3R’s for Your Wedding: Reuse
Reusing items in different contexts is one of the most clever and simple ways to demonstrate artistry, not to mention resourcefulness. Just this past weekend, I complimented my sister on her necklace, and she told me it was actually a headband. Who knew? Looked like a necklace to me. Good for her for finding a dual use for that head band.
Weddings are prime events for reusing, whether a repeated use in the same context or a dual function in a different context. Weddings are expensive, and reusing can drastically cut costs. With multiple events under the same headline, reusing details within those mini-events is very convenient.
In addition to cutting costs, reusing elements minimizes wastefulness. Why cut double the flowers only to discard them at the end of the day when you can have someone move your ceremony flowers into your reception? Double the use while halving the waste.
My favorite benefit for reusing items at a wedding, however, is the tradition that is created or upheld. Wearing your mother’s gown or your grandmother’s necklace for your wedding will add value to the nostalgic treasure that will have been passed down to you from prior generations. You will become part of a beautiful genealogical wedding tradition.
So how can you reuse items at your wedding? Below are some options that I’ve heard of, but please feel free to comment to this post with other ways that you have heard of.
1) Let your ceremony flowers double as your reception flowers. If you have beautiful arrangements at the altar, assign someone to move those arrangements into the reception space while your guests are occupied at a cocktail hour.
2) If you can swing it logistically, sharing in the cost of the wedding immediately before yours can drastically reduce your decoration budget as well as eliminate a doubled portion of one-time-use items. This is true even for perishable items like flowers if your wedding venue is a “wedding factory” that will host a morning wedding AND an evening wedding on the same day. If you like the colors and styles of the bride before you, why not reuse what she has already done? This might also be true for a friend who has used non-perishable items to decorate with such as seashells or votive holders. Ask her if you can reuse those items.
3) Wear a wedding dress, veil, jewelry, or other attire that was worn by your sister, your mother, your grandmother, or someone else whose legacy is precious to you. The “borrowed” and “old” in “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” are sweet ways to reuse what has been treasured before you by someone you love.
4) Let your place cards double as guest favors. Rather than displaying the favors at each seat where they will only be used as a take-home item, arrange them by the entrance to the reception area and use them also as place cards by assigning names and table numbers to each favor. Seashells make for a great name card/favor at beach weddings. What token would fit with your theme?
5) If you can find used items in mint condition, go for it! Second-hand doesn’t have to mean less special. For many brides, the dream dress is out of the price range. Or for your bridesmaids, they might be purchasing their seventh bridesmaid dress that they will never wear again. Use a website such as Recycled Bride that facilitates the buying and selling of good-condition bridal gowns, bridal accessories, bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, groomsman attire, and more. Or if you purchase new items for your wedding, consider selling them through Recycled Bride so that another bride can reuse your items.
6) Rehearsal dinner centerpieces can be reused for the cocktail hour or for a post-wedding brunch. Because rehearsal dinners tend to look slightly less “wedding-ish,” they can also be reused outside of the wedding arena without hinting a bridal vibe. The vases used for my rehearsal dinner have been used for numerous dinner parties and friends’ rehearsal dinners.
7) Reuse your vendors. Use previous brides as references for your bridal vendors. Hiring vendors based on referrals usually secures a higher quality of service because you have already seen their work in action (at least indirectly through a trusted source) and because vendors want to uphold their reputations and keep previous customers as a verdant referral network. They will often provide a discount for first-time referrals, or they will offer credits to those who referred you. By using your wedding vendors again for events down the line, or by referring them to other brides you know, you too might benefit from vendor credits due to your faithful reuse or recommendation of their services.
8 ) What locations are special to you? Reusing those places with the new context of your wedding can add a layer of depth to the richness of that special day. Whether it’s a backyard wedding in your childhood home, a honeymoon in your frequented beach cottage, or a rehearsal dinner in your restaurant away from home, you can reuse familiar venues, potentially for a lower cost than renting out a new hotel ballroom or another marked-up hot spot.
9) Are there any couples whose marriages you aspire to emulate? If so, ask them what their wedding vows were. Don’t be afraid to reuse wedding vows (or other ceremonial elements) if they are fitting for you. Although this example of reusing doesn’t cut cost or eliminate needless waste, it certainly saves on time in creating your own wedding vows. As long as they speak your heart, why reinvent the wheel? It also adds sentimental significance if they first belonged to someone you love and admire.
10) Whom are you employing for your wedding? Are there any vendors or volunteers whom you can reassign throughout the course of your wedding? Perhaps your ceremony orchestra musicians can also be your reception band. Or your valet attendants can pack up all your gifts into your family’s cars. Maybe your wedding coordinator can also design your programs and place cards. Reusing your already hired or assigned crew cuts down on costs for you and also on ancillary build-up created for your wedding (traffic, gas, etc.).