I think I have attended about 100 weddings ranging from the marriage of Shirley Temple Black's nephew to a Morton Salt/Sunbeam heiress to a small dinner at a diner. I have my fair share of weird bridesmaid dresses, too. Of that sample, none of the individuals that spent a king's ransom on the wedding are still married. All of the others that were nice but simple affairs - those marriages are intact. I can't say that as a guest or other participant I enjoyed lavish events more, or remember them all that much. Weddings tend to blend into a nebulous memory of ceremonies and meals. There are few standouts. Simpler events seemed happier and less forced.
Our wedding was at home. We did invest in the normal stuff like flowers, chairs, tents and tables. We were lucky that all of the food and cake were lovingly made by a host of talented chefs and bakers as well as a handful of Polish, Jewish and Finnish grandmothers. All of our friends were motivated to outdo each other and feed 130 guests until they burst. People still talk about the food. My mother is a professional seamstress and clothing designer, so she hand embroidered a gown. She also made the bridesmaid dresses - none of the girls had to buy anything but perhaps a pair of shoes.
My only nephew was married yesterday. I was dreading the event. I love the kid, and his new wife is wonderful. His parents (my brother) are the nightmare. My brother's wedding fell perhaps too far into the simple category - all the way into cheap. It was an event akin to going to church, but not a party. However, they are still married which is what counts. Both my brother and sister-in-law complained about the fuss of their son's wedding, even through they did not pay for it. I was downright worried that it would be an event with decades of debt to follow.
The wedding was none of those things. I was pleasantly surprised. During the rehearsal and setup we all pitched in to finish the final details, which was nice for all of us as we felt included. The church was a lovely, modern building in Lake of the Woods. Multiple aisles and a somewhat circular design lent itself to a more community event where participants and audience were all in full view of each other. There were a lot of bridesmaids and groomsmen, including my little daughter as the flower girl. The couple have a lot of friends, many of whom met through my nephew and were subsequently married. Although the groomsmen clearly had matching tuxedos, the bridesmaids were allowed to wear simple black gowns of their choice, as their body types would dictate. It was a small but refreshing change from odd costumes I have seen and worn. Black was a nice choice as the flowers were bright and happy and really stood out. The flower girl wore a white dress that was similar to the bride's very classic gown (giving her father a scary preview of things to come).
There was a photographer, but since we have a cluster of shutterbugs in the family, there were countless other cameras around (I brought 2 full bags of gear). The couple should have about 3,000 photos of their event.
The reception was a typical hotel dinner for 250 people, with the exception that all of the setup was put together by their friends (many of whom seem to work in the entertainment industry). Videos, slide shows, the DJ and lighting, the decor, table cards, monogrammed cookies, table games and wish cards had a loving touch that was stunning. With a simple meal and some of the regular events, we were treated to a very happy celebration. Fun events included the police "arresting" my nephew during the "dollar dance" for solicitation. Apparently the cop was a friend that also met his wife through my nephew. All of the details making sure the guests were comfortable did not add up to an expensive affair. Interestingly, there was not a lot of alcohol, and no one missed it.
I think I took 500 of those photos. Time to edit...