Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Am Not Cheap: A Class Manifesto About Weddings

I had a complete meltdown the other night about tableware and glassware rentals. A chest-wrenching, uncontrollable sobfest over how many glasses to rent/buy/beg/borrow/steal for our wedding*, mixed with a desperate attempt to convince Jason, my mother, and myself that plastic** tableware is a perfectly acceptable serving option for a wedding. We're not getting married in a ballroom, we're getting married in a rustic setting with taco truck catering, for goodness sake. Plastic tableware might actually suit the event better than anything else. And, even if it weren't a simple nature-fulled, taco truck event, who cares what the food and drinks are served in, so long as they're free and tasty, right?

Yeah, I care. But due to practical concerns (budget, logistics, staffing needs vs DIY) I am willing to get over it. But I haaaaate that I care, and by care I mean I really truly care. And I hate that other people care (which they do, and have already expressed to me) and that they'll judge me for those practical choices. And I hate that I'm letting other people affect my practical-minded decision making. Because, at some level, I'm fully aware that this is all about appearances and not substance. Personally, I wouldn't blink twice at a wedding with plastic utensils so long as the utensils enabled me to eat tasty food. Especially now that I know that our bare-bones rental estimate for basic chairs, plates, dessert plates, glasses utensils and tablecloths is currently running around $3,000.

To anyone not in the throes of wedding planning, a sobfest over plastic cups probably seems a bit excessive. But to those of us in the middle of this mess, we know it isn't really about glasses, budgets or so-called bridezeilla behavior. It's about a whole lot more. Namely, class.

Jason and I both grew up in upper middle class neighborhoods and circles, although both our families are probably more accurately described as financially middle class. Therefore, we both grew up with an interesting combination of upper middle class social expectations and comparatively constrained family finances. (I want to make it clear I'm not boo-hooing. I feel incredibly lucky about the home, family and community I grew up in.) Although neither Jason nor I ever felt like our life was lacking, I think we're both highly attuned to upper class class expectations. And those expectations, in case you're wondering, are costly. They are far more costly than our current financial state would permit spending (again, we feel incredibly lucky, just not wealthy).

Frankly, however, I don't give a fig about modern American upper middle class cultural norms and their associated costs. Jason and I want what we want, not what we're "supposed to" want. We've worked through a lot of hard conversations and decisions about our economic, social, social justice, job-related, time-related, and personal values to get here. We're comfortable with our decisions, even though some go against the grain of our upbringing and, yes, our class origins.

Or, more accurately, we were comfortable with our decisions, until the d*mn wedding came along. And now we're "supposed to" provide an elegant, class-appropriate wedding for our families and friends, despite the fact that we're not elegant and that we're not earning upper middle class salaries. (Heck, I'd even argue that the standard wedding expectations plastered all over blogs and magazines aim for upper middle class/upper class sensibilities when most of us aren't earning the salaries to support it.) Professional florals, musical entertainment, open bars, ballgown dresses, professional photography, coordinated details, and plated meals are expensive. Upper middle class expensive. They are not remotely attainable for the majority of us without some serious DIY and creativity, and yet that's what our "cheapness" is being judged against.

Our wedding is expensive, despite the fact that we're pushing back against standard wedding expectations. We are decidedly not in the $10,000 budget range, though I initially had fleeting dreams of achieving that mythical budget. With 150 people in Los Angeles and a serious aversion to DIY catering, there's no way we're getting out for much less than $10,000 on food, drink and staff alone (yes, that's taco truck catering and beer/wine pricing at a DIY/BYOB/anything goes location). But we've decided to spend $10,000 on food/drink/minimal service because I'm not cooking for 150 people or asking my friends to clean at the end of the party. It's a lot of money, even before I add in the costs for everything that isn't food or drink related. I feel like I'm constantly worried about money - not because we don't have it, but because it's the most I've ever spent on a single thing in my entire life and it's terrifying.

