My little green wedding

I feel I beat the system on this one and snubbed conventional tradition. (Which I just love to do. My man, not so much.) I was never a girl who dreamed of a big wedding, as a child, as a teenager, or as an adult. I never thought much about a wedding, mostly because I never wanted to get married. In my mind, marriage was style cramping, freedom crushing and just plain boring. When I met people, especially young people who told me they were married, I felt sad. It took all I had not to reach out and hug them and say, “I’m so sorry.”

Then I met HIM. Well, you know how that story goes.

He wanted a wedding, I didn’t. Always traditional, he imagined the church wedding in his military uniform, ducking under the raised ceremonial swords of his Naval Academy friends. So, I feel a little selfish in saying I talked him out of it. I said, “Let’s get married by the Justice of the Peace NOW and we can have a wedding LATER.”

Besides, with families scattered  in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Mexico, what would be the most central location? In this economy, how could we ask everyone to come to us? It would have been too selfish.

Instead, we quietly eloped. The Justice of the Peace met us at the County Clerk’s Office. She asked me via phone if I wanted her to wear anything in particular. I told her to wear whatever her heart fancied. She showed up in a bright Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals. We wore jeans and tennis shoes. Five minutes later, we were man and wife. Her fee was $75.

A year later, I bought a dress for $79 at a wedding consignment store. We asked his brother to spend an afternoon taking pictures with his fancy camera in the Georgia sun. I did my own make-up and hair (cutting my bangs two days before–not such a good idea). I bought a little tiara for $10 (which I still wear around the house, and I’d wear it out to the grocery store if my husband didn’t refuse to leave the house when I have it on.) When I put the pictures on Facebook, a close friend said she was hurt I didn’t invite her to the wedding. I had to write and tell her there wasn’t one! The pictures were that good. And that’s all I wanted, really. Beautiful pictures of me in a white dress and my man wearing his uniform, smiling and happy.

And that’s what I have.


I held onto the dress, just for in case we decided down the line to have an actual small wedding, but my husband seemed to have lost interest, which did make me feel guilty. Did I steal his dream and replace it with my own? If we did have a wedding, I wanted a small one performed in the backyard. We’d have a pot luck, celebrating the real reason we were there—-love and family, not for florist cut flowers, caterers, table settings, or asking friends to buy bridesmaids dresses they’d never wear again. I would not be a part of that waste. Because that’s what I saw it as. Waste.

And no, I’m not preaching, it’s just my opinion! I’m only one person.

I realize I am alone in my thinking. Most girls dream of a big wedding and don’t blink an eye to shell out thousands of dollars for a dress, a ring, a party people aren’t soon to forget. Not me. When I look around at all we have in this country….now that I’ve experienced first hand the slums of Brazil and South Africa where people reside in cardboard boxes, or place together sheets of tin covered in black plastic garbage bags, I see things differently. Even right here in the U.S. where children only eat macaroni and cheese out of a box nightly for dinner and live in their van or a motel because they no longer have a home in south Florida—-how in the world could I spend thousands of dollars on a “party” and look myself  in the mirror the next day? In the eye?

I couldn’t.

I do realize it’s a business. I realize it’s tradition, and many people like it. I realize weddings have been around since the beginning of time. I realize we don’t live in the only culture that celebrates extravagant weddings. I also realized a wedding was out. Last week post-move I donated the dress to Brides Across America (who give the dresses to young enlisted couples who can’t afford one). It was hard to box it up and let it go. But I did it.  It will be worn for the third time on a joyous occasion, passed down from one anonymous happy bride to another.

That causes my heart to smile. And I can sleep at night.

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Other  ideas for green weddings (less drastic than mine):

Chose a Pre-Owned Wedding Dress for a Green Wedding (greatgreenwedding.com)
APW Wedding Budgets–Cold Hard Numbers (apracticalwedding.com)
Green Weddings: How to get married ethically (theecologist.org)
Ten Steps to a Green Wedding (sierraclub.org)
Ask Team Practical: Wedding Planning while in debt (apracticalwedding.com)
How to Go Green: Weddings (treehugger.com)
Eco Wed Series:  Must Read Green Wedding Blogs (thegreengirls.com)
Eco-Nuptials for Prince Will and Kate Middleton (abcnews.go.com)

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12 responses to “My little green wedding

  1. Oh Jennifer I am so proud of you..what a difference to hear somebody not wanting to spend a fortune on a wedding. If only more people would think that way then more young couples would not have such debts before they even started their married life. You have all that you need,,each other and what a beautiful happy couple you are. You have a very tasty husband! and he looks so handsome in his uniform.
    Take care of each other, my love to you both.

