We should give a special mention to ‘The Young King’, a short story by Oscar Wilde that inspired us in our quest for an ethical wedding.  The story, which tells of the preparations for the coronation of the young king of the title, struck a particular chord with us at that time, overwhelmed as we were by the extravagances of the modern wedding.

The young king demands the best of everything for his coronation, his ‘big day’. From his robes, to the pearls and rubies for his sceptre, no expense or effort is to be spared in the search for perfection.  What he does not consider is the human cost (and we could also say the environmental cost) of his demands and it takes a dream to make this real to him. 

In his dream, he sees the people around the world who are slaving and even dying to fulfil his demands, the boy who is made to dive again and again until he finds the perfect pearl – and then dies, the weavers making the fabric for his robes, working for a pittance.  When the king-to-be wakes up on the morning of the coronation, he can no longer bear to wear the results of such suffering: 

'...on the loom of sorrow, and by the white hands of Pain, has this my robe been woven.  There is Blood in the heart of the ruby, and Death in the heart of the pearl'.

And he asks: 'Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned?'. 

For him, the contrast between a day of celebration and the suffering that has gone into making it possible is too great.  But there is a happy ending!  Read the full story here: