Greenbelt 2012

A more ethical wedding

A workshop on organising a more ethical wedding.  I have lots of expertise on the dress and clothing aspects but also the rest from locations, food, flowers etc.  Weddings don't need to cost 20K to be good or use huge amount of resources on things you will never use again.  Some of the best weddings I have been to have been home grown and inadvertently ethical and somehow I have noticed that there is an inverse proportion to the amount spent on the wedding and the longevity of the marriage.  Lots of ideas to take away for wedding planning and other big occasions in our lives.

Saturday at 9.30 am at the Bethany venue


Please note I am not an essay writer and I am a dyslexic so these notes are for your benefit and should roughly follow what was said at the talk but are not an article for publication or something my English teacher would have been proud of.

This talk is not

 

This talk is not a discussion on the rights or wrongs of gay marriage, or 2nd marriages and blended families and their issues or whether, coming to marriage as a virgin is still a goal to be aspired to.  Its not even about the legalities of it whether that’s a marriage under the marriage act of 1949 or 1994 or a Civil partnership.

For the purposes of this talk I’m taking it back to basic.  Marriage being a commitment  between two people to express their love for each other and their intention to spend the rest of their days together. And that this is done in front of their family and friends

 

 

Intro

I am Joanne Mackin.   Born and brought up in Birmingham within smelling distance of British Leyland car plant in Longbridge.  They no longer make cars; it’s a big building site/ waste land levelled for the next phase of its history.

I went to Bristol Poly, a great concrete jungle that’s now the University of the West of England and no doubt looks very different too.  In Bristol met my husband, did a degree and got into Computer training and support.

Moved to London in the early 90’s, did a spot of commuting into Pimlico.

Then I had three lovely daughters. One has just done GCSE’s, one is about to start high school with Asperger’s and one is doing wonderfully in the middle.

 

 

 

Wholly Jo’s

I started sewing early, on the boring days I would raid my mums sewing stuff and a make dolls clothes. When I did my o’levels my needle work teacher wouldn’t let me do the o’level and made me do the case as my written work was not strong enough.  On results day she disappeared in to her cupboard as I came down the corridor. I had got the highest ever marks in the school for the CSE and 8 or so other o’levels to boot.  I made my first brides maid dress when I was 18 for my sister’s wedding  and have been making such things off and on ever since.

When the youngest went to nursery in 2005 I needed something to do. So Wholly Jo’s was born.  A small part time dress making business designed to fit round the kids, to make a little money and stop me going stir crazy.  In the last few years I’ve done all sorts- Old, young, gay, straight, big, small, those going up in size and those going down. The ethical bit was a response to a challenge.  Was it possible to make an ethical wedding dress? Were conventional ones unethical? And what on earth is ethical for that matter?  We will come back to that.

I’m not planning to give you all the answers, just a whole load of questions to think about and get you started on the process. This talk will be available online to look at later and for obvious reasons there are no hand outs except my business card so you can find the online version later.

 

Weddings

Apparently the average British wedding comes in between 15k and 25k an average 18.5k. That includes the honeymoon but not the engagement ring.  My wedding 24yrs ago was a mere £750 and I have to admit that even though I keep pace with the cost of dresses this figure still astounded me.

That’s 18.5k for one day plus a holiday for 2.

With 232,443 marriages in 2009 year that’s a wedding industry worth 4.3 billion a year.  So to put that into perspective,   The guardian recons the Olympics cost 11 billion. 11 billon is also the total cost of policing and security in a year by Home office.

We also had 113,949 in 2009 divorces.  The lowest since 1974.  1/5th of them divorcing for at least a second time.  10.5 people per 1000 married. 

 

As time has gone on I have however noticed that there is a sort of inverse proportion to the amount spent on a wedding and the longevity of that marriage. It’s anecdotal but I do wonder.

My favourite weddings are always the home grown types, where the couple employ the talents of their friends to do as much as possible.  They always seem more personal and more community based where the guests are supporting the couple for the long term not just the day.

Weddings are about community. Jesus went to at least one wedding; they were events the whole community came to.  His first miracle was at that wedding.  Some say his mother embarrassed him into it that she should never have asked him to help. He did and did it well and in so doing forever putting his seal of approval on the institution of marriage.  

