I’m happy to announce that my sweetheart Karolyn and I got engaged a couple months ago. It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago I almost married the wrong girl (How To Undo a Wedding). I’m looking forward to finally being a bride next spring and planning as quickly as I can just so I don’t have it looming over my head. But now there are a lot of pressures to be the perfect feminine bride, to use this once-in-a-lifetime chance to flaunt my femininity to its max from the dress to the decor. And although I almost hired an expensive gay male wedding planning duo (fabulous, right!), I thought again.
After the first week of dreaming after the engagement and reading a few magazines, it finally set in that weddings wreak havoc on your bank account and the planet. I finally woke up and said to myself “Your version of femininity has always been more creative than traditional. Shouldn’t this day reflect the real you?” And then after another visit to gluttonous New York together, I remembered that she and I share the same values which include hoping to save a planet our children can live on.
Nina let you in on some larger ways to lessen the financial burden of the big day which made me want to write about some of ways we’ve chosen to save money and the environment:
Invitations: All Online. Save-the-Date cards, Invitations and entire website dedicated to event information is $99/year at WedShare. (A fourth of the price of the cheapest decent package.) Zero paper waste. Zero postage. And I designed them on my own which makes me feel super crafty.
Not Going to California (If you don’t live there) : Everything is more expensive in those pretty California towns and the new demand in the short period of time (quick before it’s overturned!) has planners and vendors raising thier prices. My research has estimated the same size wedding in my CA hometown would cost three times what it will in Seattle. I would pay at least $200 for an up-do for my hair there as opposed to $50.
Venue: Instead, we’re having it on a small cruise boat in our home town. It’s one of the cheaper options for receptions and we’re having both the ceremony and reception in the same place. Picking a smaller venue helps us limit the amount of people we have to pay to feed and entertain without feeling guilty. “Well, the boat only has an 80 person capacity.”
Dress: Of course I would love to wear vintage, but I’m afraid the prices for vintage wedding dresses are astronomical. My choice here is more frugal than environmental: I’m having a shorter white (Gold Star Virgin!) dress made, to save on fabric by a local seamstress= Give or take $400 with ribbons and appliques and bobbles added by my friends! My best friend will use an old pair of shoes and scraps of crafts to fashion me some shoes to match our accent colors. As for the butch-groom-bride, well, that will be made cheaply too. They don’t often make white silky tuxedo pants for women.
Rings: We finally both have rings, mine the 1940′s antique engagement ring and hers an estate sale band with diamond inlays. One way we are saving money is to avoid the extravagance of each having first an engagement ring and then later a wedding band. We have each one ring fitted for our left hand which we wear now and won’t be put on as part of the ceremony- the ceremony will be about vows, not adding more rings.
Food: We are choosing the option of having a smaller amount of people so that we can afford to feed them for around $40 each for the evening and so that the caterer will use all local and organic ingredients to be easier on the earth and fuel consumption. Our buffet with many varied smaller appetizer items instead of a sit down dinner will fill people up while giving them more choices and sparing us the expense of entrees.
Flowers: Local and Organic is always best for the environment and that means going with whatever flowers are seasonal at the time. Our event being in May, that will mean tall poppies, which are expensive but these days you can always get away with a “less is more” philosophy. It was suggested to me to skip flowers all together in favor of a fake-flowers and ribbons cheaper idea (but both fake flowers and ribbons are made in China so it’s cheaper but not responsible), and this femme loves the fresh florals. A floral service is ridiculously expensive so a fashionable friend will spend a few hours making table arrangements.
Favors: Instead of junk or candy, people will take home a couple flowers from their table and their place card which will say that a gift ($5) was given in their name to an organization which helps lay scientists protect the local sea flora and fauna.
Carbon Off-Set: We’re hoping to purchase Carbon Offset for at least the boat cruise itself and maybe for the whole wedding if I can calculate it and if we stay under the $10,000 budget.
Debt: And speaking of the budget; we have some contributions from family which is used to pay for the initial deposits, but what’s left over is being saved for and will be paid for in cash and not put on credit (Which is a great reason to have a longer than 6-months engagement). Money is one of our more difficult issues like many couples. Hopefully not having lingering wedding debt will make our first year married a little less stressful.
And as for the Honeymoon, well, nobody’s perfect. I’m working on budgeting paying carbon off-set tax for the plane flight to Tahiti. As planes contribute over one third of global carbon emissions. And though I did see in a magazine once that a celebrity had almost everything at the wedding covered in gold-leaf and thought it spectacularly beautiful, I’d rather we be able to live with ourselves (and each other) when the big day is over.