But now, I also have this added pressure of feeling cheap because I wondered if maybe, just maybe, we could use plastic plates, utensils and glasses. Unfortunately, it feels cheap to some key players involved in this wedding. And, although I recognize the feeling of cheapness myself, I think there's something truly wrong with this situation. When you can't have a wedding with your large family in a large city without spending between $20,000-30,000 on an event that still feels cheap to particular class sensibilities, there's something really warped about our social expectationsWe are not cheap. We have cut a lot of excess and made some really hard decisions about our priorities and values, but we ultimately valued a community-filled celebration and we're spending a pretty penny to achieve it. We are stretching to the edge of our financial comfort zone to provide a tasty, boozy, safe, and fun wedding for a ton of people.

Yet I still have to defend my plastic cup suggestions against perceptions of cheapness. Granted, the cups are blue because they're the only legitimately eco-friendly, reusable plastic cups I could find*** but, as the wise blogger Accordions and Lace once pointed out, aesthetics are not ethics. In choosing wallet-friendly, waste-and-chemical-friendly cups as an alternative to petroleum-based, BPA-laden disposable plastics that go straight to our landfills, I am apparently displaying cheapness by betraying standard wedding aesthetics. I can't believe this is a battle I need to fight when looking at $3,000 rental quotes and $10,000 food and drink estimates. I can't believe this matters anymore when we know so many people who have been affected by this ongoing, no-real-end-in-sight recession. I can't believe that I'm feeling pressure to prioritize waste (since clear, less ugly, disposable plastic would be a more acceptable option, apparently) over my genuine commitment to more sustainable living. And I refuse to believe that ugly-but-sustainable plastic cups or asking guests to reuse glass cups are a real betrayal of anything that truly matters in the world, aside from outdated cultural expectations of class and aspirational living that I'd hoped had shifted with the onset of the recent economic sea change. But no, I'm still battling with being perceived as cheap, tacky, and classless despite my attempts at graciously hosting a giant mass of people.

In my humble, wedding-stressed opinion, all references to "cheap" or "tacky" weddings and the imputed "classiness" can go to heck because this is my real financial life and I am trying to live honestly and within my darn means. And that's not an impulse that ever deserves public scorn.

*in case you were wondering, it's about three wine glasses, three beer glasses, one water glass, and one non-alcoholic beverage glass per person, since no one remembers to hold onto their alcohol glasses at parties and no one really cares about water. I tried to suggest wine glass charms/reusing the same glasses and was entirely shot down.
**we were focused on eco-friendly plastic/alternatives to disposables, since sustainability is an important issue for me. I'm going to talk more about specific sustainable tableware options and the pros/cons of each option in an upcoming post. But I found one particular plastic to be the most sustainable/best for our needs.
***Yes, I know about compostable cups that come in more palatable colors than blue.  But we don't have an industrial composting option in Los Angeles, so the cups would go straight to the landfill, where nothing biodegrades, including theoretically biodegradable items like food scraps, wood, etc.

39 comments:

  1. In the early days of our engagement, before I discovered the blogging community, I spent several weeks reading and posting on the message boards at the knot, and was gobsmacked by the use and abuse of the term "tacky." I decided then and there that I would never, ever use the term to describe anything, anyone, anywhere, ever. Literally EVERYTHING is "tacky" to SOMEONE and sometimes things even feel that way to me, but the choice was made for a reason - one that I may not be privy to - so screw it, I said.

    And screw it, I say now (with full knowledge that it's easier said than done).

    PS: we totally used recyclables at our wedding, but it was a backyard BBQ, so anything more would have felt strange to me, and lord knows I wasn't about to spend my weekends thrifting quirky vintage place settings.

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  2. YES.

    Also, this reminds me of Sal at Already Pretty's recent discussions around judging other women's style of dress. This being judgmental thing, using 'tacky' and 'cheap' to put people in their place, it goes on everywhere and it really isn't productive for anyone. It's like the awful corporations where you have to slave away for years and year paying your dues and when you get the top you feel compelled to put others through the same horror you went through. Why?

    Like Michele, I am trying hard to break that cycle but it's really difficult. Two steps forward, one step back, I suppose. I was watching Project Runway the other night and the designer they dismissed, they had discussed previously how he felt he was so lucky to be there and working in fashion since he grew up with a single mom and his family was pretty poor, etc. and when they were criticizing the dress he made for being tacky and cheap-looking, it was no different to me from them lecturing him about his working class beginnings. It made me mad.

