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 is a very timely article for me. Thanks so much for sharing it! I’m the only one who wants all of those expensive and totally worthless things that the WIC wants me to have! My FH is a lot more concerned with the budget and feels more comfortable with the idea of a barbecue so we’re going with that. We also have a lot of out of town guests, but I”m considering asking my family and his family who lives in the town where we’re getting married to make the side dishes to go with the barbecue in lieu of gifts..

  2. I feel exactly the same. I always imagined and dreamed of the big fancy wedding, but when the real planning started happening, I realized the picture I had in my head was never going to come true.
    Still, I don’t care what it looks like now, I know I’ll feel pretty and loved no matter what, because HE will be next to me telling me. That’s all I really want. Goodbye caterers, orchids, Hawaii, hello Pizza and DIY projects!!!

  3. This article is a great example of my wedding planning motto: Have Fun, Be True! Yes, your wedding is about your love. Celebrating at home with a potluck is a gorgeous celebration of community. Your community will keep bringing you their “potluck” gifts over the years of your marriage, in the forms of their wisdom, witness, loyalty, and laughter. Kudos for a truthful and genuine article!

  4. My husband and I started to plan our wedding 6 years ago and quickly became overwhelmed by it all. We also were experiencing problems with our local friends, and two sides of my family hate each other, and my future father-in-law had just died (did I mention I was in my last semester of college?). Whew! Plus I just really really hate being the center of such girly attention (I know, I’m weird). We decided that our priorities were travel & photography, and told our moms that we were getting married in Hawaii — by ourselves.

    They agreed to this (somewhat surprisingly!) and that’s what we did. Just my husband & me, on a beach in Molokai, with the officiant and her husband. That’s it.

    When we came home from a 2.5 week Hawaiian honeymoon, we had professional photos taken at a unique shoot (our families were in town so they participated, and we trashed the dress) by one of SF’s best photographers. We do not regret our path for even one second. Sure, I didn’t have bridesmaids or a big party, but since I’m a wedding photographer, I get to experience a wide variety of them in my professional life, which more than makes up for it.

    This post made me tear up, and thank you for reiterating what is truly important: LOVE <3

  5. Love all of these comments. Our small intimate wedding (of just 3 guests and a photographer) in Stockholm was great, no stress and we still have a very healthy bank balance. I can highly recommend going ‘against the norm’ and just doing it ‘for yourselves’ it is at the end of the day all about the couple and love. Who needs the ‘norm’ when you can do something different that reflects the unique couple you are.

  6. OBB has helped me lower my expectations but also made me realize what things I won’t sacrifice. We are doing things relativley cheap, the most expensive thing being the venue because we wanted a weekend long bash instead of a one day party. But instead of having a caterer or a bar we are doing a casual BBQ and some mixed cocktail stations, kegs of beer, and a little bit of wine (boxed probably). A lot of the things I thought I HAD to have in the beginning are starting to seem over the top and unneccessary.

    I think sometimes the true reason to have a wedding gets lost in the shuffle of trying to make things our own personal idea of “perfect”.

    This a million times:
    “The most important part of this wedding to me is that he is there.”

  7. Thank you thank you thank you. This is so good to hear. I feel like OBB has changed my perspective a lot, too.
    When I first started to look at OBB I thought I was going to think, look at these people settling for less… backyard weddings… pffft. But then I looked at the weddings and I saw people having a blast, turning their weddings into their idea of the coolest party ever. And they are all so beautiful and happy! Look at these happy people! So in love!
    As my wedding planning progressed, I realized that our special day is OUR Special Day, and that we have the chance to throw a party for all of our loved ones. As I kept planning, I got farther and farther away from that Hollywood/bridal magazine vision of a wedding and saw more and more movement towards the kind of party I want to attend. Our wedding has totally transformed and our budget, surprisingly, has shrunk as it became more of our kind of party. See, we’re not bridal-magazine kind of people. We’re let’s-dance, let’s-eat, let’s-enjoy-nature people. And I am so, SO thankful to all the brides here who have shared their stories!

  8. Why do you have to “lower” your expectations? Try making your expectations realistic. Instead of going for the caterer that always does weddings that charges $75 a head, go to your favorite neighborhood restaurant, and they might do it for $10 or $15 per person. You don’t have to have a backyard or potluck wedding just because you lack funds. You just can’t lack creativity when planning a budget event, but you can do it if you are smart!

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