Imagine you step in to the most beautiful wedding reception you’d ever seen… and at the front of the hall, you see a sign:
Thanks for coming! This wedding has been brought to you by….
– cheap labor from China! I got SUCH a deal on this dress thanks to those nice people over there working in conditions that have been illegal in the US since before our grandparents were born! YAY!
– South American flower plantations! Nothing says “I heart nature” like two thousand dollars worth of orchids soaked in pesticides, farmed by people who probably live in squalor, and shipped to the US in an airplane, then a truck, then a car. Fair trade? What does that mean?!
– Half a forest! Didn’t you just love your outer envelope, inner envelope, pocket fold, random piece of shiny tissue paper, response card, response card envelope, registry card, directions card, and other random pieces of shiny tissue paper? Oh, and don’t forget to take a program, a new napkin with each drink and hors d’oeuvres, a pack of tissues just in case you get a little emo, and your fancy cardstock seat assignment!
– Half a barrel of oil, fresh from the Middle East. You didn’t think we’d pass up the opportunity to ride in style, did you? Wooooo-hoooo stretch Hummer limos!
– Enough wasted food to feed 200 people who are actually going hungry! Don’t like salad? Well that’s okay, its going to be put in front of you anyway, and then in a few minutes someone will come by and throw it in the trash for you. No probs.
Feeling awesome yet?
I know as I write this that I’m going to get a lot of shit for it. Women get VERY defensive about weddings. I’ve been engaged since June, and reading wedding websites and blogs has been an eye opening experience as to the depths of the obsession with “our big day”. This obsession ranges from choosing bridesmaids dresses without any regard for how they make their friends feel about their bodies (or their budgets), to racking up obscene amounts of credit card debt, to paying absolutely no attention to the amount of waste that “special day” will produce.
Where did this come from? I have photographs of my grandparents weddings and my fiance’s grandparents’ weddings. Both of our father’s parents wed around WWII. Our grandmothers are wearing gray skirt suits. Our mother’s parents wed in the 50s in simple white dresses at simple church ceremonies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we can have a little more fun with it these days… but the “its my special day and I can do whatever the Hell I want” attitude is permeating and ridiculous and I have to wonder how, when, and why it came about.
I hope this isn’t coming off as judgmental on my part, because if it is – let me be clear – I’ve gotten sucked in to it too to a certain extent. I decided that my wedding would be the only excuse I’d ever have in life to own a pair of Jimmy Choos. So I bought them.
… and subsequently felt guilty and shallow and returned them, but found them used on eBay for less than half the price instead.
I’m also in a constant battle between remaining true to myself and remaining true to the budget we agreed on. This is causing major trouble when it comes to flowers. I like flowers. They’re pretty. Florist bills, however, are not pretty. Neither are pesticides and the lack of fair trade options in the floral industry.
After calling and emailing over a dozen florists in my area, the cheapest quote I’ve received for fair trade (or US grown) flowers is a minimum of $1000, but based on the number of guests, likely closer to $2000. The only other option that is eco, human, and budget friendly are the fair trade flowers you can order from Costco. The choices there are extremely limited – red roses, or white roses. Not what I had in mind, but, this is one of those moments where I can decide to be Bride Amanda, or just Amanda.
I obviously have not updated this blog in a long time. I’m in grad school full time, so this was put aside but not forgotten about. There are 938298348477383823 different wedding blogs out there, most of which feature incredibly expensive and glamorous weddings that, aside from winning the lottery and a lot of cosmetic surgery, are not realistic for me. Many others focus on budget weddings, but often fail to acknowledge the reasons why certain things are so affordable. I don’t know that there is a niche for a dirty hippie with grad student loans bride, so I’m debating whether or not I should start keeping the blog again to share my challenges with finding a happy place between wanting to host a classy, elegant, fun wedding – and remaining true to my values of considering the environment, considering humanity, and living within our means. Knowing how sensitive and defensive women are about this, I am a bit worried about offending people with that I might write here… so please rest assured, if I bash a certain element of the typical wedding or wedding planning process, it is not directed at a bride herself, but at the industry and the culture surrounding weddings that pressure us (myself included) to set so many important things aside in the name of pretending we’re princesses for a day… when it’s actually supposed to be about marriage.