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  3. I totally get the social pressures thing. When I was growing up, we didn't have very much money, but that changed around my late teens - the time when I started paying for my own clothes and holidays. As a result, my parents and younger siblings are very into spending a lot on designer clothes and jewellery, etc. When I'm out in the real world, I just don't care about that sort of thing, but every time I spend a few days with any of them, I feel like the embarrassingly poor cousin.

    My sister has asked what I will do with my utterly precious engagement ring once I get "better jewellery", and she is in the process of spending more on her 21st birthday party than we are on our wedding.

    It's insane, because I love our wedding - I wouldn't change a thing even if I could afford to, but I have to actively remind myself that what other people are doing just doesn't matter.

    With regard to the online community... Unfortunately, a new type of snobbery seems to be raising its ugly head as people fall over themselves to have a wedding that's more "them" than anyone else's. I've encountered - and quickly unsubscribed from - a number of blogs with such blurb as "Amy didn't want to wear a yawnsome ivory dress" and "Beth took one look at traditional wedding cakes and puked". It's really quite sad that people choose to bash like that.

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  4. Sorry for the novel! Here goes:

    Oh, we went through this too! I was shocked out how much it cost to rent glasses, silverware, etc, so I decided to do eco-friendly disposables and MIRACULOUSLY (!!!) got my mom on board with bamboo plates and silverware and compostable hot/cold cups, and then we figured out how much we would need for 100-150 people and then added it up....and it was only slightly less than renting (maybe $100?). Sigh. So...we decided to pay a little more to have the rented, "nicer" dishes and had the benefit of not having to worry about composting stuff ourselves when we had no idea how to do that.

    Regarding the estimates of how many per person: we accounted for a water glasses and a couple of everything to account for all those guests that the rental people told us would leave their dishes in the bathroom during the night and lose track of their plates and get a new one. This concept had me stressed for days (even on the day of the wedding) and made me panic about having to pay for lots of "lost" dishes. I freaked out and ask my friends to keep their eyes open for stray dishes in bathrooms.

    Well, NO dishes got "lost", only 2 got broken, and we had a TON of unused dishes!!! I wish I had know not to worry so much! It was all FINE and worked out perfectly. Turns out, people are very good about keeping track of their own dishes and not breaking them. :) And at our dessert reception, very, very few people did the multiple plate/glass/silverware thing. I was shocked at the stacks and stacks of unused dished and silverware that hadn't even been opened. Maybe rental people like to over estimate numbers a lot to maximize profit?

    The dish dilemma was all a huge stress I wasn't expecting. And I admit...I went through similar emotions adjusting to the idea of using disposible due to past cultural/class expections, but I also knew that if we went the disposable route, I was unwilling to use non-eco-friendly options to save money. I just didn't want our wedding to contibute to filling landfills and I decided I was proud to support my ethics in that way. The biodegradable glasses we wanted had a little thing printed on them explaining the were green, and that made me feel better knowing our guests would know that.

    Also...I have heard that sometimes it is cheaper to buy from Ikea than rent. And I have heard of brides who do this, and then resale all the plates and stuff after, so maybe this could be another option to think about? Or find another semi-local bride and share the cost of the dishes and the plates, then resale after both weddings and split the profit? Just brainstorming... :)

    Good luck! Figuring out this stuff is stressful! :(

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  5. Oh I love this post Becca. I grew up, um, pretty poor. Not as poor as some, but let's just say I put in my years sleeping in a closet in a studio I shared with the whole family. (some of the best years ever btw). Anyhow, the one thing my parents really wanted for me (the youngest) was something else, so they pinched and saved and god knows what to send me to "good schools". And instantly I was surround be upper-middle class to just plain upper class kiddos. Kiddos who went to Europe for the summer, and had purses that cost more than our car. Yowza. So I feel ya on your personal budget not necessarily matching the expectations of those around you. And now I work in the film industry, lol, so the vicious cycle continues.
    And you just have to eff 'em. Seriously. Better to be true to yourself and/or original than to be chasing after some aesthetic you're probably not interested in anyway.

    As for the actual rentals here's what we're doing: 100 yards of muslin lying around my house = free tablecloths. If I have time I will sew them, if I don't they will be unfinished and I will call them "rustic"

    Our guests will drink out of mason jars. And they will reuse 'em damn it. We've been collecting these bad boys for the last year (more free), and I think we'll just have enough. I'm gonna figure out some clever way of labeling them. And I'm thinking that our guests will want to drink badly enough to keep track of (or find) their jar.

