Real ethical weddings

Jo and Tim

Tim and Jo

The couple: Tim and Jo
When: 10 February 2007
Where: St Thomas' Church Philadelphia, Sheffield and SCEDU, Sheffield

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?

One of the things that brought us together was our passion for campaigning against social injustice mostly through a group called SPEAK.

We both try to live as ethically as we can and we wanted our wedding to reflect that.

We wanted to make sure as far as possible that our wedding day only had a positive, or at least not negative, impact on the environment and people.

Real ethical weddings
What was the most difficult part about organising an ethical wedding?

Accepting the fact that we couldn't source EVERYTHING ethically, partly due to availability, partly coz of timing, though we were super pleased with what we did manage.

Sorting my outfit was actually quite hard... In the end I had to compromise with shoes as the ethical ones I found were too high or just totally out of my price range.

I decided rather than wearing the traditional white shoes, I would go for some that I would definitely wear again, and much to the shock of some people, they were brown!

As my mum said: 'Only you darling!'

I found it hard to source an ethical tiara so in the end used a couple of sparkly clips and borrowed my mum's veil (nothing like a bit of re-using!).

Ethical bridesmaid dress - organic silk
As it was winter, and snowing (!), I needed to find something to keep me warm and after a long search and a lot of thinking, rather than buying something myself I again borrowed a gorgeous wrap from a friend.

Making the dress myself meant I ensured no slave labour was involved, unless you count my mum's frantic help at the end, but it took me ages to find any material and at one point I thought I was going to have to make it out of cotton.

In the end I found Majestic Textiles but I did have to compromise - it turned out to be just organic and not fair trade silk but I figured that was better than nowt!

We used the same silk for the bridesmaids' dresses, which was dyed green and blue by a friend of my mum's. The dresses were then made up by my mum, my old roommate and one of my bridesmaids - I was very lucky to know so many seamstresses!

What was the most fun bit?

Making my own dress! Though it did get a little hairy as I was desperately trying to finish it the week before - praise the Lord for mums!

Learning a salsa routine for our first dance and wowing our guests with it (though I kept catching my feet in my hem which was a little scary!)

For Tim, being involved in the whole process of getting a tailormade suit.

Ethical wedding invites
How did it go on the day?

Considering the ridiculous snow storm we had the night before, it all went swimmingly, with some 300 people attending the ceremony.

Apart from the guitarist from my bro's jazz band getting stuck outside London coz his car broke down (really disappointing especially as we found out my mum was gonna sing us a song!), it all went as planned.

What was really wonderful about the day was how so many of our friends (and family) chipped in with organising (even helping with invites), decorating, baking cakes and serving - it was such a blessing!

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

Jo's ethical wedding dress
  • Find out where others sourced stuff as it can save hours searching!
  • Do as much as you can, after that don't beat yourself up, coz unless you have unlimited money and say 2 years to plan meticulously, you probably won't get everything done ethically.
  • Get friends involved and delegate as much as possible - it makes things less stressful for you and they really value being a part of your big day (unless you're a control freak in which case your friends might end up hating you!).
  • Be yourselves - add those quirky touches that are just you!
  • Remember it's about you and your other half, make sure you have date nights throughout the process where there is NO wedding planning talk allowed - don't lose sight of why you're doing all this stuff!

Some more about where we sourced stuff!

  • My necklace came from People Tree.
  • My bridesmaids wore some gorgeous silver choker style necklaces from a Peruvian based company Achkiy (but the website is offline at the moment).
  • Tim's fair trade cufflinks came from Silverchilli, his tie bar came from F.Hinds, a company which has an ethical stance regarding dirty gold and conflict diamonds, though their products aren't fair trade.
  • Ethical wedding rings
    Our rings (and my engagement ring) came from an amazing company called CRED, who hail from the town I grew up in.
    Our rings were made with fair trade white gold from Colombia and they offer an excellent bespoke service - it's not cheap (what rings are?!) but to know that the rings which will be on our fingers for a lifetime have not caused exploitation, that is priceless.