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

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guest Post: A Grassroots Wedding

I get lovely e-mail messages from lots of kindred spirits from around the world (thank you!). Recently, Ivy e-mailed me to tell me about a brunch with her closest friends "to talk about ideas they had, how they imagined being a part of our wedding while not being overwhelmed the day-of, and what they would hope to get out of our wedding (we're community organizers...difficult to discuss something without thinking of the people being effected by our decisions!)."

What a brilliant idea! A community organizing approach to wedding planning.

Without further ado, here's Ivy to tell us more about it:
My partner and I met through a year-long fellowship focused on community organizing. His job is to shift his union's model from a more service-y model to one based more on relationships between the organizers and the members. I am a community organizer focused on empowering low income communities. It seemed only natural for us to apply our organizing and popular education practices to our own lives--and to start our planning by asking those being affected by the decisions we made what they wanted. We had some conversations beforehand of our goal to have our wedding continue to be in line with our values, and to share our resources, but value dearly the input of our community.

We decided to call our closest friends in the area to have a "Holy crap, we're engaged. Now what?" brunch. We provided the breakfast, and friends surprised us with mimosas to celebrate. We sat outside around a table, and just started asking our friends questions:
  • What weddings have you been to that had a particular impact on you? What about them was so memorable?
  • What experiences have you had that you would try to shy away from at your own wedding--and why?
  • We are trying hard to stay in line with our values while having a ton of fun doing it (and not being preachy). What ideas do you have that could help us?
  • We want a wedding that celebrates us--but also celebrates the community that brought us here. How can you see that playing out?
  • What practical ideas do you have for saving money?
It was informal, fun, and not so rapid-fire questiony as it sounds here. Friends laughed at the first question, knowing that my partner and I both start all meetings we facilitate with a reflection on past experiences. And we got some fabulous input, ideas, and even commitments before asking anyone (though we had brainstormed before what skills each of our friends has that could contribute to this...but didn't tell them!).
  1. Friends offered to go with us to a wholesale florist shop and arrange the flowers if we wanted that.
  2. One friend offered to research venues near our area based on what we were looking for and actually make a spreadsheet of costs, contacts, reviews, etc.
  3. Three people offered to host several cooking parties a few weeks before the wedding to cook and freeze everything so we can save on food while building community (and all get to taste-test the food, of course!).
  4. One offered to knit hundreds of small hearts to use for decorations and favors.
  5. Another friend offered to knit our chuppah (traditional Jewish canopy) or sew one together out of fabric.
  6. One offered to host an invitation putting-together party at his house, complete with drinks, pizza, music, and dance breaks.
  7. We've got professional photographer friends who are excited about doing engagement and wedding photo shoots in exchange for them using the pictures in their portfolio.
And the list goes on...from just a few people and the wedding a year and a half away. We didn't specifically ask for anything other than their experiences and ideas, and suddenly we've got a great jumping off point, and affirmation that our friends really are even more fabulous than we imagined. More than anything, we got encouragement that things can be done our own way (and that they expect parts of the wedding to be ridiculous, and it wouldn't be us if it weren't)--and that right off the bat, we've got a team of people just jumping at the opportunity to be a part of this--after all, we want to celebrate them too!

So, I'm learning to shut off the voice of my mom's aunt's husband, and go with where my skills shine and my heart is. And beyond all that, we're putting together a joke wedding plan to send to said mom's aunt's husband...just to show him we've thought of him too (read: pirates versus ninjas theme, 1812 Overture as our first dance, etc).

Your turn: Do you have something you want to share with 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits? Maybe you want to write a post about how to DIY your wedding invitations or you want to share a profound realization that helped you approach wedding planning a little more sanely. Maybe you want to write about the name-changing dilemma or a creative idea for making your wedding more eco-friendly. If so, e-mail me your idea. For inspiration, check out other guest posts. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

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kahlia said...

What a great way to get started! I'm going to email this post to two recently engaged friends... I hope they do something similar!

Angie said...

I want to high-five this couple! I think I did something similar to Ivy - she and her partner turned to a supportive community of friends and I started seeking out helpful people and resources online. (2000 Dollar Wedding was one of the first blogs I found!) I'm proud to say I have a crew of crafters who are really looking forward to some DIT time and cocktails! I guess my advice (as someone who just started planning a wedding that is four months away) would be to talk to people that support your choices. Forget your mom's aunt's husband's ideas, and reach out to a community (in person or online) that will make you feel supported.

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