How to Plan a Minimalist Wedding

A naked cake held by a bride and groom.

“One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.” – Buddhist monastic Tenzin Palmo

When planning a minimalist wedding, this is a great quote to keep in mind. Before you begin any planning at all, find the essence of what you want to express to yourself about the marriage and relationship you’re entering into. Hold on to that kernel so that you can always return to it. Then, keep in mind that happiness won’t come from the event of the wedding itself, but from the atmosphere you create and the people who are there to take part in it. So, when keeping things minimalist, where do you start?

The Stationary

Draft your wedding invites, menus, signs, maps, and any other printed materials early. Cut as many words as you can, so that the language is clean and simple. Use negative space to your advantage to create a striking, bold, and simple message. It’s a satisfying feeling, looking at an invitation without any unnecessary words or images. Just make sure you have all the information you need for the guests to mark their calendars, RSVP, and find the event. And if you want to eliminate the use of paper for your invites, consider going electronic with them.

The Dinner

A minimal tablescape at a wedding reception with wood tables and greenery as centerpieces.

Use simple flatware in neutral colors. Plants make great centerpieces, and a touch of green paired with more natural colors like taupes and greys can be incredibly elegant without being boring. (Plus, you can take the plants home with you after the wedding.) Keep it simple when it comes to cocktails and wines, too. Pick a white, a red, and a rosé, and create a few cocktails with high-quality ingredients that guests can choose from. Good restaurants do this: offer guests a few curated options, so that the effect is organized, streamlined, and clean. Plus, it makes planning and ordering for the event a lot easier.

The Ceremony

At a minimalist wedding, vows should be short and sweet. Say what you mean, and say it well. Often at these events, a friend will conduct the marriage ceremony, but whoever is at the front, make sure they understand that you want a brief, meaningful ceremony without the frills. Run through what the person marrying you will say prior to the event, so that you can make sure the language fits your minimalist theme.

The Favors

Mini succulent plants as wedding favors.

This is an area that you can easily cut back on, as many guests usually don’t take home favors, anyway. There are a few alternatives to the standard wedding favor that will have more meaning behind them. For instance, you can set up a mobile photo printing station so that guests can print photos from their phones to give to each other. Or, give guests the plants you potted by hand for the table centerpieces. At minimalist weddings, practical or meaningful gifts are valued more than something the guests will likely never use. If you still want to adhere to traditional wedding favors, food options are useful and typically enjoyed by all.

The Gifts

If you’re trying to host a minimalist wedding, encouraging guests to bring a pile of gifts is not recommended. While you can easily set up a registry online with specific items you need for your new home or life as newlyweds, you can also ask people to donate to your favorite charity, or to a fund for your honeymoon. This option is especially useful if you already have a household full of small appliances, dishes, and bath towels.

Sticking to the Plan

There often comes a time in the minimalist wedding planning where details begin to pile up. You may have decided on using flowers from your garden and a simple soundtrack, and asked guests to donate to a local charity in lieu of gifts. But—your dad is pressing for a church ceremony. Your mother-in-law wants to use her calligraphy skills to address the envelopes. Your fiancé can’t say no to friends who want to bring plus one’s.

It seems like your beautiful, simple wedding is turning into the overdone monstrosity you’ve been trying to avoid. Our advice is this: turn down what you can, but let your mother-in-law write out the cards. Stick to your minimalist beliefs, but allow some wiggle room. After all, this isn’t just your event. It’s for the whole family, and going with the flow in some aspects will make everything a lot simpler for those involved.

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