 

So what make a Wedding Ethical/Green?

It means different things to different people and its one of the first questions I ask of a bride who asks me to make her green wedding dress.

I’ve made a dress from organic silk, polyester voile curtains, recycled charity shop satin and fair trade cotton and they have all be ethical in the eyes of their owners.

Philosophers will tell there are 3 types of ethics –

Utilitarian or Consequentialism- it the result that matters. Could be used to justify the use of the H bombs at the end of the Second World War. I.e. that they significantly shortened the war saving far more lives than were lost by using the bombs.  Or upsetting the mother-in-law may because you won’t have the lavish ceremony that cost a packet environmentally as well as financially.

Deontology- duty based, rules based e.g. the ethics of Halal meet or the Ten Commandments. You may be using this is your planning a vegan wedding for instance.

Virtue- Moral character of the agent making the decision.  So if you thought about lying it would be the motives and the social context that the person perceived before they lied and not the end result.  So that your desire to have an ethical wedding and the way you go about thinking it through.

In the end what we perceive as ethical is probably a little bit of all three.

--

It’s my experience you can’t do it all but what things might you consider?

Sustainability

Human rights

Fair Trade

Organic

Natural

Ecological

Local

Food/Product/

people  miles

Pollution

Reuse

Recycle

preservation

avoidance

Animal rights

Vegan/Vegetarian

Charity

Natural resources

Profits

Carbon Foot prints

Reduce

In season

Justice

Community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So before embarking on trying to make your wedding ethical, ask yourself: what are your motives and priorities, what things mean the most to you, what will have the most impact, what are your goals?  Make a list and keep referring back to it as you organise each section of your wedding.  This will run alongside your budget. Be prepared to compromise on some things.

Neil and I, all those years ago, questioned everything. We drove the parents mad with our desires to do it our way not just the way it was usually done.  We examined the origins of wedding cake and wrote our own vows.  I didn’t get married in virginal white, which horrified my mother. “What will Auntie Flo say?” she cried. I told her in no uncertain terms that I didn’t care what Auntie Flo said, I knew where I stood and so did Neil. With the benefit of hind sight, I wish I been a little gentler with them. 

It doesn’t mean don’t ask questions just consider their feelings too.  Your parents, family and friends will have expectations of how your wedding should be. Your mum may have dreamed of seeing you in the big meringue in a 400yr old church.  If they don’t consider you properly married they may subconsciously not be able to support you in the same way.

Also don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. As my oldest girl said you would look quite silly walking down the aisle with a potted plant in your hands.

 

So some specifics

Roughly in order of when you encounter the questions

 

Jewellery

Precious metals and precious stone mining are fraught with problems.  Conflict Diamonds, money laundering, toxic chemicals, displacement of people, death, destruction and child labour to name but a few.

For instance Gold mining creates around 30 tons of waste to create an ounce of gold and uses cyanide in the process that leeks into the surrounding area if they are not very careful

So what are the options?

For Diamonds -Kimberley Process certification system was set up in 2003 to attempt to control the problems in the diamond industry. With at least 70 countries involved it’s made it harder for the criminal fraternity.  Canada has the best record on diamonds and Australia for Rubies and Sapphires so if it’s got to be new that might be a good route.

Recycle- Get a local craftsperson, to use your old bits and bobs, to create something very personal and just for you.  Grandma’s old engagement ring reset and restyled?  Look for new rings made with recycled metals

Second hand/Antique.  A lot cheaper than new as you don’t have to pay for all the processing.

Use manmade stones, Cubic Zirconia or Moissanite.

Or even a wooden ring.

 

Use your favourite search engine and do some research.

 

Locations

 

Where to celebrate your marriage will have a huge effect on your carbon foot print.  Miles matter.

If you have a hankering for that remote Scottish Castle and all the guests live in Bristol you have a big carbon foot print.

Traditionally you got married at the girls’ local church and had a reception nearby. This worked as most people were local to the bride as everyone still lived relatively near where they grew up and you married a boy who lived down the next street.

This is no longer the case. I grew up in Birmingham, lived in Bristol and married a boy from Lancashire whose family came from Tyneside.

It makes sense to host your proceeding close to where the organisers and the most guests live.

