Just Me And You, Not Your Mother And Your Cousins Too: Do You Really Need A Big Wedding In This Economy?

October 29, 2012  |  


A few weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that my brother got married. It’s not that he wasn’t the marrying type or anything like that, it’s just that he said his “I dos” without inviting any of the family, or his friends to partake in the happy occasion.

He had been seeing a young lady for more than a year that he was head over heels for, and after news broke that homegirl was preggo, he decided to do right by her and put a ring on it. ASAP. I was getting all mentally prepared for another year of trying to put money together to pay for a bridesmaid’s gown, and gifts, and tickets to fly home, and ish for a shower (including a baby shower), and more. These were all things I wasn’t well prepared for a year before when I watched my sister say “I do” in lavish fashion. But to my surprise, my mother called me a few weeks after the baby and engagement announcement to tell me that my brother and his bride-to-be had already tied the knot. Without anybody knowing, without any  friends or family for witnesses, they took off work, flew down to Florida and made a major commitment to each other under the sun, and God, on a beach. They didn’t ask for any help, any presents, or any ballyhoo surrounding their nuptials. Compared to all the time, money and energy spent for my sister’s wedding, this one was a pleasant surprise.

Recently, my mother and father came to visit me and when they did, they brought along the DVD that my brother sent to everyone of the beach nuptials. It was just the two of ’em, along with a photographer and an officiating minister on the beach in Miami. My brother and his new wife stood inside of a heart drawn in the sand and read their vows, said their “I do’s” and kissed. After their small ceremony on the beach, the two walked up and down said beach, on the water, taking romantic photographs, kissing and rubbing the little one in my new sister-in-law’s belly. As simple as the whole thing was, I couldn’t help but find myself tearing up at how in love they seemed, and how happy they were, just the two of them, ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. Well, make that the three of them with the baby chilling womb-side.

After watching the cute DVD (which had a homemade soundtrack made by my bro with the sounds of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and other classics) and thinking about how fast, simple and inexpensive they had done things, I couldn’t help but wonder if all the fuss and the debt over big weddings is really all that necessary. There was something incredibly romantic about my brother and his lady running off to have a ceremony somewhere quiet and focusing on the two people who would have to make the marriage work. You know. Them.  She had the dress, they had the rings, they had each other, and honestly, isn’t that what it’s all about? In fact there was something more desirable to me about tying the knot like that (not let’s run off to Vegas style) than you and your man and everyone you know to drop big bills on an expensive wedding, to lose your mind trying to find a planner, a DJ, a huge venue for a reception, trying to schedule space in a church, trying to come up with and cut down a guest list, and having to hurt some feelings in the process of picking bridesmaids. It sounds very desirable actually.

But that’s not a shot at people who have been waiting all of their lives to have the big white wedding that shows like “My Fair Wedding” have us fawning over. Do what your heart desires, and save me a piece of cake if you do go that route. But in the midst of a still slow-growing economy, I was just wondering if you would you ever consider downsizing and making your wedding just about you and the boo? And not about you, the boo, and everybody you know too? Could you have a happy wedding if it wasn’t surrounded by all your loved ones and all the trappings we’ve come to associate with a “real” ceremony? While it might not sound as fairytale fab, you still walk away with the ultimate prize: the man of your dreams.

Could you have a happy wedding if your friends and family, the big cake and ornate flowers, and all the dressings “My Fair Wedding” has us wanting weren’t there?

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  • STurner

    I tell every bride to be I know several things. 1. Spend more time planning your life together. 2. Don’t let people talk you into things they want. and 3. Your wedding should be a reflection of you and the groom. If you want to walk barefoot in the sand and that is your personality then rock it. Are you big and formal then do you. Let your wedding reflect your personality!!

  • PosterGirl

    I ended up having two weddings. The first one was thrown courtesy of a friend of mine, who insisted upon me having a ceremony of some kind. People brought food, another friend got a Costco cake, and the hostess, her husband, and all the children (her own and other friends’) were involved in the ceremony. I paid $40 to have a simple white salwar kameez made for me to wear, and my husband wore his nicest shirt.None of our family was there, which was fine with us, but all of our friends were. I still get teary eyed thinking about that day.

    My mother insisted on having the whole Southern Baptist church ceremony, big white dress and all. So… we had an army of attendants, hubby’s mom (an ordained minister) helped co officiate, and I ended up with Kate Middleton style dress that had a long train. (It made Amtrak look like a short school bus.) Most of our families came to that one It was nice, and it gave people something to talk about, but I still consider that first wedding to be the “real” one.

  • Candacey Doris

    I do not need a wedding to have THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. Which is spoken as if it has to be in caps all the time. I intend to have a number of great days, and if i am married i hope we are able to create a series of great days that seem better than the last. I do not need a wedding to be a princess; a spa day, a new dress, good shoes, and a great night out can do that.

    I already know that if i marry, it ill be a small wedding. I will put up with the disappointed phone calls from relatives who were not given a party and just do it. My parents, his parents, an a judge or pastor. I do not want more than 20 people there total. No huge destination wedding, just someplace nice stateside. No huge white dress, just a nice one that i can actually wear again sometimes. And best of all: no debt, no stress, no drama.

