Wedding Alternatives: Intro/Contents/Supplement

Recent REVIEW | CONTACT Radio: interview with a couple who used Wedding Alternatives | MEDIA RELEASE | SPANISH Version of Resource | An Alternative Wedding Service | The Second Time (remarriage)


This resource includes:

cover courtesy Woodlake/NorthStone Publishing, BC, Canada


When two people decide to wed, they hear over and over again, however subtly, that the "perfect" wedding must include: first, a 2-carat diamond engagement ring . . . then, a white satin wedding gown with intricate lace and pearl beads . . . tailored tuxedos with matching cumberbunds. . . . beautiful flower arrangements spray-painted to match the wedding color scheme . . . gold-embossed invitations . . . elaborate reception hall and live band . . . gourmet food and pastries. . . a three-tiered wedding cake with a water fountain and plastic reproduction of the couple. . . .

Unfortunately, these commercially prescribed aspects often overshadow the meaning of the event for these two people, their families, and friends. So much time, energy and money is spent on producing the "perfect" wedding that the focus becomes blurred. The wedding becomes a "social event" rather than a significant religious and personal celebration.

As our name suggests, we have produced this packet to offer engaged couples, clergy and other people alternatives to the bridal magazines and professional wedding consultants. It is very difficult to get beyond consumer pressures and childhood images. After all, our wedding day is one of the most important events in our lives. We labor to symbolize our "unequaled" love with an unequaled celebration. Too often, though, we don't know how to go about planning a truly fulfilling celebration.

These resources will encourage you to use your imagination as you incorporate your values and family and ethnic traditions in planning meaningful wedding celebrations. They offer practical advice and personal stories from people who wanted more than the status quo wedding and chose to have alternative celebrations instead. They also offer ideas for second marriage ceremonies and vow renewals.

Outward Signs of Inward Values: What Matters for Your Wedding? gives a firm foundation and support as people begin thinking of wedding alternatives.
Create Your Own Ceremony: Beyond "Here Comes the Bride" will guide couples as they try to incorporate their own values and words to create a wedding ceremony that is theirs alone. This resource is especially helpful when used in discussions with the officiant.
Planning an Alternative Wedding: Food, Flowers and Festivities offers alternative ideas for invitations, flowers, clothing, photography, food, and other aspects of the wedding.
To offer you guidelines for scheduling your wedding celebrations, we have also prepared a Wedding Timeline/Checklist.
Finally, the Budget Worksheet will help you plan expenses and keep track of them along the way.

We hope these materials give you the resources needed to create a truly meaningful wedding celebration. We are eager to hear how you use these ideas and your own in planning an alternative wedding. Send us your personal experiences and ceremonies. We include some in the following supplement.


Wedding Alternatives
(also published as The Alternative Wedding Book)

compiled by Pete, Angela and Gerald Iversen
(copyright Creative Commons, originally 2006 Alternatives)

PaA AUDIO Testimonial (short version) from CONTACT Radio Program
AUDIO Testimonial (regular version) from CONTACT Radio Program

Introduction: How Things Have Changed
1. Videography
2. Websites and Email RSVP
3. Web Resources
Planning Ideas
4. Suggested Gifts

Introduction: How Things Have Changed

Social pressures for an extravagant wedding haven't changed. The cost has risen since Wedding Alternatives was first issued in 1993. Average U.S. wedding in 2005 cost: $26,800

You have alternatives! The internet has made it easier to find resources for a simpler wedding.

1. Videography

Videotape your wedding. Use a digital camcorder so the footage can be edited on a computer. Most computers come with easy-to-use video editing software already installed. Many newer computers also have DVD-R drives so you can burn copies of your wedding for anyone who may want a copy. DVDs are much easier to copy than VHS tapes. They also cost less to mail and use fewer natural resources. Use paper sleeves. Avoid wasteful DVD jewel cases.

2. Websites and Email RSVP

It doesn't cost much to setup and maintain a simple website for your wedding. A single page with an easy to remember address can be a good resource for potential guests to verify time and location information.

Include a list of links to stores where you have registered for gifts. That way you're more likely to receive the Earth-friendly gifts you've selected. That encourages people to Earth-friendly gifts to others as well.

After the wedding, you can then post pictures and stories from the big day. If you use a digital camera, you won't even need to scan the photos before uploading. Digital cameras avoid chemicals used to process traditional photographs.

Also, as an easy way to RSVP, set up an easy-to- remember email address at one of the free servicec providers, i.e. Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. We used iversenwedding@yahoo.com.

3. Web Resources

Conflict free diamonds come from countries that are not using diamond trade to fund conflict, e.g., Canada. Ask your jeweler to show you only diamonds guaranteed to be conflict free.
* Information about conflict free diamonds http://www.amnestyusa.org/diamonds/
* A seller of conflict free diamonds http://www.canadadiamonds.com/index.htm

NEW - How to Buy a Socially Conscious Diamond from PostConsumers.com

* A Fair Trade retailer http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/
* Shop at many different online stores and money from each purchase goes to a cause that you choose http://www.igive.com/html/intro.cfm
* Ideas for charitable giving through your wedding http://www.idofoundation.org/ and

Planning Ideas
* Ideas for an organic wedding http://www.organicweddings.com/
* Ideas for a simple and affordable wedding http://www.bellaonline.com/site/livingsimply
* Articles on a meaningful ceremony http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/ (look under Entertaining & Holidays)

