Why We Didn’t Follow Wedding Traditions

Lately I am seeing that many of my friends and family are getting engaged and planning weddings.  I am constantly hearing the question, “Should we have a traditional wedding?”  I hear comments that Grandma will have a heart attack if the unity candle is not in the perfect spot, or that Aunt Jo’s stepsister will be so offended if she is not seated with the family.  Granted, I am not a people pleaser, but I really don’t understand why a couple’s wedding is so often dictated by what others want.  When my husband and I began planning our wedding my very first thought was to avoid worrying about what others want and focusing on what we want as a couple.  I am so thankful we made that decision because when I look back our wedding was so perfectly “us.”

So what traditions did we break?  Well… probably more than I can count, but here are the top 10.

1.  There was no rehearsal or rehearsal dinner.

We discussed the vows with the minister, my grandfather, on the phone the night before the wedding.  When we arrived at the wedding site, we quickly went over with our wedding party where to walk and where to stand.  Isn’t the whole walking down the aisle thing pretty self explanatory? This way people from out of town did not have to come a day early or make special trips for us.  We chose not to have ushers or escort family in.  Everyone was seated wherever they chose to sit and with whom they chose to sit by.

2.  My husband saw me in my wedding dress before the wedding.

Let me explain.  The evening before our wedding we were watching TV in our new apartment that we would soon make our home.  We had a good friend of ours over with us.  I started talking about how I was nervous I would get up in front of everyone and blank.  The solution?  We decided to practice.  I put on my dress, he put on his suit, and we stood in our future bedroom with our friend “officiating” and practiced saying the words “I do” over and over again.  We laughed so hard we cried.  This is still one of the most special moments I remember throughout our relationship.  No, I do not regret not seeing “the look” that a groom gives his bride when she walks down the aisle.  Why you ask?  Because I am lucky enough to have a husband who gives me that look every day.

3.  We did not stay separate before the wedding.

We chose to have our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family all get ready in the same house.  We were lucky enough to have family that was willing to open their home up to our wedding party.  The girls got one bedroom to get ready in, and the boys got another bedroom.  I was able to talk to my future husband while I got my hair and makeup done.  He was able to hold my hand as I stepped into my shoes.  He told me how beautiful I looked so I didn’t have to wonder.  Then we climbed in his car and rode together to the wedding.  GASP!  We rode the 30 minutes to our wedding location holding hands and talking about our excitement to get to spend forever together.  Another one of my best memories of that day.

4.  We didn’t “hide” backstage until the ceremony.

This is probably the biggest “no, no” of all in the wedding tradition handbook.  When we arrived, we parked in the field beside the barn that we would be married in.  I saw all of my friends and family visiting and decided that I didn’t want to miss out on the fun.  So we hopped out of the car and visited.  Yes, I talked to everyone, hugged, kissed, and laughed with all of the special guests that had set aside their day to spend with us.  If I had any bottled up nervousness, it was gone in a heartbeat.

5.  We didn’t dance.

My husband refuses to dance. Period.

6. Friends and family provided the reception food.

We asked each of our family members and close friends to bring a desert that we loved in leu of a wedding gift.  We were able to enjoy a family friend’s homemade 12 layer chocolate cake.   I got to enjoy a dear friend’s lemon cookies that has been my all time favorite treat.  We sipped the best homemade lemonade made by my amazing wedding planners.  Everyone contributed and ended up switching recipes throughout the reception.  And thankfully, we didn’t end up with 12 toasters.  Instead we had the money that we would normally have spent on food to be able to purchase our own super amazing toaster.  Brilliant.
7. I didn’t throw my bouquet.

I was selfish.  I kept my bouquet to use as decoration in our home.  I still have my bouquet on display in my home, and it serves as a reminder of what fun we had.

8.  We didn’t have a bride and groom table at the reception.

I was able to sit by my cousins and closest friends that I rarely saw and visit.  I mean, I had my whole life to sit at the table with my husband.

9. My bridesmaids didn’t wear the same dress.

This is more common now than it has been in the past.  I decided to give my bridesmaids paint samples from the store and let them choose their own dress.  They had only one rule: Keep it under $30.  Forever 21 proved to be my best friend. Two of my three bridesmaids found their dress there for the reasonable price of $24.  I didn’t want to break the bank so why would I ask my bridal party to?  And every bride says that their bridesmaids can wear their dresses again, but most of the time this isn’t true.  In this case, my bridesmaids were able to select their own dress and it was casual enough they could honestly wear it again.  And they have.

