Some people dream about their perfect wedding day for decades. Others just see it as a civil recognition of a contract, and want to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. But there are plenty of people in the middle: These people don't see the fuss in spending a crazy amount of time and money on a big wedding, but they do have visions of a white dress, all of their friends, and maybe a five-tiered cake. I was one of these people.
What I didn't imagine is that I would get married before my actual wedding day.
I made the decision to get married before my actual wedding day not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I was immigrating to Canada with my soon-to-be husband, and I needed the documents to start processing. So one year before our wedding day, we told our parents and siblings, called up an officiant, got married, and all went out to dinner to celebrate. Looking back, I would never do it any other way. My "big" wedding day one year later was so much better because I was already married. Here's why it turns out that getting married before your actual wedding day is actually a great idea.
Less panic for you = Less bridezilla for others
If you've already said your vows and had your day alone to celebrate your love, so much less hinges on the day of the wedding. Suddenly, things don't have to be picture-perfect. Your actual wedding day becomes a big, fun party — not the culmination of all your childhood dreams and expectations.
Your friends will be happier
If the bride is calm during the planning process, you can bet everyone around her will be calm and happy too. Your bridesmaids (hopefully) love you, so they're not going to tell you you're driving them crazy with detail-filled emails, dress requirements, and hints that they should be spending money on hotels, gifts, parties, and every other thing that goes along with a wedding.
Taking the focus off marriage for your wedding day clears your perspective; now you can focus on throwing a shindig everyone is going to enjoy. And for the bridesmaids, you'll find you no longer care if they are wearing the exact perfect shade of champagne shoes and a $300 dress from a chic bridal salon.
You'll keep a more reasonable budget
Weddings are absurdly expensive. But with your new perspective, your wedding is just a party. Imagine throwing yourself a party that costs what you make in a year.
Costs of weddings skyrocket with big families, but if you've already gotten married with just your immediate family and absolute closest friends, you may not see the need to pay for your second cousin's children to attend. Attending a wedding is also insanely costly, so believe me, they likely won't miss the invite.
It will also be easier to stick to your budget on the smaller things. It won't seem as vital to get the fancy chair option, the highest thread-count linens, or the out-of-season-but-gorgeous flowers. Instead, you'll focus your budget on efforts like tasty food, an open bar, and a rocking DJ or band that everyone at the party can enjoy, rather than the details only you will notice.
You'll savor your love more
Anyone who has gotten married knows that wedding days are chaos. You're so busy thanking everyone you've invited, taking pictures, and being where you need to be that don't get to have any time to really savor the commitment you're making.
By having a more personal, intimate marriage ceremony before the big day, you can really slow down and take your time. In my case, my family and my husband's family went and sat at one big table in a restaurant for hours. Everyone got up and said a few words over the course of the night, and it didn't matter if the speech went long or was too detailed because there was no set time and no guests to keep entertained. There really was just this calm, loving, happy energy surrounding the whole event.
You can do whatever you want, without guilt
In a very small marriage ceremony, you can make plans without forcing everyone you know to follow your every whim. One hundred fifty wedding guests can't fly to Bermuda for you to get married on the sand or all cram into your favorite local look-out spot (if you and your partner are being kind, that is). But if you and your partner want to make plans to get married in front of the fountains at the Bellagio or on the top of a mountain peak, you do you.
Your ceremony can be led by your best friend
For your actual marriage, your wedding officiant must state certain things to make it legally binding. And if you follow any religions, there can be more specifications to follow. But if you're already legally wed, anyone can perform your ceremony as a vow renewal. You can ask your best friend from college, quote your favorite contemporary YA novel or song lyrics, and make the ceremony totally and completely yours.
Two words: Two dresses
Images: Giphy; Wifflegif; Tumblr