January 17, 2010

If you have a minimalist wedding...

... will you regret it later?

(An AskMetafilter question. I put an answer in there, using my Metafilter nickname.)

46 comments:

TMink said...

My wife and I had a small wedding. We invited a few friends, didn't spend a lot, and had a blast. It was the second marriage for each of us, so low key seemed appropriate, and we avoided spending too much money.

10 years and 7 year old triplets later, we are fabulously happy.

Trey

michaele said...

Getting married is a personal commitment to each other so it should be done in the way that feels right for the individuals involved. The big day hoopla should only happen if there is money to burn (waste) and the two people want that kind of party. I think small and personal can be much more meaningful and bode well for the marriage being a success.

knox said...

I read through the metafilter comments. This one cracked me up:

We had a small, registry office wedding... at which I wore shorts and a T shirt and my beloved wore a lovely red silk dress because her sisters and her cousin wouldn't let her get away with anything more casual. Both of us were barefoot...

Later that day we had a reception under a marquee in the back yard at my parents' house, to which we invited everybody we knew. We had initially wanted this to be a bring-a-plate affair, but Mum wouldn't hear of that and paid for catering...

A couple of years earlier, one of my friends had got married to a woman who absolutely had to have the Whole Wedding Experience... Friends I trust to be straight with me who attended both weddings have said they had more fun at ours. I reckon our marriage is happier too, just quietly.

This person is just the flip side of Bridezilla. Appearance is everything.

El Presidente said...

Prof. Althouse,

I just wanted to thank you for leading by example on this. I am in the process of planning a very small wedding based on your Colorado ceremony. The relationship also owes you and Meade a great deal because I don't know if I would have ever thought that a relationship that began online could ever be serious without having watched your love bloom.

k said...

We were married by a minister whom I worked with and there were two witnesses, a friend of my husband's and a friend of mine. I wore a blue thrift store dress, paid about $20 at Uncommon Objects in SOCO. Then the five of us went to eat at Mother's Cafe (all of this in Austin, TX). Went exactly how I wanted it and we have zero regrets. 10 years and one son later, we have the happiest marriage of anyone I know.

Chef Mojo said...

We had a nice, small wedding at my parent's home. Thirty-some family & friends, someone to perform the marriage, and a local BBQ joint catering the food. Inexpensive, intimate and a lot of fun. We gathered everybody in the den, the Justice performed the ceremony and then we had a party. No regrets at all.

I really hate big, formal Bridezilla type weddings. I hate going to them. The "event" overtakes the meaning of what a wedding is supposed to be about.

Donna B. said...

Just one word of advice to brides-to-be... do not have a huge fancy wedding at a big church in a distant town with bridesmaids scattered across the nation... and talk your poor hick momma into making all the dresses for you and them... unless you also have enough money to pay for momma's therapy.

I was so thrilled none of the dresses fell off during the ceremony and reception that I got totally drunk at the hotel bar later.

Seven years later I have little granddaughters and I'm just now beginning to regret giving my sewing machine away.

former law student said...

No. Our marriage has outlasted many that started with a "Queen for a Day" extravaganza.

Weddings are few enough in our family where I hate to miss an opportunity. But as a guest I don't have to front the money or worry that something won't show up in time.

The Gold Digger said...

I wanted to elope. We didn't. Oh man I wish we had because my husband's parents made the experience far more stressful than it needed to be.

bagoh20 said...

Another one of those subjects where nearly everyone will defend the choice they made. So it doesn't matter which you do, but one is a lot cheaper and if you get a divorce, does that change your opinion?

bagoh20 said...

If you keep you weddings small, you can afford a lot more of them.

Chef Mojo said...

Here's a word of advice for small weddings. If you're going to have a cake, it's a great opportunity to have a good cake.

Because, face it, almost without exception, wedding cakes suck. As a chef, I know this for a fact.

For mine, a fellow chef did the cake as a wedding gift. People are still talking about it being the best cakes - let alone, wedding cakes - they've ever had. Nothing grandiose; simply decorated. But really good.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Weddings should be done as the bride and groom wish. Unfortunately, this means lots of wedding pageants. 18 people total at my wedding: immediate families plus grandparents, and 3 friends who all had duties: photographer, ceremony official and reading. great dinner for those 18 afterwards and we will never forget or regret doing it that way.

former law student said...

wedding cakes suck

Isn't structure more important than taste, for a wedding cake? You don't want a multitiered cake crushed by its own weight.

Roman said...

I had a small wedding, a Judge, my wife and me. It didn't last. I will take Rush Limbaugh's advise if I want to do it again. "Find a woman you don't like and buy her a house".

Chef Mojo said...

Isn't structure more important than taste, for a wedding cake? You don't want a multitiered cake crushed by its own weight.

FLS, that's precisely why most wedding cakes suck. There's an emphasis on the visual impact as opposed to the fact that it is food, and should therefore taste good. Most wedding cakes are treated more as engineering than the culinary arts. Dense, tasteless cake. Vegetable shortening icings stabilized with salt and slab fondants. Bah.

