Sometimes organising a wedding can feel like being on a rollercoaster ride of consumption and you're left feeling a little queasy! But it doesn't have to be. Take back the reigns and design a wedding that aligns with your values, treading with a light environmental footprint, and supporting businesses that are making a difference...
Re-use - join an online group like Facebook's 'Recycled Wedding NZ' - buy and sell everything wedding related to reduce those one off purchases that end up in cluttering your parent's garage and then landfill, and as a bonus save some dosh. And no, no one will wear that bridesmaids dress again sorry!
Wine - source your vino from vineyards that really value sustainability. Here in New Zealand we are spoiled for choice - with companies and vineyards like Ata Rangi, Yealands, Pernod Ricard and Rippon Wines.
Food - use caterers or restaurants that are committed to using local, organic produce and serving their communities. This may take a phonecall or two, to weed out those who think this means just having a herb pot out back from those that are really committed to serving up more sustainably. Wellington caterers www.seasoned.co.nz are one example of people who go that extra mile taking their commitment to food to helping out those in need in their community, is worth every penny you spend.
Good gifts - If you're tying the knot a little later in life many of you will already have enough stuff, so skip the gift registry and pick a project you would both love to see happen and ask guests to contribute -through www.oxfam.org.nz you could start a community business or provide safe water for 1000 people. That's got to be better than the 8 salad bowls you were going to get right?
Partner up - find suppliers that support a good cause. As a wedding photographer it's not a big challenge to operate with a small footprint, but we wanted to help promote a cause bigger than just getting our bills paid, so we teamed up with The Loyal Workshop, a kiwi founded social enterprise in Kolkata, India helping women get out of sex slavery by giving them new skills and employment. See www.theloyalworkshop.com for more details.
Reduce - don't just do it because your mum or the latest bridal mag says it's a good idea. Do you really need to supply everyone with tiny plastic bags of a cutsey momentos that no one really wants?
Sustainable rags - we love ReCreate Store's simple, classic dresses that partner with community development in Cambodia - see www.recreatestore.co.nz for dresses that would definitely be worn again. Alternatively if your are looking for something truly unique consider decking out your bridal party with some of New Zealand's best and brightest sustainable designers like those featured in New Zealand Eco Fashion Week.
What else would you add to this list?
(I wrote this article for the New Zealand Herald awhile back - there are so many decisions to make when you're planning a wedding, and it can be really overwhelming, but there are slowly more and more options becoming available for some of those choices to support awesome business models and light weight footprints - some can be tricky depending on where you're having your wedding, New Plymouth and Auckland vary significantly in what they offer along these lines, but some suggestions are pretty universal and just take a bit of planning. A few years later I'd add to this list that you should definitely check out the 'Good on You' app for ideas for ethically sourced bridesmaid and wedding dresses.
Also, our business now support Against Malaria Foundation with 10% of our revenue going towards this awesome charity - check out why we choose this charity here.)