Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

See You Next Year

Photo courtesy flickr

I'm officially on vacation starting tomorrow. Matt and I are driving to Tampa, FL to spend the holidays with my family. My internet access will be sporadic, so I won't be publishing regularly until January 1st.

In case you've got down time and want to do a little perusing, here are links to some of the more popular posts on 2000dollarwedding.com.

Thank you for being such a wonderful community. I wish you a memorable and meaningful holiday and a new year full of community, connection, and fun!
  1. A summary of our wedding planning from start to finish
  2. Q&A: How to nurture your relationship during the wedding planning process
  3. Disturbing wedding advice from the Wedding Industrial Complex
  4. Ideas for building a successful relationship
  5. Inspirational weddings
  6. Letter to Brides
  7. Our wedding ceremony
  8. Our first dance
  9. The video we showed at our wedding
  10. The stages of a DIY project

Share |

Contest Winner

Congratulations to Ruth A. of Planning a Wedding Uniquely Ours! Ruth, e-mail me your address and I will send off your pin today.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I'll be back in 2009 with more contests.

Happy holidays to you all!

Share |

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Year's Reflection Form

Happy Soon-to-Be New Year!

I wanted to share with you the form my friends and I use on New Year's Eve to reflect on the past year and make plans for the new year. We spend some quiet time filling out the forms individually, and then we go around the circle sharing each piece. Next we set goals for the new year and share those. Finally, we make collages to visually represent the kind of year we want to have. You can find the form here.

See some of my past collages pictured above and below:

Share |

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Date Night #3: Dinner and a Movie

When Matt got home from work on Friday, he was insanely tired, so he plopped down for an hour and a half nap. I did some crafts and followed up on some work stuff and then decided to plan a date night for my sleeping beauty.

I took him to one of our favorite Indian restaurants (i.e., Madras Pavillion for all you Houstonites), which we've only been to once since we've moved back to H-town.

Then we were off to Amy's Ice Cream for some Boggle and yummy ice-cream.

We ended the night at an independent movie theater--River Oaks--to watch Milk. Such an inspiring film (although I recommend watching it in conjunction with the documentary: The Times of Harvey Milk.

Share |

Saturday, December 20, 2008

DIY: How to Make a Flower Pin

If you have to pull together some last-minute gifts (like I do!), here's an idea: make your own felt flower pin. (Or, you can win one for free by entering this contest by Monday).

Felt is such an inexpensive and easy-to-work-with material. Here's a list of everything you need for this project:
  1. Felt (I used three different colors)
  2. Two buttons (or you could go with any other number). P.S. It makes it easier if both buttons have only two holes each, but you can work around anything. In the example above, one button had four holes and the other had two.
  3. A pin back
  4. Embroidery thread (or yarn or regular thread, depending on the look you're going for). I recommend embroidery thread because it's nice and strong.
  5. A needle (big enough to handle the thread you're using.
Step One: Cut out your felt pieces. See below:

I decide which color I want in the back, middle, and front, and then I cut out shapes of different sizes. My front color is the smallest, while my middle and back piece tend to be approximately the same size. The possibilities are endless. And felt is very forgiving. You can easily trim lopsided pieces later (or leave them lopsided!). Or if you screw the whole thing up, you can start with another 30-cent piece.

Step Two: Set up your three pieces on top of each other with your buttons in place.

Step Three: Place the pin back on the back of your flower and pass your thread and needle through the felt pieces and the buttons. See below:

Pass the needle through a hole in the pin back and up through the button hole on the other side. It may take some wriggling to get it in the right spot.

Step Four: Bring the needle down through the other button hole and back through the pin hole. See below:

Step Five: Tie both sides of the thread together a couple times to make a strong knot. See below:

Step Six: Keep passing the needle up through the pin hole and button hole and then down through the other button hole and the other pin hole. Continue until the pin feels secure.

I finished off the present by pinning it to a card. Voila! A cheap and easy gift (for yourself or others).

If you want to skip steps 1-6, click here to sign up for the free giveaway!