However, structure and taste are not mutually exclusive. I had a small cake in 3 tiers. Bottom tier was lemon cake layered with raspberry jam and frosted with lemon buttercream. Next was chocolate layered ganache and frosted with white chocolate buttercream. Top was red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Looked great, structurally sound and good.

edutcher said...

It's not minimalist, it's just simple; something we've forgotten.

Read about a wedding in Kansas around 1855.

Minister: Have him?

Bride: Yes.

Minister: Have her?

Groom: Kinder.

Minister: Done and done. Two dollars.

WV "emsain" What Howlin' Mad Murdock told everybody at the VA hospital.

Larry J said...

If you have a minimalist wedding...

... will you regret it later?


In my case, definitely not. The very week my wife and I married back in 1983, one of the big weekly news magazines (perhaps US News and World Report) had a cover story titled, "Big Weddings, They're Back". It featured couples spending tens of thousands of dollars on their wedding and reception.

My wife and I certainly couldn't afford any of that. We were married by a local minister with 2 witnesses. We're still together almost 27 years later. I wonder how many of those couples featured in the article are still together.

It seems to me some people can't realize that the wedding is a ceremony, commonly followed by a party. The marriage is what comes afterwards. Since one hopes the marriage will last far longer than the wedding, IMO people should pay far more attention to the marriage than to the wedding.

To each their own. Personally, I think spending that kind of money on a wedding and reception is fiscal insanity. You could buy new cars or make a down payment on a house for what some people spend on a party. That some people go into debt for a wedding is even more insane, IMO. It's said that financial difficulties are the leading cause of divorce. Starting a marriage in debt doesn't bode well for the success of the marriage.

Paul Zrimsek said...

One thing to keep in mind if you're considering a minimalist wedding is that Philip Glass' version of "Here Comes the Bride" repeats the first four notes for 17 minutes.

TRO said...

My wife and I were both stationed with the AF a long way from home when we tied the knot and, as a result we had two friends there and my brother who flew over. Twenty-six years later we are still married, but I think she sometimes wishes she had had a big wedding.

I'm planning on big renewing of our vows wedding on our 30th so maybe that will make up for it a bit.

Larry J said...

I'm planning on big renewing of our vows wedding on our 30th so maybe that will make up for it a bit.

My wife and I talked about doing something fancy to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Then we decided we'd rather not spend the money on that and went on a nice vacation together instead. To each his own.

bagoh20 said...

Bridezilla's insistence on a large wedding is proof that you chose poorly.

When I watch that show, all I can think is: RUN DUDE!

Eric said...

If you are happy in the marriage, why would you have any regrets about the size of the wedding?

Also, it strikes me that if you are going to end up having regrets for the size of a wedding, it is better to have to regret a small one than a big one.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No. You won't regret it. Just surround yourself with people who care about you and mean something to your lives: friends and family.

My wedding (second for both of us) 16 years ago was casual. One maid of honor and one best man. After the ceremony we had a big pot luck BBQ with an open bar and everyone had a blast.

It was less important to have all the bells and whistles than it was to celebrate the day.

Plus, the money we didn't spend on a dress that would never be worn again, flowers and fripperies.....we spent on our honeymoon in Hawaii.
RE CAKE: My daughter recently got married in a big bash at a Napa/Sonoma winery. They decided not to have a wedding cake. Instead they had a lot of different and attractively decorated cup cakes displayed on a tiered stand. It was very nice. You could pick one or more different flavors.

Joan said...

I liked the MetaFilter comment to the effect that you should want "to BE married, not GET married."

My husband and I had a tiny wedding, and a "belated reception" six months later before we moved to AZ. Everyone still talks about that reception as "your wedding". Cracks me up.

Fifteen years and three kids later, we have no regrets.

El Pollo Real said...

No regrets here.

tim maguire said...

Had a small wedding, had a great time, didn't spend too much. Was told by guests who had full-on weddings of their own that they wished they'd done what we did.

Synova said...

I would guess that more people regret the huge wedding and the expensive ring.

I got talked into a *large* wedding portrait... that's the only thing I regret. We couldn't afford it and my parents ended up paying for it. I wore my mother's dress, did the flowers myself, and the church ladies made buns, punch, and little paper cups of mints. We had a cake.

Freeman Hunt said...

No.

El Pollo Real said...

That was a minimalist comment Freeman. :)

MadisonMan said...

I suppose you might regret it later if you're the kind of person who spend time thinking What if?

If you accept your life as it's been, then no you won't regret it.

ricpic said...

The wedding is one day, fer krise sake. One frigging day. How much can it possibly mean -- big, little, or in-between? But this, of course, is the man's perspective.

vbspurs said...

I don't want a big wedding at all. Church, priest, me, him, our parents, his siblings if any (I'm an only child), an organist, that's it really. I never thought of having a big wedding when I was a little girl -- now, a big downpayment for a huge house, yes.

vbspurs said...

BTW, the metacritic lady will live to regret not having a nice wedding, as perhaps I will too. Every couple that has had one, has told me that in the end, it was really fun and worth it.

