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 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.
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)