Share |

Friday, December 19, 2008

When the Wedding Plans Go Awry

I read an article about a couple in New Hampshire whose reception hall lost power due to an ice storm. They went ahead with the original plan but ran extension cords from a neighboring business so they could have music and a lighted Christmas tree. The rest of the light was provided by candles.

It reminded me of a wedding I went to a few years ago in Louisiana. The power went out unexpectedly in the middle of the reception. But rather than ruining the event, the outage actually made the wedding more meaningful and memorable. The bride's students (she was a middle school teacher) started singing and dancing without music. It was such a surprising and heart-warming tribute to the married couple.

It's so easy to worry about whether everything will go just right. In fact, I sometimes had nightmares about my wedding during the planning stages. However, the imperfections might just make it all the more perfect.

Share |

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Cards in the Mail


As I've mentioned, I am woefully behind in the holiday planning department this year. Maybe it's because I have a strict policy: at the beginning of October, start thinking about Halloween. When Halloween is over, start thinking about Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving is over, start thinking about Christmas.

Well, with Thanksgiving being late this year, I've significantly cut into my Christmas-planning time. I've got a whole lot of gifts to make and not enough time left.

At least the cards are in the mail (Editor's Note: I used old magazine pages for eco-friendly and budget-friendly envelopes).

I suppose I'll have to use this weekend for some serious crafting.

Share |

Deciding How to Spend Your Wedding Time

I've been sifting through lots of photos as I frantically pull together wedding books to give to our families for the holidays.

Although I like looking at photos from the ceremony and reception, I also love looking at all the photos of quality time we got to spend with friends and family before the wedding.

First there was the picnic with my family (which felt like it was on top of the world). I was with my brother when he touched snow for the first time (we slid down a hill on our butts--very wet!). That night, we stayed with Matt's mom.

The next day, Matt and I went our separate ways. He spent time with his mom in the morning and his crazy-fun friends in the afternoon. I went horseback riding with my family in the morning and spent the afternoon playing board games and eating dinner with the early arrivers.

I'm reminded of how important it is for us to be intentional about how we allocate our time during our weddings.

Our time is precious and how we choose to spend it will determine what kind of feel our day has (e.g., stressful or relaxed), as well as what kind of memories we take away from our weddings.

It's easy to let external demands dictate how we spend our day. For example, the photographs may need to be taken at x time and the hairstylist may want you at y time. You may feel pulled between spending time with family and spending time with friends.

But truly, we get to decide how to spend our time--and with whom. We just have to make the decision about how to structure our time before the decision is made for us.

Share |

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recycled Wedding Rings on a Budget

I love surprise money.

I just got an email from greenKarat--the company that made our wedding rings--informing us that a friend of ours had donated more old gold, which gave us another $47.32 in credit.

Our rings originally cost $1375. Then our friends and family donated their old gold (which was recycled into our rings) and brought the total down to $157. With the new credit, that means our rings only cost $109.68. Good deal!

I love when things are good for the environment and the budget.

Share |

Heterosexual Privilege

In the post, Wedding Protest in Florida, I asked whether a heterosexual boycott of marriage would help bring about equal marriage for all.

Reader Laura left an interesting comment that I wanted to highlight. She wrote:
I actually get really annoyed (sometimes even angry) when straight people decide to boycott marriage because same sex couples can't get married.

Even if you choose not to get married, people will still afford you the same social privileges. They're not going to stare if you're holding hands in the street. They're not going to heckle if you kiss. They're not going to ask if your nearest and dearest is just your friend. They're not going to apologise for the "mistake" when they realise you booked a hotel room with a double bed.

These are just simple everyday privileges. Legal privileges are far more complex. I had to fill out a form for an American visitor visa the other day (my girlfriend is Canadian) and one of the questions asked about marital status. I was so upset and angry that if my girlfriend and I get married, I have to put down that I'm single. I can't imagine how horrific it must be when dealing with hospital visitation or wills or adoption. Grr.
It got me thinking more about heterosexual privilege. A quick search revealed Queers United, which featured an interesting checklist of all the subtle privileges that are bestowed upon heterosexual people on a daily basis.

