The average wedding costs £15,925 and the traditional wedding list is usually indicative of the consumer culture in which we now live, but it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to organise a simple wedding in your own back garden, food and drink provided by friends and family, small donations made instead of gifts, a recycled or handmade dress for the bride and hired suits for the men. There are two aspects to getting married; the legal and the spiritual. Once the legal requirements of two witnesses and your signatures are sorted out, that leaves the spiritual aspect to you and your partner so you can weave a magical ceremony.
Green wedding list
Starting with the ubiquitous wedding lists there are many ways that you can seal your love with a big green day. Choose a charity gift list and you and your partner might be the lucky recipients of a camel for the Nomadic tribes of Ethopia. Hilary Blume of Good Gifts says that more and more couples are realising the benefits of choosing ethical gifts “We’ve only been going for a couple of years and have already had over 200 wedding lists.” Even celebrities are getting in on the act. Fashion designer Stella McCartney asked guests to plant trees for her wedding to Alisdhair Willis in 2003.
“Support local businesses where possible to ensure that your wedding has the lowest possible impact on the environment.”
Romance is alive
Sometimes choosing green means opting for the more romantic option. For example candles can be used to light your wedding venue and create a dreamy ambience rather than relying on electricity guzzling lighting. Hiring a horse and carriage is a wonderful way to travel and avoids unnecessary CO2 emissions. Going green does not have to incur more expense and in fact ethical often means lower financial costs as well as environmental ones. When it comes to the honeymoon, green couples might choose to take a working break to help out on an environmental project or an organic farm. If some rest and relaxation is in order after all that planning, there are some beautiful places to be discovered in the UK, avoiding air travel and the ensuing carbon emissions.
Looking for the right ring is a minefield, literally. Gold is often extracted using a highly toxic chemical, cyanide, which is harmful to humans and the environment. There is a relatively new project in Colombia where indigenous people are involved in low impact harvesting, such as panning. Alternatively, a local craftsperson might be able to source gold from Wales or Scotland. This also ensures that your money stays in the local community rather than furnishing a major jewellery chain. Most jewellers are now offering conflictfree diamonds as an alternative to gems that have been mined in areas controlled by armed forces or in the midst of brutal wars, such as those in Angola and Sierra Leone. Fair Diamonds is a fair trade company based in Germany which sources the stones from a co-operative in Lesotho.
When choosing a venue, perhaps you want to marry in your special place, in a sunlit glade in the woods, on the seashore in the moonlight or up a mountain. You may choose an exuberant party to commemorate your love for one another or wish to enjoy a time of stillness and peace with your friends and family. Couples will want to choose a service according to their religious beliefs and values, but if you do not follow a religion, a humanist ceremony offers a viable alternative. Humanists believe in the potential of humans to live happy, fulfilled lives but do not worship a particular God. This ceremony, which can be tailored to your specifications, is not legally binding so it is necessary to marry in a registry office first. It can be held in your back garden, on the beach or in the forest and might include poems, songs and readings of the couple’s choice. For more information, contact The British Humanist Association, who will be able to advise you on celebrants in your area.
Paganism is in essence a feeling of oneness with the natural world. It is believed that a respect for the earth is a necessity for survival and celebrations are based around the cycles of life and nature. A traditional pagan wedding is held in the open air, perhaps in a field, stone circle, garden or woodland. A priest or a priestess might conduct the service, although there will be many other interpretations as there are so many forms of paganism. A hand fasting ceremony is an ancient tradition where the couple are betrothed for a year and a day although many partnerships these days are choosing to hand fast for life. A celebrant will help to construct the ceremony.
Involve the whole family
Many couples these days are not following the set pattern of getting married before having children so if you are planning a wedding that involves your kids too, you are part of a growing trend. And for children, watching their parents exchanging vows and celebrating their love for one another can be an empowering experience which lingers long after the last slice of wedding cake is eaten.
For more inspiration on having a green wedding read Green Wedding Ideas or for an article on how to go green and save money on your wedding day see Something Borrowed in Issue 24 of The Green Parent magazine. Or find our complete Guide to Green Weddings in Issue 11. Read all of these issues and more with our digital subscription which gives you a year of magazines plus access to back issues online.