Weddings come in all shapes and sizes but for many people it’s the biggest party they’ll ever host.
The average wedding in the US costs about $20,000. Ours was nowhere near that expensive but it was still a large event and one that took a year in the planning. Little wonder that this post has grown into a two-parter.
As well as the advantages I mentioned previously, the other great thing about our wedding venues was their accessibility public transport. We thought about this from the outset and even timed the ceremony so that people would be able to meander down the hill to the public ferry wharf and get a ferry across the harbour to a wharf near the sailing club.
This was partly an effort to help people to be green but it was also to make the most of Sydney’s most beautiful natural feature, the harbour.
A few days before the wedding I emailed our guests with detailed directions on how to get to the church and club, with options for driving and public transport. I pointed out that parking was plentiful at the club but scarce in the neighbourhood around the church. I added that alcohol would be flowing freely so they might prefer not to drive so they can kick their heels up and have a drink or four.
Quite a lot of people did take the public transport option, both people from interstate who hadn’t brought cars and a few Sydneysiders who knew that I was talking sense.
After the ceremony, the wedding party went down to the water for photographs. As we traipsed through the park, I was amused to see several friends, who had tarried too long socialising outside the church, bolting down the hill to the ferry, one of them with her two-year-old son hoisted under her arm.
I mentioned in the previous post that my mother made the cake and my cousin did the flowers and this was a theme throughout the wedding – the main motivation was less to save money and more because it made it more personal to have our friends and family pulling together for us and contributing their time and talent. Likewise, we also had a friend do our photography and another friend sing the song for our first dance (one that my grandfather used to sing when he was alive).
On this note, one of my friends is a graphic artist and she designed our beautiful wedding invitations and thank you cards. We had them printed by Typoretum, using letterpress, which not only matched our vintage theme and the design but is also eco-friendly.
For most brides, the dress is one of the most important elements of a wedding. I liked the idea of a vintage wedding dress from both an aesthetic and environmental standpoint. I even bought an antique dress at auction – a beautiful embroidered silk gown with matching train from 1910, for the bargain price of £100. Unfortunately the 22-inch waist meant I couldn’t wear it and the dressmaker quoted me £1,100 to get it remade.
Disheartened, I then started looking for second-hand gowns on eBay. That’s when I discovered you can buy cheap wedding dresses from China over the internet – but my concerns over both style and sustainability meant I was not particularly tempted. (I was worried about cheap, synthetic materials and whether it was made in sweatshop conditions).
I ended up getting in touch with a bridal shop in Kent, south of London, via eBay and found out they were having a sale of shop samples. I went in person and tried dresses on and ended up buying a designer bridal dress at a quarter of the normal retail price. From an eco-standpoint, the dress was new but it was pre-existing rather than made to order (and used no synthetics). It was lacy and quite old-fashioned so we were able to keep our vintage theme.
The groom and his best man and my father rented their outfits – it seemed sensible since they don’t need to wear a tuxedo very often and the occasion to wear a top hat may never come again.
My partner bought my engagement ring but he knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t want a conflict diamond and there was no way I wouldn’t ask, if not at first then eventually. He chose a beautiful emerald and diamond ring from 1906 from Berganza, an antique dealer in London’s Hatton Garden. It’s beautiful and green – in both senses of the word – and I couldn’t love it more. He also organised the wedding rings – simple metal bands without any stones and mine is slightly curved to fit around my engagement ring.
People don’t like to show up empty-handed to a wedding. Generally, they’ll bring a gift unless you say ‘no presents’ and even then, half of them still will. We knew that. But we also knew we had a household full of stuff and we were about to shift continents again.
We didn’t have a wedding registry and we didn’t mention gifts on the invitation. But we did put the word out via our families about a few things that we might like and mindful of how talented many of our friends and family are, we also suggested that people give us art, especially their own art. We were delighted that many people did exactly that and we were also appreciative of the thoughtful gifts and practical cash we received from others.
There’s always more that any of us can do to help the planet but I’m pleased with our wedding – I feel that it was a beautiful expression of our love and commitment, a rocking great party for our friends and family, and we didn’t do too badly in keeping it green. The best weddings don’t cost the earth.