Here are a few:
  • If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
  • I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
  • I did not grow up with games that attack my sexual orientation (i.e., fag tag or smear the queer).
  • My sexual orientation was never associated with a closet.
  • I am not identified by my sexual orientation.
  • I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double-take or stare.
  • People can use terms that describe my sexual orientation and mean positive things (i.e., "straight as an arrow", "standing up straight" or "straightened out" ) instead of demeaning terms (i.e., "ewww, that's gay" or being "queer" ).
  • I can be open about my sexual orientation without worrying about my job.

Share |

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Article Analyzes Wedding Reality TV Shows

The Washington Post published a column analyzing reality TV shows related to weddings. The writer quotes Rebecca Mead, author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, which is always a big hit in my book.

If you're interested, you can find the article here.

Share |

Contest: Enter to Win a Flower Pin

I entered the Holiday Card Swap hosted by Brooklyn Bride and decided to make an extra one to give away to one of you. This versatile flower pin can adorn your blouse, bag, bulletin board, etc.

Just leave your name first name and last initial in the comments section to win! The envelope is just waiting for your name...

Contest ends Monday, December 22 at 11:59 EST. I'll mail it to the winner on Tuesday!

Share |

Monday, December 15, 2008

Q & A: Creative Wedding Ceremony Ideas

Reader's Question: We are looking for some things to add to our ceremony. I think your quilt and tree were neat ideas and they really personalized your service. We are having a very small service and we would like some type of unity ceremony that incorporates our guests. I have been doing internet searches and have not really found the right idea yet. I really struggle with wedding literature; 90% of it just offends me, so I thought I would write you to see if you had ideas of good resources for small ceremonies that might help me avoid having to wade through all the rest of the literature. Please let me know if you have ideas or thoughts off hand.

Another great question! We should definitely have more conversations around planning meaningful and memorable ceremonies.

Hm...the only thing unique unity thing I've seen is to have all the guests come forward and put their hand on another guest, so that everyone in the entire audience is connected to the bride and groom. I thought that was cool.

You could also do something with ribbon. Each guest could get two feet of ribbon and at the designated time, they could tie each end to someone else's ribbon to make a long line of ribbon. Then the group could form a circle with the ribbon and you and your partner could stand in the center. The ribbon would represent the support of friends and family that has no beginning and no end. Then, depending on your decorating taste, you could store the circle of ribbon in a glass vase in your home for years to come. (You could also ditch the ribbon and just have guests hold hands.)

I've read about guests blessing the rings as they get passed from person to person in the audience.

You could also have guests go around and share the one word they think is most important to maintaining a healthy and happy marriage (e.g., patience, love, understanding, caring, compassion, good sex, etc.).

I think that's all I've got for now. Ingenious readers, please share your ideas!

E-mail your questions to saracotner@yahoo.com

Share |

Friday, December 12, 2008

Q & A: Matt's Wedding Planning Advice

Dear 2000 Dollar Wedding Community,

Hello! This is Matt Bradford, Sara's partner. A reader asked the other day if both Sara and I could respond to how to continue nurturing our relationship during the wedding planning process, though one may lose focus on the beauty of the relationship.

Having lost focus on the beauty of the relationship during the wedding planning process, I would like to state for y'all that I am not immune to the occasional blow-up. But, it is the rebound afterward and the changes in approach that you and your partner make to those moments of
conflict that measure how successful you are in surviving, growing and maintaining your relationship throughout the wedding planning process and life post-wedding planning process.

Once the luster and excitement of the engagement wear-off, the engaged couple has to journey through the muck and the beauty. Planning a wedding can be like navigating a minefield: there's an enormous amount of value and meaning that is attached to everything from the rings to
napkins; it's the meshing of two peoples' ideas; it can be lo-o-o-o-o-ong; and, not to mention friends, family, magazines and television all have their own sets of values and expectations.

