Real ethical weddings

Helen and Julian's earth-friendly wedding

An earth-friendly wedding

The couple: Helen and Julian
Wedding date: 16 April 2011
Venue and location: St. Mary's Church, Pype Hayes, Birmingham.  Reception at my school.
Approx budget: £5,500 not including honeymoon (we had that as our gift list)

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?

A friend at church suggested it to us. Julian is very eco conscious, he is a member of Friends of the Earth and always cycles and walks instead of using his car.

I am keen to use eco products and love the natural world.

Also we are both Christians and want to act fairly in our dealings with others.

What was the hardest part?

Sometimes finding the right information.

We thought we had chosen well buying 'eco' Chinese lanterns and then subsequently discovered that they were still hazardous to farm animals.

Also you do have to search harder for things, although websites like ethicalweddings.com are helping to make this easier.

And the most fun bit?

Helen and Julian's earth-friendly wedding

Knowing that our special day was actually blessing others too. A wedding is often an expensive event. However, the money we spent meant that not only we, our family and our friends enjoyed the day but that others were being helped through organisations such as Cred Jewellery and Oxfam.

It was also very precious to get married at our church, St. Mary's, Pype Hayes as it was the same church that I had attended as a teenager and where I first made a commitment to God.

We had our reception at my school. My head teacher let us use a large hall called The Octagon. It was perfect for our meal and Ceilidh afterwards.

How did it go on the day?

Everything on the day went beautifully. We loved every minute of it.

The venue was one of the best parts as, being a school (my school so I knew where everything was!), it catered for small children so the families could really relax without worrying whether the kids were well looked after.

What are your top tips for an ethical and green wedding?

  • Do look into buying rings through an ethical company such as Cred Jewellery. It's often one of the biggest expense when planning a wedding. There has been much in the media about blood diamonds and the poor treatment of workers in gold and diamond mines. I know every time I look at my rings that our choice made a difference.
  • Try Oxfam Bridal and other charities that have bridal shops around the UK. They have such a huge selection and it actually cut a lot off our budget. Everyone said how beautiful I looked on the day and I felt good knowing I had contributed towards helping people like those suffering through famine at the moment.
  • Donate your dress to a charity. You could bless someone like me smile
  • Think about holding your wedding reception somewhere like a school. It's usually big so you can have a large guest list (we fitted in more than 140). Also it's child friendly!
  • Think very carefully before letting off Chinese lanterns. Even the 'eco' ones can still be alight when they land.