8/5 Your Three Wedding Things. Yours, That Is.

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Greetings from Haverkamp's Wedding!

I’m a big fan of lists. Anything more than five check boxes and you’re risking a sprained brain and a lot of frustration. When it comes to weddings,  it’s so easy to get overwhelmed anyway, so do yourself a favor and stick to just choosing three priorities you have to have on that day.

My friend Haverkamp’s wedding is this weekend. She wanted to: 1. get married in D.C. (which is where I’m typing this right now), 2. in the church she attended when we both lived here five million years ago, and 3. get her cake from the bakery she used to work at even longer ago than that. Sound simple, except, well, she lives in Malaysia right now, her family is in North Carolina and his is in Wisconsin. And if you’ve been reading my posts for  awhile, you know my 3 things for my own wedding.

What are the three things you really want to have at your wedding? Don’t know?  Start with the three things you absolutely don’t want. Disco? Carnations? Cannolis? What’s going to replace them? The Big Three is what is going to make your wedding unique, what’s going to make it YOURS.

Whoa, alright, let’s ease up on the pressure for a second. It’s okay if there’s just two.

Hah! Sorry, I read that all back to myself and realized that I was starting to sound like those articles that demand that you get your invitation addresses calligraphed. Yeah, I checked, “calligraphed”  is a word.

Seriously? HELL, Yeah. (Courtesy of CoolHaus.com)

My point is that you shouldn’t be afraid to have the wedding you want, and what you want at your wedding. Every day, my brides ask stuff like, “I don’t want cake, I want macaroons, Can we do that?” “I want to invite all of our guests to join us for the first dance, can we do that?” “Can I cut the cake during dinner?” “Can I serve ice cream sandwiches instead?”  “Can I have succulents for centerpieces?” “Can I get married at Comic Con?”  Like there’s a list of rules somewhere. There isn’t. All you need to get married is you, your fiance, an officiant, and a marriage license. The rest is up to you. And even if people don’t agree with what you’re doing, they are always going to remember it. And so will you – as the wedding you wanted.

Do me a favor? Go for it.

So, what are the three, two, or even one thing that you wanna have at your wedding? Share in the comments below. And if you’re trying to figure out how to pull it/them off, just ask below, too.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • LOVE the advice to go for it. I couldn't agree more! your wedding should be about whatever YOU want!

    also, if you don't mind, would you please go comment here at http://tinyurl.com/mathewsteph ? my fiance and i are trying to win a free wedding video and we need all the help we can get! even if it's only one word 🙂 thanks BAB!

  • Chrissy

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! We just got engaged two weeks ago and my head is spinning, his mom & sisters bought me every bridal mag on the planet and keep asking me what I want. I felt like a fool when I just said "I only know i want to get married under a canopy sitting down in an indian-style ceremony, and I want my family to be able to hang out literally all night and not have to walk far to get to their accomodations." I swear, after two weeks (we were on vacation the whole time!) they expected us to have a venue, a color scheme & a dress! Anyways, just, thanks. This makes me feel better about developing our vision and sticking to it, no matter what. You rock.

  • Erica Manney

    Yes!! People drive me nuts with the "Can I?" as if there's some sort of Official Arbiter of Wedding Rules. Just – don't be a jerk, treat people with respect and remember the point of the whole day. That's it! the rest is just details.

  • Emma

    Any advice on what to do when your 3 things are the most expensive ones? For instance, we really we want to have it 1) where we live, because that's where my church is and easier for guests to get to than our hometowns, 2) in the winter because that's the only time we can both take off work, which emans indoors, and 3) with provide a full dinner for traveling guests, which we frankly don't have the time, space, or cooking and refrigeration equipment to DIY.

    After a lot of shopping around, an indoor venue, chair and table rental, and catering for our large families look like they will simply have to take up around 2/3 of our planned budget. They're by far the most important so that sort of makes sense to me, but I've read that venue and food should take up about 50% of your budget, or you're going to go way over. Is it possible to be careful enough on everything else that we stay on target (like how rent "shouldn't" take up more than 25% of your income, but I've done ok paying 50%)?

  • Denver on a Dime

    In Colorado, you don't even need the officiant. You literally just need to go get the marriage license, pay $10, and the two of you can "self-officiate" by signing and filing the paperwork. Bam, legal wedding on a $10 budget and almost zero planning! LOL

    • Yep! I got married in Colorado about a month ago, and it was almost scary how easy it was.

    • In Alaska all you need is a license and a free certificate from a courthouse that appoints whomever you want to be your "marriage commissioner" (they don't even have to be there to fill out the paperwork!). Easy peasy.

  • 1. Be married in my Fiance's Childhood Church
    2. Be able to invite as many people as we can think of – no haggling with the guest list (will probably be 250+ invited)
    3. Have an informal reception – no worrying about which fork is the salad fork.