    And that's that. So I'll have lots of muslin/jars post wedding if that interests you (or any of your readers) at all.

    just sayin. :)

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  6. My family totally got accused of being cheap and cheating me out of "the wedding I deserve" for not wanting to put out $20,000-$30,000 for our wedding and for suggesting that they host the wedding at their house. The stupidest part is that both our families are "upper-middle class" - the whole thing became a fight about how people choose to spend (or not spend) their money. One family's idea of a nice wedding is another family's idea of cheap (or extravagant, depending on what side you're on).

    I'm sure I'll take crap if I decide to have paper/plastic at our wedding, too. It's enough to not want to put on a wedding at all, so I totally understand how it can end up in tears. The three months I spent trying to plan a wedding were nothing but drama and sob-fests. So I stopped planning anything.

    Mad props to you and anyone else who powers through the stress of it all and makes it happen.

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  7. I come from an upper-class family. With the loudest "tacky" alarms you've ever heard. And it would be perfectly possible to find eco-friendly disposable table goods that were not tacky. Wine charms are not tacky AT ALL. Tacky only raises its head when aesthetic sensibilities are poorly developed. I don't know much, but I know upper-class signals and someone is misleading you. And that's all before we even get into the brilliant discussion you have begun on the poisonous nature of such class signals to begin with.

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  8. "In my humble, wedding-stressed opinion, all references to "cheap" or "tacky" weddings and the imputed "classiness" can go to heck because this is my real financial life and I am trying to live honestly and within my darn means. And that's not an impulse that ever deserves public scorn."

    Amen sister!

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  9. I agree with LPC about the poison. The whole wedding thing comes with ten flavors of pressure, and the class one is overwhelming. The dollar dance is where this came up for me and He-Mouse, who have different class backgrounds: in his family, the dollar dance is to send the newlyweds off with some cash in their pockets (which would be nice, actually). In my family, talking about or actually touching money on a wedding day is anathema.

    I think just keep your head down, make decisions that feel right to you and Jason (and work for your financial life, too), and don't worry about what people might say/think.

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  10. my cousin used plastic cups for her reception, but she wrapped aspidistra leaves around the cups with twine to give a beachy feel. you couldn't even tell.

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  11. Yeah. I love when your budget buts heads with family members class expectations, but they are not chipping in any more money to fix the problem, and you are tapped out and have done the very best with the money you have.

    Do I sound a little bitter? That's because I am.

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  12. Eeeeefffffffff 3 sets of everything! My friend does rentals for weddings for a living. He advised ordering extras, but not three complete sets of each! I am also all about lowering my impact on the world, and didn't like the idea of using paper for having something pretty in the form of escort cards, so I peeked around the internet and found
    these: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TimelessPaper?page=1

    I'm going to set them out like escort cards with a sign encouraging people to use them as charms.

    Seriously, we need to stop enabling the stupidity of people in large gatherings. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR FREAKING DRINK! Is it so hard?

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  13. Oh, I feel you. I really do. I keep looking at our budget, where our expenses are coming from and wondering how the eff a city hall wedding and at-home style reception can be so ridiculously expensive. I looked at the bamboo compostable plates (I even saw some compostable utensils), but they were almost as expensive as buying or renting regular dishes. It was only through the luck of finding a day of coordinator who already has a collection of stuff she uses for her parties that I managed to avoid the curse of the rentals.

    A couple of suggestions that might lead to something acceptable for all. (1) Walmart (I know, but seriously, trust me) used to carry these starter-set dish packs that included pretty much everything you needed for 12-set place settings, including utensils. They were inexpensive but pretty, too. Not sure if they still have them, but it might be worth checking. After you're done with them, you can donate them to a shelter and you'll have a nice little tax write-off for your efforts. (2) At the swap meet -- not antique fairs, but the actual swap meet -- you will find large sets of dishes for very cheap. When I moved into my first apartment, I picked up a set of 12 place settings with a very cute polka dot pattern for $20. It will require being okay with mix-and-match, but if you mix the Walmart sets and what you find at the swap meet, you should be able to come up with enough for your needs. Buying sets is much cheaper than buying each plate separately. (3) Yard/estate sales. (4) ebay.