  • Mrs. Urban

    I would have loved a big wedding but at the time we had a little one on the way so we decided to save what we had. We also had our wedding on the beach in Jacksonville, Fl. It was the notary, him and I. I wouldn’t of had it any other way.

  • gmarie

    I just want a very small dinner party ceremony. It’s my mother I’m worried about. She has a habit of trying to include people I’ve never seen or heard of in our events then I have to be the bad guy who says no.

    • Khyati

      My mother is prone to this kind of thing, and I plan on telling her about my wedding after the fact just to avoid her trying to guilt me into inviting her people and basically having ‘her’ idea of a wedding… I’ll catch some flack, but think avoiding the drama will be worth it 🙂

  • FromUR2UB

    Sounds like a good idea because in reality, the wedding has nothing to do with the quality of the marriage, unless people are fighting over the bills leftover from it.

  • guest

    My husband and I got married at my grandmother’s house four years ago. We had about 20 guests and spent $0.00. My mother and grandmother purchased the food, the house was lovely and free, and my grandma had some nice red and white bows that she placed around the fireplace. It was the most special moment of my life.

  • tesbestlife

    I prefer the simple approach rather than spending tons of money and stressing out over details that really won’t matter much after you say “I Do”. I’ve seen my girlfriends lose their minds over wedding details to the point of forgetting what the purpose of the wedding day was really all about. These days, the debt that people incur over a lavish wedding ceremony seems to outlast the marriage, which is unfortunate. I think if you can afford a huge ceremony, then go for it; otherwise, keep it simple. Focus on what you’re really there for: loving each other, your commitment to the relationship, and being willing to grow together through the highs and lows that life will surely bring.

  • In my 20’s, I always thought that bigger was better. In my 30’s, I grew the hell up and now value quality over quantity. I would love to elope. The reason I want to elope is because weddings that involve too many people become too much about everyone else and less about you and your spouse. It can turn a beautiful experience into a circus.

  • Monica

    I lived with my husband for a few years before we got married so a full fledged “My Fair Wedding” type situation was uncalled for at that point. We went to the courthouse and had a small ceremony with his son and us. We did have a family dinner later on to celebrate, and because my dad feels its his sworn duty to walk all of his daughters down the aisle he walked me into the dining room and escorted me to my chair next to my husband. My parents probably spent $500 on food, we spent $300 on alcohol so we came out cheap. The most money we spent for our wedding was a trip to Greece to visit my husband’s family. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • gmarie

      your dad is too CUTE!! lol

  • LisafromTexas

    My kind of ceremony. My husband and I tied the knot 3 yrs ago in LasVegas. We stayed at the Bellagio and was picked up by a Limo early morning on Valentines Day. Not even an hour long. We took several beautiful pictures. That packet was only $200 and the chapel was beautiful. The ring and my dress was the only big expense. No regrets at all and yes a video was included. A big wedding would have been way too much pressure for us.

  • electlady67

    If I were asked tomorrow I would do it in a minute. I would be willing to forgo all of the flowers and fluff to be with him forever. That truly is what it’s all about.

  • abarring1

    I had a potluck wedding. The guests brought most of the food and served it, decorated, supplied the house basement for the after reception party, played the music at the wedding, cleaned up, drove, took pictures, took videos, DJ’d. Those services were their gifts. We had 55 guests. I wore an evening gown. My spouse rented a tux and shoes. We supplied cake, punch, curry chicken, roti, and deli and veggie platters and beverages at the after party. It cost us about $1,500 out of pocket.

  • Cakester

    When I got married, I had 330 people at my wedding (My husband’s list was 200, mine was 130), but I can literally say, I had the time of my life!!!! I think it was worth every dime we put into it… I think that your wedding day has to fit your personality and your budget… each person’s ideal day is different…. I think the exchanging of the vowels in the article was beautiful…. but that wouldn’t be my dream day.

  • CB

    I have already axed the idea of a big wedding but we are going to have a reception so that both sides of our family can meet and mingle. can’t see spending all that money for 30 mins.

  • Meyaka

    I didn’t have a wedding at all,we could afford it I just tought there is better thing to spend money on so he got me a nice diamond,we went to the justice if peace downtown,got married,when to p.f chang’s,threw down on some food and went home ,years later we are happily married. If you want a wedding to show off think twice,I rather be a home owner than have the bomb wedding while renting. To each it’s own.

  • Machelle Kwan

    Wow. That sounded so romantic. If I ever got married again, I would love to do it at the beach. I never had a big wedding because neither one of us had the close knit friends and family for such an event. So it was courthouse hitching.. But in the end, who really needs all that anyway?

  • NicPal

    If God blesses me with the right one I am getting married in my Pastor’s office and that’s it. I feel like once your with the right one it really won’t matter where and what as long as you can spend the rest of your life with that person. So that’s my plan unless God doesn’t change that:)


    I’m a woman and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this me-him-and-God idea. Rock on! There’s a lifetime to celebrate why cram it all into one afternoon at a huge expense? Interesting thing: if you tell a venue this is a birthday party, then call back and say it’s a wedding . . . you’ll get two different prices! Everyone knows wedding is coded language for I’ll-spend-everything-to-feel-like-a-princess! 🙂