In order for both parties to survive, remain cordial, dare-I-say, "Love each other", it's important for you and your partner to recognize your respective strengths and weaknesses, e.g. Matt:
Strengths: patient in the short-term, good at using Photoshop, people person; Weaknesses: frustrated in the long-term, not great at breaking big projects into manageable pieces, does not respond well when Sara uses logic. Sara: Strengths: great planner, logical, creative,
thorough; Weaknesses: impatient with Matt's creative process, stubborn, thorough.

When Sara and I understand our positive and negative traits we are better-equipped to anticipate the moments when conflict has the greatest chance to arise in our relationship, e.g. Sara and I are designing a web page for our wedding: Matt can use Photoshop to edit
the pictures and adjust the layout of the site. In this example, knowing that I will be excited and sensitive about what I have created, and that there is a high-probability of Sara suggesting an
alternative look and feel, we can prepare ourselves: we can be more open to alternative ideas, we can be patient, we can take a step back from the situation if we need time.

So, this wedding planning process is a veritable minefield but we can have our radars out to better-help us maneuver around the trouble zones.

Have a great day,

Matt Bradford

Share |

Be the Change: Nominate Someone to Win Custom Photos

So cool!

Two hundred forty-two photographers have volunteered to donate their professional photography services to people who need it this holiday season.
Do you know someone who’s experienced a tragedy, is struggling to stay afloat, is raising kids while holding down more than one job, or is volunteering selflessly despite extenuating personal circumstances?
You can check out Giving Is Awesome to search the map for photographers in your community. Each photographer is sponsoring their own contest, so there are lots of opportunities for different folks to win.

Share |

When Your Partner Lets You Down

On Monday, I responded to a reader's question about how Matt and I nurtured our relationship during the wedding planning process.

I asked Matt if he would be willing to contribute his side of the story, and he said of course.

Suddenly, it felt like we were in wedding planning mode all over again! We had delegated tasks, and I was waiting for him to finish his.

During the wedding planning process, I figured out that the best way to deal with delegated tasks was to let Matt set his own deadline. Then, I would hold myself back from questioning (er, nagging) him before the deadline.

In retrospect, we should have taken it to the next step by posting these agreed upon deadlines in a well-trodden place in our home, someplace that we both passed by quite a bit.

Honestly, Matt's organization system failed him a few times. Either he wouldn't write something down or he would write it down but not go back to it. Once the deadline came up, I would then ask him for the finished product. At that point, he would feel frustrated with himself (not me because I didn't nag!). Because he had set his own deadline to begin with, he accepted full responsibility for not completing his task, and he would quickly prioritize and finish it.

So, this time, Matt remembered the deadline, but he didn't start working on it until last night. (When he said he would have it ready for publication on Friday, I told him that meant it had to be done on Thursday night.)

He worked on it while I finished watching Man on Wire (which I highly recommend!). I had fallen asleep in the middle of it (even though it's really good!) the night before.

And so Matt's side of the story is still not finished. Part of me is frustrated because I think the little things are important. I want to be able to trust his word and rely on him. But a bigger part of me realizes that this situation is really minor. He is doing me a huge favor by doing something that is important to me, not him. I can cut him a little slack. Being patient and understanding (and less self-centered!) is something I am working on within our marriage.

So, dear readers, I hope you will cut Matt some slack too. We promise to publish his post as soon as it's finished!

Share |

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Download a Free Font

There's so much talk on wedding websites about farming out invitations to be hand-addressed by someone else.

The truth is--in this day and age--anyone can make up for their less-than-ideal handwriting by using a computer. And it's cheaper!

I came across this free font and thought I would pass it along. It would look really cool on Save the Dates or invitations. You can download it here.

If you need help installing it on your computer after you've downloaded it, go here.

