Simple Living Works!

New bride calls classic Wedding Alternatives “essential tool”

Posted on: March 9, 2014


Fall, 2013

For the last 15 years as my friends have been falling in love and getting married I made it a habit to buy them The Alternative Wedding Book (Wedding Alternatives), mostly because I really like the subtitle: “Create a beautiful wedding that reflects your values and doesn’t cost the Earth.” Having not gone through the experience of wedding planning myself, I was glad when my friends raved about the gift. Now having been through the wedding planning process myself, I realize just what an essential tool it is. The book truly lives up to its subtitle.

When my husband and I got engaged I got a copy for us and it served as both a light to guide our way and a foundation in the oncoming storm of commercialization of the wedding industry.

Right from the start, the book gives solid advice: create a budget right away and stick to it followed by keep it simple. Those two tidbits were sanity keepers and helped us minimize conflict during the planning.

So many websites and television shows are all about the trappings of weddings: dresses, rings, decorations, music, photographers. Sure those things are important and decisions about them can reflect your priorities. However, those websites and televisions shows don’t address the real issue which is: who are you and how will you reflect that in your wedding ceremony and share it with the community that is precious to us.

I find it strange that many of the wedding-related websites and shows don’t even touch elements of the ceremony. This book gives samples of ceremony outlines, ideas for symbolic activities, musical suggestions. It is genuinely helpful in the crafting.

Here are a few strategies that worked well for us. In order to focus, we identified four themes that were important to us. We then integrated those themes into our decisions for venue, our vows, our decorations, and our spending.

Next, as part of the budgetary decision, we set priorities. This gave us the peace of mind knowing that what was most important to us would be covered and gave us an excuse to easily turn down the myriad of “special offers” we received as an engaged couple.

As we knew we wanted a zero-waste event, we then checked out an “event kit” from a local non-profit so that we would have reusable table settings for the rehearsal dinner, selected settings that did not need a lot of decorations, coordinated a charity to receive all remaining reception food, and set up an online honeymoon registry so that we would not receive stuff as gifts. This way people’s involvement could be something they really wanted to give. We emphasized that their presence and prayers were really what we wanted.

So many things can be done on-line: 1. a free wedding site where we used the budget tool and the guest list to monitor our status. 2. We posted event information. 3. Honeymoon registry site so that friends could contribute to our memories.

Our wedding felt like camping with 100 of our best friends and the reception was like having them over for dinner, except we didn’t have to cook!

An idea that was supported in the book was participation. We contacted close friends and family to see if/how they wanted to be involved. We ended up with over 40 volunteers, which we divided into teams: music, decorations, and clean-up so that people could contribute to the event and not have to spend money.

Focus on not owning, but reusing:
My wedding dress came from a consignment shop (absolutely beautiful full lace, in my budget and didn’t need to be fitted!)
Our wedding rings were made from recycled gold and gems
Invitations and bulletins were printed recycled paper.

Our ceremony was in a wilderness area, and carpooling was encouraged.

One of the most important aspects of the book is that it validates the notion that your wedding ceremony is that, yours. It need not be the prepackaged commercial binge that is purported by society to be the standard. Our wedding was just that, ours. I am really proud and happy that we stayed in budget, supported local vendors and had a zero waste event in a wilderness area.

I plan to continue giving the book to friends who are preparing to wed. By the way, it’s available free and complete as Wedding Alternatives at, including an updated Supplement; and also in Spanish as Nuestra Boda.

Signed, Arizona Bride

* * *

Inspired by Arizona Bride, we’ve added a line for Tithe in the Wedding Budget. The couple included 10% of their wedding budget as a charitable contribution for environmental causes.

I hope you find my blog Occupying the Flagstaff Bridal Fair both humorous and enlightening.

And I’ve added Meredith Gould’s helpful book Getting #Married: Using Social Media to Celebrate the Sacred to the Wedding Alternatives Supplement.

What’s NOW with SLW!

  • Alternative Rites of Passage, including Wedding Alternatives – March 1 Podcast
  • Simpler Living Alternative Daily Calendar – March 9 – Front line organizations, such as World Vision, Oxfam, Care, Heifer Project, Self Help, provide direct aid and self-help programs to needy people. Advocacy groups, like Bread for the World, lobby governments to do more for the needy. The U.S. government has access to more resources than do private organizations that depend on contributions. Participate in Bread’s OFFERING of LETTERS at your local chapter or congregation or in your home.

Another Kind of Lenten Fasting

Our most important family alternative celebration occurs during Lent. We used the following idea one year and, at our children’s request, have repeated it. READ MORE

Check out a few of these thought-provoking, timely resources that might meet your personal, family or congregational/group needs. They’re all FREE.

What’s Coming

What’s Happened

  • Author Cecile Andrews, Champion of Simplicity Circles and Community Conversation. Her latest: Living Room RevolutionREAD MORE
  • Simple Living 101: Tools for Activists (shy or bold) + Jerry’s Excellent Adventure – Feb. SLW! Podcast | Sharing the Joy of a Simpler Lifestyle Through Speeches, Workshops, Events, Study/Action Groups, Simplicity Circles and Social Media

What Others Are Doing

Podcast Reminder

You can access all SLW! podcast audio and the show notes either at or at (then click window #3). Listen through your computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone (or equivalent).

SUBSCRIBE through or your favorite podcast service. To SUBSCRIBE to email notices, click Comments at the bottom of Show Notes, then check ‘Notify me of new posts by email.’ Please rate us in iTunes and leave a review. Send us your email address to receive the free monthly SLW! eNews. Remember to like us on Facebook. Urge your friends to do the same.

Episode Index: #1-3: Getting Acquainted | #4-5: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle | #6-11: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? | #12: Living More with Less UPDATED | #13: Let’s Get Ready for a Simpler Lent & Easter | #14: Simple Living 101 + Social Media BONUS | #15: author Cecile Andrews, Champion of Simplicity Circles and Community Conversation | #16: Rites of Passage, including Wedding Alternatives | #17: Vicki Robin, co-author of the best-seller Your Money or Your Life

Do your friends a favor. Share our blog and podcast.

Like SLW! on Facebook. | Follow us on Twitter. | Follow us on Pinterest.

Share your thoughts on our podcast and blogs. Email Feedback AT SimpleLivingWorks DOT org [or SimpleLivingWorks AT yahoo DOT com or SimpleLivingWorks2 AT gmail DOT com], leave a message on our Facebook page or on the SLW! blog.

Peace, Gerald “Jerry” Iversen, Chief SLW! Activist

GRAPHIC: Paul and Ann, contributors to Wedding Alternatives Supplement.

We do not solicit or accept donations, nor do we sell anything. All our resources and services are free of charge. We’re an all-volunteer organization. Instead, we urge Alternative Giving. Give away 25% of what you spent last year on all celebrations – Christmas, birthdays, etc. — to local, national and international causes.

Copyright: Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share-alike license.

*Treasury of Celebrations: published by Northstone, a division of Wood Lake Publications, BC, Canada, best known for its Seasons of the Spirit curriculum.

Through social media, we extend the mission and resources of the non-profit organization Alternatives, 1973-2011. Simple Living Works! web site home page | Theme/Seasons Index

To learn more about SLW! – our MISSION, for example — please listen to our getting-acquainted episodes, especially #1 and 2. We produce a half-hour podcast twice a month, hopefully educational and inspiring for you, your family and your congregation or group. We blog several times a week.


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