The Green Wedding Chronicles: Planning, Dresses, and Bypassing Tradition

Being the consummate list-maker and journaler (even with this blog, I still write by hand regularly!), this beautiful handmade journal that my friend Pam of Dylanbug Designs gave me for my birthday has become a great way to organize my thoughts, make checklists, record facts & figures, and create a scrapbook of sorts as well.
Being the consummate list-maker and journaler, this beautiful handmade journal that my friend Pam of Dylanbug Designs made me for my birthday has become a great way to organize my thoughts, make checklists, record facts & figures, and create a scrapbook of sorts as well, from a handwritten letter my sweetheart gave me after we got engaged, to a postcard for a vintage bridal show I’m going to check out, to other inspirations that are not already on my Pinterest page!!

“Sure, planning a wedding takes some work. But you never want to get so focused that you forget what you’re working toward: a fun, magical event that you’ll remember always. That’s why we adore the items shown here.”
~ Martha Stewart Weddings

Yikes. I picked up that copy of MSW referenced above and the quote amazed me. Why? Because they get it wrong, so so wrong. What you’re working toward is making a commitment to your partner – THAT is what you don’t want to lose focus of.  They then go on to advertise a bunch of overpriced knick-knacks to support their advertisers. Not one article in the edition talked about relationships. Not one article gave any sustainability tips. And the checklist starts out 9-12 MONTHS before the wedding date! Good grief. I can’t imagine waiting that long between proposal and ceremony!  And it seems to me, this is because magazines (AKA advertisers) are directing brides and not giving them options.

So this week was pretty productive. I booked our photographer and our wedding night dinner reservation, figured out the timing of everything, booked the hotel we’ll stay at down at the beach the night before our ceremony (we’re getting married in the morning, wheeee!), scheduled a chat with a videographer, and did the first real venture into dress shopping. Ohhhhhhh my goodness on that last one…

The Weirdness of Dress Shopping

The first place I walked into, a place who I had heard about their selection of locally made dresses, was small and had someone with a supermodel stature standing on the box modeling the typical strapless number. “We only have dresses up to size 10,” the lady said. WTF?  I walked out.

So I did a bit more homework, and found out that most of the bridal boutiques in town not only did not carry sizes to fit the average women with real curves, but they also required a 6-9 month lead time on having a dress made!  The only option for me would be to be to find something off the rack, either being at a small shop (where it’s not exactly the time for selling white) or at a dreadful bridal store chain.

The next place was a lot more up my alley. Discovered on the same website as my photographer, this shop is all about repurposing vintage materials into super cute dresses, skirts, tops, etc. The sizing was very inconsistent and as everything was one of a kind, the options were somewhat limited, but with a friend, we managed to get me into a lot of different combinations and learned a lot about what might work – and won’t work – on me for the day I say I do to my sweetheart.  They are going to be part of a vintage bridal show so I’m going to bring along a designer buddy of mine to act as stylist and get her expertise as I try things on as well 🙂

So, even with that, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to continue on to a few more places. After a couple of chai teas, we dropped by a couple more boutiques but were less successful, then made the insane decision to go to the terror that is the bridal chain store.  You know, the places where they sell them in mass quantity out in the suburbs.  Oh yeah. Welcome to my nightmares. We went with the idea of not actually buying something there (I would never buy from them no matter the price or style – they are the Wal-Mart of bridal, with sweatshop labor driving their profits), just trying on a variety of silhouettes so I could get more ideas of what type of dress looks best on me. But the selection was awful – almost all strapless (which I hate, to be honest, as it’s become almost a uniform for today’s bride, plus not a style I find physically comfortable). And let’s just say with the gaggle of teenage girls so obviously not getting married, matched with those who brought an entourage of 15-20 to stand around and watch them try on dresses? Terrifying. The final straw of course being describing what my wedding would be like to the five year old working there (ok, maybe she was nineteen) and having her pull out a chiffon number so horrendous I literally grabbed my friend and left that instant.

