Big Wedding, Small Budget

Ethics vs Finances

on August 30, 2012

I’ve talked before on the blog about spending money in a meaningful way. For us, that means supporting independent artists and vendors as much as we can. My engagement ring came from Etsy; probably my jewelry and some other things for the wedding will as well. Our caterer is a local restaurant owner; our invitations will come from an independent designer.

But the title of this blog is Big Wedding, Small Budget for a reason. We are also trying to throw this wedding in the most economical way possible. And sometimes, our finances and our ethics have trouble playing well together. Sometimes, they are in direct conflict.

For example: our invitations. We are planning to buy a digital file of a printable invitation, and then have it printed. We could use a local, independent print shop, or we could save a ton of money by going with an online printer.

Another example: our tableware. We could rent actual dishes, silverware, and glasses, cutting down on the amount of trash. But we could also spend less money on nice disposable that we wouldn’t have to clean and return afterward.

One last example: my dress, which I did not buy on Etsy or from a local boutique. Instead, I bought it from a big chain bridal store. They had the most dresses in my size and my price range, so I went for it.

Each of these choices has caused me to re-examine my ethics, to prioritize. It’s impossible to do everything just the way we want. But that’s true for everyone’s wedding, I think, whether they are concerned with budget, or ethics, or neither. It’s just part of planning a wedding.

So I’ve decided to approach these decisions the same way I approach eating meat. I’m not a total vegetarian; I do eat meat, but sparingly, for several reasons. Cutting back on the amount of meat I eat is better than not cutting back at all. It’s better (and more realistic) than saying, “Eff it. If I’m not going to give up meat, I may as well eat it all the time.” I don’t have to have an all or nothing approach to planning the wedding. It’s ok for me to use local or independent vendors when I can, and to save money or choose convenience where I need to.

After all, that’s a reflection of my life in general, right? I do what I can, when I can, and I don’t beat myself up about the rest. If I want a wedding that is a reflection of how we live, then this is it.

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