Going Your Own Way: Choosing to Elope

SarahIn the second post in our “Going Your Own Way” series, DIY bride Sarah talks about the options you have when you don’t want to (or can’t) plan a big wedding. This week, we’re focusing on eloping.

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Sometimes the idea of a big wedding just doesn’t appeal. Maybe you don’t like being the centre of attention, or much as you’d like to, you just don’t have the cash to spend on 80 of your nearest and dearest. Maybe you have members of your family that you can’t imagine being able to stay in a room together without fighting – it happens more often than you’d think. Add to that all the stress and expense that wedding planning can bring, and some folks decide that it’s just not worth the hassle. But then what are your options?

If you definitely want to get married (not everyone does of course, and that’s A OK too), you could just have a simple registry office ceremony with fewer guests, or disappear to an island and come back betrothed, having told no one beforehand that you were going to do it. Either way, if you want to get married without the fuss, then perhaps choosing to elope will give you the options you’re looking for.

Choosing to elope can seem daunting and scary. Many people are put off the idea because they worry their family and friends might not understand the decision, or might be hurt by not being included in the ceremony. I remember all the way through our wedding planning, telling people over and over again “I would have been happy to elope, but Tzevai didn’t want to”. I also clearly remember nobody really believing me – I was planning a wedding so I must want that wedding, right?

Well, yes and no. I loved our wedding day when it finally came around – but would I have been just as happy with our parents and a small, no fuss ceremony somewhere warm? I think I would have. Eloping has to be something that you choose to do together – I gave up my opinion on it because I wasn’t dead set against having a planned wedding, I just thought it would have been easier (and cheaper! I am the budget bride, after all) for us.

But it can be done, and if you’re both into the idea (or both just really, really anti the idea of planning a big day) then eloping can be a great alternative wedding style to choose :) If you’re really worried about your friends and family then let them in on it, and make it clear that it’s not because you don’t want them there – you just don’t want a fuss. Eloping doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone, so if you want people with you then go for it. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t have the dress, or the suits or decorations if that’s what you want –  it’s still your wedding so if you want those things don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t have them and still call it eloping.

Our biggest piece of advice would be: do what whatever you can afford that makes you comfortable. If spending thousands of pounds on one day makes you feel slightly green, then it’s okay not to want to do that, but to still want to celebrate your union together. Take it easy, decide what you really can’t live without and then plan your wedding around that, rather than what other people think you should do :)

We asked on Facebook if anyone had any elopement stories they’d like to share, and Cwtch the Bride reader Kelly got in touch. We liked her story so much we asked if we could share it on the blog along with her photos, and luckily for us Kelly said yes! Thanks very much Kelly! :)

Kelly’s Wedding Story

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We got married in Gretna Green on Sept 3rd 2012. We didn’t have an engagement and planned the wedding about 2 months before, around the end of July.

We always knew we’d end up getting married but we were never keen on the big white wedding thing. We both love weddings and feel honoured whenever we’re invited to one but the thought of being the centre of attention for the whole day and being shuffled around for photos etc wasn’t our idea of our perfect day. We wanted it to be about us, and our little boy who was 15 months old at the time.

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My dress was high street, I didn’t run around the wedding dress shops trying on loads of different types to make sure I got the perfect one, I simply did what I do best and shopped on the Internet! It was from Phase Eight. I’m so glad I got a high street dress as it’s just sat in my wardrobe now.

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We only told two friends each, who we also invited along with us and were sworn to secrecy. We drove up to Gretna the day before and returned home the day after. Our day was very relaxed, we didn’t have any professional photographers so we just asked our friends to take some pictures for us. The ceremony was lovely and afterwards we headed to the nearest pub for drinks and a few packets of crisps! After that we headed off to our hotel for a meal. We dined as ‘normal’ guests at the hotel and didn’t have a wedding package. Some of us had a curry, some had lasagne, some had burgers and some ordered from the al a carte!

When our son started to get tired we all went back to our hotel room where we had many bottles of champagne and good conversation with our bestest friends.

The next day we told our parents….it went ok :)

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(all photos © Kelly Brace, with thanks)

Going Your Own Way: Ignoring Wedding Traditions

SarahDIY bride Sarah is back again, with her opinion on the delicate balance of customs and rituals – and why sometimes choosing to ignore wedding traditions competely can be the best option. 

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Going Your Own Way: Ignoring Wedding Traditions

Sarah & Tzevai’s Wedding – shot by Maria Farrelly

Weddings are a tricky time. Everyone seems to have an opinion on most of the things you’re doing, and all the opinions are different (and quite often different to yours, too). There are a million traditions and so many people will tell you that you have to do this and you absolutely cannot skip this. It’s very difficult to go against tradition, especially if you’ve got pressure on all sides from friends and family who mean well, but are suggesting something that you don’t feel fits in with your day.

