Monday, 26 October 2015

Simple Celebrations

Celebrating big events and major milestones with friends and family is one of the great joys in life – a chance to get together with the people we love, a chance to spoil them, a chance to indulge ourselves, a chance to step outside our normal everyday for a special occasion. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas; birthdays, baby showers, graduation parties, weddings. There are so many occasions to celebrate and splurge – and it’s also very easy to go overboard with those celebrations.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping a celebration simple. Good food, good friends, good conversation; that’s all you need. Custom cakes and themed decor are fun, but not necessary (look who’s talking!) and coordinated flowers and centrepieces and take-home gifts for guests are extras it’s easy to get carried away with.
Weddings are one of the worst offenders as far as over planning and over spending and unnecessary extravagance. Expensive banquet halls, food and drink for hundreds of guests, couture bridal gowns and coordinated bridesmaid dresses and tuxes, custom caked and sculpted centrepieces and designer decorated tablescapes, bombonniere and flowers and photographers and DJ’s.
A wedding is a wonderful occasion to celebrate, but often much of the meaning is lost as the bride and groom and their families get mired down in details for months and even years leading up to the big day – and then they’re left neck-deep in bills.
When did weddings become such a circus?
My brother and sister-in-law got married this weekend, and it was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to. It was also one of the simplest.
Invitations were emailed to the forty guests less than a month in advance. The bride and her two bridesmaids bought their beautiful lace dresses off the rack in a single afternoon at a bridal shop. The only flowers were the rose petals their daughter carried in a basket. The ceremony was held in a gazebo in a downtown park, the gorgeous fall foliage the only decor. The reception was at a swanky west end restaurant, a comfortable cocktail hour around the posh bar, a delicious dinner served at long banquet-style tables, the tables pushed against the walls after dinner for dancing and drinks. The bride’s cousin sang their first dance song and the rest of the evening’s music came from their iPod.
It was simple, and it was beautiful.
We went simple for our own wedding, too – a few dozen of our nearest and dearest in the private party room of our favourite posh bistro on the historic main street of the town we grew up in, a simple ceremony at the front of the room before dinner, a few calla lilies and custom cupcakes with hand-made chocolates for our few little spurges. Lots of good food and good drink and good times with good friends and family.
It was simple compared to the extravagance we so often see with weddings, but it was beautiful and it was perfect.
The big events in life should be marked by celebrations, but those celebrations don’t have to be extravagant to be special. Sometimes it’s the simple celebrations that we enjoy and remember the most – and those celebrations are certainly easier on our wallets.
Do you have a story to share of celebration expenses gone crazy? Do you have any cost-saving tips for party planning?

Originally published as "Simple Celebrations" on my weekly column at

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