Can You Have a bridal shower if you plan to elope?

One of our first wedding related “arguments” happened when we were deciding whether or not we should have a bridal shower. I was on the side of “No, we’re not inviting anyone to the wedding so why should we send them an invitation that says ‘please buy us a present even though you’re not invited to the ceremony'” and Kyle was on the side of “My mom wants to throw us a bridal shower, so just let her?”

“What would we even register for?” I asked him. “We’re almost thirty years old and have been living on our own together for three years. We already have everything that most couples register for, we don’t need a bridal shower.”

He wasn’t buying it. “What’s the big deal?” He asked. “So we’ll get some new stuff. We can upgrade our old stuff.”

“But we’re not inviting most of these people to the wedding. How tacky is it asking someone to buy us a panini maker when we’re not inviting them to the wedding?”

Eloping can be a tricky thing. Not to say that we totally eloped – often times when I think of “eloping”, I imagine two people romantically running off into the night to secretly get hitched by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas. But these days, “eloping” (according to Martha Stewart) can also mean “having a very small wedding that isn’t a secret and includes the couples closest friends and family” (AKA: what we did. Surprisingly there was still a ton of planning to do.)

ceremony etiquette | eight tips to remember as the bride

Oh, “etiquette”. It sounds like something that belongs in the Deep South involving: how to fold your napkin, and “which side does the fork go on?”.

This isn’t an etiquette class, and it has nothing to do with forks. For the purposes of this wedding blog – we’re using “etiquette” as a fancy term for “how to NOT be a mean, rude bride” and/or “how to NOT piss off the moms and/or grandmothers because you didn’t do something in a ‘traditional’ way (because you didn’t know there was a ‘traditional’ way to do it – you were just trying to get ready and drink champagne and all of a sudden everyone is asking you about everything.)

how to set a realistic budget for your wedding

The first question our florist asked was, “What are your colors?”

“Um, blush and gold. With white, greenery…. ” I always felt silly throwing “white” in there as one of my colors, considering we all knew my dress was going to be white. But I also wanted white flowers. But would that look weird against my white dress? Are there different shades of white?

“Green isn’t one of my colors, really.” I don’t know why I felt the need to explain ‘greenery’ to a florist. “But I’m thinking… white flowers with a lot of green leaves? Do you know what I mean?” In my mind, I was imagining the most recent cover of People Magazine featuring Lea Michele’s wedding, and I was secretly hoping the florist had also seen this cover and knew exactly what I meant.

“So… maybe an arch?” She suggested. Yes! Lea Michele had an arch in the photo! She DOES know exactly what I mean!

“Yes!” I said, feeling a rush of excitement. “And white petals along the aisle way, and greenery draped over the chairs!”

“And maybe some candles?” She offered. “Very classy.”

“Absolutely!” I agreed, feeling validated somehow that our florist and I seemed to be on the same page.

“Great!” She sounded as excited as I was. “Alright, so let me work out a quote and I’ll send it over to you. Once you sign off on it, we can get started!”

I couldn’t wait. All of the photos of ‘decor inspiration’ I’d been pinning on my secret wedding Pinterest board were about to come to life. When guests came to our ceremony, they would be awed by the magnificence of our classy, elegant ceremony. They would say things like “This looks like a People Magazine cover!” and “I wonder how much THIS cost…”

“Seven thousand dollars?” Kyle didn’t have to wonder how much it cost because, unfortunately, I had to tell him. “Seven thousand dollars? For flowers?”

“And candles.” I added, as if this somehow justified the price. I’ve spent $24.50 on a candle at Bath & Body Works and felt like it was a little splurge-y.

“Can’t we… like, shop around?” He asked me. “Seven thousand dollars is a lot of money that we could put towards something else. Like a honeymoon.”

“But we need flowers,” I reminded. “What if we get rid of the candles? If we just do the arch, it’s only fifty-five hundred.”

“That arch is over five thousand dollars?” He reacted as if I’d just told him…. well, okay, that the arch alone is over five thousand dollars. I agreed, it was more money than we wanted to spend on flowers. It was more money than I’d EVER wanted to spend on flowers collectively throughout my lifetime.

I didn’t cry when i bought my wedding dress

The day that I bought my wedding dress was not the magical, special, fairytale day that all of the other blogger-brides seem to write about. I’m not sure where they went to buy theirdresses, or why I’ve always imagined little birds fluttering around to lace up their corsets, or how it always seems that every bride develops this psychic-intuitive ability that enables her to “just know” when she’s found the right dress. 

If you’ve ever read a blogger-bride’s post about the magical day when she found her wedding dress – they all seem to have one thing in common…. once she put that dress on – “it was all over. She just KNEW.” 

She just knew. As if a little voice whispered in her ear: “This is the dress. Yay!” 

I didn’t get a little voice. I got a loud voice in my bridal consultant who kept saying things like, “You look GORGEOUS, but do you want to try this one on again? Make sure you REALLY KNOW – you’ve got to REALLY FEEL IT. This is a BIG DECISION.” 

I get it. I do. A lot of girls seem to have a spiritual connection to their wedding dress – they have an emotional reaction, they cry at bridal appointments, they somehow manage to “just know” when they’ve put on the right dress, the RIGHT dress –

And yet – here I was, standing there as a bride-to-be, in a wedding dress, not doing any of that. I wasn’t crying. There was no magical “this is the dress” moment. I wasn’t being emotional – not that I’m super emotional anyway, but I wasn’t able to channel any of that psychic energy everyone else seems to get when they’re trying on wedding dresses. 