Share |

Q & A: Donate Your Wedding Dress

Reader Question: I got myself a "fancy schmancy" princess dress, which I love, love love, but I cannot justify putting it into a box and keeping it in storage for the rest of my life. Assuming that someday I'll have a daughter, and that said daughter will want to wear my dress seems ludicrous to me. I'd like to donate it, and I know there's a program in England that takes donated dresses, but I'm not sure of one in the U.S. Do you know of anywhere I can donate my dress? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Great question! To my knowledge, the best bet is Brides Against Breast Cancer. The Making Memories Foundation sponsors Brides Against Breast Cancer events. Basically, you donate your wedding dress and it is then sold to another bride-to-be. The profit is used to make wishes come true for women and men with breast cancer.

So, not only is the program good for humankind, it is also good for the environment.

Here's what their website says:
This unique opportunity allows brides-to-be a chance to find the gown of their dreams at a remarkable price, while helping to make wishes and memory-making events come true. Most gown prices range from $99 to $799*, including hundreds of beautiful new name brand and designer gowns valued up to $8,000. *Exclusive designer and couture gowns valued up to $20,000 are also available at an incredible 25% to 75% savings. We gladly accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and debit cards.
Specific directions for sending in your gown can be found on their website.

Share |

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Lifetime of Marriage Is What Matters Most

Last Saturday, a wedding took place in the temporary shelter communities in Dujiangyan, central Sichuan province, which has been home many who lost their homes during the May 12 earthquake.

The China Daily reports:
It was a simple wedding. No brilliant wedding lights. No dazzling music band. No big wedding banquet. A small wooden makeshift podium was set up and decorated with flowers for the wedding ceremony on open ground.
It's a touching reminder that at its core, a wedding is about love and commitment. And no matter where we get married or what small things go wrong, we'll still be married in the end. And ultimately, a lifetime of marriage is what matters most.

Share |

'Tis the Season: Making Fabric Bags

I have to confess that I am woefully behind on my holiday shopping/gift-making this year. I know what I need to buy/make for everyone; I just haven't had a chance or the motivation to actually do it.

As I was flying to New York for work this past weekend, I realized that I have only been home for three out of the past 13 weekends. Yikes!

However, I have two full weekends at home before the holidays, so I should be able to pull it together. If I have a little extra time, I'd like to make fabric bags like I did a few years ago. They are really easy to do (a great first-time sewing project if any of you are interested in taking up sewing!).

There's a tutorial here, although I'd recommend skipping the lining part. It doesn't need to be that complicated!

I'm making refrigerator magnets and cloth napkins for lots of people and apple butter for the neighbors.

That reminds me: Do any of you live in Houston and own canning material? Like the big pot and the tongs? I'd really like to try out the process before I commit to buying the stuff. I might not like it. I would love to borrow someone else's stuff for the day.

I'm also making photo books of the wedding. Per your recommendations, I started using Blurb, which is way, way easier than Inkubook. I'll keep you updated on that front, too.

If your families are like my family and they request a list of things to buy you, here's my list in case it provides some inspiration:

Book: How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office

Book: Harmonious Environment

Book: The Reading Zone

JCrew Corduroy Pants; size = 6; color = coal


Olive Tree


Running Socks; size = medium

Yoga DVD

Undershirts; color = black; size = medium

Running Shirt; size = MD; color = grey/violet

Professional Shirt; size = S; color = binjal purple

Massage Gift Card

Stained Glass Class + Materials; the Wednesday, January class (S1162B)
http://www.llu.com/sdc/group_classes_llu.html?cl assgroup=3637

Designing and Pattern Making Class

Target Ice Bucket

Plant Holder #1

Plant Holder #2

Stripped Socks; color = natural heather; size = medium

Tights; color = brick red; size = medium;

Share |

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Be the Change: Donate Your Old Bridesmaid Dresses

How many of you have old bridesmaid's dresses lying dormant in your closet? If they've been hibernating in there for a while, consider donating them to a good cause.

The Cinderella Affair is a yearly event held to assist low-income high school students attend prom.

Wedding Hub Charities is holding an online dress drive. You can e-mail Hannah for information about where to send your dresses.

And, if good karma isn't enough, they are also throwing in a sweet giveaway!

