small weddings

As some of you know, Geoff and I have been engaged for the past year, but I don't have a single wedding plan in my head (except a vague one) or, astonishingly, on paper. I don't have little fantasies about invitations or colour schemes or themes. It never occurs to me to skim wedding blogs. I forget that bridal registries exist. I am not going to go into detail about my family or my beliefs, but I want nothing more than a small wedding.

I don't mean to sound defensive, but when it comes to weddings I find that sometimes people forget to respect the wishes and opinions of others. It is really awful to be on the receiving end of passive aggressive, belittling statements when you say you want a small, "non-traditional" (whatever that means) wedding, or when others notice that your engagement ring consists of a single, tiny white sapphire. I've heard it all. Yet the "quality" of the wedding is exclusive of the quality of the marriage, isn't it?

This wedding that I saw posted on A Cup of Jo is, without a doubt, the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen. I'm not exaggerating. I cannot stop thinking about it. Jess and Mike got married at City Hall in New York City, and then headed to the Chelsea Hotel with friends. The photos are by Heather Waraksa. It's just so pretty and uncomplicated, and like a dream to me.

The next time I post about weddings will probably be when we get back from City Hall ourselves!


katrina: I would love tips, if you don't mind emailing me!

christinamm: Strip clubs, hey? I hadn't heard that before... but it's all right! If that's where people want to socalize, I don't mind.

sew nancy: I hope you get the chance soon!

Jane Flanagan: It sounds very pretty, doesn't it?

alyson: Yay! Me too!

Liane: Oh, how fun! I'm sure you will love it. Part of the problem with this show is that it was in a club. If you're in a more intimate theatre, I'm sure it will be so much better! Ys is so dear to me that I am not sure if I have room in my heart for this new one. Sigh.

melly: Thank you! Oh, I'm sure it will be so wonderful. There's so much natural beauty there, it seems, and I have yet to see it! So I'm excited.

bigBANG studio: Oh! Thanks for link, I'll have to check it out! That is definitely one of my favourite songs from the new album.

Caroline: Oh, sure! Please feel free to get in touch! I'm always happy to receive tips!

alice's adventures: Thank you! Adventures!

stephanie renee: Thanks, and me too!

Lexie: Yes, please! Recommendations are always welcome.

erica-knits: Aw, thanks! I'll have to keep a list for you for your trip!

Chelsea: I'm not a vegetarian, but I do love vegetarian restaurants, so thanks for the tip! I can't wait!

nice-etc.com / caitlin: Yeah! He won't get a party at home, haha. We'll have to find cake for him in Chicago! LANDMARK BIRTHDAY!

Roberta Jane: I would LOVE that!

Bess Callard: Do it! It's not so bad!

Celine: I hope you get to go -- although I'm sure you will! It seems as though it's an essential place for an architect to visit.

Maggi: That sounds like an excellent idea! I've never seen a FLW home up close; I did start making plans to visit Fallingwater once, but it didn't happen.

Hello Lindello: Thanks! Yeah, it looks pretty awesome.

Carmen: Oh, I will! Thank you!

Tashie: Thank you!

May: I've been meaning to go for years! I hope you get to go somewhere special, too.


  1. this looks wonderful. perfect, really.

  2. This was a beautiful post, thank you so much. Congratulations on the engagement. I think the ideal wedding varies amongst different people, I think a simplistic wedding is just as beautiful as an extravagant, elaborate, overworked wedding. Whatever feels right to you and whatever makes you both feel special would be the ideal wedding. :)

  3. I'm so sorry that your experience with being engaged hasn't been what it might have been. I hope that you are able to have a lovely wedding some day, the way you want it. And by the way...your engagement band sounds lovely.

  4. This post makes me love you a little more than I already did. I sometimes feel like North America is a big bridal fair / baby shower that everybody measures everybody else against. Maybe it's my group of friends at home, but it's something I'd never experienced until I moved here. Knowing you feel the same way makes me feel a little less lonely about it! Plus, I love your engagement ring. Every time I catch sight of it in a picture of you, I smile.

  5. I couldn't agree more. As someone who is youngly divorced (ugh) I can attest to the fact that you can be so easily pressured and guilted into having a "normal" wedding. But I guess the good thing is that when I get married again, I'll know every single thing I should NOT do. Rule #1: follow your heart, not your mother's wishes. ha! Rule #2: For the love of god, it's a one-evening event: why spend thousands of dollars?! I cringe thinking about all the money put into weddings. It's gross. Uncomplicated. That sounds like perfection. I too swooned over this wedding.

