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Planning the small and simple wedding

In the late eighties and nineties, many couples planned large elaborate weddings with price tags to match. It wasn't unusual to hear of guests lists of 200 or more people. Couples spend as long as two years planning the big day. Everything is big, elaborate and expensive.

A price tag could easily be anywhere from $25-50,000 for this one day affair. This takes into consideration every detail from flowers, limousines, dresses, rehearsal dinners and, of course, the reception. A per plate price for a wedding dinner can range from $50-100, especially here on Long Island. With 200 guests, everyone under the sun is on the guest list from neighbors to friends to relatives the couple never knew they had. The intimate, personal cause of celebration is lost amidst the stress of planning and carrying out the "perfect" wedding.

With the millennium here, the stress is off. No longer are we following the "more, more" lifestyle of the eighties. Simple and back to basics are the words as is evident in home design (Martha Stewart), books (Simple Abundance) and now weddings too. The simple, no fuss, stress free wedding is being sought after by more couples than ever. A small, quiet gathering of the couple's families and closest friends in a soothing, simple and personalized location.

Even the flowers for the celebration have followed suit. When speaking to Lakeside Florists in Copiague we were told that many brides desire the Martha Stewart "gardeny" look consisting of roses, in a small, pushed close together bouquet in many colors. The most mportant feature is that the stems are all showing. In addition to roses, hydrangeas are becoming sought after as well for a natural garden like look in a bouquet.

Floral designers at Flowers In The Attic in Babylon agreed with the popular use of roses but also told us that a bride-to-be should know that "expensive or exotic flowers may not be able to hold up all day". Roses are easier to get and available in an assortment of colors.

Transportation, too, has changed. According to Ultimate Class Limousine the "Lincoln limousine is still a popular choice" but couples are opting "for less cars for the day". In addition some couples, such as Jennifer and Paul Smith, choose to use a special car supplied by a friend or someone they know such as a historic or antique car. Sherri Allison and Bill Allison, motorcycle enthusiasts, rode their Harley Davidsons to their wedding.

Dresses are often less complicated with beading used sparingly and shorter trains becoming a trend.

The real evidence of the simple, intimate wedding, however, is in the reception itself. The setting has changed the way weddings today are planned. Though the majority of weddings are still in reception halls, more and more couples are choosing locations that are intimate and personal for their day. A popular choice is the beach, often at sunset, for a natural backdrop of dramatic color and mood. Couples faced with high costs of weddings also opt for backyards complete with canopies or gazebos.

For weddings other than in the spring or summer, couples also go inside for a small reception in the home of either party's parents. Dianne Cook and her husband Mike's whole wedding reception centered around a magnificent fireplace in her mother's home, the mantle covered in candles.

"It was romantic and cozy. People sat on couches staring in silence," says Dianne.

Other options mentioned were the lawn of a historic home or museum, a country bed and breakfast and even a park. Angela G. Klocke and her husband preferred a small wedding and with little money to work with found a small, wooded area of a public park.

"It was serene and woodsy. Everyone carried baskets of flower petals and it smelled of the outdoors. We each held a candle and I still can get goose bumps thinking about it ten years later," Angela says.

Anyone who has been a bride, groom or involved in planning a wedding knows that the most stressful part can be getting a hall for the same date that a church is secured. Halls often have to be booked as far as a year in advance.

For the couple willing to go beyond the traditional tried and true, a little creative brainstorming can point them in a new direction. For the couple who is open to non traditional experiences, any place is open to their calendar and to their hearts. Aside from the financial benefits, the memories last a lifetime.

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