I hadn’t defined myself as a minimalist while we were planning our wedding, but there was one thing I was sure of: that I did not want to accumulate tons of stuff that we would have to lug around for the rest of our lives– stuff that we did not really use or need.
At the risk of sounding ungrateful and irreverent, I was determined not to receive most traditional wedding gifts: pretty sets of bone china, sterling silver utensils, dry-clean-only linens, the works. For one, we knew that we wouldn’t be living in a home large enough to store such stately items– much less large enough to host all the people required to use the tableware.
In addition to our registry, I also thought about what it would mean for us to walk away with memories, blessings and great joy, but without an entire sleigh of things. Now that it’s been almost a year since our wedding, I’ll share a few of my tips.
1) Rent a dress, or buy one and sell it. I know this may sound absolutely ludicrous to some, but I can really appreciate the sense in renting or borrowing a dress. My bridal dress was brand new, tailored to fit me, and worn for approximately 4 hours before I changed into a more comfortable evening gown. It weighed at least 10 pounds, if not 15. I wasn’t interested in boxing it up for future generations (who will probably want to purchase their own dresses), so I now wish I had spent that money more wisely.
I’ve consigned my dress with a sweet lady near my hometown. It is quoted at 50% the amount that I paid for it, and it makes me feel *slightly* better that it’s now off my hands. So, if you’re afraid of having to lug tons of precious items around after the wedding, consider renting a dress, purchasing one from consignment, or selling your dress once you’re done. And if you’d like to splurge on something as the bride-to-be, try jewelry! You can wear it again and again, and it’s much easier to store.
2) Use real flowers and rent what you can. Yes, it can feel like the ultimate waste when all the fresh flowers are thrown away (or given away) at the end of the event. But, unless you have plans for the silk flowers you buy, it’s better not to have them. Fake flowers are a compromise that doesn’t really give back unless they’re super high-quality and you actually want to use them in your home.
As for the tableware at the wedding, we rented everything. Even though rental fees can run high (like everything else in a wedding), it’s better to do so unless you really needs those glasses and table clothes. Don’t forget that these items need to be specially laundered and cleaned! No fun!
3) Register for practical items, gift certificates, or “flat gifts.” It’s becoming increasingly acceptable to ask for cold hard cash from generous guests. Explain that the cash will go to something special– date nights, weekend getaways– and people will feel good about treating you to a nice dinner. There are also websites that allow people to help you pay for honeymoon activities. We didn’t do this, but we’ve gifted this way to others.
We registered on Amazon. It’s not fancy, but it has a ton of excellent items that you may actually need, including kitchen appliances, tools, speakers, books and even jars and containers. It’s also easier to find a wider price range on Amazon, so we were glad that we had $15 and $20 offerings for guests with lower budgets. Finally, Amazon does not charge as premium a fee as so many other registries, so that was a perk too!
4) Purchase re-wearable shoes. Let me tell you, it was so tempting to go for the ultra-glittery silver heels when I went shoe-shopping. But, I’m really glad that I purchased my unbelievably comfortable beige sandals instead. They’re impossibly elegant, I can wear them on occasions other than parties, and I can actually stand in them for hours. Plus, when you’re wearing a traditional wedding dress, no one is supposed to see your shoes anyway.
5) Actually share the photos. There will be so many photos. Our photographers took over 1000 just on the day of the wedding, so needless to say it took some time to sort through those (thankfully digital) files. To make the most of your photos, purchase a reasonably sized wedding album that people will actually want to flip through– not a tome that needs to be stowed away. Give small prints to loved ones and members of the wedding party. Images are meant to be shared, enjoyed, and cherished.
6) Give edible party favors. If you’re against accumulating clutter, then don’t clutter up your guests’ homes, either! To save money, we baked cookies for our guests to take with them. What they’ll appreciate most is having enjoyed their time celebrating with you, and knowing how much you appreciate them.
7) You don’t have to keep everything. It’s easy to be sentimental, but there are so many potential mementos that you’ll have to make tough choices. Keep one extra invitation and program, not thirty of them. Keep one bouquet, not all six. Keep the cards that are meaningful, not every blank one that only says “congratulations.” Keep just enough that you can go back and relive the wedding, but not so much that it’s an overwhelming stash of items you end up avoiding.
Now, almost a year later, I’m grateful everyday that we dodged the twenty-piece china, and I’m still glad that I decided to sell my dress. Ultimately, cutting down on the stuff of weddings can help us remember that the wedding is not about the stuff; it’s about a sacred commitment to love and cherish someone forever. That’s what I want to take away and remember!
Did you accumulate a lot of items when you got married? Or if you’re planning a wedding, what do you think will be the most important item in your wedding? I’d love to know!