My original wedding plan involved a red dress, bridesmaids in black and bring-a-plate-instead-of-a-gift. However, upon the organisation of my actual wedding, though I still went with the red dress, I cut out the bridesmaids and my husband, being Austrian, had no concept of what bring-a-plate was.
My plan was to apply the KISS principle. Like so many before me, I had witnessed plenty of stressed out brides, and decided I wasn’t going to be one of them. If I was super organised, I surmised, surely it couldn’t be that stressful.
Well, I was wrong and right in the end. Because I love organising things, most of it was highly enjoyable. Making lists, crossing them off… heaven! But I have to admit, that even I gave into the stress every now and again… had a couple of mini tantrums and sleepless nights and wondered why we hadn’t just eloped.
So here’s how I cut out some traditions to make our special day a little more us and a little less stressful. Given that neither of us is overly religious and being a bit older and wiser meant that we could DO IT OUR WAY.
Stuff tradition # 1 Long, religious ceremony
My initial goal of 15 words or less was ruined by something called ‘the Monitom’, which apparently has to be read in order for the wedding to be legal. But still, 8 minutes is pretty short. I did toy with the idea of a speedy registry office wedding, but since the cost was pretty much the same, and Thomas’ parents had come all the way from Austria… I figured I could live with a basic ceremony. It was still perfect and there was plenty of emotion… but it was nice and short – an extra bonus for everyone during a windy beach ceremony.
Stuff tradition #2 – white dress
I understand why girls want the white dress… but I had decided from a young age that I wanted red, so I stuck with it. I bought the dress online (you can’t buy a red wedding dress in a shop) and it was exactly what I was looking for. The result: a perfect dress, minimal cost, no help in the toilet required, and actually something I can wear again.
Stuff tradition #3 – that annoying gap between the ceremony and the reception
We did the bulk of our wedding photos before the wedding, thus avoiding the annoying gap. I had to field people’s indignation: “But you can’t see him before you get married!!” Why not, exactly? Tradition and superstition. We had our photographer capture the moment he saw me for the first time, and it was still emotional and beautiful… and also just the two of us. Perfect. So after the ceremony, a group shot and 3 or 4 family photos, everyone headed straight upstairs altogether. I hated the thought that my guests might be enjoying themselves while I was away having boring photos taken.
Stuff tradition #4 – bridesmaids and groomsmen
I’ve been in three weddings already, which is part of the reason why I eventually opted for no bridesmaids. All my former brides got married years ago and are grown up with kids. I hope they’re not upset at not being my bridesmaids in return, but my thinking was that they could just enjoy my wedding with no strings attached. And in Austria, there is simply a best man and a maid of honour. Thomas had his father and I choose my brother as my ‘bridesdude’. And damn he was a good one. I didn’t want a morning of fussing and giggling with girls – just me, my mum, my partners’ mum and my dog. A sleep in, followed by a relaxing but exciting morning – which was exactly what it was.
Stuff tradition #5 – flowers
When I told people I wasn’t having flowers, they looked aghast: “Why not?” And I just replied with, “Why?” Why do I need to carry a bunch of overly engineered flowers down the aisle, only to hand them off to someone the second I reach my man? I understand they look pretty, but I’m not really a flowers girl, and add the extra hassle of having to pick them up on the day… I’d rather do without. Getting married on the beach meant that the backdrop was my decoration. Enough said.
Stuff tradition #6 – no food for the bride and groom
This is one of the things I came across a lot when I was organising the wedding. Everyone said that as the bride and groom, you don’t have time or the inclination to eat on the day. Wrong! I intended to eat my buffet spit roast (with three types of meat) with aplomb as well as enjoy plenty of fingerfood and dessert. And damn if I didn’t manage it. I sat down and made a rule that I wasn’t getting up till my plate was clean.
Stuff tradition #7 – lengthy official proceedings
Cutting out brides/groomsmen and having a best man who couldn’t speak English pretty much kept our speeches to a minimum. I would rather be dancing or chatting with my guests, than making them sit through a whole lot of traditional, boring cake cutting ceremonies or speeches. The only reason I actually had a cake, was because my mum makes wedding cakes as a hobby. But we didn’t cut it on the night because: a. boring, b. everyone was full anyway, and c. usually people forget to take it home, or if they do, they leave it squished in the car for 3 weeks. Thomas did a speech, kept to the basics, and my brother did a toast. It was perfect. And I didn’t cut out all the tradition. We did our first dance (to Lady in Red, of course), and then the real dancing began.
Stuff tradition #8 – being so busy talking to people that you don’t have time to dance
Not this bride! I specifically planned the day so that after the ceremony there was 2 hours before we sat down to dinner. This gave me enough time to get round to everyone for a chat and therefore meant that as soon as dinner was over, I was free to dance ALL NIGHT LONG. Literally.
Stuff tradition #9 – bonbonniere
Bonbonniere. Who can even say that word? Spell it? I understand the concept, but unless you come up with something that is actually awesome, most people just end up throwing them out, or just keeping them because ‘they think they should’. However, in a twist, we actually ended up having them… sort of. We got these totally classless party shots that are popular with the young folk in Austria. Something Austrian, something fun, and something that people can take or leave… and believe me, there weren’t any left at the end of the night.
Stuff tradition #10 – Spending the night before the wedding apart and not going crazy with wedding-night accommodation
I would have been happy to spend my last night as an unmarried gal at my folks house… but with 7 other people including 3 Austrians, there just wasn’t the room. And it worked out perfectly. The two of us got away and had a stress-free night. I ended up booking a simple cabin at the back of someone’s property nearby. Sure, it was basic, but we really weren’t going to be spending much time there. It didn’t make sense to book a 5-star hotel with a Jacuzzi that we didn’t have time to use. We’ll save that for another time when we can really make use of the room.
Stuff tradition #11 – useless gifts
I never wanted to ask for money for my wedding but in the end we had to. Because we were heading back to Austria after the wedding, we simply didn’t have room to carry anything extra. We politely asked on the invitation for a cash donation toward our future lives. And I have kept a record of what everyone gave us, so that now, when we are buying the things we need, we can send people a picture of what they contributed towards.
Stuff tradition #12 – paying wedding prices
Keeping it local saved us a little bit. We hired a life saving club, then organised catering, drinks and entertainment separately. It helped keep costs down, and got us the wedding celebration we wanted. Also, not having all the traditional stuff (like a white dress) helped. My dress cost a whopping $11 to have professionally ironed, instead of the $50 my mum was quoted over the phone. I contacted a local photographer who I found on gumtree, and organised a 3 hour photo shoot. We got great photos, without the crazy over the top wedding stuff and prices. The celebrant, hairdresser, makeup artist and photographer all lived within 2km. It made them happy that they didn’t have far to travel, and was less stress for everyone.