by Maureen Thomson of Lyssabeth's Wedding Officiants
I'm been embracing a more minimalist (more minimalist? I think that is an oxymoron) lifestyle, although maybe hardcore minimalists would beg to differ. While our 2,000 square foot home is hardly Spartan, my husband and I have simplified to the point where we use most of what we own and we don't bring anything into the house without first passing it through a battery of tests. Will it bring us joy? Is dusting it worth it? Will we love it as much a year from now? If it is something we'll use only sparingly, can we borrow or rent it instead? Is the money spent on it worth sacrificing something else in our lives? Does it add too much visual clutter? Is it an environmentally friendly product (oops--there I go with the oxymoron again--I'm not sure anything that needs to be "produced" can ever be totally environmentally friendly)?
Simplicity suits us, and made our recent move easier on our checkbook, our spirits and our backs. It's refreshing to lighten the load; my brain feels clearer and my options greater when I am in a non-cluttered environment.
It occurs to me that this might just be an excellent philosophy for many brides to adopt in planning their wedding. If this is your first wedding, let me let you in on a little secret. You know the post-holiday blues that many of us get after all the festivities and excitement of Christmas are over? The maxed out credit cards stare us in the face; a bezillion tchotchkes need to find new homes in our already stuffed-to-the-hilt houses; we haul bag after bag of torn and discarded wrapping paper and packaging out to the curb; we step on the scale and come face to face with the excess in which we've indulged. We look around our homes that appeared so festive a few days earlier and see only the bedraggled tree with its drooping branches, the equivalent of 12 boxes of holiday decorations that must be taken down and stuffed back into the attic. Then there's the 20 pounds of iced cookies that will either have to be taken to the office or dumped in the trash and FAST before we inhale all of them in our post-holiday depressed state. And we go back to our pre-holiday routine vowing that next year, we will do less, waste less and savor and relax more.
You see where I'm going with this, right? Post-wedding blues can make post-holiday blues seem like a walk in the park. Think about it; after spending up to 18 months or more planning this one day; allocating countless hours, spending a huge chunk of money and throwing the bulk of her emotional energy into this one event, the situation that hits a bride (now a wife) square in the face on the Monday morning after her wedding is all too often steeped in the cold light of an overstuffed reality. No wonder couples take a honeymoon right away! It prolongs the return to earth and all the residual crap that must be dealt with post-wedding!
So, I started to think about how my commitment to a simpler lifestyle could be applied to a wedding. These are not massive steps, but rather small things that can be implemented to avoid a post-wedding-day hangover.
Like we do in our home, I'd advise you to question every item that comes into your wedding. Every item. Do you really care if you wear a veil? Will your guests be able to find a seat at the reception without a hand-painted place card? Do your invitations have to have that little piece of tissue in them? (What purpose does that serve, anyway?) Do you need mailed invitations at all? Will the quality of your day be lessened if your guests don't go home with their wedding favor personalized with your name and date? And what are you going to do with that guest book and its accompanying plume feather pen?
Think about the aftermath of your decisions. If you're buying vases for every table at your reception, what will you do with them after the wedding? When you factor in that someone has to collect them, transport them and store them, is it worth it? What will you do with the six silk flower bouquets that you made for your bridesmaids? Would a couple of fresh blooms tied with a ribbon make more sense? Those 45 framed photographs of you and your new hubby that document the precious years of your life from birth to the present that have been strategically placed on the dinner tables must be collected afterward--your mother-in-law will kill you if you lose the only photo of her son's first bath. And then what will you do with them? Even Narcissus wouldn't have that many self photos in his home.
Reduce the number of props you'll need for your ceremony--especially if you have to supply them (and subsequently haul them away afterward). Your officiant does not need a table or podium to perform the service. Better that he or she moves about a bit and engages your guests anyway. And while ceremony additions such as unity candles, rose exchange, drinking of wine, bowls of blessings can be wonderfully creative touches, remember that they all involve stuff. Candles, stands, bowls, bottles, glasses, flowers and the table they sit on all have to be managed post-ceremony.
And while we're on the subject of paring down--consider doing so to your guest list, if that's feasible. Like I said--question everything. Less people equals less money equals less of everything.
Prepare only what you'll use. This is not the time to stock up! You know how many guests will be there. Don't buy 150 bottles of bubbles when you only have 80 guests. You won't need extra wedding invitations beyond one or two for a scrapbook. If you are supplying your own liquor for the reception, you'll want to plan accordingly, but don't go overboard. Anything that doesn't get consumed will have to be hauled away along with the wedding dress, the leftover cake and the 75 pounds of bridal accouterments that adorned you for the eight hours of your big day.
Borrow what you can. This eliminates post-wedding day "what do I do with it?s". Simply return the borrowed item to its owner. No waste, no fuss and money savings to boot. Note that not everything can be borrowed. We assume, for example, that you have your very own groom.
Think dual usage. Bouquets can be arranged in special holders that convert them to reception table centerpieces. A simple wedding dress can be worn again. I know that's considered heresy in some circles, but it is an option to avoid storing your thousands-of-dollars worth of wedding dress in the back of your closet for years until your daughter tells you she has no intention of wearing it and you give it to Goodwill. Ceremony candles can be utilized to give a warm glow at the reception. Ceremony programs can be made in the shape of fans to cool your guests on a hot day,
Minimize debt. The clutter of a charge card statement running over with expenses you can't cover post-wedding is enough to make any couple wish they'd opted to elope. Starting out married life with an excess of debt is scary. Better to forgo the Hummer limo than have regrets later.