Both our families are slightly unconventional. My husband's father was raised Mennonite on an apple orchard. To keep with tradition and satisfy his parents, my husband got married, had children, and tried to raise his own family like he had been brought up. After questioning his faith, he decided to leave the Mennonite community, which also meant leaving his family behind.
My husband's mother suffers from mental illness, and he chooses to not have her be a part of his life. He was never close with her side of the family and they do not make an effort to reach out to him. As a result, my husband's family is very small. It is just his dad and brother who will be joining us for our wedding day.
My father was a deadbeat who was in and out of the recovery community for most of my life. We were estranged from his entire side of his family as a result. His sister has stayed close over the years and is the only family member from his side who still keeps in contact with us. My mother was adopted. She and her younger sister were the youngest of 12 siblings and were put up for adoption together to the same home when they were children. Her sister is the only family my mother has ever had.
We decided that our families put the “fun” in dysfunctional
… and that should be celebrated, rather than viewed as a negative. We are proud of the little family that we have, so we decided to put on a carnival-themed wedding to honor our dysfunction.
We researched the many ways to save money to not put stress on our families', or our own, bank accounts. We borrowed our friends' circus tent that they had purchased for their children's birthday years before and made our own games. We wanted to create a wedding day that was full of festivities to match our family's strange dynamics.
Rather than sit around a stuffy dinner table making conversation with strangers, we wanted our loved ones to have a good time and celebrate joining our families into one. It didn't matter how few of us there were. We prided ourselves on the quality, rather than the quantity of our wedding guests.
Our smaller wedding made everyone in our family more comfortable
They weren't expected to remember a bunch of distant relatives names or make small talk with strangers. Our families were able to engage with each other, play games together, and create lasting memories from the first day that they were able to call each other in-laws.
The idea sounded a bit tacky at first and we had to convince our parents that it was a good idea. They loved the concept but wanted to make sure it was tasteful. I always planned on looking classic and wearing white, but of course my silly fiance stuck a red clown nose in his pocket to bring out at opportune times. He wanted to hold true to our theme for the wedding, putting the “fun” in dysfunctional.
It filled my heart with so much joy to see our families enjoy our wacky idea for our wedding. My mother loved watching the juggler that we hired, and my husband's father was a big fan of having all-you-can-eat funnel cakes. I feel that we did a pretty great job combining classy and comical.