On a clear warm evening with very little breeze, in powder soft white sand with the Gulf of Mexico behind us, I vowed to love, honor, and care for this man– for so long as we both shall live. I remember everything as if it happened in slow motion. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, see the sailboats along the horizon, smell the sweat sea-oats… there may have even been cresting dolphins.
When Jim and I started talking about what we wanted the experience of making that kind of sacred commitment to each other to be like, we knew right away that we wanted our focus to be on the depth and meaning of our union. We wanted plenty of space for quiet meditation and contemplative thought, and we wanted to spend it together- because we’re best friends. It was also important to us that while we were still laying a foundation for our future we make smart financial decisions. Rather than throw a big expensive party it felt most natural to us to celebrate in the way we always prefer- holding hands in God’s temple with the family that sustains us. When I went deep inside myself the things that mattered most to me weren’t tiaras and seating arrangements and fighting with bridesmaids I’d no longer be talking to a year from now. I just wanted to vow before God that I would I make this man a home within my heart; I just wanted to be his.
On the day I’ve dreamed of my whole life, I did my own hair and makeup. I created my own flower arrangements, borrowed my decorations, had my dress sewn by a local seamstress, and while the natural beauty of my venue is priceless, it was also free. I hired a photographer who often shoots sporting events but who had wanted to expand his portfolio, and I hired him for exactly one hour. Scheduling him 20 minutes before sunset gave me a large variety of photos in every type of lighting. I even made my own shoes! For my something blue I wore a pair of navy ballerina flats and sewed the satin ribbon on by hand myself. The woman who helped write and perform the ceremony was also able to notarize our marriage license.
By all standards, it was a tiny wedding. It was a tiny start to what may end up being a relatively tiny life… and I cherish the peace in that. I’ve heard, and been witness to, so many couples expressing their wish to have eloped. To have spent so much money only to end up feeling let down with their photography, uncomfortable in their hair and makeup, tired and hungry with no time to eat, few memories as everything was a blur, and while trying to please everyone still coming up with a list of everyone’s disappointments. As society shifts back to a return to a more simple way of living I would like to advocate for tiny, simpler ceremonies, or even stylized elopements. My “wedding” was by no means perfect- but I’m not attached. I’ll always remember it as a beautiful warm evening spent under the palm trees.
What are your thoughts on living and celebrating in tiny ways? What did you love, what would you do differently about your wedding given the opportunity?
Editor’s note: I certainly don’t want to imply that there is no merit or value in a traditional wedding– In fact, I always assumed I’d have one. I’ve been to many, enjoy them quite a bit, and this is not a judgment against those who choose them. Thank you.