    I also buy my glassware in bulk from Target, Costco and Walmart (because we break them a lot). When I priced it, it looked to be about the same cost as renting. When you're done, keep what you'll use and then donate the rest.

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  14. $3,000?! Um, I'm sorry, no. NOOOOOO! That's what the "signals" sound like in my "middle-class" head.

    We're talking about street food. You don't need a fork or knife. You need hands and a mouth.

    You said: "And, even if it weren't a simple nature-fulled, taco truck event, who cares what the food and drinks are served in, so long as they're free and tasty, right?"

    DAMN STRAIGHT. Do not throw $3,000 at this sh*t. Seriously.

    (p.s. good ideas, Sarah!)

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  15. Double Yes to all of this - the post and the comments. It's unbelievable to me that our scaled back "intimate" 40 person brunch wedding still will cost what it's going to cost.

    And I also agree, I think the real issue comes down to the fact that everyone expects weddings to look a certain way - and that is at an upper class price range. And most people aren't in that price range. Let alone the two of us who are paying the bill. We knew we'd be able to pull together the much larger, much grander wedding day we originally envisioned for next year, and then we sat down and thought "really? that much for one day? when we are just starting our lives together and have very significant life goals that we want to achieve that will require money, or savings?"

    And I hate getting the looks from family members - the raised eyebrows and the "oh no, you can't do that - it's your wedding day!" when you try to tell them about the ways you plan to cut back. But I don't see them bringing out their wallets. And really, I don't want them to - If they want to give us money, I'd rather that go to our house savings or future travel fund rather than a party that lasts one day. But that's us, and to each their own - but People! stop calling other people's wedding tacky or cheap!

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  16. My sister-in-law is planning her wedding, and her fiance's brother just got married to a woman from a very wealthy family. My husband's family is very comfortable financially, but the other wedding was a jam-packed wedding weekend with multiple hosted events at world-famous restaurants and hotels, an $18,000 custom-designed ballgown, and $100-a-bottle champagne. Ever since, my absolutely lovely and wonderful mother-in-law has been stressing that Sis's fiance's family will be disappointed that they can't throw that kind of event. MIL isn't about to spend beyond the family's means to keep up with the Joneses, as it were, but she (and, to some extent, Sis) are both feeling those twinges you're describing, the worry that someone's going to say something like "oh, they went with the REGULAR bar package -- they must have been too cheap to spring for top-shelf liquor for their guests."

    And that sucks, so much. We don't often articulate it this way, but you're right, these kinds of concerns about being seen as cheap or unfashionable or whatever epithet you want to throw around are absolutely class issues. Mouse's advice to keep your head down and know that you're doing the right thing by spending within your means is absolutely right, but it's still hard when someone says something like "oh, you're having a DJ? A live band is so much better, you should just pay the extra money." Uh, thanks for the tip! Where do I find this mythical extra money?

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  17. More to say on the class topic later, but just wanted to share this pic of our reusable plasticware, since you helped me through the decision (we added biodegradable striped straws and scratch-off nametags for fun--and so people wouldn't use umpteen cups--as both were cheap and yet made me more excited about our dishes).

    And in the end? I loved them. They were bright and cheery, they didn't have to be composted, and I didn't have to worry about kids breaking them.

    http://s829.photobucket.com/albums/zz212/misscbingley/?action=view&current=table.jpg

    (have tried to make this clickable and it's not working. oh, well).

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  18. Thank you for recognizing the ugly head of class and weddings in this post. We're all quite sensitive to racism and sexism and some are sensitive to queer-bashing (even though most wedding blogs are rather annoyingly hetero). But we are not sensitive at all to class. Words like "classy" and "tasteful" as opposed to "trashy" or "cheap" are rampant because weddings, these days, are so much about the bride's family showing off their wealth (and inviting all of dad's business partners, too.)

    When you resist these patterns and pay for your own wedding, you're resisting a quiet but powerful discriminatory cultural script and I say go for it for that reason alone. But you're already using a taco truck for goodness sakes. What would you usually use to eat from in that situation? Plastic plates and cups will be luxury. Maybe you have sharpies out next to the glasses so each person can decorate their own and then take it home with them? You want a back-yard barbeque feel. That's it.