A lot of you will be considering a religious ceremony considering the demographics of greenbelt and you will be naturally drawn to the place of worship you or your family regularly attends.

Alternatively you are now able to use one of a host of other licenced venues; the world is your oyster as they say.

In 2009 48% of weddings were in Licenced premises, 31.5% in Christian Places of worship, 19% in registry offices and 1.5% in other places of worship.

 

Consider the relative positions of the wedding to the reception. Closer is good.  But you could consider a park and ride affair with them all parking at one and being bussed to the other to make it all more efficient.

 

Things to think of beyond locations and carbon foot prints.

Business Ethics. Particularly if using a big chain ask about the overall ethics of the company. Also keeping it local keeps the profits in the local economy.

Catering.  We will consider food in more detail later but ask about options, recycling, composting. Are there options to share decorations with other wedding parties? Access to set up etc.

Gardens.  How are the gardens managed? Organically?

 

And the weather. British weather is very unpredictable. One of my daughters fancies getting married at the Tree cathedral at Whipsnade, (I don’t even know if you can) She just fell in love with it when we visited it last year.  Loads of mature trees laid out like a traditional cathedral it’s absolutely stunning but what if it rains?    What are the options if the weather just doesn’t play ball?

 

It’s unlikely you will be able to tick all the boxes on ethical and your location at once, in the end get the balance you can live with.

 

Stationery and Communications

 

You may need

Invitations, Ceremony, reception and evenings, Acceptance cards, Bridal note paper, coasters, Favour wraps, favour boxes, order of the day  cards, order of service, Menus, napkins, notepads, Place cards, regrets cards, save the day cards, Table name cards, table plans, Thank you cards. Wedding lists, Maps, lists of hotels, lists of taxi companies, train times etc. Envelopes and stamps

 

In a nut shell online is the way forward. 

 

Consider creating a web site for your wedding and putting as much info as possible on it. There are companies that can do this, get your favourite search engine working again or do it yourself if your able. Later you might be able to add pictures of the big day and the honeymoon etc. Then use email when at all possible.

I know Great Auntie Ella won’t cope but for those that will why not?

For those things that just can’t be emailed make use of as much recycled, none wood based stuff as you can. Use a green printing company that uses vegetable based inks.

Why not get working party together and make your own from recycled materials. There are lots of ideas online.

A friend with a steady hand can write out a lot of the one off things. Like Name cards.

 

Clothing and cosmetics

 

This is where my heart leaps and my creative juices really get going.

The brides dress is likely to be the most expensive outfit that you have ever purchased. Generally you will wear it only once.  Traditionally Dad goes weak at the knees from the cost and the bride’s mother’s breast swells to immense portions with pride, while the bride flutters and frets about it for months. I make the things for a living but I still ask should it really be like this? It’s just one day, no more than 12 hours? But I do enjoy creating them.

Its can however be greener than our worst fears tell us. I know people who have gone down the aisle in a charity store dress that cost less than a tenner. And it does not need to be a creation that would feed a struggling family for a generation. There are sensible alternatives.

A side note.  A lot of dry cleaning goes into weddings before and after.  Do your research and find a greener company.

 

By all means go to a big bridal shop and try a few on to get a feel for it but before splashing out and getting the money out think what else you can do.

Why not find a local dressmaker and using natural un bleached fabrics have one made.  There are some beautiful fabrics out there that have not ruined the environment to make.  Organic fair trade cottons, Vegetarian silks, Bamboo, hemp and so on. Not much is made in the UK any more so it will be imported I’m afraid.  Just having it made locally without it trekking thousands of miles is better than nothing even if it’s pure polyester.

Know what you are taking on with silk.  Silk is made from the cocoon of the mulberry silk moth.  In order to get the best quality silk fibre the silk must be harvested before the moth has emerged so it won’t eat its way through the fibres. Whole its measure bout 1.5km long otherwise about 5cm max. So generally, silk moths are gassed to kill them so that the thread can be collected at its best. Peace or veggie silk is made from the fibres of moths who were allowed to complete their life cycle.

You or a friend or relative may even want to tackle it yourself.  But check your skill level as a good fit is hard without the skills.

 

 

Why not have a second hand one? 

There may be a family heirloom lurking somewhere. Your mothers or grandmothers? I recently saw a post on a blog of a lady who wore a Victorian family heirloom for her wedding it was something like its 6th outing. It was beautifully restored and adjusted gently to fit.

