Offbeat Bride caused me to lower my expectations, and I’m okay with that

Guest post by Sabrina
Photo by La Mariposa
Photo by La Mariposa

Have you ever tried to plan a wedding before? This shit's expensive! I had no idea the costs of things until I started finding out empty buildings with nothing included are $3500 for four hours and a sit-down meal is $75 per person. Suddenly, being a couple of social butterflies seems like a huge financial burden.

We started planning the wedding and our less than $5K affair was suddenly a $10K bash and rising — with no idea how we'd pay for it. So we scaled back down. We revisited what we were doing. We switched our venue to a more affordable one that allowed us to provide our own food and drink. We cut our costs back down to a reasonable, and affordable, number.

If you had talked to me a couple of years ago and said things like “backyard wedding” or “potluck dinner,” I would have smiled and said that was “lovely… for someone else.” Now though? Things are different. I'm a different person in a different relationship with different circumstances.

And I'm a part of a different community. I have read so many incredible wedding stories on Offbeat Bride and I have been moved by Every. Single. One. I have seen hundreds of beautiful pictures from weddings along every possible end of the budget, quirkiness, and DIY spectrums. The pictures are gorgeous but it's the words that really get me. I read about the weddings and feel like I'm connecting with strangers because I am moved by the emotions they are able to portray in such a short summary of a momentous day.

So when I told my partner that we could do a pot luck dinner and that it wouldn't “ruin” the day, I meant it. Or when my mom offered to find a way to throw it at her house if need be, it didn't sound like a horrible idea. Not that we had some incredibly lavish affair planned anyway but cutting back after already cutting back is obviously going to change the festivities.

But you know what wouldn't change? The guy standing across from me. Our vows wouldn't change. Our feelings wouldn't change. The way that he looks at me as I walk toward him ready to become his wife wouldn't change. The most important part of this wedding to me is that he is there.

It's a sentiment that is constantly echoed around Offbeat Bride, that the most important part of whatever fantastically eccentric and unique extravaganza you plan is the love shared between the two people the day is centered around. It's an idea that I thought I identified with before but didn't fully commit to until just recently. Until it really mattered.

As we get closer and closer to our October nuptials, I find that the vision of the wedding continues to evolve but the players have never changed. It's not about the food or the bouquets. It's not about the centerpieces or the venue. Those are special additions to a day that is about us. To be cliché about it, it's the first day of the rest of our lives together — as husband and wife.

Practicing what you preach can be difficult at times, but now, pressed with that exact task, I have found myself with lowered expectations about what the wedding looks like and not in bad way. Do I have ideas about things like the atmosphere and the lovely people we would like to join us? Absolutely, but they aren't the top priority.

What matters most is that on that day, he shows up to greet me at the end of the aisle and he means every word that he says. Ultimately, what matters most to me is that he is there. It's that simple. And I really, truly, mean that. And I am grateful that I do.

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Comments on Offbeat Bride caused me to lower my expectations, and I’m okay with that

  1. This made me cry a bit! I’ve just got engaged and the expense is scaring me a little. This just reminded me that it’s about our love, not getting every little detail ‘perfect’. Thank you.

    • that’s why I’m planning an elopement. $2500 is our budget for the honeymoon/wedding. Ya’know our honeymoon in the town two hours from home. It’s gonna be beautiful, short, sweet and everything we need and want. The family will get to see the video of our ceremony at a dinner my sister is insisting on throwing! =)

  2. I love that you said everything can change but the guy standing across from you. So many brides get caught up in having every detail that the budget is spent 2X and the marriage is an afterthought.

  3. Good for you! we had a VERY budget wedding, and it was amazing. Splash out on stuff that matters most to you and figure out the rest. ($500 venue? ouch, but yes! $7 thrift store dress, YES YES YES! making our own food and cupcakes instead of a wedding cake and dinner? YES! A dry wedding? yes please! )
    I have no doubt your day will be amazing. If you need a little encouragement you can check out our $1200ish wedding right here.
    Some friends and family baulked at the idea that we were doing without so much, but they certainly were not offering to pony up the cash (and we wouldn’t have let them.) I just repeated my mantra, “what is important is BEING MARRIED, the wedding is just to share that with you. How could that not be lovely?”

    • Thank you for sharing this, and your “number”. I’d really like to see more price tags on weddings. I fall in love with weddings that seem simple, pared-down and sweet, only to discover that they’re still $10,000 affairs. Seeing photos of realistically do-able weddings is just as important as getting *inspired*. Even with DIY projects, every added detail to the wedding day is added cost. It’s so nice to be able to KNOW what a wedding in your own price range looks like on sight.

    • Thank you for sharing! The parasols are fantastic and everyone looks so happy! Looking at the pictures all I see is smiles 🙂

    • Seeing your numbers is a huge relief to me! We also managed to snag a $500 venue, which is still a large number, but considering it includes the day before to set-up, the entire day of, and half of the following day to clean up, it’s a pretty darn good amount. 🙂
      I’m hoping that, through all of our other DIY and craftiness, we can keep our final total close to yours. 🙂

  4. I got married last weekend! We went to Stockholm and had a simple ceremony in the city hall! We had three guests, I wore a lovely dress but not white so one I can wear again. I did my own hair, made my bouquet and bought a flower for my grooms jacket an hour before. We had photos taken in the old town just us and our lovely photographer. We went for an intimate meal in the evening. We had no stress, nothing worry about but us! It was perfect, calm and very memorable and it didn’t cost anyway near as much as a traditional wedding! The day was entirely for us and organised by us! He is the love of my life and that’s what matters.

