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Fact: I’ve had two weddings, thus two marriages. One of them failed. That failed relationship/marriage taught me a great deal when the right partner for me did come along, and why it is okay to say no to things for your wedding.

Love your partner, love yourself.

My ex-husband proposed to me in March 2007. We were on an interstate holiday. Part of me was elated. The other part knew I was doing something terrible. Saying no scared me. Plus how awkward the second week of the holiday would be if I’d have said no. We married in August 2008. I mustered up the courage to leave in March 2009. Twelve months after my life-changing decision I moved from Geelong to Melbourne. One month after moving to Melbourne, I met the love of my life. As clichéd as it sounds, for me, it was love at first sight. I knew he was the one. Fast forward to 25 May 2014: Alex was down on one knee, confessing his love for me and asking me to be his wife. We married on 23 August 2015.

A man is proposing to a woman. They are standing in front of tropical green plants. The man has short light brown hair. His back is to the camera. The man is wearing a white, navy, and orange check shirt and a silver watch on his left wrist. He is on one knee, with a white ring box in his left hand, and holding the woman's left hand with his right hand. The woman is standing in front of the man with her right hand clasped over her mouth. She is wearing a green top, a black belt, and a white skirt with red roses and green leaves. She is also wearing a small pearl pendant and matching earrings. Her hair and overall appearance are that of a 1950s wife.

Planning a wedding with Alex was very different than planning my first wedding. Alex wanted to be involved in the process. He respected my opinion, and he valued my research. The most important thing was being on the same page with decision making. If one of us wasn’t sold on an idea, there was no pushing the envelope, we went back to the drawing board and sourced other options. Thankfully this didn’t happen too often, if at all.

Despite our differing experiences with marriage, we both knew we didn’t want to do anything that we didn’t want to. Unfortunately, many couples feel heavy burdens and expectations of having their wedding a particular way, to accommodate a family member’s suggestion. Though they mean well, you may not want to incorporate that into your day. Your day, not theirs. Of course, if you have other people (parents, for example) contributing finances to your wedding, incorporating their requests may be needed. You can still negotiate with them – you are adults after all.

Like a Scout: Be Prepared

Alex and I spoke about getting married for quite a while before he popped the question. I’d already had a big wedding with every man and his dog – and felt completely overwhelmed. Marrying Alex, I knew that I wanted something intimate. Alex taught me the importance of loving myself instead of needing to please everyone. I also knew that Alex didn’t want or need a big wedding, it just wasn’t him.

Before our engagement, we asked my parents if inviting my extended family was expected. Mum told me that it was our wedding and we should not feel pressured to invite people we didn’t want. Crisis averted. Broaching the topic with Alex’s parents wasn’t as forward.

The discussion happened after we became engaged, once Alex and I had thoroughly discussed how we wanted to celebrate our day. It was expected Alex’s brother’s parents-in-law be invited. Alex firmly said no. If we extended the invitation to his brother’s in-laws, we would have to invite his step-sister’s in-laws, and my brother’s mother-in-law and her husband. Though we see these people from time to time, they are not people who we would invite to dinner ‘just because’. Applying this logic helped to keep our numbers intimate.

A bright restaurant - previously a fire station - with bright yellow beams, white brick walls, two windows with white diamond-shaped trim in each landscape panel. One window is close to the ceiling. It is three panels across, long and narrow. The second window is much lower, and has four panels, two by two. There is a rustic style chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The ceiling is tan MDF. The floor is a deep red and grey-white checker board style floor. The restaurant is filled with people celebrating a wedding.

Everyone has one: Opinions

Anyone who offers there opinion on your wedding is – or will be at some point – out of line unless you ask for it. Ultimately, the day is about celebrating you and your significant other the way you want. There are tactful ways to go about honouring and celebrating you and your significant other without blatantly offending those offering up suggestions:

“Oh thank you for that suggestion. James and I haven’t actually discussed that part of our wedding yet, but I’ll be sure to add it to our list of options to discuss when the time comes.”

“We’ll have to see if that will fit in with our budget, but thanks for that suggestion!”

There may be some instances where you may need – or even want – to incorporate someone’s suggestion/opinion, but just remember that you do not have to accommodate others’ wishes.

A deep midnight blue square sign on white backing board. The sign reads: "Welcome to our unplugged wedding. Please kindly turn off your phones, cameras, and gadgets and tune into our happiness! 
A small pink heart 
Alex and Hollie"

Your Day, Your Way

Marriage is a commitment between two people who will be making decisions together for (hopefully) the rest of their lives. Throwing other people’s opinions into the mix just causes unnecessary chaos and drama. At the end of the day, being surrounded by people who love and support you as a couple is vital, and that starts with supporting your marriage.

Five people standing in front of a large window. From left to right: a female marriage celebrant, a man, a groom, a bride, and a man. The celebrant has shoulder length dark hair with a fringe, and wears glasses. She is reading from a book. The first man is wearing a suit, shirt, and tie, has his hands clasped in front of him and is looking down, smiling. The groom is looking slightly to the celebrant. The groom wears a suit, shirt, and tie, and has a boutonierre. His hands are slightly clasped in front. There is a slight gap between the groom and bride. The bride has a light blue-grey lace dress. It has cap sleeves, and a detailed neckline. The bride has short red hair. She is also smiling and looking in the direction of the celebrant. The man on the right is slightly larger. He wears a black shirt and pants, and a blue tie. He is also looking and smiling in the direction of the celebrant.

Alex and I were incredibly happy with our decisions in saying no to many things for our wedding day. We got ready together, but Alex left early. Before our ceremony, we did a first look. We married on a Sunday morning, and we had lunch instead of dinner. There was no bridal party. I walked myself down the aisle to signify how far I’d come since my life-changing decision. There was no dancing. Speeches consisted of Alex and I giving thanks to our guests. There was no cake cutting or wedding cake (but I promise you there was cake!). At the end of the day, we celebrated the way we wanted to, and our guests enjoyed themselves and relaxed.

Although you will hear from many people that a wedding is ‘just one day out of your life’, it’s often one of the most important days of your life. Plan the wedding you want, not the wedding you think you should have, and remember that it is perfectly okay to say no to things for your wedding.