I won’t terrify you with the Jersey-Shore-meets-Rainbow-Brite assortment that was across the street at the mall, my feet (and eyes) hurt just thinking about it.

But hey, I’m not mad that we went to these places, as it’s great fodder for my blog, and I know seriously and truly what’s out there, including the ultra cheesy. And being with my friend made it a complete riot from start to finish.

More to come on the dress thing in future posts. In the meantime, I’ve found some great inspiration online for both dresses and overall ways to keep it as simple as possible, always focusing on the “us” above all else…

Alternate (and Awesome) Resources

  • Offbeat Bride’s Real Weddings section rocks, showcasing big to teeny evens, and is where I found not only my photographer but also the eco dressmaker I’m keen to buy my frock from.
  • Green Wedding Shoes also has some pretty nifty examples of weddings done sustainably as well.
  • And I definitely dug the “elopement” section of A Practical Wedding, showing a ton of cool stories of folks who kept the vows to themselves and (maybe) partied with others later. In addition, there’s an awesome blog section confronting gender stereotypes.

Yet on these websites, there are still a lot of folks trying to call their weddings “green” while still going over the top on everything, which to me doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re still obsessing on the stuff and copying every ritual, rather than seeing if they can find a way to simplify. It’s like going vegetarian then eating that fake meat. So with that, here are a few more rituals, continuing from last week’s post, that I’m leaving behind…

3 More Traditions I’m Ignoring

  • Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. “The something blue” takes…usually the form of a garter. “The something old” and ” something blue” are devices to baffle the Evil Eye. The usual effect on the bride of the Evil Eye is to render her barren, and this is obviated by wearing “something borrowed”, which should properly be the undergarment of some woman who has been blessed with children: the clothes communicate fertility to the bride. (source). Reading that was enough for me to not contemplate that ritual any more.
  • The wedding cake. Well, besides the fact that I just am not a cake person and my fella doesn’t have a tremendous sweet tooth, one of the origins of this practice is not quite my style. “During the Roman era unsweetened barley bread was used as the wedding food and the groom would break the piece of bread in half over the brides head symbolizing ‘breaking of the bride’s virginal state and the subsequent dominance of the groom over her.’” (source). Gosh that’s swell.
  • Being “given” away. As my fiance said to me when he insisted we walk together, “you’re not chattel.” Since historically he’s right, the bride was considered property of her father, with the transfer of ownership done at the wedding ceremony over to the groom, I’m just fine with that.  And anyhow, the first time I got married, my father (who passed away 5 years ago) couldn’t be bothered to come to my wedding, so it’s not exactly anything that I am obsessing on these days.

Oh yeah, and white satiny shoes? Ugh! We’ll both be in our favorite boots, baby. Because hey, we have got a long journey ahead to walk together…

Already bought my boots a couple months ago for the big day! (My honey be wearin' his Docs!)
Already bought my Timberland Earth Keeper boots a couple months ago for the big day, while he is gonna be wearin’ his Docs. I’d rather scrape my eyeballs with serrated knives than wear stilettos. 🙂

2 thoughts on “The Green Wedding Chronicles: Planning, Dresses, and Bypassing Tradition

  1. I have a strange obsession with the show Say Yes to the Dress. I love it. Because I feel like an anthropologist studying a culture I’ve never understood. It fascinates me in ways I don’t understand. Like, WHY do gowns only come in small sizes? Crazy.

    Anyway, love the updates!

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    1. I’ve not seen it but totally get it. I also have an obsession with couture gowns like Ulla Majia and Donna Karan, which comes from my background working in fashion years ago. It’s definitely an anthropological/sociological thing! The store environment at David’s Bridal was really, really strange to me – but fortunately with my friend we each took an aisle and blew through it all quickly because it’s like outfitting robot brides there – and I ain’t no robot 🙂

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