5/18 Real Bride Lucinda: No, You Don’t Need A Theme

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As my fiancé and I are in the home-stretch to the big day (17 days to go, June 4!), I’ve been reflecting on the ups and downs we’ve had in the last year planning our wedding, and there’s a big, obvious headache that sticks out. What I’m about to state may be controversial, but here goes: you do not have to have a theme for your wedding. There, I said it.  But let me clarify a bit further.

Getting sucked into the world of wedding magazines and gorgeous Pinterest photos early on in the wedding planning process is so, so easy. I think it was the very next day after we got engaged that I ran out to the store to scoop up all of the wedding magazines available and devoured them as quickly as I could. Every night I came home from work and read wedding websites to get an idea of the type of wedding I wanted to have, took polls to find out “what kind of bride” I was and started pinning up a storm of “real wedding” ideas. Eventually, my head was spinning with everything I consumed and I had no idea where to even start to pull together a plan for our wedding. One thing was consistent though: every single picture, every single bride on “Say Yes to the Dress” had a wedding theme.

“You have to have a theme,” my sister said. She was planning on designing our invitations and wanted to make sure they were consistent with what we are planning on doing to decorate our venue. I told her the only thing I could think of based on things I saw that I liked combined with our personal tastes: “umm … modern French garden party?” It sounded good, and it wasn’t a cheesy cliché wedding theme that everyone and their best friend has done. Perfect.

The best part was when I asked her what her theme was at her wedding, she said she didn’t have one. So … yeah, not sure why I felt the pressure to have a theme. More on that later.

Fast-forward several months to us planning out how to decorate the venue based on what we had available in our budget. Since we were DIYing our flowers for the centerpieces, we had a good chunk free in our budget to play with. Oh, the ideas I had — large topiaries flanking the aisle, strung garlands of carnations hung on the archway for the ceremony, a backdrop of giant paper flowers for our guests to take photos in front of, seed packets with everyone’s names attached for the place cards, even a large, distressed trellis with garlands of fake flowers to display behind the cake table. My biggest fear was all of the ideas we planned on ending up being too difficult to execute and would look, you know, lame and not like those weddings I saw on Pinterest. On top of that, once we started tallying up how much it would cost to buy or make these ideas, it ended being pretty pricy and we were stuck scratching our heads about what we would do with some of this stuff after the wedding. The biggest kicker was that these ideas didn’t really bring us a lot of joy and they felt forced — this wedding was starting to not feel like us.

martha stewart

After a night of tears of frustration and not knowing what to do with our limited budget as the days ticked closer, we went back to the drawing board: What did we ultimately want our wedding to be like and how did we want our guests to feel. We wanted a happy vibe throughout the whole day and just wanted our family and guests to have fun and celebrate with us — that’s ultimately the point of our wedding and what’s most important to us. And that’s how we decided to decorate our wedding, with what makes us happy: giant 3′ balloons everywhere for the ceremony and reception in our wedding colors, giant tissue poofs and streamers, a crazy-fringed backdrop for photos with props we’re borrowing from a friend’s wedding and word-balloon garlands at the bar.

That’s the point I’m trying to get at — do what makes you happy, not what you feel you “have” to do or what the wedding industry/Pinterest/your friends/your family tells you or makes you feel you should do. If having a shabby-chic wedding theme makes you excited and feels like you both as a couple, then go for it by all means. But you may find while planning your wedding that pigeon-holing yourself into a theme may be more expensive to pull off, stressful and not at all what you wanted. And that’s damn OK — it’s your wedding, and you can do whatever makes you happy.

Have you felt pressured into making a decision that’s just not quite right for you?

Lucinda is a Boston-area craft-a-holic obsessed with sewing and knitting, as well as other crafty goodness, and blogs about creating a handmade wardrobe at Sew Wrong. When she's not sitting at her sewing machine, she can usually be found with her running shoes on or swimming laps at the local pool.