Weddings tend to be formal affairs, but there are no laws prohibiting happy couples from hosting more casual affairs. In fact, many couples confronted with the rising costs of tying the knot are doing just that.
According to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 exceeded $35,000, and that price tag does not even include couples' honeymoons. Some couples may not have the means to finance such lavish affairs, while others may want to save for larger expenses, such as a house, while still being able to celebrate their nuptials with family and friends. Casual weddings can provide that opportunity. However, while casual weddings are less formal, couples will still need to keep some things in mind to make their ceremonies and receptions both fun and memorable.
• Let guests know the wedding will be casual. Perhaps the most important thing couples can do when hosting a casual wedding is inform their guests that the ceremony and reception will not be formal affairs. Be as specific as possible regarding the dress code so guests don't feel embarrassed if they overdress.
• Don't abandon tradition entirely. Couples hosting casual weddings may not feel beholden to all the traditions associated with more formal affairs, but that does not mean tradition should be abandoned entirely. For example, fathers-of-the-bride may still hope to share a spotlight dance with their daughters, while siblings or friends may still hope to serve as bridesmaids or groomsmen. Just because a wedding is less formal does not mean it has to be completely void of tradition, especially those traditions that can let couples' closest loved ones know how much they are loved and appreciated.
• Create your own traditions. Embracing some tradition does not mean couples cannot simultaneously create their own wedding traditions. Guests at casual weddings will likely be expecting something different than they're used to, so couples should not hesitate to provide that. Couples should strive to keep things tasteful but not shy away from unique ideas that fit into the casual theme.
• Plan to feed guests. While couples having casual weddings may choose to have their receptions somewhere other than banquet halls, they should still plan to feed their guests. Some guests may be traveling and staying in hotels to attend the wedding, and it's a nice gesture to show appreciation for their efforts by providing them with a meal. A meal also offers a great chance for guests to mingle with the married couple and fellow guests. Something simple like a backyard barbecue or a catered meal at home fits nicely with a casual setting.
• Don't overlook logistics. Small details, like transportation, parking and lodging will still need to be arranged. If hosting guests at home after the ceremony, make sure guests will have ample places to park their vehicles. In addition, make the same efforts regarding lodging for guests that you would if planning a formal wedding, as out-of-town guests will still need a place to sleep.