Potluck wedding via Once Wed
When I first moved to Houston back in 2003, I lived in a commercial apartment complex. I had grand aspirations of building community by hosting potlucks and creating a directory of residents, their contact information, and their birthdays.
Ironically, I had never lived so close to other people (physically) and yet so far apart (emotionally and psychologically).
After two years there, I took a year off to travel. When I returned to Houston, I decided to live in a house that had been converted to five apartments. There, it was much easier to achieve my community-minded aspirations. We had Community Dinners about once a month, and I made cards to welcome new neighbors into the house.
After one year there, Matt and I moved to Denver (are you sensing a trend? I move around a lot...) to get our Montessori teacher certification and teach in public Montessori schools.
After one year there (yes, we really, really move around a lot), we moved back to Houston. This time, we bought a house and really committed ourselves to putting down roots (for a while at least). We held a potluck dinner to meet our neighbors, and then decided to start a Time Bank.
A Time Bank is a time exchange system that builds community. For example, when you spend an hour doing something for a neighbor--like babysitting, home repair, guitar lessons, etc.--you earn a Time Dollar that can then be spent on getting another neighbor to do something for you. Time banking is an international movement.
We currently have 18 members. Our first monthly potluck is Friday, and I'm reminded again of how much I love potlucks. I love the element of surprise that comes from people going in their own directions and deciding what to bring. I love the sense of collective accomplishment that comes from realizing, "We created this meal together." And then there's the metaphor of each person taking a small piece, putting their small piece together with everyone else's small pieces, and creating something big.
It makes me wonder why more people don't host potluck weddings. I love the idea of asking guests to bring their best dish. Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the scrumptiousness! It would be awesome to label each person's dish with their name, as a way to foster more interaction among guests who are meeting each other for the first time. ("Oh! I must meet Mary to tell her that her quiche is divine!") And you could ask people to bring the recipes, put them on a website, and share the link with your guests after the wedding.
I think we probably would have done a potluck meal, if the majority of our guests had been in-town. Or maybe our Welcome Picnic on Friday would have been potluck and we could have still self-catered Saturday night. The possibilities...
- I was able to find a potluck wedding via Once Wed (see second photo above). The summary is lovely.
- There's also one at Offbeat Bride. The couple baked lasagna for their 200 guests and asked people to bring drinks and dessert.
- Then there's this couple who have a whole wedding website dedicated to the potluck idea!
- Ooh, this couple had a beautiful spread (see top photo).
I was also able to find lots of forums that talk about how "tacky" a potluck wedding is. Matt and I tried to avoid this kind of judgment from others by only inviting our closest friends and family. Of course there are still critical people within that circle, but they loved us enough to respect that we wanted a wedding that expressed our values as a couple. Plus, several of them ended up enjoying those things that seemed "tacky" initially.
I don't understand why asking your friends and family to contribute a small piece of themselves to share with the community is considered "tacky" or "budget." To me, it's an amazing way to build community and connection among your friends and family. Further, it's the way weddings were done for hundreds of years before consumerism took over. It's also fun!