Share |

The Ten Steps to Happiness

I'm smitten with these ten tips for finding happiness from this article, "Ten Things Science Says Will Make You Happy:"
  1. Savor everyday moments
  2. Avoid comparisons
  3. Put money low on the list
  4. Have meaningful goals
  5. Take initiative at work
  6. Make friends, treasure family
  7. Smile even when you don't feel like it
  8. Say thank you like you mean it
  9. Get out and exercise
  10. Give it away; give it away now!

Share |

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Meaningful and Memorable Engagement Ring

Oh wow.

I am so inspired by the engagement ring that my friend Pat made for his fiance, Meghan.

Yes, you read that right. Made for his fiance.

Before they were even dating, he convinced her to avoid diamonds because of their deleterious impact on the world. She acquiesced but mentioned that her future fiance better do something special in its place.

So once Pat became her fiance, he took it upon himself to learn how to make a ring. He chose a synthetic emerald and spent more than 50 hours designing and making a ring under the guidance of a professional jeweler. He had it engraved with a Celtic knot and a Gaelic message to honor her Irish heritage. Such dedication and creativity!

If any of you are interested in making your own wedding rings:


Share |

Q & A: Nurturing Your Relationship During the Wedding Planning Process

Reader Question: I'd love to see a post on how to continue to nurture your relationship during the wedding planning process. I know you've touched on this in several different ways, but I'm interested in your (and Matt's) opinion on if you ever lost focus of the beauty of the relationship and concentrated too much on the goal.

Did Matt and I every lose focus of our relationship and concentrate too much on our wedding?

[insert a vehement yes]

And I'm mainly the one to blame. At times, I got way too excited about and focused on the wedding.

Seven months is a long time to perseverate on one event. I found myself wanted to spend all my free time thinking about and working on the wedding. It was so much fun! I'd come home from a day of teaching and spend the evening making a tie for Matt. Or I'd want to spend the weekend working on our quilt.

Matt was definitely into the wedding, too, but he maintained more of an active interest in other aspects of his life: obsessively reading The New York Times, keeping his iPod up to date, playing ultimate frisbee, learning how to snowboard, etc.

Conflict definitely arose due to the different levels of attention we each wanted to direct toward the wedding at a given time.

Here's my advice for avoiding some of the aforementioned conflict and not letting your wedding overshadow your relationship:

Set aside specific time each week to make wedding decisions.
If one partner wants to spend more time working on the wedding than the other, it can get frustrating for both parties. The Obsessive Partner gets upset because the Nonchalant Partner isn't as excited. The Nonchalant Partner gets frustrated because s/he does care about the wedding; it's just that s/he doesn't want to spend all his/her time thinking about it. Plus, the nagging gets annoying.

Setting aside a few hours a week (the time can be more or less depending on how soon your wedding is) can really help. The Obsessive Partner can share all the ideas s/he has been coming up with all week long. The Nonchalant Partner can give his/her full attention to the wedding and make sure that all the important decisions are made jointly to ensure that the wedding reflects both people.

Continue to make time for the things that ground you as a couple.
Wedding planning can get hectic, especially as the date approaches. I think it's important to continue to make time for the routines and special things that help you feel connected to each other and help keep you sane. For Matt and me, those things include: grocery shopping and cooking meals together, watching movies, playing Scrabble, going running, listening to This American Life, going on spontaneous adventures, and doing our weekly chores.

Apply the 10-10-10 rule.
The Obsessive Partner needs to constantly remind him/herself that the wedding is not going to be the best day of his/her life. It's just going to be--hopefully--one great day among many great days. In a culture that has really warped expectations around weddings, it can be challenging to maintain your sanity while planning a wedding. Really small things start to feel like a really big deal. You may think/feel very irrational things (e.g., "The invitations will not be complete without photo stamps!")--much to the dismay of your perfectly rational self.

The 10-10-10 rule can help. If you're the Obsessive Partner, ask yourself, "What impact will this aspect of the wedding have in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years?"

Usually, things seem important on the ten-minute scale (e.g., "Yes, the centerpieces really do matter!"). But they are usually much less important on the 10-month or 10-year scale.

