You’re in for a special treat this week, you guys! Today’s guest post is from one of my dearest friends in the world. Leigh-Anna is not a blogger, but she’s coming for our jobs in this post, because it is awesome. She’s getting married this summer and wanted to share her experiences of planning a minimalist wedding. Enjoy!
I first met Brittany (aka Mrs. Tiny Ambitions) in our first year of University, when we lived on the same floor in residence. She was quiet and shy (like she is now), and we didn’t interact much at all until our fourth year when I needed a new place to live, and so I moved into her house where she lived with a mutual friend of ours. We pretty much instantly bonded over our joint love of food, animals, and House Hunters International, and this quickly blossomed into one of my deepest and most fulfilling friendships.
Back at this point though, minimalism wasn’t even on our radar. This happened to be at the height of Brittany’s online shopping addiction. When Britt refers to the dark days of her past, she’s referring to the days of receiving at least one Amazon package per day to our door (I can attest to this). And I was just as guilty. I can remember vividly making the trek to H&M in Lansdowne Place on payday from my summer job at a library, where I would proceed to spend $300 on clothes I would probably only wear once.
Fast forward to about 4 years later, we’re living hundreds of kilometres apart when Britt mentions that she’s exploring the idea of minimalism. I thought, “This will probably be good for her”. I never imagined in a million years that it would bring her to where she is now. This journey has fully transformed her. Of course, she has fewer things (and more money), but I’m most proud of how confident it has made her. I can see how happy she is in her own skin now. I love it 🙂 I also never imagined the impact it would have on me – I’m not sure I would know what minimalism is if it weren’t for Britt (and I certainly would fight to the death defending Tiny Homes in her honour).
That’s why, when she put out a call for guest posts on her wonderful blog, Tiny Ambitions, I thought, what a good opportunity to show her how much of an impact her journey has had on me! Britt has mentioned a few times in her various posts that I, Leigh-Anna Plumpton, am getting hitched this year!
That’s right, my fiancé Jason and I have decided that after almost eight years together, it is finally time to tie the knot. And let me tell you – getting married as a semi-minimalist has been a real challenge, and so I thought, maybe other people exploring minimalism could use some insight into the world of minimal marriage. In this post, you’ll find my thoughts, advice, and questions on getting married as a minimalist.
I should start by telling you a little about my minimalism journey. I would say I’m somewhere mid-minimalism experience – I’ve never done a “no-spend” year, I don’t own less than 100 things, and I don’t schedule in time to do nothing, BUT I have given away or donated more than half my wardrobe, I’ve been working hard to pay off debts, and clutter makes me crazy. The teacher in me would give myself a solid B-.
When my now-fiancé Jason and I got engaged last March, we quickly started planning our vision for our day and booking our must-haves. Anyone who’s gotten married in the last 5 years will tell you that the good stuff books up FAST, so you’ve got to be on. the. ball. Within weeks, I had everything booked for a swanky winery wedding in fabulous Prince Edward County.
Then, one day, after looking at the obscene cost of this wedding that blew my budget out of the water, and asking myself Is this what I really want? I realized that what I was doing was not my dream idea of a wedding, but one that everyone else would think was nice. I can actually remember thinking to myself, “oh our friends would love this!”. But our wedding day is not about our friends or family – it’s about us. So, in a split second decision, after a five-minute phone call discussion with Jason, I switched our wedding venue from the fancy winery to my aunt and uncle’s farmhouse and subsequently saved us more than $20000. It was like an instant weight off my shoulders – not only financially, but it felt like I was doing what was really right for us.
We haven’t had our wedding yet – we’re still about four months away – but even now I can tell you how much happier I am with my “minimalist” wedding. The biggest piece of advice I can give you – and I know it sounds cliché – is to do what makes YOU happy. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses. I can tell you that I’m much happier with how I feel now with a farm wedding than I ever would have been at the winery. So – I’ve compiled a list of my top five tips to help you plan a minimalist wedding that is right for you!
1) Have a vision and stick to it.
Before you look at anything, before you book anything, before you set a budget – talk to your fiancé, and figure out what it is you’re both looking for out of this day. Do you want small and intimate? Do you want a party atmosphere? Do you want elegant? Deciding early on your vision for your wedding will help decision making to be quicker and easier – and will keep you from getting swept away in the tide that is wedding planning (anyone who has been married knows what I’m talking about!).
2) Make a (realistic) budget.
Sometimes I use the word minimalist because it sounds better than what I actually am – cheap. Or shall we say frugal? That’s why, when I saw the cost of things like flowers and dinnerware, I realized that my original budget of spending nothing was not realistic. That being said, I knew that the $30000 figure I received from our original venue wasn’t realistic for me either. Don’t forget to take into account all avenues of support (savings, family contributions, etc.), then come up with a number you’re both comfortable spending. Don’t go over that number.
3) Shop secondhand.
Pretty much right when I got engaged, I signed up for the “wedding items for sale” and “buy and sell” groups in my local area. I’m not one for shopping, but I kept my eye out for things I actually needed and got really good deals on some of them because of these sites!
Also – shop smart. Watch for sales! I got my dress in a sample sale – it was EXACTLY what I was looking for, and because it was a sample, I paid less than $400 for it!
4) Get creative!
I’m one of those nerdy people who love a DIY project (when I can find the time to do them..), which came in very handy in both saving me a few bucks and making my wedding (hopefully) feel really unique. For example, my centrepieces are old wine bottles painted with flowers in them. I had family members save me their wine bottles, so this cost me next to nothing!
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help too! My mom used to work for a company that sells parachutes (random, I know), and so she’s gotten me a roll of the white parachute material which we’re going to use to cover the hay bales for our ceremony! A good friend’s sister owns an outdoor adventures rental company, and so I’ve been able to get some large size lawn games from them. Use those connections – it’s a way to make your wedding special and unique without spending tons.
I also used Etsy to shop for different things like our wedding rings and gifts for our bridal parties. I know Etsy isn’t always less expensive, but it can often be cheaper or at least comparable, and you’re supporting an artist! Both my engagement ring and wedding band came from a designer in Northern Canada who works with raw, unfinished diamonds, and the wedding band is shaped as a tree branch to fit around my engagement diamond. Bonus – the set cost less than $750.00!
5) Eliminate the unnecessary.
Remember that tide of wedding planning I talked about earlier? I can only describe it as a tide because that’s how it feels… One minute you’re looking at caterers and florists, then you’re being swept away in a tide of napkin colours, hair pieces, font choices and wedding favours. The amount of decisions you make for a wedding is INSANE – so do yourself a favour, and eliminate those that are unnecessary, by asking yourself this:
Would our wedding day be remembered any differently without this?
Well, I think that about does it for ways I can think of to keep your wedding minimal.
What did I miss? Any suggestions for this bride-to-be from you already-married minimalists? Let me know in the comments!
Leigh-Anna teaches Grade 7 in Eastern Ontario.
She lives with her fiance Jason and their two rescue dogs, Vito and Sari.
Headshot Photo Credit: Holly McMurter