Alternatively friends/sisters/mothers could be restyled to your taste or just the fabric used to create something new. Don’t forget to ask first.

Get one from a charity shop. Oxfam have been building a chain of bridal shops that have stock that has been donated from brides and from bridal houses. Other charity shops do them too.

Use one of the once worn type bridal webs sites or even eBay.  Keep your wits about you I have seen some real shockers from eBay and some really nice ones too. Watch postage charges too.

You could also hire one or share one with a friend

Time to get your search engine working.

A hint on finding a dress maker. 

Don’t just rely on the search engine.  Many are older ladies that are not so computer savvy.  Local fabrics shops keeps list as do some of the sewing magazines as well as the adverts in them.  Yellow pages and yell.com also are good sources.  Get recommendations; see samples of their work both photographically and in the flesh. Get a feel for the person that you will get on.

Also don’t expect it to be cheap.  The average bridal outfit spend is £1500.  That is probably made in the Far East by someone earning £1 a day.

A dress takes around 40 hours to design, make and fit. Would you expected a highly skilled dress maker to work for less than £10-20/hr. so don’t balk when they tell you it will be £400 plus to make plus the materials. You will probably need 20mtrs of fabric which will cost over £10 if not £70/m depending on what you pick.

Some of my favourite web sites

 http://www.organiccotton.biz/store/index.php?route=common/home  -organic and fair trade cottons
 
http://www.aurorasilk.com/index.html   Peace silks

 http://www.thehempshop.co.uk/cat-4.htm  Hemp

I have used them all and been happy with the fabrics but don’t officially endorse them

 

Don’t then leave your dress to gather dust after the wedding.  If you groaned when I suggested wearing your mothers what are the chances your daughter will wear yours?  Clean promptly then give it a new life. Sell it, donate it, lend it or alter it so you will wear it again.  Traditionally brides used to cut it up and make a christening gown from it.

Show some fabric and possibly dresses here

Veils and head pieces

 

An excellent opportunity to borrow, ask around considering the guidelines above and for jewellery in general.

 

Shoes

New ones are all very well but for an event like this a tried and tested pair is best. Try second hand again. And if you buy new get something you will wear again and please wear them in.

There is a growing trend to have a second pair to change into later one friend even had some white trainers lined up.

 

Lingerie

There is a wealth of ethical undies out there. Get your search engines buzzing again?  If you go for a well-made boned dress or corset style you may not even need a bra.

 

Bridesmaids and flower girls

 

All of the above applies but the ability to wear again is crucial. Washable is also very good too.  Consider dressing up simple outfits with sashes and accessories.

 

The men

Unless most of your men where suits regularly hiring is often the best option. You don’t have to hire top hat and tails or kilts.

If you do buy try for natural fibres and fair trade if you can.

 

Cosmetics

I won’t say much just suggest that this maybe the time to make the change to more ethical products. Get your search engine out again. Experiment beforehand.

Gifts

Traditionally the gift list contained a list of practical items that the couple needed to set up their first home. Everything from a pastry brush to a bed.  We have moved on as so many people have lived independently from the family home before they get married for whatever reason they have generally gathered a lot of these practical items already.

 

Most people will however want to give you a gift of some sort to celebrate your marriage.

 

So when creating a gift list, those practical items you may need will tick the boxes of the older generation. You can specify green alternatives on the list too.  There are various companies where you can do online gift lists and a growing selection of green ones. Remember shopping locally is green too so give people the option.  Get your search engines going again.

 

Alternatively you can consider other things.

 

Ask for money. It’s very green. Be specific we would like money for a new three piece suite (hand made by a local craftsman of course) or a piece of original art work. Be specific when you say thank you and tell the giver what you will be spending their contribution on.

 

Ask for a Goat. Many charities do schemes where you buy a goat etc. for a struggling family in the developing world.

 

In a day and age of consumeristic gluttony consider what do I really need?  Do I need to fill my home with stuff?  If people really want to give let them give to something that would make you happy like your favourite charity.  Mine right now might be Hacs (Hillingdon Autistic care and support), the National Autism society, Macmillan or the British heart foundation.

 

 

Turning it around.

