Obligations to the BIG wedding, and how to avoid them.

Obligations to the BIG wedding & how to avoid them.

Being engaged, one of the BEST stages in life!

To have found your soul mate is a miraculous and wonderful realisation. The natural progression is to start planning your wedding. An exciting time for a couple. Slowly over time every engaged couple are eventually faced with many decisions. Details like the ceremony and reception venue, food, dress and styling to name a few. Quickly you can be faced with the realisation of the large amount of decisions that you have to make.

This of which can be a tad overwhelming.. particularly on a budget.

I have been observing the wedding and marriage trend (particularly in Taranaki) for many years. This includes its impact on social media. I’ve also been through the process myself as a bride, bridesmaid and guest. Now as I near the end of a VERY busy wedding season as a marriage celebrant I feel I need to share a few thoughts.

One thing I feel compelled to mention is the seemingly heavy obligations that couples are faced with. Particularly when it comes to the BIG wedding. Now, I for one love a big wedding, and who doesn’t. I love attending them and I love officiating them. What I don’t love is those who feel pressured into parts of their wedding day by the weight of their obligations.

Let’s talk about obligations aye?

The way I see it, these are either internal or external obligations.

Internal come from you, the way you have always dreamed or expected it to be. External obligations come from others, by expectations, commitments or traditions.

Let’s narrow in on those external obligations.

External obligations or expectations can come in the form of family pressure or tradition. It can also come from the tradition and expectations that has been set within our community. This being the BIG wedding, 80-150 guests, ceremony, reception, sit down meal, followed by a big party and lots of drinks.

That seems to be what our community has come to expect when it comes to weddings. It’s the way our friends do it, it’s the way the magazines do it, and it’s definitely the way it’s done on Pinterest and Instagram.

Advocation is one of my strongest values. This has never been more useful than in my role as a Celebrant. Among many, my role is to advocate for you as a couple. I believe that you should be empowered to have the wedding that is best suited to you as a couple, within your values, and within your budget. Not because you have to (or because family or social media tell you to) but because you want to.

You both deserve a wedding that sits well with you as a couple, not only on your wedding day but for years to come. Without the regret of putting others before yourselves, or reluctantly being put into future debt.

Let’s face it, we all need money nowadays.. and 15, 20, and 30 thousand could go a long way in a young couples’ lives. We also hope to only get married once so let’s focus on being empowered to make choices that are best for you both, without any associated regret.

So, in the name of advocation I would like to offer a few suggestions before you journey (or fall too deep) down the rabbit hole of wedding planning.

Firstly, Pop Up Weddings.

These are so fantastic if you are not overly keen on details, or you would prefer not to spend a large bucket of money. Pop up weddings make the most of some high-class vendors at a great price. They set up for the day and allow 2 or 3 weddings one after the other, spread over the whole day.

Just wear what you choose, bring your rings and you have yourselves a beautiful wedding.

Pop up weddings are great if you need an excuse to cut down your guest list, as pop up weddings generally cater for a limited number. From your pop-up wedding, you can then take your guests back to your home or out for tea, guest can pay their own meal, and you don’t have to have the obligation of a big reception. Such an incredible option!

Recently, The Ever After Wedding Collective has been launched. Ever After offers couples across the whole of Taranaki the affordable opportunity to marry in this exciting way. If it interests you, have a look here for more information.

Ever After Wedding Collective https://www.facebook.com/everafterweddingcollective/


Surprise weddings are becoming popular and for great reason. They can be disguised as another event such as a birthday party, a random event like a mid-winter Christmas party, or most recently an engagement party! This is my absolute favourite option and if I could go back and do it again, this would be it!

The benefits of a surprise wedding are huge. Firstly, you can cut many of costs out because you are already doing it an entirely new way. Just your day, your way.

You can avoid having a large bridal party (and the associated costs), you can even avoid a sit-down meal. Recently, a couple I married as a surprise wedding had large platters from Platter Affair. This is awesome because people can mingle and are not stuck in their assigned seat. It also creates a great party atmosphere having everyone mingling.

Also, you can’t beat the dramatic surprise when everyone finds out that the party is, in fact, A WEDDING! It is also great because you can still have the elements that are important to you, just leave out what you don’t want!

The moment your guests realise they are at your wedding!
Ryan Polei Photography

In the lead up to your surprise wedding, you also avoid family and friend drama and pressure.

A surprise wedding may not be for everyone. You risk people not attending, or potentially hurting a few feelings. But really.. your loved ones should love you, and they should want to put you and your love first. If there is ever a time to put your love first, it is at your own wedding.

Along with that is my next idea which is a

Cocktail Style Wedding

This is an evening ceremony that leads into nibbles and drinks. Avoiding a sit-down meal can really save you on money and allow you to increase your guest list if you would prefer.

A friend of mine recently chose to marry this way and decided on a mystery bus trip to deliver their guests to a beautifully styled hall in the country. A band, some platters and dancing all night.

It was perfect and memorable, because it was SO them and it suited their personality.

You can play with this idea and do a morning ceremony, high tea, then leave the evening for just close friends and family. Anything is possible.


I’m going to throw the idea of a Backyard Wedding out there.

My close friends got married for LESS THAN $5000. They used their elevated back deck that looked over their backyard and farmland to hold their evening ceremony. After, they had amazing tapa style food, served from their large and beautifully decorated shed and marquee. Perfect! All the guests had such an incredible time.

This couple were in the process of dramatic renovations of their home so having a wedding this way made absolute sense.

I applaud them for thinking outside the square and going with a wedding day that satisfied their values, wants and needs.

Making a dramatic move when it comes to weddings, particularly outside the norms and traditions of society can be met with a bit of shock and awe. (to say the least)

I tell you though, times are changing. Long gone are the days of doing things because we must. This is slowly being brought through to the long-held traditions of NZ weddings. We all deserve to have a wedding that we want, in line with our values and what we can afford.

So, if you are needing the go ahead, here it is: It is ok to say NO to put you as a couple and your love first. In fact, it is crucial that you do.

After all that’s what getting married is all about, you and your partner..

And your one in a million love. (YAY)

No matter what kind of wedding you have, remember that. Everything else is simply a bonus.