You know how some girls have designed their wedding dress in their head, tentatively booked their dream wedding venue, and picked out their engagement ring – all before their partner has popped the question?
Yeah, I’m not one of those girls.
My husband Ben proposed to me at 4:30am after tricking me to get up for a sunrise hike, which are two words I strongly believe shouldn’t be in the same sentence. I sat on the edge of the bed in a towel staring at the carpet for what seemed like a bit too long, until he finally asked, “so… will you, or…?” He proposed with a funny poem, and an appointment at a tattoo shop, where we could get matching ink rings that would never come off even if we changed our minds.
It’s for these reasons, that I knew our wedding was going to be anything but traditional.
Our brief was ‘70s-inspired tropical Palm Springs pool party in the middle of Byron Bay, heavy on the tequila. During the two-year planning process, I had a series of mild nervous breakdowns – and not just because weddings are stressful and expensive.
When I shared some of my unconventional ideas with nice people I’d randomly meet in shops, their reactions suggested I should maybe rethink those ideas, and I felt like society had placed all these restraints on me to plan the same cookie-cutter wedding. Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of bridal shoes that cream, satin and hideous?
At one crucial point, I made the very grown-up decision to tell everyone to shut-up. This was my wedding, and I would have gold platform disco shoes if I wanted.
It worked, and I ended up having the wedding of my dreams, that was just so us. So in the spirit of brides helping brides, here are seven things that got me there.
Tip 1 : From the minute you’re engaged, don’t listen to anyone.
Friends and family will be calling you to pass on their congratulations, and that’s lovely, but they’ll also be asking you when the wedding is and where they should stay and when you’ll be having a baby.
This is called Unnecessary Stress and you don’t need it in your life right now. When the planning is in full swing, the well wishes will turn into unsolicited advice and concerned looks about all of your choices.
Best to just ignore everyone and do what you like.
Tip 2 : Look at absolutely everything from a different angle.
It’s easy to fall into the ‘wedding trap’ and go mindlessly through the motions, picking marble cakes here and chiffon bridesmaid dresses there.
But if you want to do your wedding your way, unpack it all and really think about how you can do each thing differently.
What is your favourite dessert? Do you even like chiffon bridesmaid dresses?
Tip 3 : People remember the food, so really go for it.
One of my favourite parts of my wedding was the food, because I didn’t let silly traditions and trends dictate the menu, and also because I love food.
We searched high and low for a caterer that let us have fried chicken for the main, and when it came to dessert, we ditched the cake in favour of Bubble O Bills and Golden Gaytimes served on the dancefloor.
This made for some pretty amazing photos, and was a helluva lot cheaper than a cake too!
Tip 4 : Wear something that is truly you, and let your bridesmaids do the same.
Not being much of a cream and pearls kinda gal, I opted for a big ol’ tulle party skirt that showed off my shoes, and I asked my talented friend to make me a top to match (bonus points for being sentimental).
If you’re more of a pants person, step out of the bridal stores and look for an amazing pantsuit instead.
When it comes to bridesmaids (I had eight) give them an easy brief (mine was clean white) and ask them to pick whatever their heart desires, whether that’s a jumpsuit or a slip dress.
People have more fun when they are comfortable, and your wedding will be more unique too.
Tip 5 : Add your stamp in the teeny tiny details.
For me, this was the ceremony script (we secretly shared 10 things we love about each other with the celebrant), the transport (I hired a red double decker bus to move guests), the invitations (ours were annoyingly filled with gold stars), the décor (I bought pink plastic flamingos off eBay for $20), and the wedding favours (which were tequila shots for every guest as they sat down, rather than an expensive gift they’d forget to take home).
Tip 6 : Utitlise your skills, and those of your friends.
Being a writer, I took care of all the invitations, signage and menus, to make sure they were fun and grabbed our guests’ attention.
I also called on my other talented friends who were more than willing to help, whether they had skills in graphic design, events, finance or carrying heavy things.
Tip 7 : Sometimes small budgets means big personality.
Nobody wants to spend money on paper and postage when you have honeymoon cocktails to buy, right?
Consider sending your save the dates via email or Paperless Post, and look into hosting a wedding website for all the finer details. We mailed invitations, but saved on the extra cards by including a link to our wedding website – this was completely customisable to our theme and housed everything from accommodation options to dress code inspiration to a fun Q&A with our bridal party.
Wanna find out how to save money on your wedding without feeling like you're going without? Get Bridechilla Aleisha McCormack's advice in your ears below with the latest episode of Hitched.
Want to hear to more? Subscribe to Hitched here.
Love weddings or getting married and need to ask all the questions about venues, flowers, photographers, wedding dresses, EVERYTHING? Come join Mamamia's wedding planning podcast Facebook group Hitched.