 

As part of your wedding you may also want to thank people with a gift. Choose to make these green too.  Use the principles already out lined and make them appropriate.  As that episode of that tv programme ‘Outnumbered’ showed six year olds don’t appreciate a goat they will never see.

 

 

Flowers and Decorations                                                                

 

Air freight miles, pesticides deforestation, pathetic working conditions are all major factors in the international flower industry and unlike food they are far less controlled, in many parts of the world.

So firstly local flowers, in season, preferably grown organically, are your first option.

 If you have a talented friend they may be able to grow you some. They will need a lot of space and time to get it right. Have a backup plan in case we have an unusual summer and the come to flower at the wrong time.  Check the ones that will last after being cut too you don’t want them wilting before you have even sat down to eat.

There are florists that will also give you similar things around so get out your search engine again.

Never use wild flowers.

 

Also consider cutting down or doubling up on flowers. Either liaise with other wedding happening the day before or after or move yours from church to the reception so you don’t use as many.  Consider using them as thank you gifts too so that they will go home and be enjoyed afterwards by someone.

You could get rid of button holes and use bright hankies in the men’s pockets. You could hold just a single flower rather than a large bouquet.  Bridesmaids and Flower girls could have fans or bags.

You can also consider dried and fake flowers or even pot plants that will last much longer. Hire impressive one like topiary even.

Go even further away from flowers and have a sweet bouquet. My mum was given one for her 80th birthday sweets in brightly coloured papers arranged on sticks like a bouquet.  Might make good table decorations, for people to pick on during the speeches.

Candles, pebbles, recycled paper streamers, fabrics, cakes, sea shells are all things that could be used creatively instead of cut flowers.

 

Balloons.  Beware the environmental impact of balloons.  Wildlife deaths from little bits balloon left lying around on land fill or other places is a big problem. Several US states have banned large scale balloon releases for that reason. And that is before you get onto helium

 

And because it doesn’t really fit elsewhere confetti

The conventional stuff is a bit of a no-no. Little more than glorified litter.  Many places have banned it and you do need to check with your venue.

Rice I hear you say. Well it natural but if it gets wet it makes a sticky mess and it’s not good for birds.  How about bird seed? Better but it can be dusty and will attract vermin if left lying around for long.

But if you want confetti what do you do.  Try flower petals but buying ask the same sort of questions about flowers as to where they came from.  Alternatively try Biodegradable confetti in your search engine.

Receptions

This is an area that you can make a big impact.  With the food and the drink you can make a difference.

 

Do not be restricted to a traditional U shaped seating plan and a sit down meal unless you really want that. Take a bit of time out to consider alternatives. In fact back up and consider why you are having a reception in the first place.

You have just made what is one of the biggest commitments of your life and got married. You have probably promised to stay with the person you have married for the rest of your life ‘until death do us part’. You have done this in front for your nearest and dearest friends and relatives and now it’s time to celebrate that fantastic commitment.  Those friends and relatives will want to talk to you and be with you. How many get to the end of the reception and have only talked to the ones just a few places either side of them on the seating plan. So why not think outside the box.  Yes you are probably going to have to feed these guests but does it have to be an elaborate 6 course meal while sat in one of these confounded U shapes table setups.

BBQ’s, Hog roast, Pot luck bring and share. Afternoon tea, Brunch or even canapés.  To name just a few alternatives.

 

Think also about power consumption. Doing it in day light hours will save a lot of electricity.

Crockery – options include biodegradable, recyclable (but make sure it is) or perhaps the best is real stuff washed up. Our wedding was catered by a friend with a crew of helpers from the church. At the end of the meal a fair number of our guests got up and went and did the washing up while the helpers ate their meal. Neil’s Uncle was astounded and touched that the community had done its bit and served each other.

If you are catering for your selves this is not a job for you or your mum etc. alone.  You need someone who has plenty of time both before, during and after to deal with everything. Someone with experience. Don’t forget to provide them with a clean-up crew as well to make sure everything is tidied, recycled, composted and disposed of properly.

 

Wedding Favours

 

Personally I find these over the top unnecessary items. Admittedly cute and fun but in my day you took home the order of service, your place card and a piece of cake as a memento of the day.

Why not abandon them altogether a give a sum to charity instead?

