If you have spent your whole life dreaming of getting married while wearing an ivory princess gown paired with a lacy cathedral bridal veil, surrounded by 500 of your nearest and dearest friends, this is not the blog for you. But if you like the idea of actually having a good time on your wedding day and in the period leading up to it, read on.
Illustration: Elena Scotti
I have watched many friends get married. Almost all of them spent about a year planning their weddings and tens of thousands of dollars on the ceremony and reception. From afar the planning seemed like agony, and watching people suffer through it discouraged me and my now-husband (spoiler) from ever wanting a wedding of our own. If we were to put that much time and effort into something, we would want to get paid to do it, not have our bank accounts docked $60,000.
But eventually the perks of wedded life, namely health insurance coverage and getting to wear rings, won us over, and we “tied the knot.” We did it quickly, efficiently, and economically; here’s why you should — and how you can — do it that way, too.
Pick a month
One recent December, we decided to wed and gave ourselves three weeks to put the wedding together, setting our target date sometime after Christmas. Because step one of planning a three-week-wedding is to schedule it for a time when your families are already going to be in town. Any time people are already planning to converge is perfect. This means your anniversary will wind up near an existing holiday: Great!
Easy to remember and even easier to celebrate.
Do the paperwork
Before moving to Step two — choosing a day of the week — make sure you sort out the paperwork. In December 2017, the Australian government introduced the Notice of Intended Marriage form, which must be filled and given to your celebrant at least a month (but no longer than 18 months) before your wedding day.
Do this early so that the slow-moving wheels of bureaucracy don’t get in the way of your soon-to-be wedded bliss.
Pick a day of the week, limiting yourself to Monday through Thursday
Now that the paperwork is filled out, it’s time to choose a date! Make sure that it doesn’t fall on the weekend, because venues and restaurants tend to be booked up well in advance for weekends.
Instead, throw your wedding on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, and you’ll have the pick of the town. Doing our wedding on the Wednesday after Christmas meant I was able to easily book a salon session (still have to have fairy-tale hair even if it’s not a fairy-tale wedding) and a restaurant for the reception.
Choose a spot
Does your city have a beach, a beautiful park, a quaint river bridge, a majestic hiking trail, a cool overlook, or a photogenic monument? (If it has none of those things, maybe you should move.) Because your wedding is only three weeks away, you can actually rely on the weather forecast and choose a day when the weather looks like it’s going to be good.
Send out an email to a small number of guests
One of the advantages of a quickly planned wedding is that you don’t have to invite a shitload of people and you don’t have to send out expensive invitations in the mail or make a special website. There isn’t time! You just send out an email, letting people know it’s happening (or not, if you want to do a variation on this: the surprise three-week-wedding).
Your closest family members will be there, along with any close friends who are in town. You don’t have to worry about inviting all your colleagues, or the college friends you only keep up with on Facebook, or every single member of your distant bloodline, including that third cousin who you haven’t seen since you were six.
Plus, we live in the modern age: take advantage. We invited the friends and extended family who couldn’t be there in person to join us via Google Hang-out for a toast at the reception. It all worked out well and having fewer people in real live attendance means fewer plated dinners and more money to spend on the rest of your lives together. And hey, spending less on your wedding means you’re less likely to get divorced. Yay!
Bridesmaids and groomsmen: Fuck that. The origins of the wedding party are grotesque.
Don’t go crazy over the things people usually go crazy over
Get a wedding cake if you must. But because you’ll likely only have 20 or so people coming, you’ll only need a small one, and can ask your favourite neighbourhood baker to whip something up for you.
As for decorations, tap your craftiest friend or relative to take care of it. Part of the ethos of the three week wedding is to accept any help offered. It’s amazing what a creative person can do with candles and a few pretty bowls filled with water and floating flowers.
And as for a professional photographer and videographer, just make sure to invite at least one person with an iPhone X and a habit of posting beautiful Instagrams. You do not need 1000 photos from your BIG DAY and you do not need a wedding day video. Those videos never get watched, except by people who wind up divorcing and then it is bitterly while rage-crying, swearing and drinking copious amounts of wine.
The best part of planning a three-week wedding is that, despite what you might think, it is not stressful at all. It’s more like planning a small dinner party than an awards ceremony. People’s expectations are low because you planned this in such a short amount of time. You don’t have hundreds of people attending that make everything complicated and expensive.
And you don’t have a ton of decisions to make, because you don’t have a year in advance to worry about every single detail of the day. That means you and your soon-to-be-legally-bound partner won’t have a million things about which to argue during the very long lead-up to your wedding.
So if you’re not married already, please consider this. And if you take my advice, don’t worry, I definitely don’t expect a “thank you”. The last bonus of the three week wedding: no gift registry and thus no thank you notes.