Before you do anything else, draw up a budget. Decide what you want and can afford to spend – and stick to it. While we hear that the average couple is now spending a cool £20k on their wedding plans, many brides and grooms I speak to are setting their budgets under £10,000. If they can do it, you can too! But don’t forget to give yourselves a contingency too – just in case there are any last minute expenses. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Wed For Less
Here are ten ways to make your magical day more affordable and sustainable.
1. Frugal floral
Don’t get frantic about wedding flowers – what about a pot plant on each table rather than the traditional cut flowers? You’ll save money and you can give the pots to your guests as gifts at the end of the night!
2. Charity Shop Chic You can find beautiful ethical wedding dresses at very reasonable prices from charity shops. Many have dedicated bridal departments, or try a vintage boutiques. See oxfam.org.uk. A local dressmaker might be able to customise your mother’s wedding dress to suit your taste. Eco-fashion is becoming more and more popular with fashion students; see if you can find an up and coming designer to dream up a totally unique wedding dress from eco-friendly fabrics. Of course, you can save even more by making it yourself. Make it a dress you can wear again. In the past, brides chose a gown that would serve as their party dress and Sunday best.
3. A Cake to Remember Whether you are looking for a pop-up vintage tea shop, complete with Victoria Sponges, lemon drizzles and the best carrot cake you will ever get your mitts on, or a three tier wedding cake bedecked with fresh flowers, the Tea Set can help. All homemade and where possible with locally sourced ingredients.
Award winning wedding cake designer Celeste makes beautiful bespoke cakes using only the finest organic, fairtrade and free range ingredients and products to ensure her cakes taste as good as they look
A beautiful, bespoke service which will add a magical touch to weddings and special occasions. Amy Swann’s passion is creating wonderful memories through designing and sculpting celebration cakes using local and fair trade ingredients.
4. Green Invites Either get creative online with an e-invite or make them yourself using recycled paper and card; try ethicalsuperstore.com for a selection of recycled stationery.
5. Eat ethical Opting for organic food you can expect to pay a little more. However, if you have been able to keep costs down in other areas, perhaps you can afford to be abit more extravagent here. Talk to different wedding caterers and ask them what they can achieve on your budget. It may be that a combination of organic and locally-sourced produce with fair trade tea and coffee is the way forward. Of course, another option for the alternative wedding is to get family and friends involved in the catering. The general rule seems to be the more hands-on you can be, the cheaper and greener it is! As for wine, you can buy wholesale from local English vineyards or find fair trade and organic wine at vintageroots.co.uk and vinceremos.co.uk.
Locavore Alice cooks up seasonal, locally sourced food. She caters for weddings up to 80 people and also runs a pop-up restaurant in her lovely London home, which is available for private bookings for Hen and Stag parties.
Easy Gourmet takes inspiration from each season and looks for suppliers producing fresh and local food. They have a wide variety of menus including a UK-sourced ‘pie and mash’ menu, and a collection of vintage china.
Miss Tea are totally different caterers who provide a unique, wholesome and passionate approach to outside catering. They harvest, gather or catch many of the ingredients from the Cornish countryside, making much of their food truly sustainable and seasonal, with its traceability down to a patch of hedgerow, field, river or rock.
6. Gift List If you’re setting up home, try a green list to furnish your nest with fair trade and eco-friendly items. It’s also a sneaky chance to introduce your guests to some gorgeous green products. If you have all you need, the charity wedding gift list is the obvious option. Your guests can fulfilfulfill their urge to give, and your chosen charity reaps the benefits. Everyone wins.
7. The Venue One of the main expenses for any wedding is the venue, so if you don’t have the luxury of a big garden to host the event at home (and sadly most of us don’t!), why not try your local village hall or a farmer’s field to pitch a marquee? This way you don’t get yourself tied up in a costly wedding package and can keep an eye on items where spending can get out of control. The most important thing when choosing your venue is to ask questions. Ask if the owners of the venue are: recycling, conserving water, using renewable energy, supporting local suppliers etc. Even if they aren’t now, you’ll have given them something to think about. Try to find a reception venue close to the ceremony venue (or have both events in the same place) and near public transport to cut carbon.
Where to go
Cornish Tipi Weddings, Cornwall. ?Do something different and have a romantic woodland wedding.
Fforest, Pembrokeshire?. This is the perfect place for a green celebration. Humanist weddings take place in the giant hat tipi, and the delicious menus are locally sourced.?
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall. ?Have an eco-chic wedding at this hotel that prides itself on its green policies, there’s solar panels to heat the outdoor pool, waste-reducing initiatives and staff and guests help to clean up the local beach every season.
Battlesteads Hotel, Northumberland?. This charming 18th-century farmhouse has just won a responsible tourism award, and even grows all its own food.
Doddington Hall, Midlands.? Sustainability is at the heart of Doddington Hall’s ethos. Food is local, seasonal and sourced from the venue’s two-acre kitchen garden, and there’s even a carbon neutral wood-chip heating system.
8. All dressed up Choose from one of these ethical brands for the most perfect dress
Minna is one of the leading ethical brands in the UK.They recently launched their wedding collection; all designs are made in London using UK made lace, recycled, sustainable and locally sourced fabrics. Minna also produces a children’s collection, perfect for bridesmaids and flower girls.
Romantic bridal wear designed and made in Cornwall from Anna d’Souza. Choose a made to measure, customised dress from Anna’s sample collection or a unique and bespoke gown. Dresses can be made using organic silks, hemp silk satin and bamboo silk with organic fabric linings.
Jessica Charleston designs and makes bespoke wedding dresses in her Bath studio, using natural fabrics. She also collects vintage gowns and specialises in transformations. With the leftover fabrics she makes unique flower girl dresses.
9. Plucky hens Babes in the Wood provide beautiful wild accommodation for hens in Devon or The Malverns. Set within 300 acres of mixed woodland, a roaring camp fire and champagne await your party. You’ll stay in luxury Californian dome accommodation, and get treated to cream teas, massage and storytellers.
10. If the ring fits
Eco Wood Rings offer beautiful, handcrafted rings, lovingly carved from salvaged and sustainably grown wood. Their unique, ethical designs aim to capture the warmth of the natural materials.
The original Fairtrade jeweller, CRED create wedding rings from certified Fairtrade gold, and engagement rings with fully traceable diamonds.
Mahailia is a bespoke jewellery service based on the west coast of Scotland who provide wedding, engagement and commitment rings and are passionate about ethics and the environment, using 100% recycled precious metals.
Ethical jewellers Oria create beautiful, contemporary wedding rings, engagement rings and wedding jewellery using ethically sourced gold, silver and gems. A bespoke service is also available.
And an extra, bonus tip for good measure!
11. Honeymoon Choose somewhere closer to home and take time to savour the delights on your doorstep. See organicholidays.com for romantic cottages and hideaways in the UK and abroad. If venturing further afield, don’t forget the train: you can reach France in a couple of hours and then get a high speed connection into Spain, Italy, or Germany. Or take a ferry to Belfast, Brittany or Bilbao. See seat61.com for details of overland and sea travel. If you do take to the skies, make that flight count by going somewhere your tourist money can really make a difference to the local people and environment – direct it towards conservation efforts and community development. Responsibletravel.com has many ideas.
So it is possible to get married on a budget and still maintain your ethical values and sense of style. Good luck!
The beautiful imagery for this piece is from Oscha Slings – pictures of one of their customers wearing a ring sling on her wedding day.
Katie divides her time between ethicalweddings.com and her work as Online Communications Coordinator for Action for Market Towns