In Defense of Small Weddings

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We were not surprised when our daughter announced her engagement this past spring. She and her fiancé had been together for two and a half years by then, maintaining their intercontinental relationship as they traveled back and forth between his home in England and hers here in the U.S. while they finished their degrees. By then, he had been out of school and working a year, and she would have just one year left until she finished her Master’s. They decided they would marry the following June.

The next thing they told us is that they wanted a very small wedding. They imagined a Bed and Breakfast where they could get married in a pretty garden with a simple meal afterwards, and invite only the closest of family members and friends to stay over in the guest rooms at the B&B that night.

We agreed with the small wedding concept. For one thing, weddings are a fortune, and right now, as we plan for this small wedding, we are also footing our younger daughter’s college tuition, room and board, and next year, her study abroad semester, all of which we just finished paying for with the daughter who  is now getting married.

We also don’t like the feel of a big wedding as much as a small one.  Our own wedding had been 110 people, which many people would still consider “small.” I wished I hadn’t agreed to it even now, 27 years later. It had felt big. The room had been filled with people who barely knew me and my new husband at all – there were distant relatives, my parents’ friends.

My daughter has made it clear this wasn’t how she wanted it to be. I totally agree with her. Each person, we feel, should have touched or loved my daughter or her soon-to-be husband in some way over the years. This easily eliminates dozens of guests – people we could invite – my parents’ friends, my husband’s business colleagues, people we know from the past who would surely be happy to come, but whom maybe now we don’t see much or, frankly, at all.

Within weeks of the engagement, the wedding planning began. My daughter and her fiancé did find a beautiful Bed and Breakfast where we will hold the wedding on a (hopefully sunny) Sunday afternoon under a gazebo next June, in a garden bursting with summertime flowers and a koi pond to charm our guests.  We’ll be able to spend quality time with those we’ve invited, instead of rushing past one to see the next. We won’t worry about impressing anyone because we don’t need to impress our closest friends and family.  We’re not concerned that the cocktail hour won’t be a full dinner itself, leaving guests not even hungry for the main meal, or that the wedding cake is not going to be three or four tiers. (Just two, thanks.)

We don’t need to worry about all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen getting ready at the same time and complaining about the dress or the suit or the costs of being a member of a bridal party. There are just three attendants – the bride’s sister, who will be her maid of honor, her future sister-in-law as bridesmaid, and the groom’s brother will serve as best man.

We’re not doing a bridal shower – not my daughter’s thing. We did have a small engagement party at our house recently so our friends could meet our soon-to-be-son-in-law. It was just thirty people and when we looked around at our smiling guests, we realized nearly the entire wedding guest list was there – the wedding guest list is about fifty. This is up from the thirty to thirty five my daughter had originally hoped for, but even we couldn’t manage to get it down that small!

It will be small but elegant and beautiful, and we feel great about doing it this way. There’s nothing wrong with a small wedding. In fact, I think there’s everything right with it.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.