If you are unfamiliar with the term “anti-bride”, a quick Google search will greet you with a slew of thought pieces and listicles about this new-ish term. I was unfamiliar with the term until planning my own wedding and the deeper I dive into this wild world, the more I relate.
The thing is “Anti-Bride” is really just a catchy term for doing what you want. It’s not absent of Pinterest rabbit holes or deep planning, any bride has plenty of those. It’s simply a choice to unsubscribe from a formula that weddings have become.
What I’ve found in my own planning is that the more questions I ask, the more I understand what I truly want. At the end of the day, the best gatherings have values and they do their best to stick to them.
I’ve said it once on this blog and I’ll say it again, if you’re planning a gathering of any size or shape, PLEASE read “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker. It will give you peace and comfort and inspiration for creating something of meaning. And isn’t that what we are all after? Meaning, belonging, and community?
Alright, back to becoming an anti-bride. The reality is, I didn’t set out to be one. So if you’re planning a wedding and feeling a little jaded about the industry, here are a few decisions we made that honored our values.
The Wedding Dress
Like many brides, I pinned wedding dress ideas and had a vision for how I wanted to look on the day. Yet after I booked my first bridal appointment, they sent over a lookbook with prices and suddenly I felt sick.
My closet works like a puzzle, everything can be mixed and matched in beautiful harmony. I wear my clothes. The nice dresses, the pretty shoes, all of it is worn and well loved. So the thought of buying something for a one-time event was hard to fathom. Not to mention the cost which on the low end was looking like a couple grand.
So I groveled to my sweet fiancé who kindly suggested I just find a dress I would love to wear. As in, shop for it like I would any other occasion. So that’s exactly what I did. I scoured the internet finding beautiful shops like Needle and Thread, bold numbers in every color from Mac Duggal, and bows for days from Luciana Emilia.
The thing is, with weddings, we do a lot of anchoring. Anchoring in ideas of what a wedding “should be” without stopping to think about our own lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with a white gown, I just realized that it wasn’t for me.
Then as I couldn’t sleep one night, I saw an Instagram ad for a brand called Milla. The dress I saw took my breath away. It captured the essence of our wedding in a way a bridal gown couldn’t. The entire process was seamless and the packaging is so luxe! Not to mention, the sizing guide on their website was totally accurate. All my dress needed was a hem!
I did want the experience of going to a bridal salon just to be sure so I packed up my Milla dress and headed to Austin where my girlfriends joined me for bridal shopping. I tried on the Milla dress in the hotel before, we took photos and then headed off to the bridal shop.
With every dress, my decision was more and more clear. There was a strong contender for a reception dress but that all flew out the window after my appointment.
We popped into a designer vintage shop, Garment, before brunch and my friend, Hannah, picked out a white dress from the rack. It was a stunning 1970’s number and hemmed perfectly to my shoes.
The back didn’t quite fit but I knew a seamstress could help with that. And just like that, I found a beautiful reception look. I’m working with the incredible Sarah Jameson of Rudy Lou to bring this vintage beauty to life.
So by the end of my wedding dress shopping, I not only found a dress that feels like “me” but I found a stunning vintage number all for less than one dress from the bridal shop. Both dresses I can (and plan to) wear again.
The Wedding Party
We opted out of doing a wedding party. While I initially considered the idea, I ended up feeling conflicted because of our purpose. Our purpose for the wedding was to have a weekend with friends that was unhurried, unrushed, and steeped in meaning. I didn’t want our wedding to feel like a production and with a guest list of just 48, our wedding party would account for 10% of the guests. So we opted out, simple as that. Our nearest and dearest will be there with us to celebrate all weekend long and that means the most.
The Save the Date
For our Save the Date, we opted for an email with a link to a landing page which included a calendar invite. I don’t know about you but my schedule lives and dies by my Google Calendar. If it’s not on there, I have trouble remembering so I wanted to include this for our friends.
The Guest List
Our wedding guest list includes our parents and closest friends and in total is 48 people. We knew we wanted an intimate wedding so we could provide a meaningful experience.
My parents are hosting a gathering on the farm the week before our wedding for some of our friends and family in the area. We will be doing a casual chili supper, a southern fall tradition. We may also be doing a smaller celebration with my fiancé’s extended family sometime after the wedding. These additional gatherings allow us to celebrate with more people while honoring our wish of an intimate wedding. In my mind, it’s the perfect compromise.
If you want the nitty gritty details on our welcome boxes, there’s a blog post coming soon! To prime our guests for the weekend, we are focusing on three key elements: fire, nature, and food. Our welcome boxes went out in January and those represented the fire element. The invitation itself was a digital website, however, we also included some physical keepsakes that were part of the experience.
Rather than placing all the focus on the invitation, we are also including touchpoints leading up to the day. The first going out in the spring which represents nature and the next going out just before our wedding (and RSVP cutoff) in early August. These touchpoints are meaningful to us because one invitation doesn’t tell the full story. We are also lovers of experiences and with each touchpoint you experience something new. It allows us to bring out friends even deeper into our lives and story.
If you’ve read this post, you know our wedding venue is our farm. I am so excited to get married in a space that is so deeply connected to us. It’s a place where I feel instantly peaceful stepping into the fields. I get energy from the earth and on such a meaningful weekend of our lives, that’s where I want to be.
So if you’re planning a wedding, here’s what I would say: find a place that brings you peace, that makes you feel something, that brings good energy.
One of our favorite activities is estate sailing and shopping antique stores. So when it came to the design of our wedding, we knew incorporating antiques and vintage pieces was a must. We decided to begin collecting coupes, dinner plates and cutlery to create our own place settings. It’s like the greatest treasure hunt finding all of our pieces, things we will cherish for years to come.
The beauty of this process is that I’ll have an entire entertaining cabinet of serving ware and table ware after the wedding is over. Not to mention that we are considering hosting farm-to-table events at the farm in the future so these will come in handy then!
The only rentals we are bringing in for the wedding are tables. Our area is pretty slim when it comes to rental companies and particularly ones that will deliver to the farm so I went with the best option.
Pro-tip for those doing a family style meal and wanting rectangular tables: if your budget allows, ask for double the tables. Our rental company offered 24″ wide tables so I ordered double allowing for us to create 48″ wide tables. This gives ample room for guests, food and flowers. Most king drape table cloths can account for this size.
The Rehearsal Dinner
When your guest list is small and everyone is there for the weekend, you get to break lots of rules. Another one of those is the rehearsal dinner. We plan to rehearse on Friday when our photographer flies in and Saturday (day before wedding) will be a garden party on our land. Chris and I love to spend time in the field or garden having lunch and “field wine” (wine that is light and refreshing, perfect for the field). It’s what we were doing when we got engaged, it’s what we do nearly every day we are on the farm. So why deviate from our tradition? Instead, we are welcoming all of our friends into with a day spent relaxing in the sun, eating delicious Italian antipasti, surrounded by the garden I lovingly nurture. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a day.
Generally speaking, Chris and I are minimalists. We don’t like having a lot of stuff around so when it came to a registry we wanted to do something more meaningful. We started a registry for our farm with different elements that we planned to incorporate like an orchard, wildflower meadows and a retreat house. We are using Hitchd which provides a beautiful and easy user experience.