Ask anyone their most important value and no one will reply: “Gratuitous Consumption.” Ask newly engaged couple their most important value and most of them are going to say, “Love” or a “Loving Relationship” or “Family.” Some people will say “The Environment;” still others might say “Peace.”
So why is it when you look at most weddings what’s most evident is the skill the couple has in disposing of large amounts of cash?
Weddings should be lavish and abundant. But they should be lavish and abundant within the context of what’s important to you.
If Love is what’s most important to you, you want to keep your focus on your wedding ceremony, your wedding vows and the support your community will offer you. You want to design your reception around activities that build and nurture community rather than on how you stretch your wedding dollars to include every piece of wedding paraphernalia the magazines and your friends might insist you need.
One of the reasons that there’s so much emphasis on wedding favors is that we’re often not comfortable expressing our emotions in public. But as Keats says “these are private words spoken in public.” So you’re going to be a little uncomfortable, that’s the nature of making public declarations of devotions. But the lavish expenditure of cash neither replaces those declarations nor does it make them easier to cough out. It’s hard. And it’s wonderful. Saying, “I love you now, and I will love you forever,” out loud and in public are life-changing and world-changing events. So what are you to do?
Always first, make a budget. How much cash in hand do you have to spend? How are you going to save the money you’ve decided you need to spend for your wedding, by the time the wedding happens?
Figure out which wedding expenditures really enhance your values. If there are those that don’t, can you eliminate them? Because even if you can afford them, you don’t have to have them.
If you want to do something like, say, favors, can you make your favors donations to a favorite charity in the name of your Beloved Community? This can particularly effective if you’re making a donation to a local organization. $1,000 to some groups can be life-changing for a local charity.
Consider small rituals within your wedding ceremony that emphasize the values that will be at the heart of your marriage. Are you nature lovers? Hold your wedding in your community park along the local river rather than at a prestigious venue. History Buffs? Consider a Landmark Building or Site. Conservationists? The local zoos all have spaces available and today, they are some of the leaders in conservation.
Consider activities during the reception that will help your community become better acquainted. Play a game, learn a dance, make wishes for the bride and groom. All of these allow the community to see one another more clearly.
Consider a charitable activity that aligns with your values before the wedding. Clean up a park or repair a house for a senior. Then do it next year as an anniversary celebration, either in your town or someone else’s.
There are lots of ways for you to reduce the cost of your wedding while increasing the value. None of these events encourage you to spend hours on the web or in the malls looking for “inexpensive” or “bargain” solutions to wedding problems that aren’t really real. All of them will keep the two of you working on your marriage and what matters to you and allow your community to support you. And that’s a wedding bargain you want to have!