Real ethical weddings

Lizzie and David

Lizzie and David

The couple: David and Lizzie Hart
Wedding date: 22nd September 2006
Venue and location: The Hall, Jesus College, Cambridge

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?
I have always been a green eco person and I knew that weddings were very expensive. It is only something I will ever do once and I wanted to do it right!

I think people have a choice today and they can choose to go green (or try to the best they can) or not.

I care about where I buy things from, I want to make a difference in this world as a consumer, I want to buy fair trade and local, I want to buy organic where I can as I don’t want to leave this world worse off because of the choices I have made.

What was the most difficult part about organising an ethical wedding?
Money, suppliers and time!

Lizzie & David's wedding in Cambridge

We wanted to have a short engagement, and had only 6 months to plan everything.

I did it all myself and so perhaps some of it was my fault as I didn’t realise how long some suppliers needed for delivery!

I think most things that have an ‘eco’ or ‘green’ label tend to be more expensive, and we were already on a tight budget so I think that was the biggest expense. For example the recycled paper was more expensive than non recycled.

I wanted fair trade, organic material for the bridesmaids’ dresses, in the colour I wanted, but couldn’t find any in time. In the end I opted for non fair trade or organic material, but got the dresses made locally.

What was the most fun bit?
The “I DO”!

Lizzie & David's wedding - horse and cart

The sweetest thing that one of the guests did when they returned their invite was to write: “In the spirit of the day we are recycling the envelope” on the envelope when they sent off their reply!

There were too many “best bits” of the organisation to go into detail…pressing the flowers I had grown and watered all year for the wedding invites, being on a beach in Exmoor on a cold summer morning collecting stones for the place settings, then spending time writing everyone’s names on the stones in gold, painting all the glass night light holders for the favours, printing off all the invites, researching eco wedding ideas and all the emails backwards and forwards to people giving advice and pointers!

Lizzie & David's wedding - place settings

How did it go on the day?
It was very green – it rained!! After that, everything coming together great. The meal tasted wonderful, the bridesmaids’ dresses were beautifully made, the flowers were gorgeous, and everything was just perfect!!

What would be your 5 top tips for brides and grooms planning an ethical wedding?

1. Lots of online research and networking. Take advice from those that have been there and done it – that’s the best advice you can get!

Lizzie & David's wedding - under the umbrella

2. Don’t be worried about letting some things slide, doing your best is the best you can do. If what you want doesn’t exist then don’t panic. Don’t go beating yourself up about it if you can’t get your favourite flower organically grown by a local supplier out of season!

3. Be prepared for a lot of phoning around and walking up and down Oxford Street (or your local equivalent!) for hours trying to find something you want.

4. Be prepared that things will probably cost more. Organic food IS more expensive than non organic food, and not all venues will use organic or fair trade produce. But do ask! Some venues will order in boxes of organic wine or fair trade tea and coffee if you ask them to.

5.Enjoy it! Most people only get married the once, so make the most of the fun you can have looking through swatches of organic silk for your wedding dress, and don’t worry that your mother would still rather you bought that meringue you tried on in the local wedding dress shop!