  • lizcharm

    1. Book it, baby!
    2. Find a a place big enough for 300, 2nd bonus would be if you can bring in your own alcohol.
    3. Hmm. I'm thinking buffet stations, they help people mix and mingle and wander, AND there's not as much of a need to "call" tables, because there's different places they can go. And if you're down with it, those recyclable forks. If you're NOT down with it, remember to rent 10% more than you need, those things drop on the ground a lot.

  • 1. Outdoor wedding
    2. To be able to have as many of our friends and family there as possible… (people traveling in from all over the US)
    3. Dance the night away and just have fun!

  • Bonnie

    Love, love, LOVE this one! Amen!

  • marianne

    Love it we had 1940s engagement do as I will be becoming a howarth he proposed at howarth 1940s weekend, followed by a 50/60 inspired wedding as we are proud owners of a VW 1966 splitscreen camper and we are having it our way, just enjoy it love m xx

  • Amen Liz & Erica!

  • Lynn

    1. Having it at home.
    2. Having as many of our family members and best friends there.
    3. Making it meaningful for us and fun for everyone else.

  • My three things were:

    1. Joey Ramone's version of "What A Wonderful World" as the recessional song
    2. Our mothers signing the license as witnesses
    3. Mini Reuben sandwiches as appetizers

    Not that I didn't care about the other details (or major factors) but I knew that if those three things happened, I'd be happy. And I was!

  • @Emma – you can still provide a filling dinner for all of your guests on a budget. It might not be a 5 course meal, & you may or may not have a serving staff, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good food. A good friend of mine have approx. 125 guests and simply ordered a ton of pasta & breadsticks from the local Pizza Hut. It cost about $500 after tip/delivery. Her family helped by making the salads. So you’re talking about $4 per guest – roughly 90% less than what most catering companies charge. Some other places to look at that will be cheaper than a professional catering are places like Sonny’s BBQ or Boston Market (BM can provided dishes, silverware, & other things to depending on the package you order).

    Oh, and my fiance & I chose the following things as our “must haves”:
    1. One venue w/ outdoor ceremony spot, a plan B for rain (we live in FL), & indoor reception hall
    2. Good photographer, but still within our budget
    3. A date that worked with my school vacation schedule (i’m a teacher)
    4. Our former youth pastor to marry us
    5. A week long honeymoon cruise

    I know I went over the 3 limit, but thats honestly what we started with. Now we’re only 100 days away,.and it’s all fallen into place. 🙂

  • I love the sentiment of "Your Three Wedding Things!" The most important question i ask those planning their wedding is not three things, but three words to describe the experience of their wedding. Find ways to translate these three words, into what is done at your reception. That is, done in such a way that it fits…who…you are. Think about what you’re passionate about. Think about what gets you excited, and find ways to bring that into your celebration, and your guests will love it just as much as you will.

  • Ours were:

    1. Having the whole thing at our house.
    2. Having my father officiate.
    3. Having fried chicken.

    Then, my father was diagnosed with cancer and informed that he only had 30 days to live. Our "3" changed to one thing only:

    1. Having my dad offictate our wedding.

    So within 3 days (the marriage license waiting period), we flew to Alaska and had a simple civil ceremony. It was a word-of-mouth guest list, potluck reception, and wear what's in your closet.

    It was the BEST wedding ever.

    Priorites, y'all. Priorites.

  • Jessica

    My three things– are really just one…

    As a plant junkie for years and now a horticulturist at a garden, I had to get married at a botanical garden… and when I cried after looking at a garden my fi agreed completely…

    His number 1: Have his old youth camp pastor marry us… He is working on that one…

    And the final thing: As a plant snob is flowers… Also covered by a good friend and former co-worker… (She recently opened her own weddings-only floral company)..

    Now I just have almost a year to wait… and wait… and wait….

  • kay

    My three:

    1. The location.
    2. The cake (I'm an amateur baker and considering going to culinary school for pastry, so I'm very picky about cake).
    3. That my grandmother makes it.

  • Jen

    1. a weekend-long wedding celebration (so we get more than half a day to spend with family and friends)
    2. intimate wedding, 50 max
    3. an ice cream van!

  • Anna

    1. On a rooftop, preferably at the venue we love in St. Augustine
    2. A great photographer, maybe we can find one that's both awesome and inexpensive (good luck to me)
    3. Have an informal fun wedding that's totally us

  • Erin

    1. Small, outdoor wedding in the fall
    2. A dress I feel great in
    3. Photographer

  • Sathiyyah

    1. Very intimate
    2. customized mason jars for drinking and keepsakes
    3. Not too "Fru- Fru la". I have to be comfortable…no heavy gown, tulle, or a need to bustle!

  • 1. The guys from Thunder Down Under….:)
    2. A chestnut horse
    3. Lots of rum

  • Mariah

    Technically in Colorado a couple can marry themselves, no officiant needed! You can even send your fiance to the courthouse with a letter from you in your stead 🙂