How to plan a more ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Updated Mar 21 2019
Guest post by Claire Dudgeon  
Photos by: Claire Bemister Photography
How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)
Photos by Claire Bemister Photography

When I was preparing for my own wedding I started thinking: how could we do this more ethically? The very nature of a wedding being a one day event, and in many cases an extravaganza of guests and details and expense, means that inevitably there are waste issues, or worries about whether certain things are "worth it." So, how can we do things more ethically? What should we look for in an ethical supplier? How do we do the very best that we can do?

With these questions in mind, I gathered a group of wonderfully lovely and totally ethical suppliers together, and we challenged ourselves to put together a 100% ethical shoot, with a bit of a twist. Whether you want anything from an industrial wedding or a Mad Hatter vibe, through to boho maximalism, it's all completely possible.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Hair and makeup

Why not look into how your hair and makeup products are made? Toni of Toni Searle Beauty is an absolutely amazing lady who ushers in all things vegan and cruelty free. If you want to know that your makeup and hair styling products are as ethical as possible, then she is THE lady to go to. For this shoot, she gave us relaxed boho hairstyle vibes with a defined eye and natural lip.

How to plan a more ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)
Hair and Make Up by Toni Searle Beauty, Flower Crown and Organic Houmous Crostini with Turmeric Pickled Homegrown Courgette and Nasturian Flowers by Kelmsley Catering & Events

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Floristry

Why not go foraging, or select only seasonal plants to lessen your environmental impact and cost? Jacqueline, from Kelmsley Catering & Events used exclusively home-grown and foraged flowers and foliage in the bouquets, hairpiece, and flower crown that you'll see here (and you can even eat the entirety of the flower crown and coordinating bouquet — it's totally edible!).

Just thinking differently about what you might put in a bouquet could not only save you money, but it can also really help your flowers to stand out, and work with the season you're in. Some of the less expected "ingredients" in this set are scarlet kale and blackberries.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

The Dress

Okay, okay. You care about the world, but actually you want to know you're going to look incredible and just knock it out of the park when it comes to your dress, right? The great news is that to be ethical you don't have to waddle down the aisle in a hessian sack. There are a huge range of phenomenal indy designers out there who not only create the most stunning and varied designs, but they're comfortable to wear (some of the dresses below even have pockets!) and can be customised to be exactly as you want them by the designers themselves.

Plus, you'll have an outfit that is a complete expression of YOU whilst also feeling bridal, and you'll be supporting small independent businesses — whether that's the designer or the boutique stockist as well. These dresses are by Muscat and were kindly supplied by Rock the Frock. If you visit Rock the Frock, you'll see that the dresses are handmade with ethical sources for the fabrics and are drop-dead gorgeous.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)
Vanilla Panacotta with Salted Caramel Sauce, Fresh Berries, Popcorn and Homegrown Edible Flowers, by Kelmsley Catering

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Food

If you get to choose your own catering, there are so many ways to go about doing this. Have you ever considered using it as a way to support small, local independent businesses? And I don't just mean by using a small, local caterer. The emphasis can be on the food itself being ethical. There's the obvious option of vegetarian/vegan menus, but what if you stretched to locally grown or made ingredients? This could come from locally made cheese (like here we used "Organic Brighton Blue" cheese from local suppliers High Weald Dairy and cheese from the organic supplier Godminster Farm), a local butcher who uses local farms (for the carnivores amongst you), or even wine and bubbly from a local vineyard (the wines here were from Bluebell Vineyard and we opted for an English Sparkling Wine as a delicious alternative to Champagne). Jacqueline from Kelmsley Catering & Events elegantly prepared a range of vegan and vegetarian canapés and desserts for this shoot, complete with homegrown edible flowers.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)
Industrial Props courtesy of Perry Hill Antiques, Dress by Muscat courtesy of Rock The Frock

Props and styling

Buying is expensive and feels wasteful, but hiring is pricey, too. Sometimes it feels like the props are all for similar themes. But what if there was an alternative? What about finding all your props or seeking out some styling inspiration from your local house clearance, charity shop, or car boot sale? You might even find somewhere fascinating like Perry Hill Antiques (which coincidentally is where we chose to shoot)!

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

David essentially owns a rabbit warren of an Aladdin's cave full to bursting with undiscovered treasures. Whether you're looking for bathtubs for beers, trunks for cards, endless bottles and ladders and watering cans for decoration, or something more unusual like a vintage hanger for your dress, or picture frames, or trays, or cutlery, or rugs, or door panels… he's got it. Everything, and I mean everything, is pre-loved, and is an absolute bargain. It might need a little extra love to help it blossom, but David is always keen to hear about your plans and can even help you track down something if you have something particular in mind.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Every single prop in the different staging sets below was sourced on the day in the shop, so there's something for every theme or style you could imagine. So, if you want to reduce landfill, recycle, or reuse things you can find at home, in your recycling bin or here at Perry Hill, and then possibly even sell on or donate once you're finished with them! And if you can save money, too, then that's a pretty good bonus.

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

Photography

How on earth can you select an ethical photographer? My approach to this is to not only use my own ethical suppliers (my products are handmade by small businesses, and use ethical and sustainable sources for their materials), but to give my services and time back to the local community several times a year, and to never push a service or product onto a client. This is why I offer two very simple packages, but also hourly rates and individually priced products — people end up with exactly what they want, and that means less waste, and happier people.

You might have your own suggestions for ways to make a wedding more ethical. Could you give plants as favours rather than sweets with plastic wrappers? Could you use recycled paper for your invites, or do your invites online? Could you select an ecologically rated wedding venue? What about confetti choices — recycled biodegradable paper or dried petals?

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

How to plan an ethical wedding (including an edible bouquet!)

  1. That's all pretty interesting. Supporting small, local businesses and having vegan make up and food are solid ways of making a positive difference. Maybe other ideas would be to use renewable energy to power the venue? To choose a venue location that minimises travelling for the greatest number of guests, cutting down on travel energy and pollution? To have the ceremony and reception in one place or within easy walking distance of each other? To not offer plastic straws for drinks? To buy drinks in bulk wherever possible (eg huge cartons of fruit juice) and pour it into glasses as needed rather than having lots of individually-packaged drinks? To compost all food waste rather than it being sent to landfill? To donate leftover food? To give everyone one glass for them to use the whole time (marked in some way) to cut down on energy costs of washing up? To use environmentally-friendly washing up liquid and other cleaning products? To have centrepieces and decorations made from found objects, such as shells, driftwood, pine cones, or interesting stones, that can then be returned to where you found them instead of being thrown away afterwards? There are loads of ways to make big events like this more ethical! Good things to think about!

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