I can't guarantee that these strategies will work. They are just things I wish we would have done more of in retrospect!

Let me know if you have more ideas for staying focused on your relationship and not just the wedding.

[Editor's Note: My Partner-For-Life promises to have his side of the story ready for publication on Friday.]

Share |

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Losing One's Wedding Ring

In this article published in The Oregonian, the author talks about misplacing her wedding ring and the slight trials and tribulations that befell her thereafter (e.g., she bought a temporary fake one).

It's refreshing to hear someone talk about wedding-related stuff in such a nonchalant way.

Picture of a fake diamond ring (which is only tangentially related to the story) is courtesy of PreciousPups on Etsy

Share |

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Q & A: The Dishware Dilemma

Reader Question: Could you share what company you used for the compostable dishware? I am currently weighing the options of renting dishware from a caterer vs. buying disposable, compostable dishware and flatware. Costwise the disposable is the way to go for sure. But from an environmental standpoint, I'm wondering if it's better to rent because they won't be thrown away, are reused often and just need a wash afterwards. Even buying compostable feels a bit wasteful. The other consideration is how it looks and how well it stands up to food. Did you find that what you got was sturdy enough and still looked alright?

Yeah, you've perfectly articulated one of the dilemmas we faced. Real dishware is way better for the environment than anything disposable (even if it is compostable). Disposable stuff wastes a lot of energy in the production and distribution stages. And then there's the packaging and later the disposal.

But as much as Matt and I care for the environment (we even try not to use paper towels in our house--we use dishtowels and rags instead), we were really intent on sticking to our budget. Real dishware would have cost more and been more stressful, given our situation.

In the end, we balanced those two conflicting goals (i.e., being eco-friendly and budget-friendly) by buying compostable cups, bowls, forks, and spoons from World Centric. We were able to get compostable plates from Sam's Club.

The stuff was definitely sturdy enough. The plates held salsa, guacamole, nacho cheese, bean and corn salad, and fajitas. The bowls held brownie cherry dessert with ice-cream (which we served at the Welcome Picnic).

However, it definitely wasn't a Martha Stewart spread. Heck, I can't think of one wedding I've seen (even on A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride--Meg and Ariel, correct me if I'm mistaken!) that has featured disposable tableware. The only thing I can think of were picnic boxes (which were very aesthetically pleasing and color-coordinated).

Honestly, there were many moments when I looked at wedding porn and coveted other people's table settings (photographers tend to take lots of pictures of such things). When I felt myself succumbing to jealousy, I just had to remind myself that weddings are about community, connection, commitment, and fun--not tableware.

Of course those things aren't mutually exclusive. You can have a lovely table setting (with real plates that are better for the environment) and have a meaningful and memorable wedding.

For us, however, we had to prioritize our budget and settle for the second-best environmental option.

E-mail your questions to saracotner@yahoo.com

Related Posts:

Share |

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chunky Oatmeal

It's cold outside. And gray.

It's time for oatmeal:
  1. Chopped apple
  2. Dried cranberries
  3. Raw pumpkin seeds
  4. Sliced raw almonds
Bowl courtesy of the Empty Bowls Luncheon in Tampa, FL, that raises money to fight hunger.

From their website:
Over a thousand guests share in a simple meal of soup and bread that signifies the plight of the hungry just prior to Thanksgiving. Guests take away an "Empty Bowl" memento created by local schoolchildren, and can also bid on bowls and pottery donated by professional artists and offered in a silent auction.

Share |

Disturbing Wedding Advice #6

I'm intentionally not including a link to this piece of disturbing advice because it appeared on a blog produced by people I have enjoyed working with in the past. My intention is not to be mean.

However, when something crazy is written by the Wedding Industrial Complex, I think it's important to stop and say, "That's crazy!" Otherwise, the rhetoric becomes normalized and incorporated into our collective, cultural understanding about what a wedding is.