“Do you want to try on another dress?” The bridal consultant asked me. She assumed I wasn’t having some sort of emotional reaction because I didn’t like the dress. 

The dress was fine. I mean, I guess that’s not the kind of reaction you want when it comes to your wedding gown- “it’s fine” – but… I don’t know, what did she want me to say? “It’s great! Fantastic! I feel like a princess!” I didn’t feel like I princess. I felt like I was seventeen again, trying on prom dresses – except this time I was the only one going to prom, and all of the dresses were 4x the price of my actual prom dress.

The Early Stages of wedding planning

About three months after you get engaged, something happens. The first two months are all about celebrations and “Congratulations!” and people telling you how happy they are for you. You’ve found your person. The one who’s agreed to smell your morning breath every day for the rest of your life and kiss you anyway (albeit, sometimes on the forehead. That’s okay.) 

“There’s plenty of time to plan”, people will say. “There’s no rush. Just enjoy it!” 

“Just enjoy it,” they say. Until the ‘newness’ wears off. Once your friends and family have already heard the story about ‘how he did it’ and ‘where he did it’ and “did you know? Were you surprised?” – the conversation gradually fades during the upcoming months into questions about dress shopping and guest counts and napkin colors.

Napkin colors. Did you know that it’s possible to have a ten minute conversation about napkin colors? I didn’t. Until it happened the other day when I was asked about “my vision” and “were these napkins going to work with that?”

I mean… they’re still napkins, right? If I spill something, these will be the things used to clean it up? Okay. Just checking. 

My Experience Hiring A wedding planner

Can you handle planning your own wedding? Of course you can. Which is not to say that it will be “easy” – you’ll need excellent time management skills, a Monica-Gellar-level passion for organization, and a notebook. Kyle and I bought a notebook shortly after we got engaged that we deemed “The wedding notebook” where we were only allowed to write “wedding things”. (Five months later we have two pages scribbled with notes like “Flowers?” and “Music….. guitar? Violin. GUITAR.”

If you have the time, and you’re “into” it – so, you’re not going to roll your eyes every time someone asks you about your ‘color scheme’ – you can plan your own wedding, no matter how busy you are, even if you have a full time job and you travel and you have a life outside of “wedding stuff”. 

“But I’m REALLY busy.” I told Kyle, this is back when I was trying to convince him that we “needed” a wedding planner. “Plus we’re getting married in California – and I’m trying to plan everything from Chicago? I don’t really *know* California. I need to find someone who *knows* California. How else am I going to, like, find a florist and a minister and stuff?” 

There’s also Google. But. That’s not as fancy as being able to say that you have “a wedding planner”, now is it? 

So we justified our decision to do a destination wedding in California because we were going to find someone “locally” to do all of the planning. She will be the J-Lo in that movie “The Wedding Planner”. (Except she won’t sleep with my fiancé. Is that what that movie’s about? I don’t remember, it’s been awhile.) She will take all of my vendor meetings, respond to all of my emails, be in charge of set-up and tear-down of our decorations, and keep me in check the day-of so I’m not late to my own wedding.

OR maybe she won’t do any of that, and she’ll just forward emails to me from the florist that say “See below”. Because, honestly, I think that’s what a wedding planner actually does. 

Maybe not ALL wedding planners do this? But that’s what ours did. She was really just one more person that I had to copy on emails. And when I asked her things like, “Do you have any recommendations for this area?” – she would take over a week to respond, and finally come back with some venue that offered “portable toilets”. 

That really happened. She suggested a venue and tried to sell me on “portable toilets”. As if we’re planning a camping trip, and – oh, wait, nope – this is supposed to be a wedding, my bad. 

FYI – Weddings are expensive

According to The Knot’s most recent poll – on a list of “The 25 Most Expensive Places To Get Married In The US”, Chicago ranks number three. Number THREE. In the United States. Right under Manhattan, NY and Long Island. According to their research, the average wedding in Chicago costs over $60,000. 

SIXTY thousand DOLLARS. I’ve never wanted to be one of those party-pooper kind of people who feel the need mention things like reality when planning a wedding – after all, it’s the most important day of your life! You can’t put a price tag on that, now can you?

Apparently you can. And that price tag reads $60,000. 

“Maybe we should just get married at city hall.” I said (which is something I never thought I’d say. Getting married at city hall, in my mind, has always been reserved for really, really old people, or those people on 90 Day Fiancé who are trying to get a visa). “I mean, we’ll still be *married*.” I pointed out, as if by paying $60,000 for a big wedding means that you are somehow more “married” than by doing it at city hall. “We just don’t have to do all of the *stuff*.” 

“The stuff” is what adds up. “The stuff” includes the flowers, the music, the food, the drinks, the rental fees, the chair covers, the silverware? Did you know that a lot of places will make you pay extra for silverware? It’s not included with the food. So you can spend $12,000 on chicken and steak and expect your guests to eat it County Fair Eating Contest style unless you dish out the extra cash for some utensils. But it’s your wedding day, right? You want it be “nice”. 

“We’re not getting married at city hall,” Kyle said. 

“Why not? “ I asked. “Carrie Bradshaw did it!” 


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