“Are my wedding plans really ‘enough’?” – How to ignore other peoples expectations and have your ideal low key wedding.

Do you sometimes feel a bit awkward about wanting a smaller wedding? Are you getting pressure from friends and family to have a ‘big day’? Well I am here to tell you that your low key wedding plans REALLY ARE enough!

happy couple laughing at their low key wedding

I can’t tell you the number of couples that sit on my sofa and tell me that they are  ‘just having a low key wedding’. Low key relaxed weddings are awesome! But it’s the way they tell me this, it’s as if they are apologetic that their wedding is not going to be a big extravagant affair, as if they are already on the defensive, ready and waiting to explain away why they have chosen a smaller wedding, as if they have already had to do this explaining before.

And this makes me sad.

Your wedding day is YOUR wedding day. It’s the day you and your loved one declare your love and commitment to each other. And it’s the day you celebrate this fact with those people close to you.  

It is not a day for feeling backed into a corner to spend thousands and thousands of pounds on a lavish affair just to keep up with the Jones’.

It is not a day for feeling stressed and anxious. For staying up late into the night worrying about whether guests are going notice that the napkins are a slightly different shade of rose. For dreading being the centre of attention when you are normally perfectly happy being the quiet one in the corner. 

It is not a day for feeling like you have to spend hours talking with long lost relatives that you would never normally see.

It is not a day for doing anything that you don’t really want to do. Plain and simple.

It is about you and your loved one! – Your wedding plans ARE always enough.

a low key wedding in a field
low key wedding ideas like camping in field

When my husband and I got married in 2009, this was something we struggled with too. We knew we didn’t want a big crazy day, but we sometimes felt guilty or embarrassed when asked about our small wedding plans, as if we had to justify our decision in some way.

So I thought it would be a good idea to write about my thoughts and feelings on this strange pressure we feel as I know lots of you will feel a similar way too! I will also help you out with some tips on how to navigate the crazy wedding world of expectations and how create your perfect low key wedding.


Why might you not want a ‘Big Day’?

There are endless reasons why you might not fancy a big lavish affair for your wedding day. Let’s have a look at these. 

1. Firstly, there is cost avoidance:

You have probably heard various facts about the cost of weddings these days. Nationwide Building Society found that in 2015 UK couples spent, on average, £17,000 on their wedding day, whereas Brides magazine say that that figure is nearer £24,000. That is a big chunk of money to spend on one day. While some couples feel that the cost is justified, and may even be lucky enough to have families that help foot the bill, some couples will not want or be able to spend that kind of money. Maybe you are saving for your first house, or have just bought one. Maybe you’ve just had a baby, and my god we all know how expensive babies are! And maybe you just simply do not want to outlay that kind of money! Maybe you value going on holiday together or something more instead. Either way, cost is often a big factor in opting for a low key wedding. 

2. Maybe, like me, you are an Introvert and just don’t want the fuss:

Weddings are big stressful affairs for introverts. All that having to talk to people you don’t really know, finding yourself the centre of attention constantly, being expected to make speeches to packed rooms, people clambering to get a photo with you. Noooo! – You are so much happier just being with your favourite people having a relaxed meal for example!
The expectation placed on the wedding couple themselves on their wedding day is unlike anything else. When else in your life does the whole day literally revolve around you and what you want to do. For introverts this is a big reason for wanting a low key wedding. You just don’t want the fuss!

3. Another big reason is that you don’t have a big family or group of friends: 

This is a funny one isn’t it. It’s something we sometimes don’t really like to talk about or even admit to ourselves. But maybe you just don’t have that many friends that you would want to invite to your wedding in order to have a big wedding affair.  It’s a known fact that, while our social media world is ever increasing, the number of ‘real’ friends we have is decreasing. The Guardian report that in today’s world the majority of us only have 2 close friends. There is a popular saying “You have five friends, and the rest is landscape.”  

I know when we were planning our wedding we found we just didn’t have a huge invite list. We could possibly have increased it, and invited second cousins, god parents, family friends and people we knew from previous lives, but we just wanted our celebration to be full of the loved ones that we knew well. And so that meant we only had about 30 guests. Perfect. 

So that’s great. You know you want a lovely low key wedding!

