Love is love the whole world round. Why not get your lifelong commitment started off on the right foot? Pledging your eternal love and devotion for someone probably shouldn’t include strife for someone on the other side of the globe, nor should it damage Mother Earth. With a little careful planning you can begin your marriage celebrating love for each other, love for people around the world and love for our fragile and beautiful planet. Here are a few ideas on how to have a truly ethical wedding.
First things first. You can’t start your engagement with a diamond mined by children, nor a diamond that went to finance bloody civil wars and cruel dictators. Not to mention the extreme environmental toll that mining diamonds and shipping them all over the world has on our planet. What’s the answer? Leonardo diCaprio think it’s lab created diamonds made in the United States created by the scientists at the Diamond Foundry, and we’re inclined to agree. Just as beautiful, just as stylish and perhaps all the more meaningful since you are 100% certain of its history and impact.
Can’t wrap your head around a lab created diamond quite yet? That’s okay, we forgive you. Give it some time and maybe for your second marriage. Just kidding! 😉 If you’re more traditional than scientific we highly suggest going for an antique ring. While you can’t tell its exact past, you are able to give new life to an existing product (how very eco-friendly of you!) and you are only lining the pockets of the antique dealer, not a brutal dictator.
Flowers. Getting married in Austria next October and have bright pink peonies on order for your big day? Hate to break it to you, but those beauties have likely been grown half a world away in Colombia, using questionable sustainability practices, and then gobbling up tons of petrol as they were flown to your exact location. Sound excessive? Now you know why they cost nearly €18/per stem. Talk with your florist about your desire to be ethical! Research locally grown flowers, look up in season flowers and then make the conscious decision to decorate for your wedding using what’s available. (Bonus: donate your flowers to a local nursing home after your wedding is finished.)
Can’t stomach cutting down flowers that are just going to be chucked after one evening? You’re not alone. Eco-friendly weddings don’t have to be all flowers! Think plants in beautiful pottery, charity store china knick-knacks, eco-friendly candles, vintage table linens, recycled paper place cards, thrifted decor, second hand books, etc. Get creative and your guests won’t even notice you’ve cut the flowers from the scene. (Bonus: you can resell or reuse many of these items!)
Your wedding dress should be as unique as you are! And it should definitely showcase the values that are important to you and your future spouse. If you’re looking to go outside the box, think about using reclaimed silk to make your own creation. The folks at Conscious Elegance have your back. Creating one-of-a-kind dresses for every individual bride using either hempsilk or reclaimed silk the artists “repurpose from unwanted dresses which would have eventually ended up in a landfill.” Their values state that using reclaimed silk honors the initial sacrifice of the silk worms as well as honors the original laborers who made the silk. Pretty cool.
Meat? Not at your wedding! Dairy? Not here! Your values = your wedding. If being a friend to the animals is important to you and your future spouse, it should be showcased in your wedding. You don’t have to make a big fuss around the fact (or maybe you want to! You do you!) but serving an entirely vegan menu is not only possible it’s becoming more and more popular. So skip the prosciutto canapes and serve up an elegant celery soup shooter. Pass on the lamb chops and pass out the pesto pasta! Delicious and ethical.
Not a vegan, but definitely want to know where your food is coming from? Talk with your caterer about ethically sourced meat, fish and vegetables. Make sure you’re serving a locally soured meal from sustainable farms and fishermen. So swap the factory farmed fowl for sustainably sourced seafood!
It might sound simple, but try to keep your wedding and reception in one place. This will help keep excessive decorations to a minimum and keep guests from using their cars to travel longer distances. Bonus points if you can hire a shuttle to take all your guests from a central hotel/location to your wedding – public transportation made wedding transportation cuts down on your wedding’s carbon footprint, not to mention might save a pal or uncle from driving under the influence.
Set up composting bins and recycle bins at your wedding. It can be behind the scenes! The compost is great for leftovers from dinner, trashed flowers or organic decoration waste – and then you can use it on your garden in the coming months! And make sure to recycle your wine and beer bottles – easy and green.
Thinking about giving favors at your wedding to your guests? Consider a charitable donation to a cause that is near and dear to your heart instead of purchasing new items. Long after that picture frame has broken your donation to cancer research will be making a difference. Still want to hand something physical out? Try a pack of organic wildflower seeds.
Invitations for weddings can be a massive waste of paper, covered in chemical ink. Consider an out of the box wedding invitation! Ideally we’d all be using online invitations, but if the traditionalist in you screams for something to send through the post go for recycled paper invitations (with as few sheets of paper as possible!) using only vegetable inks. They will look glamorous and traditional without the eco-guilt.
Ready for the honeymoon? Eco-tourism to the rescue! Make sure that wherever you are choosing to vacation that you are making the smallest footprint possible and doing the most good for local inhabitants. Sure, that elephant ride through the Thai jungle sounds cool, but what’s going on behind the scenes? Make sure your visit isn’t perpetuating dangerous, unsustainable practices that hurt communities long term.
Glamorous, fun and happy weddings don’t have to include strife for people, the planet or animals. It’s entirely possible to incorporate your values into your wedding, and really, is there another time in your life when you’d want to highlight them more!? Starting your forever with your spouse should be built on a solid basis of shared values. No better place to go all out than an ethical wedding!
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