10. We didn’t have a Maid of Honor, Best Man, Flower Girl, or Ring Bearer.

We discussed this and decided that the six people standing beside us were all of equal importance in our lives, so we did not feel the need to single two of them out.  We had the bridesmaid and groomsmen closest to us hold the rings and give them to us at the appropriate time.

We were not necessarily out to break traditions, it just happened that way.  We have had so many people tell us how much the wedding suited us as a couple.  I have had many people tell me that they wished they had not tried to people please and instead go for a more simple wedding.  I know that traditions are important to many people.  Sometimes it’s because they have been passed down for many years.  Some people feel that these traditions are in place to make the wedding day special.  I know that weddings are not “one style fits all.”  I always encourage people to do what makes them happy.  I do want to stress, however, that a wedding can be successful and special if you follow your own style and make your own rules.


How We Kept Our Wedding Cost Under $500

Yesterday was Troy and my 6 month anniversary.  In honor of this special day, I wanted to share a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time. So read on to see how we kept our wedding cost under $500!

I know what you’re thinking.  There’s no way a decent wedding could cost under $1000, much less $500.  If it did it must have been “tacky” as my mom would say.  But I hope I can prove you wrong with this post, and maybe help some people out as they plan their wedding.

I cannot tell you how many times I Googled “cheap weddings,” “money saving wedding tips,” etc.  Most of what I found still had a price tag of about $2000-$5000.  I did not want Troy and I to start our union in debt.  I wanted us to have a beautiful day where I did not look around and see dollar signs on everything as I walked down the aisle.  With the help of friends, family, and God, we were able to do this.

No matter how nice the wedding, it doesn’t make the marriage better.  Isn’t there a saying that goes something like that?

Some people see wedding budgets as a private issue, and I respect that 100%, but everyone that knows me knows I’m an open book, especially when it comes to my thrifty-ness!

As I walk you through our wedding journey, I’ll share our cost-cutting secrets.  These may not work for everyone, but were the best choices for us.

1.  Planning

Troy and I were fortunate to have an amazing “wedding planner.”  Luckily, I had a friend who has worked behind the scenes at numerous events and plans events for friends on the side.  This lovely lady and her two best friends were willing to plan our wedding free of charge.  This was one, if not the biggest help to us financially.

I know not everyone has wedding planning friends waiting around the corner, but my advice would be to find someone who wants to become a wedding/event planner, has the skill to do so, and will give you a good deal or practice free of charge.  Of course, in this situation, you cannot be the bride that leaves everything up to the planner because the planner may not have experience in every aspect, but you can relieve a lot of stress off of yourself and keep the cost minimal.

I will be eternally grateful to Jennie Ann, Becky, and Rooster for helping my wedding run smoothly without a hitch.  (I’ll get to the BEAUTIFUL decorations they prepared shortly!)


2.  Pre-wedding festivities

This section of my article will be short and sweet.  There were none.  Troy and I wed on Thanksgiving weekend.  I know you’re thinking, “Everyone hates people who do that.”  Well, we did have a few people that hated us for scheduling that date, not just because it was Thanksgiving, but it was the same day that the rival SEC teams faced off.

But we also did this because we had family that would be in the area for Thanksgiving, and this would save them an additional plane ticket and us hotel/lodging expenses for out of town guests.

As far as Bachelor/Bachelorette parties go, we decided to enjoy the evening with family, which if you know our families, is tons of fun!

3.  Location

Troy and I knew from the beginning we wanted an outdoor wedding.  I had always pictured something rustic, and lucky for me, Rooster (one of my planners) had the most beautiful little red barn I had ever seen in her field.  We looked at this spot and knew immediately this was where we wanted to wed.

We decided to also have the reception here on the other side of the barn.  It was beautiful and saved time and effort since we wanted the wedding short and sweet.

DSC_0136e4. Decor/ Serving

Our ceremony seating was church pews that a church had thrown out and donated.  I was able to snag 4 pews in decent shape to use as ceremony seating, and behind that we used the reception chairs.

DSC_0686eAs far decorations go, we’ll start with the flowers.  I am not a “flower” person.  I know only the names of basic flowers (tulips, roses, daisies) and this made my flower choice easy.  “I want babies breath,” I told Jennie Ann.  “Ok, and what else?” she responded.  “Umm…more babies breath?” So that is what I got.  Lots of babies breath.  It fit my personality so well, basic, plain, and to the point, and was beautiful all the same!  My bouquet was my favorite!


