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You Don't Need a Big, White Wedding to Get Married After All!

Jennifer Pastiloff
August 24, 2012
Jennifer Pastiloff
By Jennifer Pastiloff
mbg Contributor
Jen Pastiloff is known for her unique style of teaching, which she has taught to thousands of women in sold-out workshops all over the world. She has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Health Magazine, CBS News and more.
August 24, 2012

I was never one of those girls that sat home and cut out pictures from bride magazines or planned my big white wedding.

Maybe because my father died when I was eight, and I was worried no one would walk me down the aisle. Or, because before he passed, he and my mother fought like cats and dogs and were possibly the most mismatched couple, always about to divorce. Maybe because I have the world’s smallest family. Maybe I was scared.

Who knows.

The reason never mattered to me. I just didn’t envision myself getting married. Not that I didn’t necessarily want to, per se; it was just the visualization of it that eluded me. And, if you have ever been to one of my yoga workshops or read one of my articles on MindBodyGreen, you know that I talk a lot about visualization.

So, when my boyfriend asked me in December 2009 to marry him, I naturally freaked out a bit. Not only is a big wedding kind of antithetical to my personality (I am not very good at organizing or planning), but I was just stumped.

How would we do it?

We went to London that Christmas, where he is from. We were going to elope (naturally, I couldn’t imagine my wedding… and I wouldn’t have to if we eloped in Hyde Park. The answer was clear).

Not so easy.

I would have had to stay in London for 20 days due to some ancient legal passport baloney, and I simply could not miss that much work. I am a yoga teacher. At the time, I was paying rent to teach at a donation-based studio where I taught and I thought I couldn't afford to miss that much. (I could have. But that is another blog post on Fear.)

We came back from London. Not married.

Then Haiti had the big earthquake.

That is when my visualization happened. I would turn my yoga class, which was run by donation, into a wedding party where all the money would go to Haiti to help the relief efforts.

They, after all, needed much more than me. I could have used a new frying pan and a lamp… but that was about it. I created an “event” through Facebook. You can see already how I was not the white wedding dress type of gal. My wedding invite was through Facebook!

I asked everyone to bring something to share. Whether champagne or a poem or popcorn or a song… and a donation for Haiti.

I got to have “my day” as well as help out my brothers and sisters that were less fortunate. The Red Cross got wind of what I was doing and wanted to be a part of it. Also, OneHope Wine, an amazing wine company, sponsored me since they donate half of their proceeds to charities.

I have learned from my mentor Wayne Dyer to ask myself daily, “How may I serve?” I do my best to live my life like this.

I was in a position to help. So I did.

Not only did the wedding party mark the beginning of my new life, but it was a sign of the yoga (union) of the human spirit. When I told people I was giving the money to Haiti for my wedding, they wanted to be a part of it. Not only did we all come together on Sunday February 28, 2010 for something as beautiful as a marriage of two people, but for the marriage of two different cultures: one in need, one in the place to give.

The pots and pans and dish towels will always be there.

I would've really loved a wok, though. Wink.

So, if you are going to get married and don't want a big white wedding, here's what I suggest:

1) Get creative. Think outside the box. How do you want to remember this day?

2) How can you give back in some way? How can you have your day, and in some way, big or small, do something fantastic for someone else? It doesn't have to be a wallet-shattering amount of money. It doesn't even have to be money. Just ask, "How May I Serve," and the ideas will start flowing.

3) Think about what makes you happiest. Make a joy list, and then see how many things on that list you can incorporate into your special day.

4) Stay true to yourself. If you do not want a big white fancy expensive wedding, then don't have one. If you do, and that is what will make you happy, then by all means go out and have the biggest whitest wedding ever with loads of champagne and cake, and invite me!

Jennifer Pastiloff author page.
Jennifer Pastiloff

Jen is a self-described Rule-Breaker, Shame-Buster, BeautyHunter, LipReader, WayMaker, TruthTeller, and Bullshit-Eliminator. She travels the world with her unique workshop “The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human,” a hybrid of yoga, writing, sharing out loud, and the occasional dance party. She has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, and CBS News among others. She leads annual retreats to Italy and California as well as many other places which combine writing and yoga, sharing out loud and fierce listening. When she is not traveling she is based in Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and soon, her new baby boy. When she is not pregnant you can find her sipping a nice pinot noir. She is deaf as a post and she enjoys laughing at herself, most of the time. You’re most likely to find her these days eating a brownie or on Instagram at @jenpastiloff. She is also the founder of the empowerment project for young women called Girl Power: You Are Enough. Upcoming workshops and retreats in NYC, Dallas, Seattle, Kripalu in Massachusetts, Atlanta, Portland and of course, Italy September of 2016. Email or visit