Why Neighbors Occupied Our Wedding

I don’t emanate princesses – we’re common people in a real World with a shared fate.  We didn’t think of our wedding as our ‘happily ever after’ – we don’t subscribe to delayed gratification: whatever feeling we create with, begets more of that.  And instead of storybook royalty, we admire approachable leaders whose very lifestyle, andIMG_7594 of course their wedding, is in service to something larger than a fairy-tale ending.

Our pragmatism resulted in a $3,000 wedding – including everything from invitations & clothing… to the band & our island honeymoon… all the way to eco-friendly-printed pictures & personal thank-yous (some still forthcoming).  Only 2 people flew, and by far most took public transit, in celebration of Earth.

When people marry, we celebrate the couple’s community of support.  We celebrate becoming family.  Everyone bonds.  If only for a moment, we get the sense we all belong together in the huge context of birth, death, and everything.  This context, to me at least, is synonymous with the Commons.

The Commons is everything we share, including – but not limited to – air, water, and neighborhood.  It is the space between us, the language & thoughts we use to reflect on our cultures, and culture itself.  We are commoners, and our weddings can celebrate, enrich, and expand the Commons.

IMG_7604So, besides inviting our existing friends & family, of whom only some were neighbors, we invited ~100 more neighbors.  We have this crazy idea that our dreams of World peace might be shared by people who dream within 100 yards of our pillows each night.  So I printed invitations for neighbors, and kept them in my bag.  I met neighbors on their doorsteps, or recognized them in the street.  I introduced myself along with where exactly I live, relative to them.  “I’m getting married – ” I’d start – and they’d always congratulate me, (more excitedly than I’d expected!) before I could continue:  “Thank you!  It’s a block-party:  You’re invited.  It says it’s a potluck, but you don’t have to bring anything, really – just come: We will parade through this street!  Do you think you’ll be able to find the time?”  And sometimes I’d add:  “We went all out on the band – it’ll be awesome.”

And it was.

IMG_7650Everyone created this amazing sense of community ownership.  Our next-door neighbor made the cake, with raspberries from our backyard garden.  She also loaned me an ivory shawl to match my dress, which was a dream-come-true-thrift-shop-find that the neighbor across the street fitted to my body like a glove.  Neighbor-girls, who met each other at a block party a few years ago, decorated the sidewalks & streets with chalk (“FUN” + an arrow) to sincerely remind everyone of their invitation on the Big Day.

But the best part – what brought tears to my eyes
was what they did the day before the wedding:
These girls brought baskets FULL of flowers,

which they’d picked in gardens with neighbors’ generous consent.
Their parents’ willingness to claim the Commons
as safe for kids to explore & meet new people in…
and these young leaders’ innate skill to engage, heart-first
that courage, and the World’s abundant response
is what my bouquet, and more, was made of.



IMG_7627We continue to hear from people how liberating this wedding was, and how it was the best they’ve ever attended.  The parade through the streets (although a remarkably fun act of civil disobedience) isn’t the most mentioned part.  Neither is the fact that the groom-as-circus-barker spontaneously coaxed the entire community into singing the wedding march without instrumental accompaniment!  No.  What people remark on most is that there was nothing mysterious, vain, or hierarchical about it.  They are inspired that weddings can be invitations to those around us to see & experience the World as the bride & groom see it.  For us, it’s a welcoming 3×3-blocks, overflowing with people, synchronicity, & belonging.

Our wedding was not a fairy-tale IMG_7645moment where something magically changed and we live ‘happily ever after.’  It was not an expensive extravaganza, or a carbon-debt for future generations to shoulder.  It was a special, enriching day, where our beloved community came out of the woodwork & took shape.  A day lived consciously – by all involved – in the context of birth, death, and everything.

Our wedding was – and our marriage is –
a celebration of Love in the living Commons:
the World we wish to see.

Did you have a neighborhood wedding?
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Want to learn more?
Presentations based on our block-party wedding are available.

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