Real ethical weddings

Ria & Dave's green wedding

Ria & Dave

The couple: Ria & Dave
Wedding date: 14 June 2008
Venue and location: A field in Hailsham, East Sussex!
Approx budget: £9K

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?
Trying to live responsibly is really important to me and to Dave. Neither of us wanted our celebration to have caused some kind of injustice or damage to the environment; it just doesn't fit with us, especially for something so special as getting married.

It was a natural process to want to have an ethical wedding, the central theme being to try to keep the event's carbon footprint as low as possible. Everything we used was selected on the basis of whether we could use it again and its long term relevance to our day, and we tried to use things that contributed a positive difference.

All the unnecessary trimmings were dumped! We tried to use as many local items as possible like a Sussex trug for our nigella confetti (which is now used for collecting up our veg) and using pebbles for people's name places (now sitting in our plant pots as decoration and to help stop the plants drying out!).

It really made us and our family and friends think around each aspect of our wedding and come up with alternative ways of looking at each bit, whilst having a laugh at the same time.

We all learnt a lot from the experience, it's been brilliant seeing how many people have incorporated various lifestyle changes into their lives since the wedding.

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

Ria & Dave's green wedding

Getting hold of the information. Everything was found through internet searches and word of mouth. I really got into researching all the specific elements, but it took a long time. I have to admit I spent a lot of time searching for things when I should have been working!

 

It took a while to find a florist who was really keen to use locally grown organic seasonal flowers. There are several flowers that have significance to Dave based mainly on silly things like our first campervan being called Nigella - hence the Nigella confetti - to our love of walking in the countryside, so all the hedgerow plants and verge side grasses in my bouquet.

A really imaginative florist, Viva Verde sourced and arranged all the flowers, which looked absolutely stunning. They spent a long time sourcing all the bits using local collectors and garden growers to a lady in Wales who grows wild British flowers in her garden.

We filled up people's cars with flowers when they left to take home and hung some up round the house to dry afterwards. Looking a little shrivelled now though!

What was the most fun bit?

Ria & Dave's green wedding

Marrying my lovely Dave and realising that despite my worries of looking like a 1950s debutante, when I would rather be in my wellies actually feeling amazing in my locally made dress on the day.

 

The best bit leading up to the wedding was probably trying out loads of local foods and scouring all the information we could find on affordable ethical rings.

Finding the right jeweller meant checking out lots of different companies working in fair trade gold and conflict free diamonds. We became totally absorbed by the whole jewellery industry and all the confusion surrounding conflict free diamonds.

It actually became really interesting, a whole new world opened up to us and we met some amazingly talented jewellers really helping poor communities improve their lives.

I went for a lovely bling Moissanite stone in the end, a laboratory made mineral which exists naturally but in tiny quantities mainly in meteorites. Ingle and Rhode set the stone in fair trade gold and did a smashing job.

On the day it was great seeing the young, old and traditional getting into the spirit of the day, enjoying the food, dancing to the eastern European music (wow watch those old ladies strut their stuff!) and standing round the briar at night in the Kata tents drinking Fairtrade wine and getting to spend the time with all the people you don't get to see enough of.

How did it go on the day?

Ria & Dave's green wedding

Fantastic! We worked with an amazing couple from VegOut who produced an incredible mezze using local and organic foods for our guests. My Nan thought that she was going to go hungry when she saw the menu, but soon tucked into her babaganoush and local goats cheese tart.

The wine was all bought from a local firm specialising in organic Fairtrade wines at a surprisingly low cost, which was a relief.

I think the cake caught most people's eyes and noses. It seemed sacrilege cutting into this mound of dark chocolate shavings with twigs stuck in. The cake company were brilliant; all of the ingredients were locally sourced or fair trade and organic. The cake stand was made from a slice of tree trunk, which we have now turned into a small table for the garden.

We ate in three giant hat tents strung together in the garden, which took everyone's breath away and I think some people might have slept in them. Beautiful World Tents, a really inspiring environmentally aware company from their office policies to their carbon footprint awareness, supplied the tents.

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

  • Don't be put off by people who work in the wedding industry saying you can't get certain items or equipment from green suppliers or from ethical sources. The internet is your best friend!
  • Compromising doesn't mean you have failed to be ethical - be realistic and don't expect to be able to do everything you'd like to.
  • It's your day, so do it how you want to, no matter what comments you get from the traditionalists in your family or else where. Everyone's ethics vary, what is important are what you as a couple want. Everyone will absolutely love it, promise!
  • Get people to help out, family and friends are always hugely honoured to get asked. There is probably a cake guru, cellist or fire eater among them, keen to show off their talents.
  • Whatever happens on the day you are going to have an incredible time. Just savour each moment because it goes so quick.

Read more real ethical and green wedding stories