I should say first that I already "did" the big wedding. The first time I got married, I had all the bells and whistles. It was stressful and I was on a budget and DIYing most of it. The wedding (and the marriage) didn't really turn out like I'd imagined, but it, like life, was a learning experience and I came out the better for it.
My fiancé is Adam and our back-story is mushy and romantic, but for all the fairy-tale vibes we are a fairly practical couple. I think Adam had imagined that he'd live out life as a bachelor and he didn't really see himself getting married or having kids. He adjusted admirably to being the "dada" of my Monster and he's done a complete 180 from a lot of the other notions he'd had.
For example - when we started thinking seriously about becoming a couple, we broached the topic of marriage. Adam declared that he wouldn't get married unless he could do it in jeans. I myself could get behind that idea, because I'd gotten heartily sick of weddings and all the crap that comes with them. When Adam proposed to me, I was totally ready to just head to the courthouse and sign some papers. However, Adam soon decided that he wanted to do something "a little" more elaborate than just a quickie courthouse wedding, and then a "little" more, and pretty soon I had almost a full-blown wedding on my hands!
On top of the "normal" couple challenges, Adam and I had to cut through the red tape of immigration. He's from England and my son and I are in America. We had to go through the long process of obtaining a fiancé visa for him. I'm happy to say that he finally got approved yesterday and he'll be living here by the end of the month! Our wedding date is November 18.
I think the immigration department is anti-wedding. First, you just never know when (or if!) you'll get approved so it's impossible to book anything in advance unless you want to risk losing a deposit. Second, we have only 90 days to get married from the time Adam enters the country with his fiancé visa, so forget anything elaborate that has to be planned ahead of time. Most people book a venue and a photographer a year or more in advance. We booked ours last month.
In the interest of saving my sanity, I took a long look at the "normal" things that go into a wedding and cut most of it out. I examined everything and asked myself if it was something I really wanted to do, or if it was just something that I thought I "ought" to do. I wanted to keep things simple and as stress-free as possible.
And now, a list of "5 Wedding Essentials I'm Not Having In My Wedding."
- A Wedding Party. No bridesmaids or groomsmen for us. We're still sticking with a ceremony at the courthouse with only immediate family and one friend each, so it didn't make sense to have a wedding party. We're going to ask Adam's best friend and my sister to witness the marriage license. My son will stand with us (or more likely, he'll insist that I hold him), but no awful bridesmaids dresses or ring-bearers dropping the ring.
- Flowers. I'm not a big fan. They're expensive, they die quickly, and there are too many types for me to choose from. It gives me a headache. I considered having a simple bouquet just to hold in pictures, but I realized that it fell into the category of something I thought I "ought" to have instead of something I really cared about, so I tossed that idea out the window.
- Dancing/DJ. I don't dance. I mean, I REALLY don't dance. I look like an epileptic kangaroo when I try. Our "reception" is just a nice dinner at a restaurant, so there was no room in my plans for a dance floor or loud music. None of my guests are really the dancing type anyway, so I decided to save myself a fortune and just let it go.
- Fancy decorations. The restaurant we chose is pretty and they let me pick the napkin colors. Done deal.
- Favors. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolutely adorable favors out there, but I decided that even with my tiny guest list, it's an expense and a worry that I didn't want. I'd probably accidentally leave them at home the morning of! Besides, I don't think people need a trinket to remember my wedding by.
In the end, we stuck with the things that were the most important to us - an amazing photographer, an intimate ceremony with our nearest and dearest, and some good food afterward with more of our family and friends. I bought a dress; I didn't "find my dream gown." We chose a cake; we didn't hire a confectionary artist. I tried to keep things in perspective and remember that when it comes right down to it, this is just the party and we have more important things to concentrate on - like our marriage.