Ethical and green wedding planning
Ethical and green weddings on a budget
After: 'Ethical weddings? Green weddings? What's that all about?' the next question is nearly always:
'But won't that cost a fortune?'
And in our Ethical Weddings survey, the thing that you said would most put you off waltzing down the aisle in green wedding style was... you guessed it: cost.
So it's definitely high time for a few tips about keeping those eco wedding and green civil partnership costs down.
When you think about it, a green wedding or civil partnership should by its very nature be cheaper than a conventional one as you hunt out ways to cut down on the not so eco-friendly but expensive items such as transport and cut flowers.
Be friends with your budget
Before you do anything else, draw up that budget. Decide what you want and can afford to spend - and stick to it. While we hear that the average couple is now spending a cool £20k on their wedding plans, most of the brides and grooms we speak to are setting their budgets under £10,000. If they can do it, you can too! Don't forget to give yourselves a contingency too - just in case there are any last minute expenses.
Wed for less
One of the main expenses for any wedding is the venue, so if you don't have the luxury of a big garden to host the event at home (and sadly most of us don't!), why not try your local village hall or a farmer's field to pitch a marquee? This way you don't get yourself tied up in a costly wedding package and can keep an eye on items where spending can get out of control.
Think wine - buy wholesale from local English vineyards or find fair trade and organic wine online.
And don't get frantic about wedding flowers - what about a pot plant on each table rather than the traditional cut flowers, you'll save money and you can give them to your guests as gifts at the end of the night!
With a bit of forward planning you should also be able to cut down on travel - and carbon emissions and expense at the same time - between the ceremony and reception venue. If you're having a civil ceremony or civil partnership you could go one better and hold both events in the same place.
Charity shop chic
Find beautiful ethical fashion friendly wedding dresses at very reasonable prices from charity shops, a number with dedicated bridal departments, and vintage boutiques, or why not get a local dressmaker to customise mum's wedding dress to suit your tastes ? Save even more by making it yourself if you're feeling particularly brave... And if you're really after value for money while saving the environment at the same time, make it a dress you can wear again. In the olden days, brides chose as a wedding dress a gown that would serve as their party dress and Sunday best until the proverbial death parted them from it!
Green wedding invites
If wedding invites are the target of your green wedding cost cutting exercise, you could either get creative online with an e-invite or make them yourself on recycled paper and card; try ethicalsuperstore.com for a selection of recycled stationery.
Eat ethical weddings
The one bit of your ethical budget where you might find yourself paying a premium is in the wedding catering. If you are opting for organic food, you would expect to pay a little more for this. However, if you have been able to keep costs down in other areas or you don't have a lot of guests, you should be able to squeeze it into your budget.
Talk to a number of different wedding caterers, ask lots of questions and see what they can achieve on your budget. It may be that a combination of organic and locally-sourced produce with fair trade tea and coffee is the way forward.
Of course, another option for the alternative wedding is to get family and friends involved in the catering. The general rule seems to be the more hands-on you can be, the cheaper it is and the greener it is!
So to summarise, don't be put off by the idea that an ethical or green wedding is an expensive wedding. With a little creative thinking and some support from friends and family, an ethical bride on a budget has nothing to worry about!