Not every wedding choice has to “mean something”

Guest post by ohrachael

CelesteSteve92311sm-62Almost as soon as I got engaged, my mother showed me a small collection of assorted milk glass vases she had at her house. “Do you want to use these for decoration at your wedding? Because I can start collecting more if you do. They're usually like two dollars each.” I took a picture and, when I got home, showed it to my fiancé. “Sure, why not,” he said. I texted my mom. “Milk glass sounds good let's do it.”

Milk glass doesn't have any personal significance to us. I have no idea if it's something a lot of people like or not. It was available and inexpensive and I thought it would look cute with some giant brightly colored paper flowers.

I see this attitude a lot, about weddings, where everything is “supposed to mean something.” Though, really, I'm sure we Offbeat Brides do this too, without necessarily meaning to. Example: “I see everyone else doing [wedding trend], but I'm doing it for [REASONS OF PERSONAL SIGNIFICANCE], so my use of [trendy item] is like SOOO much more valid than that wedding on [traditional wedding blog].”

Like I said, probably reading too much between lines. And… okay, yeah, exaggerating a bit. But here on Offbeat Bride, where everyone is doing their own thing, doing what they love, and not giving a flying fuck about trends, it can feel like, “But what if I just… like something?” And, yes, that something can be trendy. And that's okay.

The other day I was at a restaurant where water was placed in frosted clear wine bottles all over the table. I liked it. I thought, “I should start saving clear wine bottles! This is cute!” Not meaningful. Just cute.

Before we got engaged, I had this grand notion that every little choice that we made about our wedding was going to be somehow representative of us. Now I can't imagine doing that without going crazy from the stress.

“Wait, but Mike, these lavender vases are about two shades off from the exact color that represents my love for you! Are they two shades off in the other direction from your love for me? Because then they'll be PERFECT.”

I understand now that what's going to best represent us as a couple will be to not actually care all that much about our centerpieces, the silverware, or chair covers. What will better represent us will be to say, “Hey, does this work for you?” “Sure, why not?” “Okay great done.” And we can save our energy for the things that we do care about, like how many dinosaurs I can fit into our décor and having amazing food and a venue where we feel comfortable.

If some of the easy “Sure, why not?” decisions along the way happen to take us in a trendy direction, I'm okay with that.

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Comments on Not every wedding choice has to “mean something”

  1. Sadly, I think this over-emphasis on “meaning” is the dark side of trying to have a wedding that’s an authentic reflection of you and your partner. For some of us, the pursuit for authenticity (WHAT DOES IT MEEEEAN) can feel like just as much pressure as the pursuit of a big white expensive wedding day.

    As other commenters have pointed out, “what does it mean” can be as simple as “it means I didn’t have to worry about it too much,” which is an awesome value to authentically reflect!

  2. hehehe, my thing that I really wanted that had no meaning whatsoever was blue water glasses on the reception tables. I have no idea why, but in my mind blue water glasses made it fancy (also, I just like the color blue). Thankfully, the restaurant of the hotel where we held our wedding had blue wine glasses -though they didn’t normally use them for catering- and were cool with ordering extras just so that we could have them at our reception and then they’d have extra backup glasses.

    We also wanted bananas foster, we lit that shit on fire instead of cutting a cake! No real reason other than I have major nut allergies and was terrified of being accidentally poisoned at a cake tasting. No real significance to us in bananas foster other than who doesn’t love ice cream and flambeed bananas in butter and rum?

  3. Crud. Everything we picked just happened to be something s personal. Now it feels like of embarrassing…like it’s over the top and “me me me” 🙁 I think we just picked everything based on how good it made us feel.

    The colors, the invitations(hand drawn because we’re artnerds) the decorations are stuff we own and hold memories. The ceremony pieces are all things we made together. The date itself is the day we finally stopped being a long distance couple. The music consists entirely of songs he used for Valentines day mixes for me(Happy Hardcore, yeah!) the favors are a part of our rave-y culture. The freaking cake toppers are baby seals because we’re passionate about baby harp seals(and own two stuffed ones that live on our bed)

    No…wait…wait…the food. No emotional attachment to the food. We’re cooking it ourselves but the menu isn’t a throwback to our first date or anything…yes, we’re normal! and…candles, I guess? Candles just make me think of hot sex, that’s a personal detail maybe.

    • Nah, the point isn’t to feel bad! The point is that doing what’s right for you might mean some things have personal significance, and other things might not, and that’s it really doesn’t matter either way. And as Ariel said upthread, that the pursuit of authenticity, while worthwhile, doesn’t need to make you crazy.

    • Like Megs said: Don’t feel bad because you’re personalizing everything! You’re getting WIC whiplash!

      I have a couple of things that aren’t significant to me… the food, my shoes (they go with the dress, and this is all), my fiance’s suit (yet to be decided–the cheapest one they have in black at the rental place), a few other things. But most of it SCREAMS the manchild and me as a couple, and as individuals. And that’s fine.

