Minimalism has been around since biblical times, but has recently become incredibly popular. Many people understand this to mean getting rid of your possessions, and that is one of the core practices of the movement. However, the minimalist lifestyle actually promotes satisfaction, self-sufficiency, and environmentalism while reducing stress. Although the term or the lifestyle “maximalist” hasn’t caught on the way minimalism has, you can probably guess it’s the opposite of minimalism. Living a grandiose, even excessive, lifestyle.
How does this relate to weddings? We often talk about weddings as being on either end of this spectrum – either a simple backyard wedding or an extravagant event worthy of royalty. Or, we think of weddings in terms of the expense: tight budget or no budget. Typically, a tight budget or a simple wedding would fall into the minimalist category and the extravagant, money-is-no-issue wedding would be classified as maximalist, but this isn’t inherently true.
If you’re struggling to plan your wedding, or too focused on the budget to be able to properly plan, it may benefit you to consider planning from a minimalist or maximalist point of view, rather than a financial or theme focus.
Become friends with your vendors, if you aren’t already. Choose local musicians, bakers, caterers, and so on. Minimalism is about appreciating what you have and about getting back to the roots of things. This means human connection – human relationships should be the most important thing in our lives. Your wedding celebrates the next step in one relationship, but there’s no reason it can’t be the start of more relationships.
There are a few different types of minimalist aesthetics:
- Organic minimalism: a focus on lush greenery with quite a bit of white and burlap or light brown.
- Industrial minimalism: urban meets rustic. Think steam punk, but less punk.
- Modern minimalism: emphasize linework and geometric shapes
The core of minimalism is “less is more,” so think only a few simple accessories and a neutral palette. Start by finding a naturally beautiful venue, but it doesn’t have to be traditionally beautiful, like a church or a park. It could be a warehouse, an empty loft, or an old factory. Look for tall ceilings, exposed brick, and blank walls.
For your color scheme, choose soft pastels or neutrals and mix in a few rich greens.
The furniture should be as plain as possible. Again, look for natural beauty, like wood tables. You can also skip the table cloths. Instead, opt for a thin table runner or smaller placemats. With the right tables, you won’t need any cloth at all.
Greenery/vines on wall behind bridal party table or a single piece on the back of the chairs. For any bouquets and floral arrangements, stick to mostly green with just a touch of color. Instead of large centerpieces, try a line of candles down each table. If that isn’t quite enough for you, add mirrors under the candles, or scatter leaves around.
A minimalist dress should be plain and comfortable – but that doesn’t mean ugly! There are plenty of dresses that are stunning without any adornments. Focus more on the style and fit of the dress than the embellishments.
Fortunately, minimalists don’t have much to say about your wedding menu. That means go nuts! If you’re having a buffet- or serve yourself-style spread, focus on simplifying the look of the food and dessert tables rather than on simplifying the food itself. Have fewer and smaller signs to identify the food and forget about decorations entirely, if you want. Let guests pay attention to what matters most on this table: the food itself. The cake, and any desserts, should have a “clean” look. A smooth surface and defined lines with a small but eye-catching design.
Signs are typically things that aren’t totally necessary for a wedding or reception. We love the look of so many, and the cute, sweet, or funny sayings people have come up with to put on them, but we know some of them are extra. So if signs aren’t your thing (or if you couldn’t possibly pick a saying to put out!), do away with them.
For invitations, menus, food labels, and any signs you do decide to have, keep your fonts modest. Sans serif fonts are the norm for minimalism, but a serif could work as well. Use a nice calligraphy font periodically, for emphasis, but don’t incorporate too much color. Stationary should be – you guessed it – plain as well. All white or a subtle marble pattern is best. Another option is to keep the print and font very plain but use a textured paper. The uniqueness is sure to bring a moment of mindfulness to anyone who reads the invitation.
“Less is more” doesn’t necessarily mean do less – it means every detail should be chosen for a reason. Some people will say a minimalist theme will be very expensive, because you have to find items that aren’t commonly used for weddings, such as clear plastic chairs or particular cutlery. This doesn’t have to be true, though, because minimalism emphasizes reducing waste. Consider borrowing items from friends or using what you already have at home. And, more importantly, there aren’t many hard and fast rules for the minimalist aesthetic, as long as you keep things simple and meaningful. Start with the basics of what you absolutely must have for a wedding: the couple, the officiant, the rings, and the marriage license. That’s it. That’s all you really need for a wedding. Build up from there, carefully choosing what is necessary, what you really want, and what you’d like to have if it’s possible.
The first word that may come to your mind when you think about the opposite of minimalism is likely “clutter.” However, this isn’t the case at all. Think bold colors, exciting art, and all the personalization you could dream of. Start with a basic color scheme and then, well, go nuts!
Set up an art-covered accent wall. You can use anything from tapestries to your favorite paintings to photographs in large, ornate frames to a DIY art wall, or have an art station so guests can make their own pieces to hang. A popular version of this is the dartboard art, where you fill balloons with paint, hang them on a canvas, and have guests throw darts to pop the balloons. However, if you’re having an indoor reception, that may be too messy, so you’ll need to look for other crafts your guests can make, such as watercolors, modeling clay, or even just coloring books.
One of the common distinguishers between minimalism and maximalism is books: minimalism tells you to keep only the books that are significant to you in some way, or bring you joy and meaning, but maximalism says “the more books the better!” Set up a lounge in a corner of your venue with comfy couches and oversized armchairs, blankets, pillows, and extra lighting. Then add a few bookshelves and fill the shelves with books, photo albums, coloring books, and games. Guests who need a little break from all the merriment can escape to a quiet corner for a moment of peace. Kids who get bored can play a game or color.
With maximalism, you can just keep adding things! If you see something you love, include it! Show off your style or your quirky sense of humor. To make sure you end up with a cohesive look, stick to your color scheme.
Look for unexpected opportunities for décor. Hang a flower blanket from the ceiling in the bathroom. Put mirrors on the ceiling above the dance floor. Cover tables with photographs and floral arrangements. Stand huge planters with tall grasses in every corner and at every doorway. Do something unexpected, like hanging a tapestry behind the head table. Mix patterns and textures, but keep the colors complementary – even if they contrast.
Another factor of maximalism is embracing imperfection. This is important for a wedding, but certainly not easy to do. You’ll have to accept that your wedding won’t go perfectly. There are too many moving parts, too many people who have to be perfectly in sync. But that’s okay! Let it go, relax, laugh it off. Go back to the minimalist point of the bare necessities for this: all you really need is the couple, the officiant, the rings, and the marriage license. Everything else is just extra. Extra beauty and fun, yes, but extra, so it’s okay if the ice sculpture melts a bit or it rains or the cake came in the wrong flavor. You’re still going to have an incredible day and make so many important memories and these imperfections will just add to the chaotic beauty.
If minimalism is about only keeping items that bring you joy, maximalism is about using all of the items that bring you joy, whether they match or not.
The most important thing to remember is this is your wedding, and it’s yours to plan as you want. If you’re concerned about your budget, remember that the internet is full of some really thorough DIY plans. It’ll take you more time, but save you money. If money is not a problem but time is, the internet is fortunately also full of amazing finished products you can buy that’ll save you plenty of time though you’ll have to pay a bit more. Ultimately, the decision is yours, and you may find your perfect wedding lies somewhere in between plain and elaborate.