We got married on the 23rd of October 2010 at Woodgate Beach, and I wrote this post on our first wedding anniversary as a record of our wedding, with some tips for others who want to keep things simple. We didn't follow all the traditions because we didn't know what they were and we were happy to just do our own thing.
We had a simple wedding!
I'm sure you're not surprised that it was simple and we mostly planned and paid for our wedding ourselves. The months immediately before our wedding were incredibly busy and stressful, and afterwards I couldn’t imagine that I would forget all the details, but thinking back now, with so much having happened in the meantime, its getting a little fuzzy.
It was probably lucky for us that we hadn’t been to many conventional weddings between us. This meant that we didn’t have a good idea of how things were “supposed” to be done and were very free to create a day that suited us perfectly. We were also lucky not to have meddling relatives that wanted to “help”, most of the planning was left to us. If you are a traditionalist, you may be horrified by all the rules we broke, but I do hope it will encourage others to think outside what is expected or commonly done and do whatever makes you comfortable.
A beach location for our simple wedding
We took months and months to start planning because we couldn’t decide on the perfect location. We thought about having the wedding at Woodgate Beach, were my parents-in-law live, but didn’t want to make them feel that we were imposing on them. We thought about having it at our property, but the thought of hiring porta-loos and trying to seat everyone so they didn’t have to stare out at our neighbour’s ugly barren horse yard was just too much! We almost gave up and organised a registry wedding followed by a dinner. Finally we came back to the beach idea. We both LOVE the beach and we decided that we could make it work.
With the location decided we could finally set a date and start inviting people. We decided to have the wedding ceremony on the beach in the afternoon (although we would have loved a dawn ceremony, we realised it would be difficult for some of our guests to get there on time) followed by dinner at the community hall in Woodgate. All I had to do then was look up the tide times to find suitable weekends and find out when the hall was free. The 23rd of October worked out to be perfect on both counts, so the date was set.
The hall hire was only about $200 for the Friday afternoon until the Sunday morning. I’ve heard that its gone up a bit since, but that’s still very cheap! That included crockery, cutlery, tables and chairs.
Guest list and invitations
We wanted to keep things simple and small, which was made easy by neither of us coming from huge families or having huge circles of friends. Neither of us particularly wanted to invite anyone from work. We were able to keep the guest list to 30 people, which was quite manageable.
We decided that we didn’t want any bridesmaids or goomsmen (or any flower girls or page boys for that matter!), but we did ask two good friends to be our witnesses for the official part of the ceremony. As the ceremony was on the beach, Cheryl the Kelpie was able to come too.
I wasn’t interested in spending time and money on fiddly invitations, so I just drew something up in ms word with a nice photo of Cheryl on the beach and all the details. I emailed that to everyone on the list who had email, and only had to print and post 5-6 invitations. Most people continued to RSVP and communicate by email, which made things even easier.
As my family were all travelling from NZ to the wedding, we decided to hire some holiday houses for everyone to stay in, to keep down costs as so many had to buy air fares and pay for hire cars etc. We chose three houses on The Esplanade (across the road from the beach) and booked them for the week. Most people chose to stay for a few extra days and enjoyed the little beach town and the nearby city of Bundaberg. Pete and I stayed in the houses for a few days and booked our own apartment for the night before and the night of the wedding, so that we could get ready in privacy (yes, I know we weren’t supposed to get ready together!).
A simple wedding dress
Anyway, I wasn’t terribly keen on wearing a white dress, nor anything overly sequined or lacy. As usual, I was going for simple, but that seemed difficult to explain. I tried on a few white ones and they felt totally wrong. Finally one of the attendants actually listened to me and suggested a nice simple bridesmaid dress. The dress was made to order, so I was able to chose the size and colour. I chose green and cream to match the colours of the tussock grass on the sand dunes around the beach. Even better, it was a third of the price of the white ones I tried on, at under $300.
The dress arrived in a few months and fitted perfectly (lucky because I couldn't find a dress-maker!), but was far too long. I guess it was designed to be worn with high heels. I had no intention of wearing high heels on the beach or at the reception (why torture myself?). I had a pair of gold sandals that I picked up a garage sale for $10, that I thought would be fine. Anyway, the dress needed to be taken up so that it didn’t drag in the sand.
A simple groom's outfit
Flowers for a simple wedding
Simple wedding hair and jewellery
A simple beach wedding ceremony
Pete and I walked down to the beach and down the isle together, with Elvis Priestley’s “Love me Tender” playing in the background. When we made that decision to walk down the isle together, I was worried that my dad would be offended and I asked mum what she thought. She said that they had done the same thing (it was the 70s after all!), so we could proceed without any worries! I think some people may have thought it was a bit odd, but it felt right for us, seeing as we already lived together, it seemed a bit bazaar for my dad to “give me away”.
Our celebrant was a Woodgate local. We met him a few times before the ceremony and he was very professional. He had also been married for a long time himself, so we trusted him to present a nice ceremony. We were very pleased with his work. He provided his own sound system and made a nice speech before we read the standard vows.
Photography for our simple wedding
Simple beach-themed decorations for our reception
On the day of the wedding we spent the morning decorating the hall and as my family had nothing else to do, being on holiday at the beach, they all came to help. My parents-in-law had spent months picking up nice shells from the beach and had presented me with a huge bucket of washed shells. I spread these out over the tables and all around the hall. The only other thing on each of the four the tables were three candles from a cheap shop (with small shells on them) sitting on small tiles (to keep them off the tablecloths).
Food and drink for a simple wedding
The main worry here was that we wouldn’t buy enough! In the end we got 8 cartons of beer (various Cascade, Moteiths etc) and a box of red wine, a box of white wine and a box of sparkling wine. We were ok with choosing the beer, but had no idea when it came to the wine. Lucky for us we found a helpful shop attendant at Dan Murphies and he helped us to choose something nice but not too expensive. We had plenty left over, so we must have got about the right amount! I'm still using up the wine in cooking as we don't drink it much.
A simple wedding cake
My mother-in-law offered to make the cake and we thought that would be lovely (have you seen the price of wedding cakes these days? They cost more than my dress!). The best part was that she did a number of trials for us to sample before settling on the final recipe. We requested a chocolate cake and she started with a very complicated recipe and then ended up with a lovely simple one. We covered the cake with Guylian chocolate shells. I think it looked rather nice (and it tasted great!).
So that is a summary of our simple wedding. I hope it will give you some ideas for your own simple wedding or event.