      Cheap plastic cups–completely nonrepresentative of anything I am. They’re just cups. On the other hand, my mom’s making my dress, and making it highly personal–there will be a hidden kraken.

      The goal here is to do what makes YOU feel best. If that’s oh-that’s-cute-let’s-do-it, great. If it’s metaphor and allusion and everything referring to you, that’s great too.

      That’s what OBB is all about. Do you. Give zero fucks about what anyone else thinks.

      • Love your hidden kraken. I am totally borrowing this idea to have a hidden “something comforting” also.

  4. I think “I like it” is meaningful enough, honestly. I would try to cram everything I love–peaches, cats, purple things, Vulpix–into the wedding if my partner would let me XD

  5. Reminded me of this:, and Gretchen Rubin’s concept of sufficers vs maximisers. I’m usually a sufficer – evidence: I just got a new cell phone, because my contract hit an end and they offered me a cell phone with the new contract, free. The guy wanted to talk me through allllll of the darn cell phones and I said, look, does this one take pictures? Good, I’ll take it.

    But, I still get all maximiser about the odd thing – like, say, the cake. Have I checked every baker in town? Have I tried all the flavours? Am I sure about this frosting? When actually: this cake is lovely, I’ll take it.

    On the other hand – trying cakes at every bakery in town has its upside…

  6. Our Save the Dates will have a TARDIS on them, and the invitations will be Harry Potter themed. I keep having moments of “what will our families think when they get this?” and my fiancé just tells me “So what? we like it. thats all that matters.” Is our wedding Doctor Who themed? not really. Does Harry Potter hold some significance to us as a couple? nope. We just like them, and we want our wedding to reflect what we like. Honestly, I can’t think of any reception detail yet that has any real personal meaning to us. Its really just a mix of stuff we like and things that we thought looked nice and they were cheap or free, so we said “cool, we’ll use that!” For me, the ceremony is where I feel I should spend my energy picking things that have meaning. Not the chair covers or programs or whatever, but the words we will be saying to each other. The things we will say and do to express our commitment to each other are the things that should be meaningful, not what kind of decorations we choose for the party afterwards.

  7. Ugh, yes. I am getting married in a month, and our wedding will have TONS of meaningful details……aaaaand just as many non-meaningful ones.

    I always find it awkward when people ask me questions about details, because the conversation always goes like:

    Curious Guest: Soooo, I hear you’re wearing green? Is there a reason for that?

    Me: YES, I’m wearing green because I have synesthesia and associate that colour to myself. My partner is wearing the shade of blue that I associate to him 😀

    CG: So I guess those are your wedding colours?

    Me: Welll….uh, not exactly. There are also a lot of multicoloured rainbow things. Rainbows are AWESOME 😀

    CG: I guess rainbows are really MEANINGFUL to you?

    Me: Uh, no, not really, I just couldn’t stick to just a few colours. I hope it doesn’t look cluttered 🙁

    CG: Oh…that’s cool, I guess. Also, what is with the coat of arms on my invitation

    Me: OH, YEAH. That’s another really meaningful detail – we do a lot of medieval roleplaying and we made a whole coat of arms that represents us! It’ll be all over the wedding, and there will be foam swords and we’re serving mead. Isn’t that great!?

    CG: Wow, that is super-meaningful. What are you doing for centrepieces?

    Me: Oh, I’m growing fresh herbs in pretty planters! They’re doing great 😀

    CG: What’s the meaning of the herbs?

    Me: They’re cheap, easy, pretty and delicious? I guess it’s weird they don’t really match anything else there 🙁

    And at the end, even though I KNOW that my wedding will be beautiful and meaningful and all that jazz, I’m left questioning whether I should have found MORE meaningful details and kept things more cohesive somehow.

  8. I agree. I also think that these things are made meaningful simply BECAUSE they were in your wedding, and the memory is tied with them.

    I mostly see this attitude on wedding pins on Pinterest. All that sap has gotta make you gag after awhile!

  9. This is great and the comments are even better.

    There are so many details I don’t care about (what the tables, place settings, or tent look like), some that are just fun (the treasure chest ring box I made, plastic animal escort cards I made, koozies we ordered just cause, etc), and very few I actually care about (which are more about things I don’t want like cake, a first dance, father/mother dances, walking down an isle, or “being given away”). The only truly meaningful thing I’m doing is using my grandmother’s tablecloths and that is honestly more because I hate matchy-matchy and I like the family table look.

    I personally love when I see something online that I planned on doing and thought was original (like putting chalkboard doorknob hangers, on the inn doors, with personalized messages for our guests). Every time in my head I say “hey! that’s my idea.” Then I laugh a little because none of us are as original as we think we are. In the end it’s just about having a little fun with a day that is meaningful all by itself.

  10. Wow, am I late to this party! I just wanted to drop my two pennies here. I’ve been slowly collecting glass jars after we finish eating their contents, instead of tossing them in recycling. I can imagine the projected meaning behind them: “OMG, Ash lurves pickles, and Mr. Ash lurves peanut butter! It’s so meaningful!” Nope, I just like the idea of free vases, and jars will look just fine.

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