“I need more ‘me’ time!” Sound familiar? Just like making time to do ‘nothing’ in a busy calendar, keeping things minimal for your wedding day can feel similar.

Here are some valuable lessons I learned about planning an intimate wedding. My hope is that these lessons can help others plan their ‘intimate’ wedding, without feeling like eloping is the only option.

1) Being real about the couple’s personal views on weddings
My partner likes to live a minimalist life. He possesses two jackets and four shirts and comes from a German family that does not celebrate weddings or engagements in a big way. Thankfully, despite having a different heritage and a very different wardrobe, I do not think too differently about weddings. I had never fantasised about my own wedding and, in fact, could not imagine myself as a bride.
Whilst we were clear on our views towards weddings, we did not exactly have any references to weddings that resonated with or inspired us. Before we got engaged, this lack of inspiration created doubt and overwhelm when people shared their experiences of weddings with us.

Thankfully, when we got engaged, we kept our engagement to ourselves for a whole month so that my family, located interstate, would receive the news firsthand. Incidentally, this was exactly the time needed for us to find, and unite, our voice on what kind of wedding would excite us. In this time, we were able to be straight with one another and agree on an approach to our wedding, untouched by the views and opinions of others.

By the time our loved ones asked about wedding plans, we were able to communicate clear expectations upfront, and, most importantly, together as one team.

2) Being real about guests and wisely using technology
Our wedding day was wonderful. It included the ceremony at a beach overlooking terrace, an intimate lunch at our favourite beach, followed by a boat cruise on Sydney Harbour and takeaway pizza at our house. Our guest list had 20 people, which included direct family members but no relatives. It was a day of doing our favourite things.

However, keeping the numbers to 20 people took effort. It took effort explaining to those who were not invited and thinking about family dynamics. The unexpected part was the communications after the wedding!

In an incredibly loving way, our relatives and overseas family members were texting us for updates and photos the day after. Being showered with love after our wedding made us feel so special, but the reality of technology is that you need to manage your time on it. This was especially relevant on our mini-moon, when we had to force each other to put our phones away.

What was handy for us, though, is that we arranged a personal recording of our wedding (zero budget, using a phone and a stand) that was ready to share immediately. This was so that relatives could still feel part of our special day. An intimate wedding made shareable via technology, a gorgeous backdrop and natural lighting was a win-win situation overall.

3) Being real about guests who travel for the wedding
We really appreciated the effort people made to travel for the wedding. We originally had a rule of ‘no international guests’ because of wanting to keep things low key. However, we did end up having interstate and overseas visitors.

To start with, the emotion associated with having my family nearby but being too busy finalising wedding day details, to be present with them, was hard. With the effort people went to travel to be with us it was hard to be relaxed about logistics. I included bus pick-ups and drop-offs where I could so that people felt looked after on the day.

The learning for me, was to accept my limitations and manage expectations for arranging too many things beyond the wedding day.

3) Being real about a garden or home-style wedding

Thinking of a romantic garden or backyard party? As long as you know who will do the cleaning! We ended our wedding day by inviting everyone home to have our favourite pizza. It was awesome, but the aftermath was not planned for. It sounds ridiculous but I had not factored in how tired I would be by the end of the day. Thank goodness my family took over the cleaning!

If you like ending your day or waking up to a clean home, it is a great idea to have cleaning help lined up.

4) Being real about perfection
Perfection is a concept; an ideal. No one knows that there are 10 things that did not go to plan on my wedding day. Nobody could tell, and I refused to make it a problem. What helped, was being prepared with an ’if-then’ mindset. I.e. If something does not go to plan, how do you want to react?

People will make effort to be there for you on your wedding day and your mood will set the tone for the day. This includes for the hair and make-up artists you hire and your closest supports. With the best of intentions, people will be constantly looking at you, checking in on you and even asking for guidance and approval. If you make anyone feel bad about imperfection/s, you will probably feel bad about it afterwards too.

Expect things to go wrong and try to stay positive when it does. That positive energy will come back to you through the energy of your guests.

Like life, weddings are an ‘adventure’. This was the theme of our one-liner vows.