  6. sigh... well said my friend {and fellow kate szabone ring wearer.}

    a part of me loves tradition, but the other part of me with the devil on my shoulder really loves just doing things that I like or defying tradition just because people are "afraid I'll regret it" or they are "worried that something won't work right". go to city hall lady!! I'm sure you'll have an amaaaazing wedding and will remember it forever because it was what YOU wanted.

  7. Anonymous17.3.10

    Ugh. I know exactly what you mean.

    We got married pretty young (22 - almost 23) and I didn't have the balls then to tell my mother to go to hell but I really should have. Instead of the destination or city hall style (Ottawa doesn't do city hall marriages anymore) wedding we wanted we ended up with something a bit crazier because my mom fought me at every step (and she wasn't even paying for any of it!). It still wasn't the over-the-top money guzzler that most weddings are but I still do not look back on that day with fondness, which is really, really sad.

  8. beautiful post. I'm all for the small, non-traditional wedding, too. I'm really grateful that my family (and most of my friends) understand that.

  9. I saw this post! It really is beautiful.
    I also want to try to plan a smaller, uncomplicated wedding with all of our family and closest friends, and it is tough. You have to know when to draw the line and not go overboard, and I'm sort of struggling with it.
    I actually started a wedding blog, but it's password protected, so if you'd like to see it, send me an email! xox

  10. You hit the nail on the head with this: "...the "quality" of the wedding is exclusive of the quality of the marriage."

    Although I (happily) had a fairly traditional wedding (without religion or the 'giving away' or the throwing of the bouquet though), I make a point of being non-judgy about what other people want to do. To me, the most important part of any wedding is the exchanging of some sort of vows or promises. And you don't need help from wedding magazines or bridal shows (ugh.) for that.

  11. Adore this wedding. Adore the post! Totally agree 100%!

  12. Adore this wedding. Adore the post! Totally agree 100%!

  13. So beautifully said Anabela - I couldn't agree with you more! My wedding was relatively small, with 50 people including me + my husband, and even that felt a little too big. We even debated a courthouse wedding, but my husband actually convinced me to go with the larger event - which in the end I'm really glad we did, but there's no way I could have done anything bigger than 50 people. But regardless of its size, a wedding should be a reflection of the couple getting married, not the wishes of parents, friends, or other well-intentioned givers of advice. :)

  14. SO. TRUE! i'm glad that you and geoff are doing exactly want you want and what makes you happy. i think people forget that the day is only about the two of you, somehow others (even if they don't mean to) end up making it about themselves.
    we eloped (sort of, my mother in law was our witness) and loved it!

  15. girl, this post makes my girl crush on you sooo much bigger! xx

  16. thank you for your post. so refreshing! I got married very young, and now that's it's been a few years, I would do everything different. Not that mine was bad, but I am terribly sick of the huge crazy weddings that are everywhere. I spent very little money, and my favorite memory of our wedding is the relief of it being over, and laughing finally being alone!

  17. YAY! this wedding really stayed with me too. the photos, the city, the fact that she kept her coat on, and that the look like REAL people, not glammed up model versions of themselves. I am glad you are thinking of the city hall route. my boyfriend and i have discussed that many times too. to me, there is nothing more romantic!

  18. i had the same thought when I saw these photos, most beautiful wedding ever! I got all the same grief when we wanted a "non-traditional" wedding, but I am so glad we stuck to what we wanted. I am sure it will be beautiful whatever you end up doing because you seem like such a sweet couple!

  19. Thank you for the post! It puts things in perspective. I think the idea of creating a really authentic, meaningful day can get lost in the sea of expectations and rituals that we "have to do." As someone who is currently planning a wedding, our wishes to forgo some traditions and must haves aren't always received well. At the end of the day, do what you want & it'll be like the things you create: beautiful, thoughtful, and sweet. (oh and if ya'll wore glitter party hats- perfectly sparkly!)

  20. Most of the time I feel absolutely repulsed by the sort of wedding culture that exists in most of America. It just make my skin crawl. I guess that's easy enough for me to say since I'm not interested in getting married, at least not until I'm quite over the hill, but if I ever did, it would go something like this.

  21. The idea of being a bride was horrifying to me. I eloped - got married on a Friday aft in the Hart House chapel. I only regret not including my parents, who were traumatized. But other than that, it was the low key experience I wanted.

  22. Anonymous17.3.10

    i love your engagement ring. it's one of my favorites. :)

  23. Yes <3 No one in my family has had a big wedding, really, and somehow the idea of a big to-do makes me feel so awkward and lonely! My parents got married just at city hall and then had a big ol' lunch--which I think is a good way to go.