MGould Getting #Married: Using Social Media to Celebrate the Sacred by Meredith Gould

4. Suggested Gifts

* Food
Cookbooks: More-with-Less, Extending the Table, Simply in Season; The Little Food Book
* Wedding Alternatives: book, packet or Spanish; also on CD-ROM (part of Simply the Best: Over 30 Years of Alternatives or Worship Alternatives)
* Money
The Art of Debt-Free Living, Making a Living While Making a Difference, Your Money or Your Life, 1000 Best Smart Money Secrets for Students
* Simpler, Earth-friendly Living
Living More with Less, Affluenza (book, DVD), More Fun/Less Stuff (VHS), Green Living, The Little Earth Book, National Green Pages, Voluntary Simplicity, Six Weeks to a Simpler Lifestyle, Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska (DVD)
* Family
What Kids Really Want the Money Can't Buy, Living Simply with Children, Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference, Growing Compassionate Kids
* How to Save Money: A Wedding Gift

Paul & Ann's Wedding

Gift Philosophy and Ideas
Alternative Gifts
Gift Ideas
Our Return
Our Rule of Life

Gift Philosophy and Ideas


We are very aware as a couple that we have been abundantly blessed in many ways. We consider the friendship, love, and support we have received from you as gifts. We consider your presence at our wedding - physical or spiritual - to be a gift (particularly for those who have to make an extra effort to travel).

While we understand that some will want to offer additional gifts, we want to make it clear that we don't expect them. Please do not feel that you have to give us a gift other than your presence or well wishes.

Alternative Gifts

We recognize that some of you may desire to gift us with a more particular present. If this is the case, we invite you to consider sharing something of your unique time, talent, or treasure with us, especially since we are already blessed with all of the material necessities we need-and more. Some of the most meaningful gifts we have received in our lives have been of this type (the photos on this site are just one example- thanks, Katie!).

Some of our friends who have heard that we are not setting up a wedding gift registry tell us with a hint of panic in their voices that they don't know what they might give us that is unique. In response to them, we have come up with some ideas of presents that don't fit the usual panorama of kitchen cutlery and chinaware.

Mostly, we encourage you to consider offering creative or alternative gifts that are a reflection of your own spirit or giftedness. Let us know if you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off of us.

Gift Ideas

* Offer to help us with wedding day activities. For example, making flower arrangements, decorating the reception hall, making cupcakes or dessert (instead of a wedding cake), etc.
* Sew or quilt something for our home
* Paint a picture, make a piece of pottery, write a poem, do some arts or crafts work
* Offer to give us lessons in an activity you enjoy: ballroom dancing, yoga, massage, etc.
* Give us an I.O.U. for working with us in our yard and garden during the summer or share with us your seeds, seedlings, or fruits of your harvest
* Offer your skills at house repairs and projects
* Have us over for a nice dinner sometime
* Give gift certificates or coupons for local bookstores, gardening centers, or restaurants
* Make a donation to one of our favorite non-profit organizations (below)

Our Return

God has gifted us in many ways, just one of which is the ability to gather many friends to celebrate our wedding together. We also want to remember individuals who are not as fortunate, as well as non-profit groups working for a better world. We have made a commitment to match every dollar spent on our wedding and reception with donations to organizations working for justice.

The following list includes some of the organizations we support. We invite you to also support these groups.

* Call to Action
* East Bay Habitat for Humanity
* GreenAction
* Jesuit Volunteer Corps: Northwest
* Pax Christi USA

Our Rule of Life

In response to a God
who always reaches out in love and compassion
who becomes vulnerable to be close to us
who offers abundant joy, healing, and reconciliation,

We resolve to live our lives in covenant
with this God and with one another
to be and to act,
through the seasons of our lives
in the following ways...

We commit to becoming more fully ourselves:

to care for our bodies,
striving for health and balance
and taking the rest that we need

to care for our emotions,
through struggle and growth
to healing and grace

to pursue our passions and our gifts,
taking advantage of opportunities to
share our unique abilities with others

to be vulnerable to God
and the stirrings of the Spirit,
entering into conversation daily with our God and
looking for Christ's presence in
our experiences.

We commit to relationship with our beloved:

to empower each other in our personal journeys,
encouraging and challenging each other to new growth

to meet each other intimately,
sharing honestly and openly,
engaging in healthy conflict,
risking hurt but inviting love

to play joyfully,
moving to the rhythm of the Spirit
inviting fun, creativity, and surprise into our lives

to give our bodies to each other
in vulnerability and trust,
welcoming new life into our family,
however God may grant it.

We commit to a lifestyle of discipleship:

to be in intentional relationship
with friends and family,
calling on their love and support when we are in need,
asking them to call us to accountability when we stray

to move toward greater community,
reaching out to those who live in our neighborhood,
supporting larger efforts to bring people together

to live simply,
mindful of our consumption,
sharing what we have
in a spirit of abundance rather than scarcity

to bear God's justice,
standing in solidarity with those who have less,
working for peace in the midst of violence,
speaking for those whose voices go unheard.

Confident that God
who has begun a good work in us will complete it,
we make these vows on May 15, 2004.

Ann Naffziger and Paul Canavese

Published June 6, 2004. Used by permission.
Visit paulandann.org
Page updated 14 Feb. 2014

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