. Mazie, meanwhile, was the voice behind the Beam Toothpaste TVC jingle in her younger years. So for their wedding souvenirs, they gave their guests a small bag with Biogesic tablets and tubes of Beam toothpaste. It was funny, creative, and most of all, inexpensive! Plus, a headache medicine and toothpaste are definitely much more useful than those generic glass figurines that will probably only collect dust in my cabinet. Let me also tell you about this friend of mine who looked radiant in her gorgeous wedding gown. Was it a Vera Wang? A Carolina Herrera? A Marchesa? Nope! She bought it… online! (Gasp!) No one could tell because this gown looked just as good as a designer dress worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And what about my two other friends who are now happily married with a darling baby boy? Believe it or not, their engagement ring was only worth 600 Pesos. Yes, six hundred. I’m not missing any zeros there. And you know what? Who cares? Definitely not the couple! Their ring may have been cheap but their marriage is rock solid.
The wedding is just one part of a couple’s married life. After that, that’s when the serious stuff start to happen – bills to settle, a home to rent or buy, children to raise, educational plans and tuition fees to take care of, healthcare costs to pay for, and a whole lot more. The less you spend on your wedding, the more savings you’ll have left for the more important things in life.
5. I want a wedding that reflects my personality
Each and every person is unique. The same goes for couples. Every couple has their own history, preferences, and personality. The best weddings I have seen are the ones that are most representative of the couple. Even if these weddings were nothing close to the Royal Wedding, they are the ones that are unforgettable because the couple’s nature shone through even the smallest details.
I’m not saying that every wedding needs to have a theme, or even a gimmick, for it to be beautiful and memorable. I’m just saying, it has to be true to who you are. My best friend Christina and I were talking about this before. She knows she probably couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) wear Chuck Taylors with her wedding dress and recite her vows in a wild safari. She admits that it’s just not who she is, and that she’d probably end up looking stupid if she even tries to pull off something too unconventional. She would rather stick to anything classic and tasteful because that is her personality. As for me, I would probably fall asleep at my own wedding if I had to listen to the priest ramble on about how “love is patient, love is kind” in a colossal cathedral (I do like that Bible verse though!), or if I had to do a choreographed waltz with my partner for our first dance. An elegant wedding with chandeliers in a glitzy hotel ballroom and a string quartet playing classical music are all really nice… but maybe it’s not the most fitting setup for beatniks like me and my partner.
Here is a video of my distant cousin Kei. Their wedding was modest. Everything was D.I.Y. There was nothing exorbitant about it. It was just simple and natural, and that’s what made it meaningful. This just goes to show that as long as a wedding is true to a couple’s individuality, it can be worth remembering even if it’s not a regal one.
Read about their super cool yet cost-effective wedding here.
6. A simple wedding leaves more room for resourcefulness and creativity.
If I had all the money in the world, everything would be easy. I could just choose the grandest venue, pick out the most elaborate cake, or hire the most talented artist to create my wedding invitations. No stress! But like what they say, “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.” Because I only have a limited amount of resources, I will then be forced to be more resourceful. This means scouring the physical and virtual market for the most economical wedding gown or crafting the invitations myself (thank God I’m a writer and my boyfriend is a graphic artist!). At the end of the day, I would like to be able to look back on that wedding with my husband and say, “We did it!” I want a wedding that I will be proud of — something that my husband and I will find rewarding.
My wedding will most probably be simple, laid-back, and yes, maybe a little crazy… just like me. It will not go down in history as “one of the most majestic weddings of the century.” It won’t be perfect. In fact, there may be a few bloopers along the way. But that’s okay… because my dream wedding doesn’t have to be a perfect one. My kind of fairy tale wedding is one where I say “I do” to the person I love in the presence of the people dearest to me. That’s it. Simple.