My down to earth, community minded and eco-conscious wedding, by Jennifer Lyon of The Eco Market.
We were engaged for 3 years before actually getting married and in that time we felt so much pressure to throw the perfect wedding. We got it from everywhere: “You should invite everyone”, “You should feed them”, and so on. The litany of ‘should’s”.
What do I do? I was entertaining the idea that I wanted all of this. “I’m a great event planner!” “This will be easy”, I thought to myself.
Quickly, suggestions led to a massive guest list and from there an expensive and elaborate affair flourished. We were floored.
I tried all of the things. I organized my girlfriends and we tried on dresses. Pricey dresses we will wear one time. My partner and I went ring shopping (a few times) and were told those lines, you know the ones you hear in movies and from pretty much everyone: “three months of HIS salary is what we advise you spend on a ring”, the lady behind the counter continued; “do you prefer gold or white gold?”
The value of the ring, we’re told, is sentimental. So why is the price tag so steep? I like the idea of a ring because its a social cue; it says “hey, I’m married.” But I don’t have to buy diamonds and I don’t have to buy from a box store.
I was questioning these “shoulds”. Why is so much of marriage and weddings tied up with lavish spending and acquiring more stuff? Why should I do these things if I don’t agree with them? Same goes for everything else that drives this massive wedding industry. The venue, the food, the flowers, on and on!
It was rubbing me the wrong way. I had trouble justifying much of what I was being told. Sadly, my wedding felt less legitimate because I wasn't going with the flow. Everything I was being advised to do went against my own sense of what made sense. Does that make sense?
Amongst the “shoulds” and the cacophony of suggestions, I asked myself a few questions:
1- What can I afford? How much of my finite resources (money/time) can I spend on this?
2- What’s important to me? Do I need all of the things I’m told I need?
3- How can I support my community and limit my impact on the environment and still get married?
Every decision has an effect and this was one of those big ones.
Does my commitment to my partner mean I have to invest a huge sum of money? No. Does it mean I have to ask everyone I know to spend money? No. Does it mean I have to create more waste from for this big day? No. It doesn't have to be any of those things to be a wedding!
So, I planned a small wedding of immediate family. No registry. A few people travelled a few hours. We walked to city hall from our home. We hired a local caterer who was willing to go as low waste as possible. We had our rings made by a local artist and I thrifted my way to a fabulous bridal outfit. We didn't spend a bunch of money and we also didn’t accumulate a pile of things.
Planning became incredibly easy. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders! I felt empowered because I did what I wanted and stayed true to my values and my style. I was able to support several local small businesses and didn't have to spend the equivalent of a mortgage down payment to do it. I kept the entire event under $2K. The waste was minimal; one small bag of garbage, some compostables and a few beer/wine containers.
It was tough (at first) to fight against the current of what conventional weddings “should” be but in the end my small wedding still made me incredibly happy.
Ceremony took place at Waterloo City Hall
Reception took place at our condo
The rest I did myself. I made the video below about how I made our wedding favours - and my earrings which were made from leftover dried paint.