Weddings are the biggest consumerist traps that I’ve ever experienced – that is since high school graduations of course – with all the NEEDING of buying the class ring, senior photos, the biggest diploma frame a parent could find, etc.
I speak about weddings after recently getting married.
A blog about our courtship which spanned all of about 3 days deserves a post on its own but this blog post is a priority because I see a lot of my soul sisters all over the world getting into debt for this once in a lifetime event.
In a recent email exchange where I mentioned pictures of my wedding being up on Facebook, a friend replied in an email with this lovely message: “BTW, I really admire the informality and simple elegance of your wedding.”
I replied, “Our budget and consciences wouldn’t allow for anything else, lol!”
She wittingly responded, “not necessarily in that order …”
To which I replied with this:
“It actually WAS in that order to be quite frank!
We had these grand ideas and our budgets didn’t allow for them but we were thinking of borrowing some money or reallocating funds and then we started talking about what this day means to us and how this money could be better spent in the world and we stopped fighting what our budgets and consciences were already shouting.
The same thing happened with the rings. We both initially wanted something simple … then we started searching and got swept up in BIG BLING and other shiny things … we eventually got to looking at rings in the thousands. We again caught ourselves and reevaluated what we wanted from each other and bought rings that totaled less than two hundred for both of our rings.
Weddings are such a crazy market of consumerism!”
Just notice all the ads touting that diamonds are forever (which they aren’t – that’s just bad physics); all the online memes shouting that this will be the happiest day of one’s life (which is a lie – it was fun but nothing beats a good old fashioned slumber party with my girlfriends); all the young adult novels or TV shows I read and watched growing up that showed that there’s only one soulmate out there for us and without him/her, we’re done for (Summer of My German Soldier, anyone?).
With all of this subliminal and not so subliminal brainwashing – it’s amazing our bank accounts weren’t all cleared!
How did we downsize?
Making conscious cuts were insanely easy when I signed-up my friends and family to help.
It’s tradition in Yemeni weddings for the wedding reception to actually be gender-segregated. This meant that although the small religious ceremony was attended by males and females, the awesome dance party was separated by gender. This ALSO meant that we had to plan for two weddings: one for my ladies to dance the night away and then a second one for Anderson’s friends and family (the outdoor event).
With smiles, I contacted one of my best friends to negotiate the hall for the ‘all-girl’ wedding. She got a deal that no one believed was possible. The owner of the hall told me that he’s never met a woman who could negotiate the way my friend did.
My sister and one of my other best friends helped me find a dress, have it altered, get my hair and make-up done and accessories all picked out and setup. We put a call-out for jewelry, veils, shoes, etc.
We got one of my Martha Stewart-y friends to plan, design and coordinate our event. And what a dream she put together.
We got another friend to cater the wedding while friends and family decorated the park space we secured for the full day.
Anderson and I also decided to forego the usual white beach, turquoise water paradise honeymoon for a closer-to-home active trip in West Virginia. Shopping online for deals, I was able to negotiate a rental home, ATVing tour, white water rafting, mountain biking tour and horseback riding for half the regular cost.
It took one piece of advice I read while planning my wedding that got me to consistently reassess my priorities: Most people plan for a wedding instead of planning for a marriage.
I’m confident those will be words I’ll share with friends for the rest of my life.
Photo credit: Ammerah’s photo and wedding photo: Eftikhar Saleh-Hernandez