Real ethical weddings

Phil and Jenny's ethical wedding

Phil and Jenny

The couple: Phil and Jenny Larby
Wedding date: 15 March 2008
Venue and location: Sindlesham Court, Berkshire
Approx budget: £10,000

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?
Phil and I have always tried to be ethical shoppers and energy savers. When Phil proposed to me at Everest Base Camp, one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world, we decided to make our wedding as green as we could.

We are also part of a local fair trade committee and our work there provided lots of inspiration for fair trade food and dresses!

What was the most difficult part about organising an ethical or green wedding?

The catering was the hardest thing. With a very small budget and a large number of guests (close to 200 people) we didn't have many venue options - and the budget menu was our only choice!

Organic and fair trade wedding cake

However, the chef did allow me to contact the meat supplier and request British meat, and we did make the wedding cake ourselves from Fairtrade, organic and local ingredients. So we did have some green food!

What was the most fun bit?
All the organising was fun because we involved so many people we knew and did so much borrowing and improvising. But the highlights for me were organising my free-range hen party, and going to the fittings of my bio-sustainable silk wedding dress, which was made by Wholly Jo.

Jenny and Phil's ethical wedding
How did it go on the day?
It went really, really well. Lots of people told us how much they enjoyed it and how impressed they were with the green aspects.

I think a lot of people were surprised that it was a reasonably conventional wedding as well - I had mentioned our green efforts in the invites, and I think this led some people to expect that the wedding would be, as one guest put it, ‘weird'. That guest was pleasantly surprised and told me so.

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

  • Wedding shoes from Oxfam
    Charity shops are the best thing for brides. I got my shoes from Oxfam. You are helping a charity, saving things from landfill AND saving yourself loads of money! And of course most bridal stuff in charity shops has only ever been worn once.
  • Don't beat yourself up if you can't do everything. I sometimes had to be careful not to turn into a militant green! Be proud of the things you can do. I found that encouraged family and guests to get involved and think of green improvements of their own.
  • Ebay is great if you want silk flowers.
  • If you're organising car-shares or minibuses, book it several weeks before the day! Our minibus plans failed because all the minibus companies were booked up by the time we rang them. It was a shame because most guests were really up for it - it's great for people who want to drink of course!
  • Enjoy the planning and involve your friends and family. They will love it too and are much less likely to be worried about your green plans if they are involved.

Read all Jenny's posts about her ethical and green wedding plans