Joe said...

I suppose by most standards, my wedding was minimalist. The only thing my wife and I regret is that we didn't put our foot down about having a wedding apple pie instead of a wedding cake. And yes, I'm quite serious.

My daughter is slowly turning her impending wedding into a minimalist affair. She's decided that dealing with all the crap, like bridesmaids, just isn't worth it. (As an incentive, I told her that if she comes under what is already a fairly small budget, she gets the balance.)

Incidentally, the tradition that the bride's parents pay for the wedding is bullshit. It's lost the context that I was supposed to get a dozen cows or something. What makes it even bigger bullshit is that the groom's parents have many more guests and many more demands. The whole thing just pisses me off.

El Pollo Real said...

I don't want a big wedding at all. Church, priest, me, him, our parents, his siblings if any (I'm an only child), an organist, that's it really.

That's precious Victoria. I hope it works out for you one day. And there's nothing "not nice" about that to regret. :)

Freeman Hunt said...

That sounds very nice, Victoria.

At the time, my husband and I really liked it just being the two of us and the JP. We probably would have gone with just the two of us if we'd known that was possible.

The family wanted a wedding though. So they got a dinner with another saying of the vows a few months later. But since it wasn't our wedding, and we were already married, all the pressure was off. We just let the family plan whatever they wanted. Everyone was happy.

If we were to do it again, I imagine we'd have our families there with the JP, but only if we could still have gotten married as quickly as we did.

Sidenote: At the dinner, there was a wedding cake. It was delicious. (And chocolate.) Wedding cake does not have to be bad. Find a different baker.

Alex said...

I thin its interesting that most conservative people have minimalist weddings and most socialist types have big extravaganza-type weddings. Fascinating! Conservatives are true, salt of the earth people while liberals are scumbags.

Alex said...

BTW, in Sweden people do not get married anymore. They live in "common law marriages" with kids and they are not any less well adjusted then Americans. Let's just do away with legal marriage altogether!

dick said...

Living here in NYC I hear the criticism of the weddings people attend. Either the food was no good or the band was no good or there was not enough booze or the cake was ugly or the hall was not decorated right.

Such a difference from the small town where I grew up. We had a lot of the weddings with gowns, etc but the reception was usually just to serve the cake and maybe a glass of champagne and to wish the newlyweds the best and then you went home. No sit down dinners, no bands. About the only ones different and the ones I also enjoyed were the ones held by the DP's who settled in after WW II. They used to get together and hold weddings that lasted for days with family and friends all pitching in to cook the food as the party progressed and the reception was more of a family reunion than a reception itself. I remember one where my dad baked the cake(s) (plural) for the party. There were 30 guests and we baked a 5-tier wedding cake that had to be delivered down a one lane farm road to the house. We got a call 5 days later and they wanted another cake just like the first one because the party was still going on. Got there and they had 5 tables of food and one to sit and eat outside. Got invited to join the party and got some great stuff to eat I had never heard of before. They were Polish DP's who were brought over by a farmer who was retiring. He rented his farms to the DP's and let them buy them at cost with no interest so they would settle in and become citizens.

That kind of party I enjoyed because it was like a close family reunion. The other receptions like in the city are anathema to me.

prairie wind said...

Simple wedding, fabulous marriage. No wedding cake, no booze, no debt. Good time, though.

Kev said...

(An AskMetafilter question. I put an answer in there, using my Metafilter nickname.)

Found it! Your Metafilter nickname is "St. Alia of the Bunnies," correct?

(I kid; I kid. Your entry was pretty easy to find since every regular Althousian knows the story.)

@Paul Zrimsek: LOL--you beat me to the Philip Glass comment; that was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the term "minimalist wedding."

rhhardin said...

There's really no reason for even the two of you to be there.

Do it all by email.

Synova said...

"There's really no reason for even the two of you to be there.

Do it all by email.
"

I recall something about exchanging gloves in medieval times, or something. I should google it and research because it was really interesting and I don't remember the details at all.

"Such a difference from the small town where I grew up. We had a lot of the weddings with gowns, etc but the reception was usually just to serve the cake and maybe a glass of champagne and to wish the newlyweds the best and then you went home. No sit down dinners, no bands."

Church wedding with a dress and rented tuxes, bridesmaids and groom's men, a cake, a little bit of food and punch in the fellowship hall and toasting the bride and groom, but not a huge sit down dinner, and if you danced, then at the Legion Hall or else a local bar that had a place for a band and dancing. The bar would hire the band and your guests would pay for their drinks.

That's enough commotion, isn't it?

Freeman Hunt said...

I think a big wedding would be a lot of fun if one had a big family. Note, I mean big as in number of guests, not big as in lavish, though I grant that could be fun too.

Reah said...

My wedding was big because my husband's family is big. My family wasn't there though but they were watching via webcam. It wasn't that extravagant. It was just fun because my husband's family is fun to be with. My dream wedding was with lavish decorations and stuff like that, but my simple fun wedding was still the best for me. I love my wedding dress. I think that was the most expensive thing in my wedding.