Here's the advice from an invitation-making company:

"After all, when all is said and done, the only things you will have left from your day are the pictures, the video, your dress and the invitation. Make sure it's something meaningful and special."

Really? The only thing we will have left from our weddings are the pictures, video, dress, and invitation? What about the intangible memories? What about the strengthened connections with friends and family? What about a formalized commitment to our LIFETIME PARTNER!

I understand that the Wedding Industrial Complex is really just a group of people trying to make a living for themselves. I respect and understand that. But I don't think it's right to create manipulative advertising that feeds wedding hysteria and encourages people to obsess about the stuff of weddings.

It's fine to put time/thought/money into the photos/video/dress/invitation but not because we're afraid our weddings will be lost or forgotten if we don't. A meaningful and memorable wedding is bigger than all of those things.

Okay, thank you for tolerating my rant (if you're still reading). I should go do some Ashtanga yoga poses.

See other Disturbing Wedding Advice here

Share |

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Dress with a Long Line of Parties Ahead of It

Oh. Wow.

This yellow dress featured on the Southern Weddings daily blog (thanks for the recommendation, Sara!) and photographed by jessica purvis photography makes me delightfully happy. That dress has a long line of parties ahead of it.

Share |

Words that Change Our Thoughts and Lives

I'm working on a PowerPoint presentation for the teacher training work I do as a consultant (well, at this very moment, I'm procrastinating from my real work by writing this post).

I'm trying to help teachers understand the value of incorporating independent reading into their classrooms for a variety of reasons, one of which is to instill the habits and mindsets of lifelong reading and learning. I'm starting the session by asking them to brainstorm ways in which specific books have impacted their lives as readers and learners.

Working on this reminded me of the very first book that truly impacted my life: Ramona Quimby. In one of the books, she decides to sew pants for her stuffed elephant (i.e., Ella Funt). My eight year-old self was so inspired by Ramona's creativity and determination that I, too, decided to take up sewing.

My first project was a scrunchie. It was, afterall, 1986. Twenty-two years later, I'm still sewing random things just because it's fun.

Thinking back on my life through the lens of books reminded me of how much influence the written word can have on our thoughts and--therefore--our lives.

As an ode to the written word, I think it would be great for us to generate a list of wedding books and blogs that inspire us so we can share with each other.

I'll start:
  1. I'd like to recommend One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead because it exposes the ridiculous roots of many so-called wedding traditions and reminds me that the purpose and meaning behind a wedding are more important than any of the stuff.
  2. I'd like to recommend A Practical Wedding blog because Meg offers creative, thrifty, and sane insight into the wedding planning world. Her blog is the first wedding-related one I read each day.
What wedding books and blogs do you recommend?

Share |

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"The More Grandiose the Service, the More Impoverished the Marriage"

There's an interesting little column in the Telegraph about the inverse relationship between wedding budgets and enjoyment at weddings.

The author argues:
The more grandiose the service, the more impoverished the marriage. My enjoyment of weddings has, for the most part, been in inverse proportion to the amount spent on them. The most romantic affairs have almost always been the cheapest, because then the focus is solely on the love between bride and groom. [Editor's Note: or bride and bride or groom and groom]
She continues:
I can't help thinking this recession will be good news for the affianced. It provides an ideal excuse for a budget wedding or, indeed, a Budgens wedding. It's insanity to blow your savings on a "big day", when most of us have a socking big mortgage.
One of the best weddings I ever attended as a guest was the simplest (see photo above). It took place at a local children's museum. The bride wore a colored sundress. The groom wore a shirt and pants. They had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. They didn't even have an officiant for most of the ceremony. They simply spoke to each other.

It was the most touching thing to witness. I had a solid stream of tears running down my cheek throughout the entire thing.

Afterwards, we went inside for a lovely buffet, free play on anything in the museum, delicious cakes, dancing to a homemade play list, and grandma's punch.

The whole affair was so comfortable, sincere, and fun. It showcased their personalities and their relationship so beautifully. It wasn't a show; it was a communal celebration.

Share |

Related Posts with Thumbnails