FEATURE: Ethical Weddings #4
Top Ten Ethical Weddings Issues
1. Getting service venue and reception venue in the same place
This is more of a problem for church weddings. We were getting married at the church in my home town (no public transport – train tracks were pulled up about 30 years ago!) but struggled to find a suitable venue in the town. Our eventual venue was a 25-minute drive away although guests were able to stay at and around the venue so did not have to drive back to my home town afterwards. We also asked guests on their invites whether they were willing to car share and managed to fill most cars this way (my husband’s cousin had to go in the boot of his parents’ car so my friends could fit in – and he’s 17!).
2. The dress and bridesmaid dresses
Finding a dressmaker working with organic fabrics, trying to get a design that could be worn again for other occasions. Liaising with dressmaker to get it done on time!
3. Finding local flowers
We did not think this would be a problem but our flower arranger (a friend of my mum’s) had trouble finding local flowers that would be in bloom at the time of our wedding (after a cold March – our wedding was in April) and that would hold up throughout the day without falling apart! In the end we had a combination of local flowers and Holland’s finest! If we did it again (for an anniversary maybe!), I would probably forego the flowers altogether and go for other forms of decoration – such as pebbles in vases of water or plants in decorated plantpots.
4. Distributing leftover food
Again, this problem was partly due to being in the middle of the countryside rather than in a city – there were no homeless shelters immediately to hand – but there were also hygiene and health & safety issues. Fortunately, the food was great so there was very little left over! However, it is something I will be looking into for the Ethical Weddings website.
5. Finding organic caterers at an affordable price
Obviously, unless you are able to do the catering yourself (including growing the veggies!), organic comes at a premium. One option would be to have fewer guests so that you can afford the higher price for organic catering per head. We really wanted all our friends to attend (school friends, university friends and work friends on both sides!) so we weren’t able to go entirely organic but we did discuss our concerns with our very friendly and amenable catering company who sourced their produce locally wherever possible and we also picked a menu based on produce that was in season.
Non-conflict diamonds, gold mining issues. This turned out to be a bit of a quest for my husband – many of the places he asked didn’t seem to know what he meant by ‘non-conflict diamonds’. In the end, we got a platinum engagement ring with a beach diamond from Jess James, Carnaby St, London. The rings were from fair trade jewellery company, Silver Chilli.
7. Offers of help from family and friends
This is a bit of an awkward one. If family or friends say, ‘Don’t worry about the catering/cake/flowers (delete as appropriate), I’ll take care of that!’ it is a little difficult to turn around and say ‘Thanks – and make sure it’s organic and fair trade!’. Obviously, it depends on the sort of relationship you have with the friend/family member in question whether you can discuss the issues with them or just be thankful for their help and let them get on with it!
8. Fulfilling wishes of others
This relates back to the family / friends issue. If, for example, your father has always dreamed of having the perfect vintage car for you to arrive at the church in it is difficult to turn around and say, actually we want a rickshaw (also difficult for the rickshaw driver if your onward journey is another 20 miles!).
See organic catering above. If your budget is limitless, you can be as ethical as you want. Organic flowers, organic dresses, organic everything! And fair trade too! If not, it takes a bit more work – and thought – to work the ethical aspect into your tight budget. Some careful charity shopping and recycling is probably on the cards…
10. Having someone to check everything is done as it should be on the day – you need to enjoy yourselves!
This is why I am already thinking about the wedding coordinating aspect of Ethical Weddings. On the day, you simply don’t have time and shouldn’t have to be rushing around checking bottles are being recycled, fairtrade tea and coffee is being served, leftover food is packed up and sent off to the local homeless shelter, flowers are distributed to local old people’s homes etc. I couldn’t do this on the day; I was too busy having my photo taken a million times! As an Ethical Wedding Coordinator I could. Watch this space!
Join me next time when I check out whether diamonds really are an ethical gal's best friend.