More Couples Are Crafting Their Own Wedding Ceremonies

More Couples Are Crafting Their Own Wedding Ceremonies

It was cloudy and drizzling on Oct. 25, the worst case scenario for Julia and Jeffery DuPuy’s backyard wedding near Black Creek.

The Middleburg couple hadn’t worried about the weather for their wedding day. The days before had been sunny, after all.

Just in time for the DuPuys’ 4 p.m. wedding, however, the skies cleared up.

‘It turned out to be one of the warmest and brightest days we’d had in a while,’ Julia DuPuy said.

The DuPuys consider themselves an unconventional couple. That’s why they decided not to have a formal, more traditional church wedding. Instead, they gambled with Mother Nature.

The DuPuys said it was the best thing they could have done because it wasn’t expensive, and they had freedom in planning. They planned the wedding in two months and spent less than $2,500, with the largest expense being her $500 gown.

Wedding consultants say many couples are choosing alternative weddings and creating their own ceremonies.

Local wedding consultant Renee Ivey, who owns River City Weddings on the Westside with partner Beth Kringle, said alternative weddings, especially at-home weddings, occur frequently.

‘They happen quite often,’ Ivey said. ‘It’s the majority of what we do. It’s especially busy now because people are planning Valentine’s Day weddings.’

Last year, out of about 250 weddings, River City Weddings served as a consultant for 30 that were held at private homes. Other alternative sites included parks, clubhouses and country clubs.

‘We’ve had some very casual affairs,’ Ivey said. ‘Sometimes, at-home weddings are planned around special events such as the Super Bowl. And a lot of them are outdoors or by the pool.’

Ivey said the main reason couples choose at-home weddings is because they don’t belong to a church. Others reasons are to keep expenses low, because it’s the couple’s second or third marriage or because there is something significant about the wedding spot.

‘There is usually a special attachment to the home or it’s something the couple always dreamed about,’ said Cele Goldsmith Lalli, editor-in-chief of Modern Bride magazine. Wedding Bells

According to a 1995-96 national survey by Modern Bride, 52 percent of first-marriage wedding receptions are held in clubs, restaurants, catering halls or private homes. Whatever the reason for choosing alternative wedding sites or home weddings, consultants say there are some things to consider when planning.

‘When I think of at-home weddings, I think about Father of the Bride [the movie],’ Goldsmith Lalli said. ‘Remember how they had to move everything out of the house. These are things you have to consider. There can be some hidden costs you might not think of in the beginning. This isn’t like planning a Christmas party.’

‘People spend $20,000 on a wedding,’ said New York City bridal consultant Monica Bernstein, a former senior editor at Bridal Guide magazine. ‘The next day they have nothing tangible to show for it. What’s nice about having the event in your home is that you can make investments that will last for a long time.’

The DuPuys said celebrating their big day at home was a lot of fun and their reception was more like a big barbecue, complete with ribs, chicken, beans, potato salad and a keg. Of course, there was a wedding cake too.

‘It was more personal because we only had our closest friends and family here,’ Jeffery DuPuy said. ‘Not everyone is going to feel comfortable in a church. We’re not church-goers and we like being outside.’

The DuPuys put up lights outside their home for the reception and decorated with a variety of flowers.

Some couples may choose to make their wedding day even more unusual.

Consider, for instance, Jacksonville couple Vicki Smith-White and Jerry White who chose an alternative wedding in Daytona. The couple, members of Gators Clowns of Jacksonville, are also known as High Heels and Wind-Up. They dressed as clowns in their November wedding.

‘The two people involved should follow their hearts and their interest,’ Smith-White said. ‘They should incorporate their philosophies, their lifestyle and what they believe in. For some people that means having a traditional wedding. For others, it means having something offbeat.’ THE BOTTOM LINE

It would be hard to shock Ivey, the Jacksonville wedding consultant.

She’s seen her share of wild weddings, including one ceremony where tent tarps were held down with beer cans.

The bottom line was that the bride and groom took vows of marriage without having to take vows of poverty when the bills arrived.

Ivey said she has worked on at-home weddings for as little as $500 and as much as $6,000. A church wedding or a more formal wedding can cost about $17,000, according to Modern Bride’s national survey.

‘The $500 wedding was catered with fried chicken and hot wings . . . a real B.Y.O.B. affair,’ Ivey said. ‘The $6,000 wedding was very formal and included a huge buffet.’

The end result is worth remembering.

The DuPuys took their customized vows on a dock because they love the water. They had eight people in the wedding party. Julia DuPuy wore an elaborate full-skirted, short-sleeved gown of embroidered chiffon and satin. Her headpiece was baby’s breath.

Jeffery DuPuy wore a white tie and tails.

‘We had people tell us that it was one of the prettiest and nicest weddings they’ve ever been to,’ said Julia DuPuy. ‘If you want to go inexpensive but nice, stay home. The money you would spend for a church or catering can be spent in your own home.’

Couples say they sometimes wish they had done more planning before considering an athome wedding.

Cele Goldsmith Lalli, editorin-chief of Modern Bride magazine, and Monica Bernstein, New York City bridal consultant, said couples should consider the following:

  • Landscaping and housework: Plan a garden and do landscaping work early. Also, get painting or cleaning out of the way early.
  • Expenses: Enlist the help of friends and family in order to keep expenses down.
  • Space: Assess whether your home can handle the size wedding you want.
  • Weather: Think about the role of bad weather. If this is a backyard wedding, what is the backup plan in event of rain? Consider putting up tents. Also, consider flooring in case the ground is soggy from previous rain.
  • Catering: Take a hard look at your kitchen. Is there sufficient space in the kitchen to cook if necessary?
  • Bathroom facilities: Consider renting a portable bathroom.
  • Parking: Consider hiring someone or asking a friend to park cars.
  • Hired help: Select a caterer experienced with off-premises catering. Also, remember to discuss clean-up arrangements.
  • The band: Plan for adequate power supply if you hire a band. Also, check on the local noise ordinance.
  • The day after: Plan to have a carpet cleaner come in after the wedding.

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