  2. Thank you Misswhiplash. I was so hesitant to post this one (because I realize it’s a bit controversial and I didn’t want to come off judging) that I couldn’t even push the publish button. My husband had to do it.
    What a relief to know I’m not the only one out there that thinks like this. But that’s what blogs are about right? Sharing opinions and broadening our horizons. (And my husband will love your comments. I think he’s tasty too!) :)
    Thanks again Misswhiplash!

  3. Yah for you Jennifer!!! I love you and I think you were/are beautiful!!!

  4. Ahhhh Aunt Pat. You’re my biggest fan. What would I do without you?

  5. Just beautiful. I’m going to share a secret with you – Hubby and I went off to a registry office; just the two of us and a couple of witnesses. I wore a dress I picked up in a charity shop – it cost £2.50. I wore charity shop shoes (50p). I too bought a tiara which I still wear around the house LOL! Flowers were cut from my garden that morning and my daughter was our bridesmaid who wore a ‘Princess’ dressing up outfit – she looked a doll. It was perfect 0- intimate, meaningful and no stress. Good for you for doing the same. I absolutely LOVE the idea of your wedding photos however and feel like playing weddings again myself now!

    • Oh, I just love it! Thanks for sharing. You found your dress and shoes so amazingly priced. I saw a knock-out wedding dress at the Good-Will the other day much fancier than mine. I thought, if these women really looked around, they’d be shocked at what they could find. Why does everything have to be new? I like that someone else wore it and it already has a story I get to add to it. How fun is that? And really, how long do you wear it? Like baby clothes! I don’t see the point of new ones. The little thing is going to outgrow it —in a week!
      Thanks for the positive feedback. :)
      I’m going to go take a look at your blog. You’re doing zero waste too! Yah!

  6. I think that’s what blogging is all about, posting your opinions! Though I don’t think I agree 100% I completely understand where you’re coming from. We had a very small wedding and did most of the preparation ourselves, like invitations, alterations, make-up etc. Now that we’ve been married 2 years that one day was just…one day. And while it was one of the most important day of our lives as a couple, it pales in comparison to our future! I’m proud that you guys have done what you wanted instead of conforming to society!

  7. Thanks aveena for your support and comments. And I like that you don’t 100% agree. That’s what makes this blog world so interesting! :) Great to hear you two did most of the preperations yourself. I bet it saved a bundle and you have all those memories now!

  8. Pingback: Workin’ 9 to 5 – At Something Other Than Planning Your Wedding | My Little Flower Shop

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  10. Awww, this is so sweet! That’s true love for you! :) I can understand being nervous to post things, worried what others will think, but you certainly aren’t alone! I used to follow some other blogs more geared to fashion, etc, and the attitude started to really turn me off of some brides-to-be. There was just so much focus on gifts, and money, seating charts, plus one drama, etc.- they started to forget what the whole point of getting married is. I also was in a rocky relationship at the time, so it upset me to see these girls with someone who loved them enough to marry them, and all they could think of was how many carats or what style of engagement ring they got??!! I love blogs like yours that make me see a totally different perspective. I did grow up wanting a princess wedding (dang movies brainwash you lol), but more and more I think I would rather skip all the shenanigans and just elope. My sister had a really small wedding- just the immediate family at a little park and dinner at a nice restaurant- it was simple and sweet and enjoyable! :)

    • You know that’s music to my ears, Beth, because most people DO NOT think this way. It always amazes me— like a big, expensive wedding is an absolute “need.” And not just in this culture, either. That’s around the world. And it’s instilled in us from a very young age–like you said, by the movies, by playing with Barbie dolls. So I don’t blame these girls completely. It’s expected, and unless you’ve lived outside the States, it seems very normal.
      And the ring? Does it mean he loves you “more” the bigger the rock? It’s a pretty ROCK. That doesn’t even make sense to me. And these girls wearing these rings have done NO research into how they are mined, where they are mined, by whom they are mined, the communities it affects. National Geographic could explain that one.
      I like your sister’s wedding—immediate family in the park and going out to dinner. How perfect! That puts the focus where it needs to be. Not on the table settings and the bride’s maids dresses. It’s a celebration, not a party to prove to everyone that your party is so much better than everyone else’s because your dress cost $25,000—which could pay for a car or a down payment on a house.
      We considered doing just what your sister did. (I’m not anti-wedding, just anti-waste and anti-excess.) It was ONLY because he’s military and immediate family was scattered in 4 different states or we would have. But it seemed selfish to me to ask everyone to come to “me” for “my” wedding because “I” wanted it when people are struggling to put petrol in their cars and buy fresh vegetables as the cost of living (and milk!) goes up. Our families aren’t wealthy. That would have been a large expense and inconvinience to everyone. Asking too much– because it would have been a destination wedding. I just think unless the bride and groom pay for everyone’s tickets and hotel rooms for a destination wedding…..
      I don’t mean to rant on this one. But it infuriates me!

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