The idea of marriage has evolved over the years from when it was first introduced 23,000 years ago. It came into effect around the time that humans began to grow their own food and farming became a way of life. The most productive households were those where men and women split their chores; women stayed closer to the home and cared for the children and men worked out on the farms taking on most of the manual labour. It was around this time that marriage was beginning to be recognised as the union between two people. Alliances were formed by weddings. Marriages were strategic and relatively devoid of much else. Does this sound like the kind of weddings we have today? We don’t think so! This notion seems a bit outdated. So if this is the case, why do we still make the decision to get married?
It’s because of *drumroll* LOVE! Our generation are allowed the freedom to marry the person who sets their soul on fire. We get to commit our lives to someone we adore and treasure. Not because we know that they will carry on a strong bloodline. There are no transactions, no animals sold between families, no countries conquered.
With this being said, Perhaps it’s time to review and revise many wedding traditions to truly discover if they have a purpose and a place in our modern day relationships. Maybe we go back to basics to build weddings and marriages out of new traditions and values that are forming between two people who choose to spend their lives together. So, where is a good place to start you ask? Well, what if we begin to brainstorm and allow ourselves to ponder the following questions:
- What are our plans not only for the wedding, but also for our marriage?
- What are our values as a couple?
- What foundations do we want to lay?
- How is our wedding going to be a reflection of our relationship?
- What really holds an important place in our hearts that we feel can be created for our wedding?
- What effect does your wedding and union have on the world?
- If I am to invest my hard earned money into this celebration, what elements of our wedding day do I feel the most comfortable parting with money for?
Shara from Minimal Mess recalls how she and her husband negotiated this process:
“I wanted to elope but my fiance was smart to remind me how much it would mean to share it (our wedding) with friends and family so I decided right there that our wedding would be different, it would focus entirely on marriage rather than the wedding”
What happens after the cake is cut, the honeymoon is done and ‘marriage’ really begins? Is perhaps the time, effort, stress and hard work that is put into planning a wedding a reflection of how you will tackle life together as a couple? Often you see or hear about one partner putting in much more of an effort planning the wedding day whilst the other just sits back and allows them to do all the heavy lifting.
Asking yourself these questions are the first small steps in the journey of consciously planning a wedding. It is putting in place a rock solid base in which you can enter into your next phase as a couple. Once you have made the time to ponder and probe your reasons, values and goals, you will be able to break down the notion of weddings and marriage. You will be able to build something that is rich in purpose, meaning and a strong unity.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about what this style of wedding can actually look like. The short answer is: ‘it looks like anything you want’, but hey, what does that even mean?
Shara decided in a minimal wedding that cost the couple around $2,290:
“I planned everything in just a few weeks, wrote it all down in a notebook and enjoyed the rest of our engagement”
The major costs for them were her second hand dress ($150 online), their canape serving caterer ($1,260), the invitations ($50) and their rings ($340). Everything else was from their own wardrobe, their in-laws backyard and local businesses.
Whatever your budget, the principles of an eco-ethical wedding are the same. Eco-ethical means that you work as a team and create within your limits all the while with an awareness of the purpose behind each action or item. The true beauty in thinking mindfully is that it opens up new realms and allows for a deeper awareness and understanding of ‘intention’. This is not an easy journey. It is a bit like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. But, many amazing things were born out of exploration and a sense of rebellion, which is exactly what you will be doing: Making your own wedding and marriage rules.
The next step in the planning process is to take each element and examine it. For example:
Exchanging of rings:
The ring is a symbol of eternal, infinite love. What is a unique way we can word our ring ceremony to reflect our relationship? Could we perhaps hold a ring blessing where each member of our wedding party holds our rings and makes a wish for our union?
Shara wanted to be completely present on the day of her wedding, so she opted to not have a photographer who took her away from their guests. Instead she chose to have an engagement shoot separate from the wedding day. What style of photos represent you? Are they posed or candid photos?
If you value good food, think about what it is that makes you hold food in high esteem. Is it an opportunity for your families to show their love through cooking? Or perhaps the joining of two cultures through food. Maybe the values of do no harm or zero-waste are important to you. Do you need a caterer, or do you value the concept of sharing so ask your guests to contribute?
Seeing each other before the wedding:
Do we know the reason for sleeping apart the night before the wedding? Nowadays most of our new age couples already share a household, children and a sex life before taking the plunge. Is this a relevant tradition to you or can you ditch it all together and have a romantic morning brunch before heading to get yourself ready for your big day?
Asking for monetary gifts has become a fairly standard practice, mostly because couple generally need to recoup some of their funds to be able to afford their special day. Have we gotten to the point where are weddings so expensive that we are living above our means? Can we instead scale down our budget or ask our guests to donate their time to our wedding rather than a cheque?
People quite often get swept up in wedding planning and what they think they should have and that is totally natural! But be silly with it. Question your questions. Poke fun at your decisions and keep everything light surrounding your values.This will help you to stay focused and authentic but mostly importantly, it will allow you to have fun and enjoy your tumble down the wormhole of values. By bringing these practices into play, budget becomes a non-issue as you are only investing your money into the things (or people) that are really important to you. Your guest list will only be built around people who represent who you are as a couple. You won’t mind devoting your time and energy into something that has been born out of the love you have for one another. With this approach you can have what Shara had:
“The day of the wedding was one of the most calm and blissfully happy days I’ve ever had. There was absolutely no stress and the entire day was just a big, happy celebration of our union”
So please, go ahead and break the rules and break down the beliefs surrounding weddings and everything that comes with it. Create a union that shows the world just why you are meant to be together forever. Show the world that you are just doing this because you believe in love and a better world. Show them that weddings are no longer a transaction, that they a reason to celebrate. Show them just how powerful you are together and why you fight for each other.
Mindful weddings truly represent love. The real, deep down, core focused, central definition of love. Be that love for one another.
By Brooke Mills – Conscious Wedding Planner.
Images thanks to Sara Ursua. Ring by Emi Grannis.