Alternatively, when I’ve stopped being a stick in the mud, consider

Herbs, little plants, red chillies are lovely, tree seedlings, wild flower seeds, sea shells with sweets in, small piece of local pottery, recycle glass ornaments. Candles, biscuits, sweets (local of course), fair trade chocolate, energy efficient light bulbs, something from the Tradecraft/Oxfam or similar catalogue.

Keep packaging to a minimum and try and ensure it is something that won’t be in a bin tomorrow.

 

Entertainment

 

Entertainment has to be thought through carefully.  Getting the balance between power hungry professional discos and amateurs is a careful one to do. ‘Four weddings and a funeral’ is one of my favourite films.  At wedding one you see a cringe worthy duo have stood up and done turn while they sign the register then again at the end of the reception and every one looks a bit embarrassed.

However Discos tend to be very power hungry.  Consider more acoustic options, Classical, jazz or folk may be even a barn dance or ceilidh. May be a few cd’s in the back ground is all you need.  If using friends make sure you know what they will be like.

 

Food

 

The keys here are Local, in-season, Organic and Fair trade.

Whether the caterers come from the venue, you have brought them from elsewhere or you are doing it yourself considering those four categories will go a long way to making the food ethical.

Despite the effects of meat production on the world today, your wedding day is probably not the day to go vegan or even veggie unless that’s your lifestyle already.  Poor Auntie Flo will be complete thrown if served a tofu burger no doubt.  But serving T-bones all-round is probably not the best way either.

Remember people do not need to come away stuffed to the gunnels on food to have a good time.

As for the Cake. Traditional fruitcake was a sign of fertility to aid the couple to go forth and multiply.  You saved the top tear for the christening that was expected to follow within the year.  Also nearly all the ingredients come from the parts of the world where exploitation is rife. So if you go the fruitcake route go fair trade and organic.

There are lots of alternatives out there beyond just a sponge cake so get your search engine started again and go look. It does not need to a 6ft high thing covered in ornate icing.

 

Drinks

Again the keys here are Local, in-season, Organic and Fair trade.  Add also here sustainable. It just takes a bit of effort.

And again they don’t need to be drunk to have a good time either. There are plenty of exciting non-alcoholic drinks out there.

 

 

Photography

Digital Photography has cleaned up this area a lot.  Will a lot more photos just being online and only printing the ones you really need your green foot print will be much better.

 

Traditional photography used a lot of chemicals all through the process and although when printing photos still need some it has been reduced significantly as far as I can tell.

The main bits to now watch out for now are electricity usages with all this electric stuff and a  tendency to be forever upgrading equipment even though most professional photography set up have had very good quality kit for a while now.  Look for good ethical business practice in general when picking you photographer and maybe access to recycled albums and high use of electronic mediums for proofs etc. E.g. Proofs on a memory stick.

 

A few thoughts on using professionals verses Amateurs.

A professional will have backups for everything, spare cameras, batteries, flashes, memory cards etc. even a backup person if they are ill probably won’t be too much of a problem. They will have lots of experience in doing weddings and processing the photos into a very nice looking product at the end but they do cost. In 2009 it was average of £905 for photography.

I come from a family of photographers. My dad was doing his own developing back in the 1950’s.  At our wedding I had one friend who was a semi-professional who took all the classic photos then about 10 other people snapping away. I have a beautiful album of both classic and candid shots of my wedding day. I love it.

If you are thinking of asking a friend to do your photos think it through carefully. Make sure they have the skills and are the sort of person who will do their research and be prepared with spares etc. and they are not a person with other responsibilities like the best man or with small kids.  Talk over all the shots and groups you want and make lists. You might like to find them a mouthy assistant who knows and will round up the people.

Professional or not it’s always nice to have a few good amateurs to be primed to take lots of snaps for you and give you a digital copy of everything later on.

Create a place like, flicker or Facebook or your wedding web sites where every guest can upload there photos and tell all the guests about it.

 

Video

I have a video of my wedding. I love it but I have watched it 3 or 4 times in 24 years.

 

Similar issues apply to videos as to photos but additionally you can end up with hours of footage and have the problem editing down to a reasonable length that people will want to watch.

We had an ex BBC camera man and an ex ITV film editor in the family and still have lengths of footage that have never got to an edited state from various family events.

