My now-husband and I were engaged for 4 months, so in wedding-industry terms, it was a fairly short engagement. But we had things to do, places to go, and people to see. Plus we just wanted to be married to each other and start the rest of our lives! So a short engagement it was!
We knew we didn't want to have to place a lot of restrictions on the guest list, and we wanted to have a lot of fun, but not spend a ton of money. A few things were important to us:
1) A large reception venue
2) Cheap (but still good!) food
3) Having fun!
4) Ending up married!
Looking for a good deal on food led us to decide that we should make it ourselves. 300 people? Cooking on my wedding day? Plenty of people (including my in-laws) thought I was crazy, but now-husband was used to my crazy schemes and thought I should go for it. My mother (from whom I inherited my penchant for crazy schemes) fully supported (and helped hatch) this latest idea.
So we did it. What did going for it entail? Well, bulk-food shopping, for one. Costco was my close friend, and I frequented restaurant websites to find out just how many gallons of olive oil I'd need for the salad dressing, and how many hundreds of pounds of meat I'd need. Thinking back on it makes my head hurt, but it was completely worth it. We made 300 people's dinner for roughly $3/person, with tons of leftovers. And the food wasn't half-bad if I do say so myself. Granted, we spent the entire week before the wedding cooking up a storm, as well as mixing salad dressing, chopping veggies, setting tables, and a million other things the morning of. I've never been more tired than after our wedding, but it was also one of the most joyful times in my life.
The living room I shared with my incredibly understanding roommates became the central location for the "wedding factory" the week prior. In fact, my mother baked 500 cupcakes in the kitchen, pretty much completely by herself.
We made escort cards, table numbers, signs, card boxes ... you name it, my parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends worked on it. My dad chopped veggies. My father-in-law picked up flowers from the San Francisco flower mart so we could make our own bouquets and centerpieces the night before.
My aunt and uncle flew all the way out from Wyoming to help us do crazy things like stick dead branches in paint cans filled with concrete and put lights on them. Another aunt and uncle surprised us with the most fantastic cake with a light-up glass topper that they etched themselves.
My grandfather untangled strand after strand of tangled Christmas lights from friends. My grandmother helped bake enough Chicken Parmesan and London Broil for 300 people. My bridesmaids and friends frosted 500 cupcakes.
An absolutely enormous production was pulled off because of family and friends.
Oh, did I mention I had my wisdom teeth pulled the Monday before the wedding? Most of this was taking place while I was incapable of opening my mouth enough to talk. My mom was a a lifesaver! She took all of my plans and organization and made it all come together ... including the mechanical bull we rented for the evening. That was another reason we needed a big reception hall ... to fit in the mechanical bull! Was it a Western-themed wedding? Nope. Casual-backyard wedding? Nope. It was actually pretty formal and traditional (guys in tuxes, evening wedding). We just felt like having a bull. Because why not? And let me tell you, it was a BLAST! I'm sure it will become a new trends in weddings rivaling the candy buffet.
But my favorite part? Watching our two families get to know each other that week. Obviously there was no way I could pull off something like that myself. Especially in the last couple of days before the wedding, everyone around me pitching in to pull it off was one of the most loving and supportive things our family could have done. And those in-laws that thought I was crazy? They still do! But they love me anyway, and joined the "wedding factory" with full support. I will never forget watching my engineer father-in-law and my carpenter uncle working together to hot-glue-gun silver glitter ribbon to tea candle votives. (And if you asked either one of them, I can pretty much guarantee neither one of them would have any clue what a votive is or does!)
What better way for a family to get to know each other? Isn't that what a wedding symbolizes? Two becoming one? Families are a HUGE part of that. Working together to accomplish a goal let us get to know each other a whole lot better than going out to dinner together.
After the wedding, my uncle let me know that my new family was "pretty alright" by him. Well, you know what? I think so too.
You can check out my blog at http://barefootandmarried.wordpress.com