Take it from a bride almost 8 months down the road from her wedding: do what you want to do. It’s your wedding, right? If you don’t want to throw your bouquet or have readings at your ceremony then don’t, nobody can tell you it’s not a real wedding without those things. We didn’t do many of the usual traditions and nobody complained or rolled their eyes at us (or if they did we didn’t see it!) and it meant we had a day that was truly unique and memorable to us :)

People like wedding customs – sometimes it’s nice to incorporate an element that your parents had, or make up a new tradition entirely (like Sophie and Gareth, who stood on a rug during their vows so they could keep the spot they got married on forever). If you’re finding yourself railroaded by well meaning folk it might be worth asking them exactly why they would like you to include that tradition (“because it’s tradition!” it not an acceptable answer). Then you can work together to create customs and rituals that you’re comfortable with instead.

Here’s a list of traditions we decided not to adhere to in our wedding, and why:

1. The bouquet toss
My flowers were made from paper and I have terrible aim. Besides which, Tzevai spent so long making them for me I couldn’t bear to toss it after all that – mine is still sitting in our living room on proud display :)

2. The garter
Some people like them, I don’t. I certainly couldn’t imagine Tzevai taking it off with his teeth in front of a room full of our friends and family, although apparently this is the tradition on the other side of the pond.

3. Flower girls & page boys
Altho we have nephews and a niece that were the right kind of age we decided to stick with the bridesmaids and ushers and forgo the little ones. No real reason, mostly just to save a bit of money! :) Plus it meant they could sit with their parents during the ceremony and not worry about doing their part ‘wrong’.

4. Fancy suits
My dress was rather informal and we thought it would be weird if Tzevai the boys were in super formal attire so he wore grey trousers with a matching waistcoat plus a smart shirt and a yellow tie, and the boys were in plain white shirts with navy ties. It really didn’t bother us that they didn’t all look the same, and nobody mentioned anything on the day. I once went to a wedding where the mother of the groom insisted they weren’t allowed to take off their jackets until the end of the speeches, which is pretty much my idea of hell and definitely something we didn’t want for our wedding!

5. Groom’s speech
Anyone reading this by now should know that I love to talk, so Tzevai and I decided to do a joint speech together, instead of just him doing one on his own and me sitting by demurely. It was so much fun! We sort of winged it, but it went well and now we have the nice memory of doing it together :)

6. Addressing the invites just so.
There are so many rules around addressing invites, it’s kind of ridiculous. In the end we wrote people’s first names (no surnames) on the envelopes and didn’t write their names on the invites at all. Who cares? Life is too short to double envelope everything and make sure you’ve got the right title for all your guests. Slap a name on, call it done and make yourself a gin. (If you’re stuck about who to invite check out Charlie’s post on invitations!)

7. The cake smash
Just. No. No. I didn’t spend all that time doing my makeup for my new groom to smush cake all over it, thank you very much ;)

8. Not seeing each other the night before
We didn’t really want to spend the night apart, especially since that meant one of us would be in a foreign room to usual. The plan was for us to have a nice, calm breakfast together and then the girls would come over and he would go off and play golf. In reality I woke up feeling ill at 4am and didn’t get back to sleep, so our breakfast was him munching a bacon butty and me clutching a mug of peppermint tea, heh. I can only imagine how much worse I’d have felt waking up feeling ill on my own tho, so I’m glad he was there!

9. The groom not seeing the dress
I don’t believe in luck so it didn’t bother me showing Tzevai the dress before the wedding day. I’m not supersticious, how could him seeing a garment curse our wedding? My dress was a little unusual, so I wanted to show him to make sure he liked it, rather than see a look of horror as I walked down the aisle ;)

10. The groom standing on the right hand side of the bride
I always stand to the right of Tzevai and I didn’t want to change that just because that’s the side he should stand on to be able to access the sword that he wouldn’t be wearing. (Some traditions are so outdated, it amuses me when you see registrars and officiants insisting on them!). In actual fact we decided to face each other rather than standing together facing the registrar, as we thought it would be nice for our guests to see us rather than the backs of our heads :)

Our best advice for someone under pressure is to take a deep breath, step back for a moment and really look at the problem. If you feel like you really don’t want to have a first dance – then it’s okay to skip it. Would rather walk down the aisle with mum and dad? Or just mum? Or neither?! Go ahead! Try not to worry too long about what your guests might think, wedding planning is stressful enough without a ton of ‘what ifs’ as well.

As long as you’re married at the end of the day then your wedding will have been a success – so don’t fret too much about the small stuff :) You can always go your own way (and in celebration of that: here’s a bit of vintage Fleetwood Mac! :) )

Got a question about wedding traditions you need help with? Feel free to send it in to the Cwtch team (info@cwtchthebride.co.uk) and we’ll see what we can do to help!