    I do like some things. I like fusty invitations and I like sometimes when people post wedding stuff, but I would like to sort of explore it all and then you know. Not have a wedding :D Just have nice papers and a pretty dress and some neat pictures with.

    I've always felt so strange because I didn't want a wedding, and everyone else--especially girls it seems--does. I even have nightmares about it, where I end up with one and it's just all wrong and awful, and it is the worst feeling!


  24. i have told my parents since my soph year of college i plan to elope! after reading "one perfect day: the selling of the american wedding," my mind was completely made up!

    i will email you a list asap!

  25. a beauitful, uncomplicated wedding is totally what I see you and Geoff having.
    It's lovely.

  26. Your wedding will be beautiful and wonderful, because you are beautiful and wonderful together. and i love your ring.


    p.s. we already know you can throw a gorgeous house party. :)

  27. i couldn't agree with you more, always go with what feels good inside of you. i've never understood all the fuss about weddings when it really just has to do with two people who want to show their love to each other. thank you for sharing this :)

  28. This couple had a remarkably talented photographer. The images from their wedding are breathtaking; quiet, subdued, and shot through with otherworldly color.

    It's such a bummer that some people are fraught with such anxiety and expectation of what a wedding should be like that they are not able to be genuinely happy for you. I think a small, pretty, uncomplicated affair sounds perfect and I can't image your wedding being anything but. You are incredibly fortunate to have found love (!) and you should celebrate, honor, and share it with your friends and family in a way that works for the two of you.

    Also, the Cobain wedding photos where he's in his pajamas on a beach in Hawaii? Maybe my favorite idea of a wedding ever.

  29. What a beautiful wedding!

    Wedding culture is so weird...It's like you're not doing it right if you don't have a big ring, extravagant proposal, and outrageous price tag. We gave in to external opinions on several aspects of our wedding, only because we were focused more on life after the wedding day. We don't feel like our wedding suited us at all, which is unfortunate, but our marriage suits us just fine!

    (Belated) Congratulations on the engagement!

  30. I've been scared of getting married because I hate the idea of having to have a big wedding and flashy rings and impersonal showiness. This is so refreshing and meaningful--thanks a million for posting it!

  31. this is perfection, I so agree with you too. I leave with "my husband" (we are not actually married but I like to call it like we were) for 10 years now and I can't imagine the whole marriage thing to organize, like my sister's wedding or all my cousins weddings too (you can understand our families are from Portugal where a marriage is THE life time event).
    I think about it at times, especially when I see a vintage dress that could be a perfect fit for a wedding, but I always think it small.

  32. I wanted to say : I LIVE and not leave with my husband :) and has for the portuguese families I meant yours and mine, because my husband is french and his family is not a lot into marriages, they just get together and live together as a marriage (like what we did).

  33. i wish more people would be respectful of a person's wishes. for people who want a "traditional" wedding and those who don't. in the end, isn't it about what you want to share with your guy or girl? anyway.

    personally, i think the photos are beautiful. and that unassuming, little engagement rings are perfectly sweet. or even just unique ones! last week, someone bought a huge bronze ring from me as one, so unorthodox but the concept of the collection was "casting off the old and embracing the new" and that made my heart smile so, so big.

  34. I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on having a small wedding. My husband and I suscribed to the same way of thinking when we were planning our wedding. And we wouldn't have changed a thing.

  35. well said. weddings are so personal, i think people sometimes forget that it's idiosyncratic to each individual and not meant to be 'benchmarked' against some pop cultural fantasy derived from reality shows and glossy magazines.

    congrats on your engagement - and would love to see a pic of your lovely ring :)

  36. Weddings and children. So many opinions and perhaps unintended cruelty. When I was expecting my first child, I had to stop reading materials on the subject because they were undermining my trust in myself. Somewhere inside, I knew that I already knew what to do, anyway.

    On both of these subjects, I am sure you also know just what to do :)

    Beautiful photos.

  37. Here here. I loved seeing that NY city hall wedding too.

  38. this wedding is SO dreamy! hopefully a good majority of people giving you grief just want the best for you and believe that you deserve it! ..they just have trouble comprehending why it's not what they believe or want for you two? i feel you on this intimate wedding plan.. is it our personality? a sign of the times?? haha

  39. i have a friend whose getting married who feels like much of the plans are not her own, but that of her families wishes. it's become a thing of it's own. so i say make it your own, do what YOU want!

