The Little Wedding in the Woods and What it Taught Me
I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Millennials (and I really dislike that term because it has a very negative connotation) are opting for more simple weddings, where the focus is more on them and wanting a more personalized experience for their guests. I thought that was interesting considering that, for so long, the trend was formal and somewhat elaborate.
A few months ago, I attended a wedding that, while the couple was not a Millennial couple, fit that description and it left me with a new appreciation for weddings.
I’ve been to many weddings in my life…the smallest being around 75 people to the largest being over 250 people. They’ve been in hotels, historic estate lawns, tents and extravagant ballrooms. They’ve been DIY weddings and elegantly planned by professionals. They’ve had very short ceremonies and some have had longer religious and ethnic ceremonies. I’ve been in weddings and I’ve been a guest. I’ve traveled and stayed local. But this wedding…this little wedding in the woods left me speechless – speechless in a good way.
The wedding was small, about 25 people, just immediate family and close, close family friends, as in friends who are like family. The ceremony took place in a chapel in the woods of their local church. No bridal party, no bride or groom sides to sit on, just a very romantic humble setting for an even more humble and perfect union.
The wedding was not just a wedding, but a weekend full of festivities starting from dinner the night before, to an impromptu gathering of almost all the guests in the hotel lobby after dinner, to brunch the next morning. Everything about it was…well, perfect!
So, here’s what the little wedding in the woods taught me:
Bigger is not always better:
I’ve spoken about this before and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too, that sometimes couples think a wedding is a competition. That their wedding has to be better than everyone else’s, that their wedding has to be so over the top that guests will never forget it, that they have to invite everyone they’ve ever known and make it this big spectacle. There have even been studies that suggest that couples who have larger weddings also end up with a higher divorce rate because they see their wedding as the finish line, not the beginning of a lifetime together.
Having a small wedding gives guests the opportunity to talk with one another, learn about each other (if some have never met before), see folks they haven’t seen in a while and catch up.
Small weddings also give you more control. You have the chance to speak to all your guests and gives guests the opportunity to speak to you. There is also less likelihood for something to go awry because there aren’t as many moving parts.
Family comes first:
The best thing about weddings is that it’s the only time you will have EVERYONE who has meant something to you in the same room. The unfortunate thing is that it’s the only time, most likely, that that will ever happen. That’s the one thing I miss about my wedding: seeing so many friends and family members together in one room. We’ve tried to recreate it, with birthday parties or vacations, but nothing brings people together like a wedding does.
If you have a close family, especially if it’s a small one, and really want to make each member feel important consider a small wedding. Each member of the family can contribute in a special way without feeling left out and without you worrying if someone’s feelings will be hurt.
No dancing…No problem:
Believe me when I tell you that I am all about getting my groove on out on the dance floor. It’s fun and you burn calories at the same time…win-win! But weddings don’t always have to have dancing…and that’s OK!
This was the first wedding I ever attended that didn’t have dancing, and you know what? It was still fun! We were still able to do everything you’d do at a wedding with dancing; enjoy cocktail hour, enjoy a nice dinner, the only difference was that the part of the ceremony where you’d normally be dancing, you were talking. Once folks got a few drinks, and ate, the stories and laughter just never ended. This leads right to my next point.
Experience matters most of all:
Many think that to have a great experience, a wedding needs to be over the top, when the reality is, experience is a very personal feeling. You can have the biggest, best wedding with all the bells and whistles and not everyone will like it, same with small weddings. For some guests, small weddings don’t cut it. They want to be wowed, and if not, they aren’t going to have a good time. So, the moral of the story is “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself!” (BONUS POINTS: if you can name the song that came from…hint, it’s an oldie)
If you want to know how to give people an awesome experience at your wedding, make them feel special, like they are a part of it. That’s really what it boils down to. Small or large, if you can make your guests feel important, make them feel like they are part of your big day beyond just sending them an invite, the more they will remember your wedding as one they had the best time at.
Small weddings = Easy-to-manage = stress-free day:
With bigger weddings, there is a lot to stress about because as I mentioned, there are less moving parts.
Worried about having to cut people because you are over budget? If you purposely plan to keep it small, and let people know, people won’t be expecting an invite and you won’t have to worry about inviting people you don’t really want. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of money because you won’t need a big space or have so many mouths to feed.
Worried about getting to speak to all the guests while still having time to eat? With a small guest list, you become part of party and you can have the time to talk to every one of your guests.
Worried about all the little details or the drama? Well, if you have a small wedding, you don’t need a bridal party, you don’t really need a seating chart, you don’t have to worry about a lot of decorations or florals, and you don’t have to worry too much about a rehearsal.
Worried about spending too much and staying within budget? With a small enough wedding, you don’t have to worry about finding a big enough space, spending a lot on invites, or needing a big cake, a big bar or any other item that takes a chunk out of your total spending.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you want a small wedding or one on the larger side?