Why Subtlety Matters

When all else fails, lower your expectations.

Sure, that’s not what most brides want to hear. We want big, beautiful, deluxe and trendy. I dream of a Rolls Royce taking me to the chapel in my Vera Wang dress. Cascades of hydrangea, garden roses and dusty miller line the aisle. Blackbelly Catering serves up a feast along with paired wines. That’s after a tasting of signature cocktails that tell the story of our love through flavor, smell and aesthetics. We dance the night away to a live performance from The Lumineers.

And scene.

That, my friends, is how disappointment begins.

Instead of thinking big and beautiful, think about subtlety, simple elegance and personality. If you are looking to create a magical evening for you, your husband, your friends and family, you may not be able to give them your dream wedding. But you can give them a really special evening that reflects you as a couple. Here’s how to change your mindset from Champagne and caviar to local beer and bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Creativity Matters

Take the traditional elements of a wedding and give them a little spark. Give your programs some personality: with bios and photos of the bride and groom and your wedding party. Spice up your bridesmaids by having them pick a mix of dresses in both solids and patterns but all in the same color. Instead of having water at each table, create a help-yourself table with iced water and iced tea in pitchers. Instead of hoping that Rolls Royce rolls up your driveway, ask a friend with a vintage car to be your driver or even check out the Hippie Limo.

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Courtesy Matters

A friend recently said to me before her wedding, “This is my day. It doesn’t matter what anyone else wants.” That’s partially true. But you also have to realize that you are asking your friends, families and co-workers to spend money on traveling, on hotels, on gifts, on taking time off work, etc. Before you send your guests on a 10-minute hike up a mountain to your picturesque ceremony site, remember to warn them in the invitation to bring comfortable shoes and bug spray. Maybe even rent umbrellas to shield them from sun or rain. It’s Colorado, anything can happen. Your uncle Mitch may not care if you have a 5-tier cake, but he’ll care if he fractures his ankles.

Subtlety Matters

Having an over-the-top reception is the dream of many a bride. But showing your personality is the best way to wow people without dropping big bucks. If you can’t afford glamour, embrace the idea of having a DIY wedding with eclectic touches. Or a themed wedding with fun elements. Have each of your aunts bake pies—so you don’t have to purchase a cake. Make tissue-paper bouquets. Have a crafty friend make your fascinator with the help of some Pinterest guidance. And make fun signs for each of your tables (we love the use of house numbers, simply nailed on a piece of stained wood and propped up against flower arrangements). And have your family and friends help your planning process by collecting china, vases or milkglass for your reception. Mix-and-match table displays or place settings have a ton of personality, especially at eclectic weddings. But remember that you don’t need to go all out. Simple is sometimes best.

If you focus on the details, people won’t even notice that there was no cake and the food was served on paper plates. Either that, or they just won’t care. And neither will you.

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