By Monique Milleson
My sweetheart and I are finally tying the knot this fall. Delving into the elaborate world of The Wedding, I’ve discovered that as with so many things, the sky’s the limit, and the cost can be sky-high, too. I’ve always thought it seemed like such a waste of money to have a big wedding. These days it seems like a waste of resources. Yet I am delighted to report that there’s a whole host of websites — in fact a whole movement! — devoted to DIY/ Do It Yourself. In fact, it seems like the category of “Wedding” is the pinnacle occasion for DIYers.
I think of myself as a creative person, but I tell you, having looked at hundreds of images of homemade, cutesy wedding stuff online, I am humbled! Some people really take it to another level! One gets suspicious: maybe these people do this for a living? The Best thing about the DIY revolution is that the tenets of Eco-consciousness — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and compost — are at its heart. By doing or making elements for the occasion yourself, or by using the skills of friends, family or local artisans, you can cut down on the waste in several ways.
DIY is about using what you have at hand. That means less running out to the store, so you’re reducing all those unnecessary trips in the car. What’s more, less shopping online for everything limits your contribution to global long-distance shipping and distribution to sprawling megastores, thus saving fuel and energy overall. If you love to shop, shop for inspiration: it saves money and gives you a creative burst. (It takes some vision to look at the clutter and see the possibilities for repurposing something or changing it. For me, it helps to sort things by kind or material first.)
I can see how people get swept up in this whole bridezilla thing. It’s contagious, and there are so many visions of the perfect day that you start feeling like you need things to be a certain way in order to be happy. But there is much happiness and satisfaction to be found in making your own wedding. There are times when I feel overwhelmed by taking on so many projects. In the last few months, I haven’t accomplished much in the way of making things for our wedding, but I’ve come to some conclusions:
1. You can’t do it all by yourself, and since people do want to help, assign tasks, even ask people to come up with ideas. This way your friends and family will feel like they really did something to help make the day special. The more I can let other people decide and express their creativity the better!
2. Pick a few details that are special to you and make them your personal projects to accomplish for the wedding. Pick a few really sweet things you and your sweetheart will make or do together; this will make it all the sweeter when the day is here.
3. Make things that will have a life after the big day — perhaps an arbor you would like to have in the garden to trellis those roses, or party favors that you can plant or ones that you can spread on toast, art you can hang on the wall.
4. Forgive yourself for breaking down and buying a few things. Nobody is judging.
Finally, here are some of the things I am attempting to make myself and other “green” alternatives for the bride and groom.
Eco-friendly E-cards — both Save-This-Date and Invitations — are an awesome way to save money and trees and gas, too! I also want to do a small edition of block-printed invitations for family and close friends, which could be mounted and framed as art keepsakes.
Why not re-use a dress — whether borrowed from a friend, passed down from mom, or found at a thrift or vintage store? It may not be quite your style, but with some minor adjustments and by adding your own special details or accessories, it could turn into your dream dress. I love to sew, so I am fixated on making my dress, but I probably won’t start from scratch; I plan to piece it together from vintage fabric I already have and some other pieces I’m going to trade for from a fashion designer friend. She specializes in antique, ethical and naturally produced fabrics and dyes.
Having the wedding party pick their own dresses or suits also cuts down on the waste and expense of everyone buying the same dress or suit and never wearing it again. It’s less corporate and more creative. At least they have the option to wear something they may already have. You can give them your color palette as a guide. It also gives the wedding a less cookie-cutter look if everyone is dressed a little differently.
The Wedding Favors
Restore and Reduce!
My mom suggested potting small sapling trees in wrapped burlap, reused from old potato sacks. The little trees are party favors that could also serve as tabletop decorations. This is the perfect no-waste party favor. It can be planted and even make up for the paper I will use for printing my invitations. Another great idea is to make your own jam or pickles, complete with homemade labels of love, to commemorate to date.
Grow your own!
My mother-in-law has a gorgeous flower garden and flower arranging skills, so I’ll leave it to her, though I have planted a bunch of sunflowers this spring in the hopes of having some big blooms for fall arrangements.
There is a big trend of flag banners on all the DIY wedding sites, and nothing really says party like colorful flags waving in the breeze. These are so easy to make and a great way to use up scrap fabric. I’ve already made a bunch for a birthday party, so I can reuse them! I simply made a triangle template from poster board, and traced the design onto fabric I had in my stash. Then I cut up a bunch of flags and sewed them to a long skinny piece of fabric I made by ripping and sewing together long strips of fabric. I didn’t bother hemming the edges, but you could if you wish, to give them a really finished look. Either way, they give a delightful impression.
We are growing all the vegetables for the meal at the farm, but I will leave the cooking to my friend and co-worker Lauren with special help from another great cook in town. Sky and I have also recruited a local farmer, Roger Hill, who will raise some chickens to slaughter for the meal. Maybe some organic sweet corn, too! Simple fare. For dessert, I want to make a bunch of pies, since September has so much fruit to offer for the fixins, and we’ll serve these along with some yummy homemade ice cream.
At the end of the day, I know I don’t have much time, and at times it may seem easier to just buy something instead. But I believe in the handmade way, in using what you have, using local talent and making do. It’s not a compromise if you’re having fun. My beau and I have strong notions of community and conservation. In our daily lives, we try to use resources wisely and be socially and ecologically responsible. We don’t want this wedding to be about spending a bunch of money or following the consumer ideals of needing the perfect anything. Since as he put it, “We’ve already had the most important day of our lives: our daughter being born.” So, this is just a little party, a little icing on the cake to bring all of our loved ones together from near and far to celebrate and give their blessings to our union. Man! do I love him. He always brings me down to earth. We’ll see if I can pull off all the DIY wedding details I have planned! Wish me luck!