Forget the dancing, bring on the slide show! Couple issue open invite to unusual wedding with no music, no booze and lectures on social change


Forget the dancing, bring on the slide show! Couple issue open invite to unusual wedding with no music, no booze and lectures on social change

Most weddings are a celebration of a couple”s commitment to each other and a public display of their love. At the very least they require an invitation and a guest list.

Not so for David Friedlander and Jacqueline Schmidt, from New York, who got married in Dumbo surrounded by more than 325 strangers.

The pair issued an open invite to the event, held in a bookstore. In place of the typical party with dinner and dancing, their guests were treated to an evening of lectures on social change.

Community spirit: David Friedlander and Jacqueline Schmidt made their vows in front of a room full of strangers at their socially conscious wedding

Community spirit: David Friedlander and Jacqueline Schmidt made their vows in front of a room full of strangers at their socially conscious wedding

In fact, very little about this rite of passage followed the traditional structure of a wedding save for a few makeshiftcentrepieces and a sprinkling of passed hors d”oeuvres.

Even the couple”s choice of outfits was original. Looking glamorous and yet significantly “un-bridal”, Ms Schmidt wore a sweeping beige gown embellished with silver sequins and Mr Friedlander dressed for the occasion in a suit with a red striped tie.

The ex-dancer and graphic artist may however have decided against customary white dress because she had been married once before.

Foregoing the painstaking weeks spent deciding who and who not to invite and the subsequent “save the date” cards, invitations and travel instructions, the couple opted instead to invite local coffee shop customers and random passers by.

Friends and family were in attendance but all guests were treated equally on arrival where, instead of receiving a glass of champagne, they were given a name tag and asked to declare a commitment.

The work didn”t end there. “Name one action you can take in the next 24 hours that is aligned with your commitment,” they were instructed.

Explaining their communitarian celebration, Mr Friedlander told the New York Times that he and Ms Schmidt didn”t want their wedding “to be just about us.”

Instead they chose to focus on creating an event about creativity and social purpose.

The evening kicked off with a ceremony of sorts during which Mr Friedlander and Ms Schmidt chanted and exchanged vows written by friends of the couple.

Open invite: Guests were asked to wear name tags and declare a commitment to a cause of their choice

Open invite: Guests were asked to wear name tags and declare a commitment to a cause of their choice

But that”s where the “spirituality” ended.

Guest speakers then took the floor to wax poetic on subjects close to the couple”s hearts such as environmental issues, holistic healing and neuroscience.

If the audience weren”t captivated by the lectures, the accompanying PowerPoint presentations surely didn”t go unnoticed.

During the low-key reception, the groom asked guests to recycle their cups, “because we’re really in a serious situation with climate change.”

Anyone wondering when to expect the best man speech and dancing would have soon learned they had turned up to the wrong party.

Once the popcorn and dumplings ran out, guests could talk about topical issues presented by the speakers or visit the vow renewal tepee.

One guest, Douglas Campbell, described thenight as “more memorable than the typical wedding because of the emotional and intellectual experience provided. “With delicious cupcakes too.”

At least there was cake.

Perhaps the most appealing feature of the wedding was the notable absence of gifts. As advocates of “the luxury of less” lifestyle Friedlander and Schmidt believe in ridding the industrial world of its excesses.