For a few years now, my husband and I have been intrigued with the idea of minimalism. While we have never been extravagant people, at some point we decided to be very intentional about everything that we own. I think that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to courthouse weddings and elopement weddings. There is something so beautiful to me in the intentional act of foregoing spending $100/person on dry chicken, $15k on the popular venue, $5k on a dress, etc, and instead focusing on the essentials.
Focus on the Essentials
That being said, I believe the "essentials" are different for everyone. Our friends S & J also pursue a minimalist lifestyle, and occasionally I wonder at the things they are comfortable living without. To them, those things simply aren't important, aren't necessary for every day life. For me, however, some of those things are. And that's ok. I have intentionally thought through "do I need this?", and the answer was yes. Therefore I kept it. The same idea goes for minimalism in elopements/courthouse weddings. For some people, having a beautiful, extravagant gown that makes them feel extra is essential. For others, having their favorite, special flowers mean the world. For some, they want that beautiful diamond stone that will be an heirloom for their family. If those items bring value and true joy to your day and your memories, if you are intentional in your decisions, and not simply pressured by traditions and societal standards, then you can still embrace the spirit of minimalism.
Bring Value and Joy
At The Elopement Co., I want to provide courthouse wedding and elopement wedding packages that allow couples to pursue the beautiful, the special, and the intentional. I cringe when I hear the all-too-frequent tale of "I wanted to do my wedding this way, but my mom said I had to have this." or "I only wanted this many guests, but my family said I had to invite XYZ." Saying no can be tough. Standing up for yourself is hard. But the rewards are big. Saving money, not going into debt, not creating unnecessary waste - these are just a few of the benefits of a tiny wedding.
So here are some things to think about when pursuing minimalism in your tiny wedding.
1. Will it make me happy?
I don't mean happy in the way wedding things are usually thought us as happy. I mean will it MEAN something to you? Are you passionate about this thing? Will you be able to savor this thing, that moment, that sensation? Will it bring you true joy? Or will it be something that happens so fast that you'll barely even noticed it happened? Is it meant to make everyone else happy, and not really mean anything to you?
2. Will it deepen my relationship with the people that truly matter?
The guest list is often the most debated topic of a wedding. Should I invite my cousin's barber's dog groomer's brother's dentist? If I don't, will my cousin's barber's dog groomer's brother be furious and never speak to me again? The obvious question here is WHO CARES? While this may be a BIT dramatic, I have heard countless stories of couples feeling pressured to invite someone that means no more to them than that dentist. And while they are paying $100 to feed that dentist dry chicken (I may have a vendetta against wedding chicken), the dentist is wondering why they had to dress up on a perfectly good Saturday evening to come to a stupid wedding of someone they don't know.
The truth is, you will know the people you can't imagine not being there for your marriage. So if you can't do without those people, invite them or involve them. Involving them may mean having them on Skype during your ceremony. Or maybe it means having a videographer capture your tiny ceremony so you can share it with your loved ones. Or maybe it means a giant BBQ sometime after the ceremony. Whatever that means to you, it matters as long as it is important to you.
3. Will I even remember this?
This is along the same idea of "will this make me happy?" Will you remember a church or a reception hall with nondescript interior? If the answer is yes, cool. More likely, though, is that that location would be a blur within a few months. But how about the backyard of your childhood home, the side of a majestic mountain, a peaceful beach, or a serene vineyard? What about that location that makes you feel the wonder of the world around you? Will you remember what favors you handed out, or will you cherish the moments you got to spend really focusing on your loved one?
4. Is this just stressing me out?
Wedding planning is often one of the most stressful events of a person's life. I have watched brides spend so much energy on making everyone happy and having the "perfect" event, that by the time the day rolls around, they utter the horrifying phrase "I just want this all to be over." If what you are doing or planning does not mean anything to you but is just stressing you out, just don't do it! And let us help!
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalist write in depth about living a life of minimalism and what that means to them. Their definition of minimalism were things that meet the following criteria:
Eliminate our discontent
Reclaim our time
Live in the moment
Pursue our passions
Discover our missions
Experience real freedom
Create more, consume less
Focus on our health
Grow as individuals
Contribute beyond ourselves
Rid ourselves of excess stuff
Discover purpose in our lives
If you apply these principles to your wedding, you can determine the things that actually matter to you. Hopefully you can find freedom in whatever those things are. So if a tiny wedding feels right for you, I'd love to hear about it. Ask me questions, give suggestions, or just leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time,