Community, Connection, and Commitment

When you undertake the seemingly crazy task of planning a wedding within a $2,000 budget, you have to think outside the box. When it came to the idea of traditional wedding vendors and wedding rings, we did exactly that.

At one point in the planning process, I received the following e-mail advice from The Knot: “The more guests feel involved with your wedding, the more likely they will have a great time.” So what was the website’s advice for helping guests feel more involved? Creating a detailed ceremony program.

We took the advice more literally. We asked our friends and family to serve as the photographers, caterers, hair stylists, DJs, bartenders, officiant (see photo above), florist, traffic directors, and videographers.

This approach had multiple benefits: 1) We saved a ton of money. We didn’t have to dish out thousands of dollars to multiple different vendors. 2) We avoided much of the stress associated with Wedding Industrial Complex interactions. We didn’t have any of the oh-this-is-a-wedding?-then-it-will-cost-three-times-more. 3) Our friends and family felt more invested in and connected to our wedding because they helped make it happen.

We tried our very best to give each person one small piece so they weren’t overwhelmed. And—with the exception of all but the fajita maker—every job happened before or after the ceremony and reception, so people could fully participate in the action. We hired the owners of the B&B where the reception was held to heat up the food, set it out, refill it, and clean up.

One of my favorite memories took place in the hours before our ceremony. Matt and I worked elbow-to-elbow with our closest friends, chopping lots of stuff for homemade guacamole, salsa, seven-layer dip, black bean and corn salad, fajitas, and quesadillas. We worked with urgency while laughing and chatting. People constantly passed through the kitchen in the main lodge and offered their support. It reminded me that weddings are about community, connection, and commitment.

In addition to our DIY, budget-friendly approach to staffing our wedding, we also had an unconventional approach to our wedding rings. We asked our friends and family to donate their old gold to an environmentally-friendly jeweler, greenKarat. The company melted the donated gold, credited our account with more than $1000, and created new rings. Our invoice came to $157.

vintage ring pillow

During the ceremony, the rings were carried on a ring pillow crafted from the hat Matt’s grandmother wore in her wedding 54 years ago. We acknowledged the longevity of their love and thanked our friends and family for letting us incorporate a piece of their history into ours through their donated gold.

We tried to carry the DIY, budget-friendly, and eco-friendly ethos throughout the rest of the wedding planning process, too. Luckily, we were able to do this for the next phase of the planning process: attire.