    Also, I do have to say that I also struggled with these concepts when I was planning my wedding and I ultimately realized that I was letting some nebulous cloud of indistinct people and culture influence me into thinking our guests would judge us for various reasons. But the thing is, they're YOUR guests. These are the people you've decided to invite because (hopefully) they love you and respect you and are joining you because they want to celebrate with you in joy. Most guests won't spend 2 seconds even thinking about the cups and the 2 people that might spend more time on it aren't worth busting your budget for.

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  19. Wow, $3000!! All of these prices are so overwhelming!! For a couple who are just getting their feet wet in the whole wedding planning world, the numbers are such eye openers. If you don't mind me asking, what was the ballpark of your eco-friendly option?
    Oh and by the way, congrats on winning the bridal blog awards!!

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  20. Also: we bought a limited number of plates/cups and expected people to reuse them and then scrape their dishes and put them in a plastic storage tub (to be cleaned later--though we almost went with the girl scout "wash/rinse" buckets). And I was worried people would see this as cheap, not guest-friendly, or being smugly environmentally-conscious. Didn't hear even one complaint and many people were excited about the fact that we generated so little trash with such a large crowd.

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  21. I've been trying to write this post forever. But for us, because our parents are paying for the wedding, there were things we wanted to do that our parents wouldn't stand for because it made *them* look cheap. Both my idea of a fish and chips truck (which don't even exist in MD and were suggested by Mark's British Aunt) and a chili buffet (and I was willing to serve meat chili) were shot down for fear of not being "impressive".
    But I had the same problem you did with plastic tableware. Even the eco-friendly bamboo tableware didn't seem right.
    One place I looked at early on was a farm. I told my aunt about it excitedly, and she immediately asked my sister if my parents had lost a lot of money recently.
    I'm also very sensitive (much more than my parents are) to the fact that my parents have more money than most of their siblings. Yet all of my cousins had very nice weddings. For me to throw a "cheap" wedding would make my parents look horribly selfish, rather than reflecting poorly on me. So we're getting expensive food and real china and a DJ and a florist.

    On another note - I have been to probably 5-6 weddings where the beer was served in bottles. I think you said your venue will let you BYO? If you get bottles instead of kegs, you can get the bottles for about ~$1 a bottle and then you don't have to get glasses. This is what we are doing, and I'm not worried.

    Also, does the venue have a kitchen with a sink? It might be cheaper to hire a dishwasher than rent 3 sets of glasses.

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  22. I'm pretty sure (based on parent and grandparent weddings, solidly in the middle class) that a genuine middle class wedding used to be a ceremony followed by cake + punch in the reception hall. Done and done. Affordable. I'm not sure when we upgraded.

    That said, I like a full on party as much as the next person, and I will probably opt for something more extensive when my time comes, so I'm certainly not saying we all have to go back to cake and punch.

    We rented all the stuff for my sis's wedding and I quickly realized that I had over-rented. Yes, some people will set their wine glasses down and forget them. But many people won't, once they realize you're using glass. And lots of people won't drink wine at all, or will only have one glass anyways.

    For 125ish people: I rented 140 champagne flutes, 130 coffee cups + saucers, 240 salad plates (needed one set for the dessert buffet and separate ones for the cake serving), and 135 forks (just for the cake, everything else was finger food). I had so much stuff left over. Only about 1/4 of the guests opted for coffee. There were some people who didn't have cake (crazies!) and lots of people who decided to split a piece. We were just about spot on with the champagne flutes, I think, which means almost everyone kept track of theirs or got drunk enough that they weren't concerned with getting a used one.

    All that said, at the end of the night I had to scrape off all the plates and pack up all the rentals in the boxes. Totally doable, but someone has to do it (and I don't think you will want to do it on the day of) and we only had dessert plates, so it was less work than a full dinner.

    So I say go forth with your plastic, recyclable cups! And if your family raises a stink about the issue, tell them you're happy to rent stuff if they are willing to be the ones scraping the plates off at the end of the night.