If you really want a video think this through carefully.

 

Transport

Depending on how you have constructed a wedding you may not need much transport. But many brides do like to arrive in style.

May be stretch hummer is not the thing but there are lots of alternatives

Try LPG or biodiesel run vehicles, or even electric. Hire one for the day and get a friend to play chauffer. 

Why not try a motor cycle and side car, tandem or rick shaw or even a horse drawn carriage or walk.

Many years ago I saw a wonderful procession in France. Bride Groom and 100+ plus others were parading down the high street waving and jubilating on their way from church to reception.  We did it too but have plenty of brollies on hand if in the UK.

A note on horses.  If using make sure it is well trained for ceremonial use, use a reputable company with experienced drivers. You don’t want it spooked by a siren or silly child and charging off, running down half the high street.  A friend’s horse that occasionally pulls a trap may not be the best option.

 

Honeymoons, Hen and Stag parties.

There is a vogue for Hen and stag weekends so I have grouped these together.

It’s always been my option that exotic long hall honeymoons are not really the thing. Save that for next year if you must and after the stresses and exertions of the wedding do for something relaxing, stress free and local-ish.  No language troubles or real risk of health issues.  We did the new forest with a cottage and a thatched roof.  My sister-in-law did Portugal and came home with a rather iffy tummy.

Flying is not very green, if you do you will need to consider carbon off setting, more on that later. Cruise ships are worse

I’m not saying don’t but think local, public transport and see what you can find.

 

For stag and hen parties while not consider some sort of activity weekend close to home that does not involve burning fuel too much. So maybe quad bike are not good but parascending for the adventurous, pottery, spars, pony trekking, etc. 

 

Carbon Off setting

 

I’ve been putting this off.

Your wedding will have a significant carbon foot print. Any large gathering of people will.  How big a one will depend on how you have managed but considering off setting your carbon foot print is a good idea no matter how much you have already saved so far with your plans but it no good saying we will do this cause we can offset it.

The government has dropped it quality assurance scheme apparently due to low take up and there has been a load of bad press particularly a Ugandan incident last September. It is defiantly a very confusing subject.

But buyer beware. Check out the company you use carefully.

Do some research and check for scams with your search engine

This one time to think global, not just local.  It’s called Global climate change for a reason.

A good site will give you tips on reducing you carbon foot print

Will give you specifics on where and what trees are planted and how they are grown and how long before your trees are in the ground.

If the trees are cut down later how will they be used?

Consider a charity (more tax efficient) and nobody draining off a profit.

Consider one with a government or respected organizations backing.

Freebies bumper stickers and certificates are all very well but they have to be paid for so don’t be distracted by them.

Ensure global projects are having a positive effect on local communities. Using local labour, adding to their impoverished communities and not displacing people etc.

 

Some web sites from my research none endorsed just to get you started

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/carbon_offsetting_updated.pdf

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/emissions/co2_offsetting/co2_offsetting.aspx
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110317164921/http://offsetting.decc.gov.uk/cms/approved-offsets/
http://www.puretrust.org.uk/
www.carbonretirement.com
www.carbonfootprint.com
www.clear-offset.com

AND so you begin and I conclude

 

There have been peaks and troughs with the numbers of weddings through the decades.  Unsurprisingly there were peaks at the beginning and end of both world wars, the all-time peak was 1940 with over 470,000 weddings (records from 1862).  Since the early 1970s peaking at 426,000 the numbers of weddings have been falling yet the population has been increasing. 

Weddings are special. A marriage shows a commitment that living together does not seem to quite match. There is a spiritual element of God’s blessing that seems to hold it together as God’s plan.  Divorce and living together has lost a lot of its social stigma which is not a bad thing. I fear that many get married for the party with little concern for the marriage itself.

In ‘four wedding and a funeral’ again at the second wedding the character Gareth played by the wonderful Simon Callow suggests that when a couple gets to the point of run outing of things to talk about, they panics and the chap asks the girls to marry him and then they have something to talk about for the rest of their lives. I’m not sure this is the way it should be. You should be marring because cannot bare not to be married.

So let your wedding be a wonderful celebration of your marriage and your future, let it be ethical and not a huge spending spree for the sake of it. And have loads of fun planning it.

 

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