Real ethical weddings

Emily & Paul's eco centred wedding

Emily & Paul’s eco centred wedding

The couple: Emily and Paul
Wedding date: 24 September 2011
Venue and location: Clow Beck Eco Centre, Croft on Tees, North Yorkshire
Approx budget: £7,500 not including honeymoon

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?

It was really a mixture of things. I’ve always been eco-conscious and had never hankered after a 'big white wedding', I also quite strongly believe that weddings should reflect the couple and not the tradition, so we knew we were looking for something a bit alternative.

Emily & Paul's eco wedding - running through field

I loved the idea of getting married outside; I grew up in the country and love being in green spaces so we were looking at venues that offered this. While at a Christmas fair at Clow Beck Eco Centre we heard that they were thinking about offering the farm for weddings… and it all led from there.

What was the hardest part?

Other people!

We were having a fairly alternative wedding, not just because we were on a farm but because we had chosen a humanist ceremony - our legal ceremony was on a different day and we made very little of it. We threw most of the rules and traditions out of the window and did things our own way. We didn’t have speeches or a sit down meal or favours and we only invited 30 people to our ceremony.

The traditionalists in the family disagreed with some of our choices and there were some ructions but we compromised where we felt we could and stuck to our guns on the really important things!

What was the most fun bit?

Everything! I loved every bit of the planning and build up. I made bunting and decorated jars as decorations and we picked flowers from the farm on the morning of the wedding. Friends and family helped us decorate the farm and dismantle it all again the next day and it was lovely to have people involved.

Emily & paul's eco wedding - seasonal flowers

My friend made our ‘wedding apple pies’ (I don’t like cake!) and on my hen do we collectively made a patchwork wall hanging which hung behind us during the ceremony. I loved the handmade element of the day and the fact that so many of our friends and family were part of the process as well as the day.

How did it go on the day?

Perfectly. We had planned for all weathers as our ceremony was taking place in a woodland shelter and I was determined that a bit of rain wasn’t going to stop me from getting married outside – so we had umbrellas and wellies at the ready.

Emily & Paul's eco wedding - wellies

In the end we didn’t need them, the weather was mild and just as we were saying our vows the sun came out and shone into the woodland shelter, I couldn’t have planned it to be any better! The wellies still went on, regardless of the fact that it was dry and they made for some really nice photographs.

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

  • Go Vintage for your dress – I bought my original 50s dress from eBay and had a friend make some alterations to make it more ‘me’ – all in all it cost me less than £250 too!
  • Think about food miles – if possible source organically but definitely go local and seasonal. Luckily for us we married on a farm so some of the produce barely travelled at all.
  • Give something that keeps giving - if you decide to have favours, donate money to charity on your guest’s behalf, give seeds or support a local artist and give handmade tokens.
  • Source seasonal, English grown, non-hot house flowers. I found a florist I liked and then asked if she could source English grown flowers – she was amazing and did just that. It did mean I didn’t really know what I would get but my bouquet was beautiful and a lovely surprise. All the flowers we had as decorations were grown on the farm or my mum’s allotment. Another way to get friends and family involved is to ask the green fingered amongst them if they can help grow you some flowers!
  • Have a crafty hen do and make decorations for the big day – people love to be involved in preparations for a wedding, people constantly asked me if they could do anything to help and this is nice way for people to do so.

And another thing

Emily and Paul got married at the Clow Beck Eco Centre and helped to organise their Gorgeous Green Wedding Fair on Saturday 14 April 2012

Emily & Paul's eco wedding - a quiet moment