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  23. @Rachel: wow, our experiences sound VERY similar! Including the unused silverware and the cleaning up of stuff after! I was very grumpy at 3 a.m. doing that after about everyone but us had left and I was totally wishing we had done disposible! But then, even if we had, I guess I would have been trying to figure out what to do with the compostable cups at 3 am, so either way it would have been something... :)

    And it seemed for us that very few people drank coffee/hot tea at our reception as well. And that was in October! Self-catering provides lots of surprises along the way! :)

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  24. I adore you all. For the support, the how-you-did-it feedback, and the conversation about this hard topic. It's such difficult stuff, and these comments make me feel a little less alone in the mess of it all.

    @Rachel and Adventures Along The Way - yeah, plate scraping and transport is a huge part of my pro-con list for an upcoming post on real tableware decisions factors.

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  25. just think: you can't buy class with money.
    i've seen GAUDY weddings with bone china, crystal-chandelier-ballrooms and chocolate fountains. if it's not something that's been instilled in you, no matter how much money you pour into it, it's still going to be, whatstheword, trashy.

    and you know, you CAN still have a beautifully classy wedding with catered taco truck food and plastic servingware. just saying.

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  26. http://www.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?kw=All-Occasion-Bamboo-Disposable-Sporks-&ic=6010-00989-0000

    drive by sporking

    just kidding!!

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  27. if you believe in some particular value, you dont waste time being concerned by what others think. do the right thing and celebrate your joy with those who want to share it(regardless of glass or plastic)

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  28. To lighten the mood, let me tell you about the benefits of growing up poor (and um...pretty "white-trashy") when it comes to planning a wedding:

    The standard wedding in my extended family goes something like this: Rent VFW/Knights of Columbus/Firefighter's Hall (make sure it has a bingo board on the wall!). Recruit aunts and cousins to contribute their crock-pots and hope the more generous ones will offer to make things such as cocktail weenies, meatballs in that weird grape jelly gravy stuff, a cold cut tray, and deviled eggs. Stock up on plastic table cloths, plastic dishware and plastic sliverware. And be sure to pick up a bag of those weird chalky mint things, because a bowl of those makes a GREAT centerpiece. Try to figure out how many buckets of margarita mix you're going to need and buy one a month for a year, because they're expensive! And don't forget to reserve a couple kegs of Bud Light. Balloon arch is optional, polka music is not.

    I shit you not, my grandmother nearly layed an egg when she attended a wedding for a cousin and his bride a few years back where they had WHITE LINEN TABLE CLOTHS!!! She could not stop talking about high-fallutin the family he married into was.

    The weddings I grew up with are so far removed from what the middle/upper-class seems to expect, and granted, they weren't fancy, but man were they fun!

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  29. @Michele - Thank you. And that sounds like a freaking awesome wedding party setup. And easy. And communal. And like a great sanity check.

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  30. I tried re-writing this comment so many times b/c I totally get this and we had the same concerns, but all I'll say is this:

    Continue to do what will cause the least headache for you and Jason. (I really want to say do what makes you happy, but we all know sometimes what will make us happy may not be the easiest/best choice.) What guests are eating and drinking out of is not as important as the tasty shit that goes in the cups and on the forks (or hands... tacos... yummmm).

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  31. I actually read this post this morning, but it has been simmering in my head all day long whilst I sort and search for words to respond.

    I grew into the idea of class later in life. Something about being in a military family, where everyone around you has the same lot in life and the same living quarters, really inhibits your perception of class and privilege. But I think it also has a lot to do with the people around you. My family could pretty much stand in for Michele's, a few comments up there. As a consequence, I feel relieved of the pressures of expectations when it comes to my family and the wedding, which is truly a blessing. But from my coworkers and peers? No way. I'm getting some of the most intense backlash about upper class expectations from people my own age, which makes my mind boggle. Aren't we all roughly in the same income bracket right now, at this stage in life? Why the impetus to spend outside of our means? Why the scorn directed at others' decisions (my coworker's latest chagrin: that I am not buying "fancy bridal shoes," whatever that means).

    It's been quite a learning curve for me. And while here is where I'd ideally like to make some pithy, meaningful observation, I still have none. I don't know how to fix these class expectations, and I don't know how to ease the hurt of having them directed at you. My only hope is that with time, and that with every couple who decides to do what's right for them instead of what's "right" in the wedding world, it'll get a little better.

