The evolution of complex, expensive and intricate weddings over the last ninety years has led to an environment in which wedding receptions are outsourced to teams of professionals. The average amount spent on a wedding reception in 1930 (adjusted for inflation) was $714. In 2013, American couples spent on average $30,882. It’s no wonder couples need teams of experts to help them deploy that much capital.
When we got married a few weeks ago, COVID meant that we could not bring in vendors to support us, since we didn’t want to increase the risk of infection for our vulnerable attendees. In place of professionals, our family and friends stepped in to help us throw our wedding: my sister-in-law made a two-tier cake, a friend took the photos, my cousin ran the AV (and gave a great speech saying he was happy that “the AV guy got to speak”), my future brother-in-law played music as we walked down the aisle, my brother and dad did setup and breakdown, my mother did the landscaping, my sister did the goodie bags, my in-laws brought the wine and something borrowed and the list goes on. Looking back, it turns out that one of the best parts of our wedding was that our community essentially put on our wedding with us.
To me, a wedding is about starting a marriage and asking your community to support your commitment. All marriages–good and bad–include ups and downs. To get through hard moments, you need a community to help you and your spouse remember your vows and how to live by them. Part of developing that community is knowing that others will be there for you when you’re vulnerable. Asking ours to help us in a time of need further solidified that we has one that we could rely on not only for our wedding reception but also our marriage. Hosting a wedding with no vendors (with the exception of an amazing florist), we got to see–first-hand–how our community would save the day. And, we know we would do the same for them in return.
Seeing how meaningful this event became to us as we relied on our community to pitch in, I want to encourage this new movement of community-hosted weddings. In order to do so, I’m sharing how we made our wedding come together in a beautiful, meaningful, self-driven and community-run way here. This document describes what you need to do, buy, and plan for the big day. It also includes suggested roles for your in-person guests to play.
Our wedding also did not require six months, or more, of planning. When we learned we couldn’t do our larger, in-person, vendor-driven wedding in the Spring, we all worked together to make this wedding possible in under two months–you can put together a beautiful celebration quickly.
If you need additional proof that it’s doable, here are some photos of our wedding as the day progressed. I hope you or a loved one finds this useful. If you do, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also happy to help provide any live guidance needed–just drop me a line!