  40. wow, that truly is a gorgeous wedding.

    i was like you when i got engaged. the first thing people asked when i told them was "when's the date?!" and my reaction was, "oh. i have to think of a date now? great...." i was so not into wedding planning. all i knew is that i didn't want a big spectacle, and i didn't want it at a church. we ended up having a very small, very lovely wedding. i didn't want to spend much money (save it for the honeymoon!) so we did things cheaply. and yes, some people gave me crap about my choices (or non-choices). we didn't even hire a photographer but instead had guests snap photos. it was very relaxed.

    when i look back on it, i think i couldn't care less about the details of the wedding. the thing i remember is seeing joe grin from ear to ear when i came down the stairs to the alter. i immediately went up and gave him a big hug and kiss. then we were both grinning like idiots. that's what i remember, and that's what's important. like you said. i think your viewpoint on it is very mature. not that people shouldn't enjoy their big weddings if they want. but it's not for everyone.

    whatever you guys do, it will be amazing.

  41. I saw this wedding too and was so enamored by it. It looked so magical and I loved how simple it was.

    When it comes to weddings I have the same mentality. Ben and I didn't pick our "date" until 2 weeks before. We just decided to do it one Saturday in a little secret beach we had both grown up swimming at. It was just our parents, siblings, two friends, and a judge at sunset. It was by far the best night of my life. The sky was purple, the lake calm, and all of us were giddy with excitement and tears of joy. Sure some people felt left out, but they got over it. A few months later we had a large party with all our friends and family and that was pretty simple as well.

    I have no doubt your wedding will be just as magical and special. Sorry for writing a mini novel....

  42. I feel you on this, totally! When (or if) my sweetie and I ever actually get married, it will be very small- a few friends with us up at the park by our house or maybe just us and a photog. to serve as witness. Good for you for staying true to yourself, don't let any of those nasty belittlers get you down!

  43. Anonymous18.3.10

    These photos of the small New York City Hall wedding get me so excited for my small New York City Hall wedding in the next few months! My younger brother is getting married in June and has been planning this huge event for a year - it often makes me second guess myself in wanting a small wedding, but I always come to the same conclusion. It's the right thing for me and the love of my life :)

  44. Very nice! My close friends have all had small weddings, and I've attended some family weddings that were much bigger and more traditional. I enjoyed them all, but for me I know I want something small and manageable. I don't have any family pressure because my parents got married by a judge under a tarp in Yellowknife, wearing their best jeans and then had a potluck. They have now been married almost 35 years, proving to me that whatever I choose to do, it will be the marriage that is important, not just the wedding.
    Here's my grandparents' wedding photo from 1945, in Montreal. I just love how elegant and happy they look.

  45. I soooo hear you! We've also been engaged for about a year and the thought of even thinking about planning a wedding makes me crazy. I am stressed out just by the idea of it, let alone the actual event itself. and really, must it cost so much money!?
    good luck with yours :) and I wish you both lots of happiness.

  46. Just had a city hall wedding a couple of weeks ago. The worst part: had to go through a metal detector to get to the ceremony. The best part: we were out of our stuffy clothes, drinking a beer, and taking a hike in nature only hours later. Despite some tense moments and threats of drama with family and friends beforehand, we are so happy we did things our way. Everyone has gotten over it now too, and is happy for us.

  47. i know i'm late on posting this... and just wanted to say that you don't have to reply. I thought you might get a kick out of my Toronto wedding story.

    We had a tiny tiny wedding of 11 guests in our backyard on dovercourt. I was lucky enough to have a friend (who was one of the owners of aunties and uncles at the time) make the food for us. After the ceremony we pulled the tables out and dug in.

    After eating we headed down to the gladstone (before renovations) to karaoke the night away, and invited all of our friends to meet us there... was super fun!

    I put my foot down and the only family that was invited were my parents. There were protests and it was hard but I'm happy that I stuck to my guns!

  48. oh I so agree. I want a small non-traditional, romantic, non-expensive wedding, too. Normal weddings make me feel a bit ill and I don't want to spend a fortune on one party.
    I am more excited about being married than the wedding. Thanks for making me feel less like a weirdo ♥

  49. love this post. when someone asked to see my ring they actually had the nerve to say "IS THAT IT?! looks like something you'd get out of a cracker jack box". WELL, i love my little twig ring.

  50. you might like this blog.
    the ideas are beautiful and it look like a good time was had by all.
    have fun and enjoy planning your wedding!

  51. So true. I'm coming up to the wedding age, and can only pray that my friends will mostly feel the same way you do! Go with your first instict and stay strong :)

  52. I love her bouquet! Thanks for the post.



  53. Gorgeous pictures :) I concurr, discussions of weddings can quickly become highly emotional and loaded. My friends and I often say it's the marriage not the wedding that counts. It's nice to know we're not the only ones :)