And now for a piece of shared wisdom: Borrow, borrow, borrow.  I knew I would never have the use for a vintage bird cage, lots of table cloths, or paper lanterns again.  So with the help of my planners, we borrowed almost every piece of decor for our reception.  For our serving tables we used beautiful antique furniture repurposed by my crafty planners.

My reception was beautiful, and the most expensive part of my wedding, but still dirt cheap.  My plates were all thrifted and were beautiful antiques that we ended up paying about $100 for total, and my glasses were from a restaurant that went out of business and were bought by my cousin from their sale.  We paid less than $20 for 100 glasses.


DSC_0529eMy tables and chairs were both borrowed from my boss’s church.  They were kind enough to lend us their nice chairs that matched our reception perfectly.  I would have never thought that we would have been fortunate enough to snag these, considering my original pricing on rental tables and chairs were around $500, my total goal budget.

DSC_0658e5.  Services

I know everyone is thinking that the caterer is one of the most expensive parts of a reception.  Well, not for us.  Family is so important to us, and we wanted to provide a way for everyone to be a part of the wedding.  Much of our wedding party was family, but our other family members contributed by making their favorite family recipe for the reception. Friends and family brought delicious homemade treats that had been passed down through the generations.  It was such a special part of the wedding to us, and again, cost-free.

DSC_0454eThe wedding cake was made by a dear friend, Shawna.  She has made all of the cakes for my special events in the past, and this was no exception.  She made my cake in exchange for a photoshoot (I have a photography business) so we were able to keep the cake cost down.  It was the most delicious cake I have ever tasted!

DSC_0059eI also used a family member, my cousin, to do the music for the event.  I wanted soft acoustic guitar music playing as people were seated, and he did a great job!

DSC_0453eAnother piece of advice, trade!  I have traded my photography services for a variety of things.  You can always bring the price down by traded work in exchange for a lower cost/free product.

My hair stylist/Makeup artist was a friend of mine who actually does hair and makeup just for fun, and she is phenomenal! I was fortunate to have such generous friends to help!

DSC_0016eAnd usually the single most expensive part of a wedding is a photographer.  I know this because I have a photography business, and these services are not cheap!  Luckily, I had a very dear college friend who I had helped some with his photography, so he was willing to return the favor.  He shot our engagement photos and wedding and allowed me to edit my own photos so they would suit my style.  I am so grateful to him for his hard work that day!  Thank you, Keaton!


6.  The Dress/Suit

No, I did not get my wedding dress from the Goodwill.  By this time I’m sure you are tired of hearing about how I’ve lucked up on borrowing items, but this is actually something that came with a price tag.

I’m am so lucky to have such a loving mom, that she offered to buy my wedding dress as my wedding gift.  This meant more to me than she will ever know.  I was able to wear the dress of my dreams, and if we would have footed the cost,  I would not have been able to.  Thanks, mom!



For Troy we did a typical suit rental, which was not as cheap as I would’ve liked, but much less expensive than purchasing one!

7. The Bridal Party

We decided to be unselfish and not ask the bridal party to spend a ton of money on dresses, shoes, etc when we weren’t willing to break the bank for our wedding either.  I went to a fancy store called Walmart, grabbed some paint chips, and used these as my wedding colors.  I gave each bridesmaid a paint chip ranging from off white to a dark tan and had them choose a dress from Forever 21 for under $30.  All of their dresses were in the same color pallet and even had similar styles.  As wedding gifts, I gave them matching bracelets from the local boutique, which they loved!

For the guys we made it simple.  White shirt, khaki pants, and a brown belt.  We bought the green ties using another fancy Walmart paint chip and gave these as their wedding gifts.

Everyone says that their wedding party can use their outfits again, but usually that’s not the case.  No one wants to wear a poofy floral number to Sunday brunch.  I feel that our wedding party really could use these outfits again, and even if they don’t, they have spent under $50 total, verses $300.

DSC_0414eSo that is all of my money saving advice.  I know not every wedding is the same, and not everyone can use every tip, but hopefully this will help some people in their journey to having a wedding that doesn’t break the bank.

I’d love to hear your comments! Did you cut costs or go all out?  How did you cut costs?