A Case for a Casual Wedding

As more and more couples are looking for authentic ways to celebrate their unions, the variations on weddings grow. A wedding can be anything from a black-tie affair with hundreds of guests, to a simple backyard party, to elopement. Keeping it casual, relaxed, laid-back, and informal, is great, and a real option today. But what exactly does this mean?

These guys look cool and casual.

Here in the Poconos a casual wedding can be a very good fit. Our community tends to be relaxed, and the mountains as a destination, reflect an outdoorsy vibe. If that’s what you’re looking for, have what I call ‘a casual wedding.’

This also works for weddings on a beach, in a garden, a backyard, or park, but I have also seen very elegant and up-scale weddings in all of those settings. For any of these locations be sure to have an excellent rain plan! (I’ve written about that extensively, so I’ll skip it this time)

To have your casual wedding make sense, consider the formality of the ceremony, the style of the décor, type of meal, and most importantly, your expectations. Anything that leaves out a lot of pomp and circumstance, no Here Comes the Bride, or Pachelbel’s Canon could be a casual wedding.

A wedding with children running around is most likely a casual wedding. But don’t misunderstand – this relaxed style can still be very beautiful, even with kids making lots of noise.

How do your guests know what to expect? A clear signal is important –  most people do not feel good if they show up over-dressed or under-dressed. (I know it bothers me when that happens.) You simply have to tell them. Indicating this on the invitation is the first and best step; for example: casual attire, jackets and ties optional – would be a good indicator; or perhaps: ‘join us for our picnic style wedding.’

Simple flowers work for a casual wedding (Photo credit: Susie Forrester)

Invitations themselves speak volumes – the look, and choice of words sets a tone. ‘Come join us as we tie the knot,’ gives a different impression from requesting ‘the pleasure of your company.’  Recycled natural paper presents differently than white card stock trimmed in gold. Also spread the word to family and friends and be specific.

If guests go casual, can a bride still wear a gown? Of course, but probably something more simple and flowy instead of beaded and big. If you love vintage, this is the time to go for it. A wedding dress with cowboy boots is also great for a casual wedding. But whatever the style of the wedding, a bride can always be a bride. She can and should be more dressed up than the guests.

A casual wedding might also involve activities. Have lawn games, or a live band, but instead of the usual wedding band – why not hire a bluegrass group, country band, or something different? Have some food based activities, such as: build your own burger, or a taco bar; have a bonfire, make smores, build your own ice cream sundaes.

A self-serve beverage bar is easy, too, and fits a casual wedding. Just have a few nice big buckets of ice filled with soft drinks and clearly labeled hard stuff.

Flowers have a way of expressing one’s style, so wild bouquets of local blooms would fit better than formally arranged roses.

The best thing about a casual wedding is that you have the choice to have one. Not everyone is cut out for the super fancy stuff. Your wedding is one of the most important milestones in your life, it is important that you feel comfortable with your plans. But however you interpret casual, be sure to communicate that to your guests, so they will feel right at home as well.

Thank you Susie Forrester and Lisa Rhinehart for the fabulous photos!



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