Jason and I started talking about marriage in "whens" and not "ifs" about a year before we got engaged, and I started researching this wedding thing around the same time since, until then, the idea of ever getting married had been entirely foreign to me. And I was entirely unhappy with what I found out here in the wedding world with the consumptiveness, the social pressure to conform to certain standards, and how I never saw my values or needs reflected in wedding-related media and resources. Finding 2000 Dollar Wedding, along with A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride, finally helped me see where Jason and I could fit into this process.
And so, I wrote Sara. About centerpieces. Specifically, about centerpieces made out of canned goods and donated afterwards to charity, just like I'd made at my Bat Mitzvah* in 1993.
"I worked with my Mom to make food donation baskets. We painted the baskets in dusky rose and silver (sigh, my 13-year old color palette preference) filled them with , wrapped them in cellophane and ribbon, attached a note saying where the food was going, and voila!"Even a year and a half ago, I knew we couldn't afford a florist and I wasn't sure how I felt about the wastefulness of pesticide-covered cut florals for a single day event. And holding on to my memories of the centerpieces for my Bat Mitzvah felt like an important ballast against all the wastefulness, consumption, and single-day-focus of much wedding planning. However, since getting engaged and jumping into the reality of this thing, I think I've lost some of that focus on simplicity. My real-wedding choices are still values-focused decisions, but I think it's fair to say that collecting succulent floral design options (pretty live plant decor) is somewhat more aesthetically-focused and less simple than charity-bound centerpieces, particularly when we're going to have to buy tons of wooden boxes and learn how to grow succulents without killing them (for me, this will be a challenge.)
"For a wedding, I'd probably go with something 'prettier' and stay away from non-eco friendly cellophane, but still. I was thinking maybe wrapping the cans and jars individually with pretty papers or simple ribbon, and maybe mixing them in with old tin-can vases for a similar stylistic impact (a la Style-for-Style). For shelters that accept fresh fruit, that's also a centerpiece option (not all do). Besides the charity impact and the waste reduction impact, using non-floral/non-perishable centerpieces would undoubtedly cut down on day-of stress about decor (flower shopping, transporting and arranging! ack!). For the less aesthetically inclined and DIY-impaired, I also found a charity that rents centerpieces in return for a charity donation."
It's not a problem to want pretty centerpieces and great music and a talented photographer, but I think finding this glimpse of past-me showed me how far I've come in the planning process and how much more stressful and expensive some of our choices have made this journey. I don't know what I'd change about now, since we're both comfortable with how things are shaping up for us, but finding this post certainly made me pause. During this pause, I want to spend some time re-reading Sara's summary of her $2000 wedding adventure to see where it takes me. And I might take another look at this canned food idea (which one of Sara's readers actually made happen here), which feels like it has some continuity with who I've always been, even dating back to age thirteen. And I'm just going to take a few moments away from the pretty and see how I still feel about my DIY garland, flower and pinata imaginings. My guess is that I'll still hold onto our current plans, but I'd like to make my peace with them all over again, after re-reminding myself of our real values and priorities underlying this marriage and wedding.
Image via Style for Style
*For readers who are unfamiliar with Jewish customs, a Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish girl's coming of age ritual when she turns thirteen.