Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Green Wedding

We got married in Ireland in 2006. From the moment we planned an actual date, to the wedding day itself, no more than three weeks passed.
Here is how we did it.
We had twenty eight people at our wedding, including ourselves. Once we made that list there were no additions as we had considered at length about who to invite.
Officially, we had neither best man nor bridesmaid; instead we each had a witness that would sign the register and do the legal part of those roles.
We had no notion of hiring a car to take the bride to the ceremony; my mother's car worked perfectly and the bride arrived even before the guests were ready!
We had one of our guests take the photos and do the video filming at the same time. It's astonishing what some people can do with only one pair of hands.
The flowers were organised by a friend of the family who makes a living with flower arranging. The flowers looked beautiful during the ceremony and were left alone afterwards; we had no more need of them and other people got to appreciate them.
I spent less than four Euro on luxury writing paper and hand wrote an invitation to each person.
I was able to personally deliver a number of them, so the total cost of wedding invitations including postage was less than ten Euro.
The bride's wedding dress was bought for $15 in a discount warehouse (thank ye kindly, Cargo Largo) about four years before the wedding took place; initially we considered the possibility of utilising the dress when attending an opera, or something of that fancy nature. Now, we look back on that and we hurt ourselves laughing...opera? Our entire wedding cost less than the proposed opera. Instead, the dress had the honour of being the wedding gown, as purple was the bride's most favourite colour!
The groom wore his best suit for the occasion. Neither of us purchased a new item of clothing for the day.
On the wedding day at the reception, all the ladies present and accounted for received a small, handmade bag filled with little trinkets such as a handmade chocolate, a bookmark, a party whistle in the colour of the bride's dress, and a colourful piece of jewellery. A very good friend and her mother put those bags together, and prepared the whole thing so we didn't have to worry at all. The velvet bag also magically matched the colour of the wedding dress, a rare feat since neither friend nor mother had seen so much as a picture of the dress. One of the guests who received a token said, “I'll never forget this as long as I live.” Money cannot buy that sort of affirmation.
The reception was held in a section of a very small pub that would hold barely any more than the chosen number of people so 'straggler guests' were not an option. The highlight of the location was its proximity to a beautiful lake in a remote green area. This way guests had somewhere to walk and talk if the pub felt too crowded or if the day was fine weather-wise. When we stopped by to ask the pub owner about our crowd occupying his pub for a night, he advised us that booking it was not necessary. He promised he would make sure that the little room to the side was kept free. We could hang whatever decorations we chose. Then I asked about money, and held my breath.
He gave me a strange look and said “what money? Don't worry about that.”
Because he wasn't a greedy man and because it was a public house, it cost us absolutely no money at all to borrow the pub for a Saturday. This was a bonus we had not considered or counted upon or thought was possible on this earth. As an incredible bonus, they were performing some renovations on the pub and we would practically be the first customers in the shiny pub.
We decided on a catered buffet rather than a sit-down meal. What this enabled us to do was keep the days before the wedding mostly free; it allowed for a relaxed atmosphere where people could eat in their own time and mingle with each other; and, as the meal would be mostly cold, serving and layout would be far less complicated. The guests had a choice of turkey, ham, salad, smoked salmon, sandwiches, pasta...for less than 300 Euro the food was cooked for us and delivered to the pub at the very moment the wedding ceremony was ending. Such perfect timing. And naturally, the guests had their choice of drink, as the bar was merely feet away!
At the end of the evening, about midnight, one of our most kindhearted guests, who later claimed our wedding to be “the best day of her life,” went to the people in the rest of the pub and asked if anybody would like some food with their drink. The food was devoured in moments and the happiness our wedding brought extended far beyond the small invited party.
We specified on our invitations that guests should bring no gifts. I underlined it twice and made it very clear. We were unsure at that stage what part of the world we would live in next; it made no sense for us to begin collecting exquisite fine china, hand blown glass baubles, or anything, of any kind. We kindly but firmly asked for no gifts and everybody respected that. However, some good souls did slip a sum of money into an envelope with the defence that money was not, after all, really a gift.
The bride's hair was arranged the morning of the wedding, in a local salon, at a cost of 20 Euro and about thirty minutes of time.
The groom ran a comb quickly through his hair and it cost nothing, and no minutes of time. Proving the point that one can always be more frugal!
The music for the ceremony was chosen the night before. Four classical/church tunes were selected and put onto a CD. While the groom was ever so carefully choosing the music, (the bride wanted to be surprised) he was also painting a masterpiece at the kitchen table.
Two of the guests brought guitars to the reception and sang for us; they made it a truly memorable experience.
The wedding preparation was a scene of tranquility, a veritable ocean of halcyon calmness. Do recall, we did all this in under three weeks.
Our honeymoon, so to speak, was an empty house by the ocean, donated for a few days by some very thoughtful family members who just didn't know what to do when we said 'no gifts.' It was a wonderful thought. Without that offer, we would simply have agreed to go without a honeymoon.
The day was distinctly memorable and I consider it was a thoughtful wedding, not just to our guests but because there was no waste, no lavish spending and no stress.

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