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  32. i opted for glass. it was actually the reverse situation- i fought, fought, fought for my china and glasses. people around me pondered about the expense, and fretted over who would wash everything.

    in my family, we have big, huge parties a number of times a year. my mom and i just spent last weekend making an italian dinner for 40.

    i wanted my wedding to be distinct from all of those other big, self-catered parties we have all year. and somehow, i thought china and glass was the way to do it. it worked out for me.

    i was able to find things affordably. if you're still feeling torn, shoot me an email, and i can tell you how i managed. (bought some things, rented others- didn't spend much, as a result).

    but if china/glass isn't what YOU want- but is only what you want because of people around you- THAT'S a different story.

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  33. I apologize if I repeat something that was already discussed in the 32 comments above I am not going to have time to read :) But I hear ya on this.

    It is about class and doesn't it suck that we want the nicer china and glassware and silverware and don't realize how perfectly fine plastic can be?

    I will ask you if you have yet to book your caterer or taco truck thing because if you are paying close to $10,000 for 150 people and that doesn't include rentals, you may want to contact my caterer, Steve Berret at La Finestra and tell him I referred you. We paid about $11,500 for a buffet of chicken and tri-tip with rolls and 4 sides and that included a cash bar (with plastic cups) and unlimited soda, lemonade and coffee service (with ceramic mugs). It also included our chocolate fountain and dippers, appetizers for the cocktail hour and the cake! And tax and gratuity were included. It also included satin linens and all the china plates, glassware and silverware and the staff members. We did have some upgrades so I bet it would be even less expensive for you if you were to go with less than what we got. And we had 200 people (20 of which were kids and discounted meals). Just a thought...he works out of La Habra/Brea but I would bet they'd serve your area.

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  34. also, we rented 200 glasses for over 150 people. (the clear glass, footed mugs that work for either water or coffee- and we asked guests to use them for both, as well as punch, etc)

    they got the hint and held onto their glasses. and there were 2 hired helpers in the kitchen, washing glasses if necessary- but it never became necessary.

    no fatalities occurred.

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  35. Laura (of Fire & Nice)July 21, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Becca, we would happily eat with plastic utensils and raise a blue cup to toast you and Jason!

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  36. This is perhaps a bit late in the commenting game, but I think that it's important to note (and relish in!) that you are surrounding yourself by LOTS of people you love on your wedding day. And that is a value (not to mention an investment) in and of itself. You could have a fancy frilly all-the-extras-you-can-stomach wedding for a lot fewer people but you are CHOOSING your family and that is absolutely fantastic. Valuing your company and your people will and already is shaping your other choices, and *that's* something to feel really good about.

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  37. I just found your blog and I can relate to everything! My 10k wedding has taken me 2 years to plan. I'm 5 weeks away from D-day and I keep asking myself, what did I spend 10k on? I have the same list of no's and I'm even going non-alcoholic. I look at my compostable forks and I want to cry. People are going to think I'm cheap. Yes they all love me, but they want a real fork and some free booze.

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  38. @candice - I only think that at my worst moments and yes, this week was one of my worst moments. In my hear of hearts, I know that my family and friends won't notice/won't care if they do notice/are truly coming for the joy and not the alcohol or the fancy tableware. It's just that the evil doubts creep in. There are a lot of reasons to have a dry wedding and I really respect how strong you must have been to go that much against the standard wedding grain, be it for budget, religious, or addiction-related reasons. But you made this choice for a good reason so feel proud. The important part is the joy. Promise. And here's an entire list of full-of-joy dry wedding to go peruse and remind yourself: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/dry-wedding

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  39. We used disposable cups (made from recyclable materials). You might want to look at ecoproducts.com for more options? We found clear ones. We also used disposable plates and forks. The only thing I held out on was glassware for the wine. My inner snob wouldn't let me serve wine in a cup. Still, we saved A LOT and it worked for our venue. Even the early naysayers agreed that carrying around glassware with our setup would have been ridiculous.

    In the end, all the oh-my-gosh-what-will-people-think things that I got hung up on ended up not mattering one bit.

    All this to say, it will work out. Promise.

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