But the kicker is, once you get started on your wedding planning process, and you start talking to friends and family, you find that through one way or another you are getting sucked in to thinking you need a bigger wedding day than what you had planned, and you start to feel guilty or embarrassed of your smaller scaled plans.

Why is this?? 

a low key tipi wedding
plan a low key tipi wedding

So what is causing this pressure to have a big wedding?

Well I think primarily it can be caused by talking with your friends and family. Both, how you feel when you are telling them about your wedding plans, and also what they say to you about them. 

Parents especially can often get really involved (especially if they are helping you out financially with the wedding) and like to have a say in the decisions, including the guest list. Friends can often make you feel under pressure by asking you why you aren’t having a wedding like they had, and sometimes the whole discussion, and justification, can get a little heated.

But also the very nature of planning your wedding can cause you to second guess your original decision. There is SO MUCH out there for weddings isn’t there! DJs, bands, songwriters that write you your very own bespoke song. Cake makers, macaron pâtissiers, and even cakes for your precious pets. You can release doves, hire a vintage fairground, attend dance lessons for your perfect first dance. Photographers are offering separate wedding portrait days, ‘trash-the-dress’ shoots, and pre-wedding boudoir shoots. You can hire wedding planners, mixologists, magicians, even bridesmaids. The list is endless and only becoming more and more extravagant as the wedding industry explodes with new creative businesses. Pinterest, wedding magazines and trendy blogs will tell you the latest ‘Must Haves’, and they display beautiful styled (read: mock) wedding photographs all over their pages, leaving you to wonder what is really real anymore. It’s hard not to doubt your decision to have a low key wedding when all of this looks so beautiful and clearly NECESSARY! 

But no. You do not need to feel that you should be following the latest trends, or doing what your friends did, or remortgaging your house to hire your husband-to-be’s favourite celebrity as an MC. 

You really don’t! Trust Me! 


The Wedding Industry’s Input

Although the wedding world has never been bigger or more crazy, it has also never been more dedicated to helping couples achieve their perfect bespoke day. Navigate the onslaught of madness, and filter out just what will make you and your partner happy. 

Using Pinterest sparingly you can search specifically for things like ‘low key wedding’ (all the while remembering that the vast majority of the pins on there are American and so their idea of what ‘low key’ means possibly still contains a carriage pulled by four white horses! Ha ha!) to see what other people have done and to get ideas on how to help your day reflect your personalities.

As I say, the wedding industry is highlighting individuality more than ever these days. You really can do whatever you like on your wedding day, which is wonderful! I love talking to my couples about their plans, I adore how personal they all are nowadays!

Although it was only 8-9 years ago, when I was planning my wedding I really struggled to get ideas for something other than the classic ‘church then reception in a hotel’ plan. I was getting married before all my friends, there was no Pinterest, and I was living in a new area that I didn’t know well. But now there is just so much choice. Lots of weddings take place in little village halls, big open meadows, or the couples’ favourite restaurant. We had ours in our normal-sized back garden!

Having a low key wedding doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and reflect your personality – in fact it’s the opposite. A smaller guest list and more relaxed attitude means so many more options are opened up to you! 

a low key back garden wedding
plan a low key back garden wedding

Jenny’s 8 Top Tips for Creating your Perfect Low Key Wedding.

1. Keep your eye on the prize:

At the start of your planning sit down with your loved one and make a plan for your ideal wedding. What would make you most happy? Write this down and don’t lose sight of that. Stick it up on your wall even. Then, when you are up to your neck in Pinterest’s ’23 Must Have Floral Arch Decoration Ideas’’, you can re-read your original plan, re-centre yourselves, and remember why you are really doing all of this. 

2. Become a stuck record:

Don’t let anyone else negatively influence your plans, your guest list, or your venue choice. You need “It’s our wedding day and that’s what we want” on repeat whenever ‘advice’ starts getting directed your way. No further discussion/explanation necessary. That’s all the reason you need to give. Celebrate in your friend’s own wedding decisions and their style choices, but your wedding is yours and you are unique. You don’t need to do what anyone else thinks you should do.

