Wedding Traditions that can die already. A controversial commentary by Melbourne Celebrant Nat Sproal
I get asked a lot about my wedding. We were married back in 2012 in Summer at my in laws in Surrey Hills. It was all about our fave people, amazing food and drinks and mad tunes.
WHAT I WORE: Gave not many f#cks about my dress to be honest. Bought it off the rack at DJs. Charlie Brown. $500. Simple, long, big split, strapless with origami folding. Dry cleaned it and sold it two weeks after my wedding for half what I paid. Happy days. Wore some dark blue satin heels that lasted on my feet for about 31 minutes before being discarded for bare feet. Had my hair up with a rock vibe. Makeup minimal. It’s terrible but I have no idea who I used as vendors.
WHAT NIK WORE: A navy suit from Calibre and Cons. Boutonnierre was handmade- a timber guitar pick and various feathers. Was cool as hell.
GUESTS: 50. This was hard but we were brutal. We wanted our closest people there and I didn’t want to spend my whole time making my way around to 150 guests making small talk. That was wasted d floor time in my opinion. The result: an intimate, relaxed and warm vibe with a strong party crew. Perfect.
BRIDAL PARTY: My two sisters were my bridesmaids and wore strapless pleated crepe dresses in dark blue. Hair up because hot AF. We had three little flowergirls in navy and pink tulle skirts and a page boy in mini version of what Nik wore- navy and Cons. It was fun and relaxed. Nik had his bro as Best Man and he wore what he wanted which ended up being pants and a waistcoat.
CEREMONY: Took place out the front. Business in the front, party in the back. We served heaps of bubbles and cold beers pre. I arrived in a Mustang and walked in to the XX ‘VCR’. Music is massive in our lives and was a big focus.
RINGS: Matt Wynne, Carlton. Support local guys. We had the rings in a vintage tape case- Talking Heads Stop Making Sense: one of our fave albums of all time.
AFTER PARTY: In the backyard. The garden was lush and green and we had a marquee housing one long table. We sat amidst our friends and family. I didn’t want a bridal table. It was either thongs or barefoot. Tunes, lots of good booze and massively chilled vibes.
FOOD: Totally self catered. My entire fam is basically in food and wine and we’re massive foodies so this was a pivotal decision in choosing to have it at home- being able to quality control everything. My father in law ran the kitchen with some hired staff. My brother in law, who is a winemaker chose all our wine. Everything was abundant and top shelf. Incredible bread and cheese, local organic meats, most served cold, whole baked snapper, quiche and tonnes of amazing salads that everyone pitched in to make.
BOOZE: We did Spanish bubbles, three whites, two beers and two reds. At 10pm we had trays of G + T’s come out. When everyone was sweating their bollocks off on the outdoor d floor and that icy blue glow in tall glasses materialised, a cheer went up. Master stroke. We also divided our guest list into ‘Normal Drinkers’, ‘Pissheads’ and ‘Total Units’ to guide the volume we needed. For the record we had 5 total units and got them t shirts printed with that on them which they were pretty proud of haha.
TUNES: Recorded for ceremony. DJ for after party. We had DJ Obliveus from Black Caesar Events and he was the first vendor I booked. I’ve know him forever and he is the business. He just totally got it and rolled out funk, hip hop and 90’s R + B all night. I can still remember him starting up and dropping Close to Me by The Cure and the d floor was pretty much rammed from then on. I still recommend Eric regularly to my couples now.
CAKE: My sister in law made a chocolate cake with textured buttercream and topped it with gorgeous hand made felted birds. It was delish. I ate it in the cab on the way home, extremely drunk. I have a talented fam.
BONBONIERRE: Hate that word. Meaning stuff you give to your guests to take home. We mixed a CD for them of our fave tunes. It’s still a banger to listen to today and was well received. Otherwise I think this B word is kinda a waste of money tbh (Controversial!)
What I’d do differently knowing what I know now:
Hire an amazing professional photographer: You cannot take it back people. Find your person- love their pics and love their vibe? Lock em in. I’d be all over one of my three fave photogs these days.
Acoustic Duo: For pre ceremony/ ceremony and that interim part before the DJ kicks off. Nothing better than rolling up to a wedding and there’s live tunes and great drinks. Instant vibe. Fidel and Sarah would def be getting a guernsey.
No cake: Look, our cake was beautiful but it was hot at hell and honestly- no one wants to eat cake in that kind of weather. They just don’t. Don’t ever do dessert and cake either. Complete waste of time. If I did it now in January- gelati cart or alcoholic icy pole cart alllll the way. People LOVE that shit and these are the little touches that they remember as being awesome.
Pay for the pack down: If you’re doing your own gig, when they ask you if you want them to dissemble the marquee- say yes. Just pay it. I tell you what- waking up the day after my wedding, boiling hot, extremely hung over- taking down a marquee and cleaning up was the last thing I felt like doing. Pay an event planner to deal with all the shit you don’t want to do.
I am asked all the time about guest lists. Usually along the lines of- ‘we wanted 50 people tops but it’s blown out to 92 already’
This happens when partners have to come, whether you like them or not and particularly when you start grudgingly adding people you feel like you should. Parents are great for driving this. ‘Oh, you have to invite your grandma’s neighbour- we’ve known her for years’ or ‘you can’t not invite Uncle Joe etc.
What if Uncle Joe is a creep and you haven’t seen him for ten years? What if the neighbour is just someone you say hello to when you visit your Nan once a quarter?
If you want a small guest list I say stand your ground. Cut the chaff.
What makes this difficult is if the parents are paying for your wedding. They then feel they have some say into your guest list. I’ll leave that to you to figure out but I will say this- there’s two good reasons why small guest lists are awesome:
1. They create a warm and intimate vibe
2. You have less people to ‘get around to’ at your wedding- and this is a stress. Actually a pain in the ass and I see so many brides rolling their eyes and over it by the time they’re halfway through the group photos. They just want to get a drink and have fun. Instead they then spend the evening ensuring they speak to everyone and getting pulled this way and that, which is not fun at all.
Think about who’s on your list- you want people you genuinely want to jump on and hug as you’re so damn happy they’re there- your inner sanctum. You need to be on that d floor, not looking guiltily at old Mavis in the corner thinking you should go and thank her for coming and get stuck in another 20 minute convo. Or hiding from Uncle Joe’s sweaty embrace.
Keep it tight peeps. Do what is going to make you happy and your day awesome.
Who says you have to invite your entire extended family? Just be clear- it’s a small wedding of close family and friends. The end.
They’ll get over it. And if they don’t well… too bad.
Divide your list into people you are genuinely thrilled to be there and the rest- those you’re kinda ambivalent about, those you feel obligated to invite plus all the random people from the gym, work etc. Do you really want to pay $150+ a head for all these extras?
Be brutal. The other upside is you can have a much better quality wedding with a smaller crew.
And that shit is golden.