We went with a different band, but this is my engagement ring
Some women get a little queasy about popping a worn ring on their finger, but I am not one of them.
When Mr. Illustrator and I were first tossing around the idea of marriage, we debated whether or not I should get a diamond engagement ring. Diamonds are over-priced and there are still problems ensuring that their sales aren’t fueling conflicts. But, I grew up seeing my mom’s diamond ring on her finger, and to me, it symbolized marriage. I didn’t want to fund war, but I still wanted a diamond
So, we decided on an antique ring, a partly ethical and a partly aesthetic choice. I love the look and craftsmanship of antique jewelry, and I liked the idea of reusing an heirloom. I knew our money was going to a family and a small business, not funding conflict or mining new metal and gems.
When Mr. Illustrator proposed, he surprised me with a stunning art deco ring from the 1930s that he stumbled across at a local jeweler. It’s exactly what I wanted, and I constantly get compliments on how unique it is.
Later I found out we got a lot for our money. Our appraiser let us know that remaking the same quality diamond and platinum ring today would cost three times more than what we paid for it. Like designer clothing at a consignment store, vintage engagement rings have already been worn once, so they can go for significantly less than new ones.
As for my ring, I chose not to know much about its previous owner, other than that it had been in the same family for all of its 75-year lifespan. I consider it my ring, but I still appreciate its history. I like to imagine that it already stood behind one long and happy marriage, and now it’s sending those good vibes my way.
A dress made entirely of rubber gloves. Maybe a little too much recycling?
A lot of people think going green means spending more, but if the price of recycled paper and organic produce has you down, don’t fret. The best strategies for reducing your carbon footprint can actually save you thousands.
- Buy used: You found your dream dress, but it’s wayyy over your budget. But, what if another bride bought that dress, and wore it for a few hours, annnnd now she wants to sell it to you for half price? It could happen to you. Head on over to your local bridal consignment shop, or online sites like RecycledBride and OnceWed to check listings in your size. You can look gorgeous, save money, and reuse, the essential second step of the reduce-reuse-recycle triangle.
- Buy less: Look at the panflute flow chart below. Now replace the word ‘panflute’ with plastic wedding favors, monstrous centerpieces and any other wallet draining items that are going to end up in the trash at the end of the night. Do you need one? No, you don’t.
A fool-proof flowchart!
- Think seasonal: For food and flowers, in season generally means it costs less and it’s grown closer to you, which means it’s probably fresher and less oil was used in transporting it. Request seasonal bouquets and produce from your florist and caterer, and don’t be afraid to ask them where they source their goods.
- Go local: Look for local community businesses for your vendors. Not only are these folks likely to build a personal relationship with you and work with you to meet your budget, but they’re also more likely to purchase their supplies from other small businesses. You’ll be supporting your community’s economy and sourcing locally at the same time.
- Go digital: My fiancé and I made a Save the Date video that we emailed to family and friends, and instead of response cards, we’re asking guests to RSVP on our wedding website or by phone. We saved paper and several hundred dollars in postage and printing costs. In fact, using a borrowed camera, software that came with our computer and our own mad skills, the website and video were almost free.
Viola! Five ways to go green and stay cheap. Did any of these strategies work for you? Do you have any other eco and budget friendly ideas?