3. Shun the labels:

Instead of giving ‘traditional’ wedding related roles to people, such as bridesmaid/usher/flower girl, try giving them more tangible jobs instead. Psychologically using the traditional names can infer that your wedding is going to be traditional and invites comments on why it’s not. So instead, give people more specific roles or tasks, i.e your job is to organise the food, your job is to help me get ready. That way people know exactly where they stand, they get to be ‘important’ to you on your wedding day, and they help take some of the much needed pressure off of you! Win-win! 

4. Sneak away: 

Consider leaving your wedding celebrations early, perhaps in a flurry of confetti. You don’t need to stay with your guests until it’s clearing up time. Let someone else worry about all that. Instead go and sneak off to spend precious time together! Especially as you might not have seen each other properly all day! 

5. Extend the celebration: 

If your family and friends live further away, consider making a weekend of it for you all. Have your guests come up the day before, so that you can hang out, have a meal together etc. Then by the time the wedding day comes around everyone is feeling relaxed and less desperate to surround you! Camping or staying in a big rented house can be fun ideas.

6. Stay together:

Why do you need to follow the tradition of not seeing each other during the day before you get married. Isn’t that a strange concept, that at the time you are most stressed you have to be apart from your partner and the person you would normally always turn to when stressed! Instead get ready together, or perhaps have a ‘first look’ where you both meet up ahead of the ceremony for some time alone together. Take that pressure and stress of walking up the aisle away, you can even walk up together!

7.  Be different: 

Shun tradition completely and just do things your way. Consider having a reverse wedding, and have a party before your ceremony!
Why not look at the other wedding celebration options such as a humanist ceremony or hand fasting.

8. If all else fails….

Why not just elope? Instead of having a wedding at all, why not escape and get married just the two of you. You could always celebrate with close friends and family when you return. 

plan a low key wedding at Donington park hotel

Some Low Key Wedding Venue Ideas:

Need some inspiration on where to hold your low key and relaxed wedding? Here are some lovely ideas to consider:

  • Your parish church
  • Your local registry office
  • Your back garden
  • Your favourite restaurant
  • Your local village hall
  • A picnic in your favourite park
  • Camping at Whistlewood Common 
  • The Pavillion Gardens in Buxton
  • A weekend stay at Hollywood House 

If you still would like a ‘wedding venue’, these are some fab smaller places: 

a low key camping wedding
plan a low key wedding in a meadow

In summary…

Your wedding day is YOUR wedding day.

Don’t lose sight of what you want out of your wedding day, and don’t be apologetic about not following other peoples’ expectations. Yes your wedding plans REALLY ARE enough. You don’t ‘need’ to do anything more or less than what you have planned. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise then you have to question their motives!
Be individual, help yourselves stay relaxed and happy, relish the wonderful occasion of promising your love to your best friend forever. There is nothing like it in this world! <3  

Indigo and Violet Wedding Photography Derbyshire 

As a documentary photographer I specialise in the art of taking beautiful and emotive natural photographs without intruding on your wedding day. I am very mindful of not disrupting you and your guests as far as possible and also this way I get to capture completely natural laughter, joy, and fun. So, even if you are planning a low key wedding, having a me as your photographer preserving your memories for you in a quiet and unobtrusive manner, is a wonderful relaxed experience and not something to worry about. 

If you would like to learn more about my wedding ethos and style please visit my About Me page here: About Jenny and Indigo and Violet

If you would like to learn more about my wedding packages and to see if I am available on your wedding date please visit my Weddings pages starting here: Indigo and Violet Weddings

I look forward to meeting you both! 

Jenny xx

“The most amazing and beautiful photographs from our wedding, Jenny captured every special moment and emotion. She made us feel at ease and took the most wonderful documentary style photos. I would highly recommend Indigo + Violet to any one wanting to capture any special moments!”

Gina Dodson, April 2017


[…] Laura explains that she didn’t really enjoy the wedding planning world. “I found it quite stressful and Nathan was only really excited about planning the food. I did enjoy looking round all the wedding fairs and seeing all the brilliant things that suppliers could create.” I can totally relate to Laura’s overwhelm when it came to wedding planning. I felt the same when I was planning mine. There are SO MANY options these days that sometimes it can just be too much, especially if you know you want quite a low key and relaxed wedding day. If you are feeling the same way, this blog post might help: How To Have Your Low Key Wedding  […]