Elka and Peter’s Green Farm Wedding

While having a low cost, ecologically friendly wedding on our family farm is not an option for most of us, Elka and Peters deeply sane, green, and family centric wedding philosophy can absolutly inspire each of us. Reach out to your family, your community, your friends, use what you have around you. Celebrate who you are and what you have. Let your love be what reaches up to the rafters, wrap your wedding in love. With that, I’ll let Elka take it away:
Our wedding was held on my family’s land in northern Wisconsin. It is someplace I have planted trees on as a child and ridden horse across. We plan on someday building a green home on it. The reception was held at an historical fishing lodge about two miles away from our land.
The wedding was creative in many ways. I had so many people helping! My little sister Grace helped me make the fabric “Midwest prayer flags” that were hung all over the ceremony and reception site.My aunt-in-law, sister-in-law, and bridesmaid’s husband helped me finish stuffing the little birds we also hung. My father and husband cut down the chuppah poles from our land and constructed it, using fabric I’d sewn for the canopy. My dad also made much of the wine for the reception. My mom and I thrifted over 100 blue and white plates to use as mismatched table settings for the reception dinner. A friend designed our wedding invitations. Farmer friends provided our organic bison and pork, a friend catered and provided the organic food for our reception . . . A writer friend was the officiant, and recited a poem in Arabic. Another friend played “La Vie en Rose” on her accordian, and another friend (who won an NEA grant for her amazing poetry) wrote us a wedding poem, which she read, that used only the letters of my name and my husband’s name. We also had a honey ceremony, using honey from my dad’s beehives. Our photographer set up a camera on a timer and guests took a ton of candid photos, which turned out great. We also provided some activities for our guests, including swimming outings and a farm animal visit for kids.In terms of thrift, we knew there were certain things we didn’t care about, and certain things we definitely did. We borrowed chairs from the local high school for the ceremony, and guests also sat on haybales (grown from my dad’s hay fields) covered with cotton rugs. We spent a lot of money on a really good hot club jazz band, because that was important to us. It was also important for us to have organic and local food, but it was surprisingly inexpensive! We were lucky because my fabulous mother-in-law covered the cost of the reception lodge, which really helped us out.Our flowers were cheap, local, and beautiful, raised by a lady who lived very close to our reception site on her flower farm. Having our wedding in Wisconsin, as opposed to the San Francisco Bay Area, where we live, really helped save money. I also had a second-hand dress (from the 1920s, beaded silk charmeuse, flapper style) which I adored, and which cost a lot less than most dresses, but was of incredible quality, even though it was 80 years old. We also helped to save our guests money by providing them with free or cheap places to stay.Our guests said that our wedding made them feel as if they’d gone back in time, which was really wonderful. Overall, we spent less on our wedding than the average wedding by far, and our wedding was also “green” in many ways.We really felt as if the wedding was sane because it was not just about us. I think that helps you to keep your sanity. It was about a “joining of the tribes” as my mother-in-law put it.We were including our family and friends in every step! From my mom’s cousin, who helped to mow our ceremony site (while drinking a can of Leinenkugels, nice!) to my aunt-in-law sewing 40 of the 100 birds we hung from satin ribbon around the reception site, we were blessed with the presence and helping hands of our friends and family.We also kept things in the family: Our caterer was an old college friend, our photographer our tenant, the meat was raised by neighbors, our flowers were provided by my grandma’s Scrabble friend, our horse and carriage service was provided by my parents’ old high school friend, the wine was made by my dad and having everything so intertwined just made everything that much more special. That much more special, and just right. Thanks Elka. I don’t have a farm, or a dad who makes wine, but I have a happy spirit, and friends and family who love me. Your wedding gives me the impetus to reach out, to give, to receive. May this first day of sharing be a story that you tell your grandkids as you rock them to sleep. Happy, Happy, Elka and Peter. Happy.

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