Welcome to the first installment of the SoKind Celebration Guide, which we will bring to you as a weekly blog series. This series is designed to serve as a resource for you regardless of whether you’re planning a wedding, a baby shower, a birthday party, a holiday celebration, a graduation picnic, or a backyard barbecue. Although we have focused on weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties throughout the series, most of the ideas and tips can be easily adapted for any type of celebration. (For a comprehensive guide to holiday celebrations, please be sure to check out the Center for a New American Dream’s Simplify the Holidays site.)
Within these three categories of celebration, we have focused on ideas and tips around the following three themes:
Why Green Your Celebration? There are all the obvious reasons – to conserve resources, save energy, and reduce pollution. Moreover, hosting a green celebration can be a fun and lighthearted way of sharing your values with your friends and families. Your guests can have a first-hand opportunity to experience a green celebration that is as fun, stylish, and delicious as any other event. Finally, hosting a green celebration can have a cumulative positive effect – by supporting green/sustainable businesses and services, you are helping to steer the celebration industry toward greener practices.
Isn’t this the time to splurge? The average cost of an American wedding in 2014 was $29,858! Even assuming the best-case financial scenario (that both celebrants have college educations and good jobs), the average couple spends more than a third of their joint yearly pre-tax earnings on a single day. Consider these numbers in light of the fact that marriages are the most fragile in the early years, with money being one of the topics fought about most often during this time. In fact, debt brought into marriage is considered the number one problem area for newlyweds. Think of budgeting as your own gift to your marriage.
And it’s not just the bride and groom who are feeling the financial crunch. In 2013, the average cost for a guest to attend a wedding was $539. In fact, 43% of invitees have declined to attend a wedding because of financial considerations, and 36% have actually gone into debt to attend a friend’s wedding. Moreover, it’s not just weddings that are breaking the bank these days – birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, Sweet Sixteens, and holiday celebrations are all becoming increasingly more extravagant.
Shouldn’t this celebration be all about ME, ME, ME? Well, that certainly seems to be the bridal industry’s sales pitch to brides these days. How else will they get you to buy the tiaras and rhinestone-encrusted “Bride” tank-tops? But the truth is that being engaged can be about more than just planning a wedding. It can be a time to focus on your relationships. And not just your relationship with your partner, but also with your family and your soon-to-be in-laws. You can use your celebration to build a strong, stable foundation for long-term, healthy relationships in your lives.
Does this mean that you have to cater to everyone’s wishes? Of course not. But finding ways to involve your loved ones will lead to a richer, more meaningful event as well as a healthy start to creating strong family bonds. The beauty of these three categories is that they will often overlap. The bride’s decision, for example, to borrow a family member’s wedding dress is a less expensive, environmentally-friendly choice that will allow the original dress owner to feel as though she truly had an important role in your special day. Or using old family photographs as a centerpiece instead of elaborate floral centerpieces. It’s certainly cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than pesticide-coated floral arrangements. Plus they make family members feel loved. They’re also great conversation starters!