The first time Nick and I discussed marriage, Nick’s body tensed with concern.
“Weddings are filled with so much stuff! So much pointless, useless extravagance. I want to marry you,” he said, “I don’t want all the things, just you.”
At that point, Nick would have been very happy with a town hall wedding.
On that day we made a promise to each other that our wedding would not be about showing off, or expensive, luxurious things. It would just be a simple celebration about our commitment to one another under God.
A week later, I turned up to the Alive Vegan Festival and found Less Stuff – More Meaning. It was amazing timing! They represented everything that we wanted our wedding to be – simple, ethical and not about “stuff.” I entered a competition with Sandra Henri Photography and found out about the Ethical Wedding Fair held at Wyong which we attended a few weeks later. At the fair, Sandra excitedly hurried up to me, telling me that I’d won the photography competition. It was such a blessing to us to have these professional photos on our wedding day. The fair was also held at Alison Homestead, which is a beautiful, quaint museum with many colonial artefacts. The museum is volunteer run, enabling it to offer much cheaper pricing that regular wedding venues, so it was the perfect location for us!
Weddings are a great and beautiful celebration with friends and family – But they are not the most important thing. What really matters is our life together afterwards – our decisions to keep choosing one another every singe day, and living purposefully.
So, we tried to reflect this in our wedding. Our wedding was about celebrating what was to come, our love for one another and God’s love for us. It was not a time to indulge in extravagance or money, it was a time of simplicity so we could focus on the important things such as family, friendship and love.
We had a few ideas to achieve this. Firstly, and most importantly, the wedding was self catered. We asked everybody to bring a plate of food to share. Secondly, we did almost everything DIY – the invitations, the order of service pamphlets, the favours, the sign, we even made our own flower crown and bouquets! It was a lot of extra work to do this, but it was worth it because it made everything very ‘us.’ Finally, we wanted to make sure everything was ethically produced and sustainable. We avoided things that were disposable and evaluated the supply chains of things we bought. One of our favourite things was the cups and mugs we bought from op shops all over the central coast. Nick and I wrote everybody’s name in fancy lettering with a white paint pen.
On the invitations, we explained the philosophy of our wedding and asked people to bring their own plate of food and plates and cutlery so that we could cater for a large amount of people. For us it was more important to have everybody there, than to have a beautifully catered meal. We also explained that presents were not necessary as they were already bringing food.
We got a lot of criticism for this. Many of my friends told me I was being stingy by asking people to bring their own stuff, and other people thought the whole thing would be a tacky disaster that would not work at all. I am a people pleaser, so this got to me a lot. I spent a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out how to make my friends happy but also keep my promise to have a simplistic, ethical wedding.
This all came to a climax with the decision around plates and cutlery. We’d asked people to bring their own on the invitations, but my best friend convinced me it would not work because people would forget. It was only a few weeks before the wedding and seemed too late to hire anything. I was overseas on exchange in Denmark at the time and couldn’t think of a solution.
I was exasperated to the point where I was willing to abandon my conviction for sustainability and just buy paper plates and plastic cutlery. In retrospect it seems trivial, but I remember crying to my Mum about it on the phone.
After a bit of research, and a lot of anxiety, I found Kelly’s Party Hire, a central coast based company which had availability on our wedding day. It was certainly more expensive than the disposable alternative, but in the end it was more important to stick to our ethics and go with the sustainable option as well as supporting a small business.
In the end I learnt it is important to hold to what you believe in, regardless of the criticism you get. Change-makers don’t create change without a lot of backlash and criticism – but they don’t sacrifice their principles to please people – they use criticism to refine and develop their ideas.
The day of our wedding was beautiful. During the ceremony, there was a power outage so the guitarist couldn’t connect his amp, so him and the singer did an A Capella rendition of the hymns – it was better than we could have imagined. I paused the ceremony for about a minute to undo my high stiletto shoes because they were sinking into the grass – and that was fine! The whole wedding had such a relaxed vibe with everyone hanging out on picnic rugs, playing lawn games and eating. And even better – the self-catered dinner worked perfectly! Everybody put in so much effort and the dishes were amazing. It only worked because our community of family and friends came together to help make it happen. I had so many people come up to me during the wedding and afterwards to tell me it was one of the best weddings they’d ever been to. We are so happy with how everything turned out.
Here is a list of our expenses (not including suit and dress – which we may re-sell).
Our local church minister married us
We asked people to bring food
People only drank about 10% of this so we definitely could have bought less!
My bridesmaids and I went to the Flemington flower markets in Sydney the day before the wedding
Mugs and cups: $200
We sourced these from op shops all over the central coast, and wrote everybody’s names on them with a white paint pen
Plates and cutlery hire: $250
Hired from Kelly’s Party hire
Venue hire: $300
We had our wedding at Alison Homestead which charged $200 for venue hire and a bit extra for the kitchen and barbeques
Some miscellaneous decorations were bought including fairy lights, picnic rugs, a white sheet of cloth which I painted the backdrop of a photo booth and a welcome sign which I painted myself
Gifts for bridal party: $360
We bought very good quality ties for the groomsmen and Danish design earrings for the bridesmaids
I designed them myself and printed them at Officeworks for ten cents each with twine wrapped around.
The favours were a “frame-it-yourself” artwork which I drew, rolled up into a scroll
Order of services: $10
Again, these were designed by me, and printed for ten cents each at Officeworks
Gift for photographer friend: $100
Wedding cake: $400
We supported the small business Cake and Plate, and they did an amazing job
We used family heirloom rings and just got them resized
Hair and makeup: $80
I bought some new makeup but mostly used what I already had at home and my Mum did my hair
All together the wedding cost $3570.
Written by Brooklyn Arnot, for Less Stuff – More Meaning.
Images by Sandra Henri Photography.