When I got engaged in 1994, the furthest thing from my mind was what type of wedding we were going to have, let alone where, when, or how much it was going to cost. Foremost for me was our upcoming week-long trip to New Orleans; the engagement the night before was a great surprise, and I wanted to enjoy that status for a while before moving on to the hustle and bustle of wedding planning.
See, I had been married before briefly (big mistake; the union didn’t last that much longer than the ceremony), when I was very young, before I even had a checking account, and the nuptials were, much to my chagrin, a grand affair. I knew it wasn’t me, starting with the wedding dress, a ball gown so heavy it’s a wonder I didn’t wind up with a herniated disc. Thankfully, I didn’t pay for the wedding; the groom insisted on the finest of everything and also insisted on footing the bill. That was good because, not only was he not “the one” (which I knew for sure when we lit the Unity Candle from our individual candles and his inexplicably blew out), but I never wanted an elaborate, expensive gala in the first place.
Was it not bad enough that it was the ’80s, when, at so-called elegant weddings, Viennese sweets tables arrived after dinner amid a sea of sparklers with accompanying music just slightly classier than “The Stripper,” not to mention being a time when even couture gowns bore huge leg o’ mutton sleeves and veils were headbands backed by sky-high tulle poufs?
Despite all that embarrassment, I learned something that would serve me well when I finally did meet The One and it was time to plan our wedding. Within two months of our engagement, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. We knew that we wanted to get married sooner rather than later, and, in a panic, we started looking at venues, caterers, gowns, and tuxes. I didn’t want to disappoint my husband; I assumed he wanted a big ol’ traditional celebration Clearly, he assumed I wanted the same. At some point, I broke the ice by saying, “You know, I would be very happy to have just you and my mom at our wedding.” Turns out, he wanted just me and his father. (Each of us had just one parent remaining at that point.) We did eventually add a few more people—close friends and family numbering 16 in total. Once we decided what (and who) were important to us, the rest of the planning was easy—and fun. I looked at no bridal magazines, decided to stay away from trends, and confided in my husband-to-be that it had always been my dream to get married in Central Park. Because we are music lovers, we thought Strawberry Fields would be even better. We found an interfaith minister, wrote our own vows, got the simple permit to set up in the park, and took our family and friends to dinner afterward at the restaurant where we’d had our first date. The most special and memorable part of the ceremony for each of us was saying our vows with our cherished parents next to us.
Whatever your personal circumstances and however close you and your betrothed are, you really need to talk to each other about your wishes and dreams for your wedding. The truth is, unless you’ve discussed it already, you don’t know what your other half wants. Even if you know each other’s tastes in general, you may be surprised to find out that your spouse-to-be has a completely different vision than you’d assumed. So be honest, and on’t say what you think he or she wants to hear. Ask tough questions right at the beginning, like, “How much should we spend?” and, “Who is going to pay?” Maybe you’ve put some money aside, or maybe your parents have. Or, maybe you’ve incorrectly assumed that your parents can afford to pay for it when, in reality, finances are tight for them right now.
Maybe he’d rather have a smaller guest list and save the $20,000 you were going to spend to have your co-workers each attend with a plus-one for a blow-out honeymoon. Or maybe you’d rather use the $15,000 you were planning to shell out for that Pnina Tornai gown as part of a condo down-payment or as the first contribution to your mutual nest egg. Or maybe you both want to skip all the bells and whistles and elope!
Whatever you do, be sure you agree on a game plan. Then you can check out Westchester/Hudson Valley Weddings to find all the wedding pros you may need, from reception sites to florists to bands and DJs to jewelers. However small, large, simple, or elaborate your wedding, we’ve got the resources here to help you make it a success!