  5. Exactly!! I feel the same way, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s less about lowering expections and more about re-prioritising them. And I can’t thank all the other OffbeatBrides enough for that.

  6. WOW!
    I could have totally written this myself! Hit with the sticker shock of an $8000 venue with a $2000 food minimum, (not including anything else) we realized there was no way we could afford such extravagance without selling a limb or organ or two. Even the October wedding date. Wow! Sista we are two peas in a pod.

    I thought about what was most important to us, the two of us, that is really what it’s about. After going to my brothers wedding and watching those two kids sweating in the sun in front of 200 people they barely knew… and knowing that it put them $20,000 in debt…
    Yep, that is not for us. After boycotting the idea of planning a wedding for a few months I came down to this, I want to have fun and I want my shy mild-mannered husband to be comfortable. We always said that if we were to get married it would be about the two of us and a celebration of our life together. If its in our backyard with our two Boston terriers under foot, my dads prime rib on the rotisserie, moms potato salad, and some homebrew around a fire pit… I will be happy. It may not be a wedding you see in magazines, but it’s mine and as long as we are together and surrounded by love, that’s all that matters.

    • Our original venue had a $3500 food/beverage MINIMUM – but they also include 29% in various taxes (did I mention the local restaurant tax is only %7.5?). Crazy! Yay October weddings – you had me at potato salad and homebrew – what’s the dress code? 😉

  7. Great perspective! I’m glad more brides and grooms are thinking about mindful spending. Starting off a marriage in a mound of debt sounds very stressful. Kudos for thinking about the marriage, not just the wedding.

  8. My wedding expectations changed after I was in my cousin’s wedding, and she was complaining about being “out of money.” I saw what I knew could be cut, what I knew would not be important, what I knew could drag me down that path of No More Money! I’m so happy we had a grocery store catered buffet in the church fellowship hall! No uplighting? no problem! I’m so glad we used a church member to cater the desserts! I’m so glad we didn’t spend oodles of money on “stuff” that had no meaning to us.
    My step-daughter keeps saying “When I get married…” and I keep thinking how much that statement will change over the years.
    Thank you for this article!

    • Yes! Yes! Yes!
      Being part of a wedding while planning my own really put the priorities into perspective. Rather than having the competitive reaction of bigger, better, faster, more… I was like, “We got a house payment and two car payments to make”, monogrammed shot glasses are just not on the high priority list. And when it’s all said and done nobody even remembers that stuff but instead the time shared, the moments, the laughter.

  9. Great article, restores my faith in the weird. Interestingly, I feel kind of the opposite as the contributor. The year plus I spent on OBT contributed a lot to my conviction that as long as our wedding was very “us”, that it would be fantastic, and our family would have fun and be proud of the event we planned. In the last week or two before it, most of my nearest and dearest were really dismissive of the projects I was trying to finish. Somehow I lost control of it, and allowed other people to convince me not to care about things that I wish I had stood up for. Like the instruction cards for how to find our secret hidden guestbook. (nobody knew what was going on, and the 100 stamps hubby spent a year carving didn’t even get used) Or delaying the ceremony by 15 minutes so we could get at least a few wedding photos out back before the sun went down. (didn’t get a single formal wedding photo of the two of us) Or insisting we test out the ceremony music CD on the sound system. (didn’t work) Well, the trip to the courthouse a year ago may have been for us, but in hindsight, our wedding was for our family. Though a lot of our guests had a great time, I’m pretty sure the parents were either embarrassed and/or disappointed. My expectations may have been comfortably lowered, but my parents’ weren’t. My wedding is now a big pink elephant in the room. If anyone talks about it, everyone gets awkward.
    In the grand scheme of the ups and downs of a relationship, the wedding happened when hubby and I were feeling pretty at odds with each other, and I didn’t have any of the wonderful feelings of bonding and togetherness that I expected. The downs come back up, of course, and we are doing fine…but the wedding itself was a very surreal and altogether unpleasant experience, and I felt overlooked and left out.

    • Thanks for this – ups and downs of weddings are seldom reflected upon….. I appreciated your comment. 🙂

      • I agree with Belladonna – it’s always humbling to hear real stories of the not-so-perfectness of weddings too and I think it helps everyone to keep perspective.

    • I’m sorry you felt left out of your own wedding. 🙁 That’s the biggest dread I have about ours– we’re both so unique and our families don’t seem to ‘get’ us, so I’m hyper on top of figuring out what we want and doing it before someone else can throw money at us and say “Now do it my way.”

    • *hugs* That really sucks. I’m so sorry you came out of your wedding feeling like it was such an unpleasant experience.

      Actually- while my own recent wedding was such a fabulous day, I experienced so many different emotions: I felt tired, irritated, awkward, overwhelmed and, yes, very stressed. I was happy, of course, but sometimes negative emotions cropped up…and looking back on them, I freaked out and was all like, “NO! It was meant to be the happiest day of my life!”

      I think in society women are told that their wedding is the happiest day of their lives, no question. Mine was amaazing- but it was definitely peppered with emotions I wish I hadn’t felt. But, you feel however it is you feel, y’know? So yeah…this struck a chord with me, for sure.

    • That’s awful! I’m sorry you had to go through such a trying experience on the day you were supposed to be the happiest.

    • I’m sorry your wedding was not how you had hoped but I appreciate you being honest and sharing that wedding days often come with a whole range of less-than-perfect moments and emotions. I can certainly relate to what you wrote and it helps ease the anxiety a bit to know that others have felt the same way.

  10. Uh-huh!! When we were planning our wedding, our mantra was “we’re going home married” – I knew that almost everything could go wrong (and plenty did) and it wouldn’t matter because we were GOING HOME MARRIED!

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