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Most chaplains do require marriage counseling. Just call around and find one that doesn't.
I've been to several small ceremonies--they had the quick ceremony and we all went out to dinner at a restaurant afterwards. If you're just looking for something small, you don't have to do the stereotypical court-house t-shirt and jeans wedding. Some judges or JPs will marrying you outside if there's any nice areas right near the courthouse. One friend married at the USO, another married in the park across from the courthouse, another married by a Iwo Jima monument next to the courthouse. There's lots of options if you are unable to find a chaplain. Don't forget that retired chaplains are also able to perform wedding ceremonies. Contact the VFW or American Legion in your area.
Oooh I like them both! haha hard choice.
If you really feel the need to have a full gown for the ceremony, you can easily make, or buy a skirt to go over the mermaid gown. Oleg Cassini actually makes alot of his gown with detachable skirts. He designs most of his gowns with the modern bride in mind, yeah we're a bit more "risque" than a few years ago, but also keeps the Catholic mass ceremony in mind (usually requiring a full-length gown), so he adds the detachable skirt. But enough fashion facts!
If you prefer the mermaid gown, then go with that! But if you need a full length gown for the ceremony, then talk with a seamstress, or make your own. I've seen a few online too.
I agree with all the above responses! Make sure to blame it on the venue---just say for safety reasons, or city codes that the venue only holds ## people and you are unable to accommodate any additional guests than Susy, John, etc. To be honest, they do have a capacity limit, so it's not lying!
If YOU like it, then it's the dress for you!
It's your big day--not theirs.
I'm making my own dress. Only the men in my family have said they liked it. The women in my family have all stated how they don't like it and I "should've bought one." Well guess what?! I'm in LOVE with it! I feel amazing in it. It makes me look amazing! So screw anyone that thinks otherwise :-)
Ok here's the pics since they didn't load the first time!
Invitations before I cut them. Envelopes as they were drying from being glued together. Part of addressed envelope.