First and foremost, our wedding was a very personal celebration with family and friends. It also happens to be one of the most expensive things I’ve ever done. Which isn’t unusual: Money Saving Expert estimate the average cost of a UK wedding is around £25,000. We tried not to get too sucked into the inevitable pressure to spend more and more. But we also saw our wedding as an opportunity (in the words of Vineeta in a previous blog post) to “put our money in the right hands“. Which, for us, meant choosing small/local businesses where possible; and especially those with an environmentally-friendly focus.
There are innumerable options for wedding dresses, and I particularly liked the Lolita two-piece crop top and high-waisted skirt from ethical wedding dress company Luna Bride. Sadly, I don’t have the figure for a body-hugging, midriff-revealing outfit.
I’d recommend taking a look at Brides do Good. They aim to eliminate waste associated with spending thousands of pounds on a dress that’s probably only worn once by selling relatively affordable, pre-owned and sample designer wedding gowns. And, if that wasn’t reason enough to buy one of their dresses, profits are used to help fund charities eradicating child marriage. (Note: sadly it seems Brides do Good no longer exist).
I’m also a fan of British designer label House of Tammam, who create bespoke ethical wedding gowns – proving that luxury couture doesn’t have to compromise ethics.
But, in the end, I opted for a Roland Mouret dress simply because I loved the elegant, structured silhouette. I couldn’t find any online information about the company’s ethical or environmental policies, which wasn’t ideal. However, this is a dress I’ll wear again (albeit only for special occasions!) so at least it won’t languish in my wardrobe for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I’ll eventually achieve #30wears. (Shoreditch tailors, Orhan, provided last minute adjustments for that perfect fit on the day).
My shoes (Penny t-bar heels, elegant, with maybe a touch of burlesque) came from artisan shoe designer, Tracey Neuls. Local florists Grace and Thorn supplied an understated, stylish wedding bouquet, buttonholes and floral table decorations.
Choosing rings wasn’t easy. We found lots of rings we liked, but choosing an ethical ring we’d want to wear every day for the rest of our lives took time. In the end, we both chose the same design by New York-based sisters, n&a, who work with conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold.
Outfit and rings sorted. As for venues and catering . . .
Partly to keep costs down, we ended up having two separate events. Our ceremony and wedding breakfast were at the Town Hall Hotel, in nearby Bethnal Green. Inviting only immediate family and a few friends meant we could splash out on the wedding venue in a way that wouldn’t have been possible with larger numbers; and a smaller event made our wedding day feel very intimate and relaxed.
But we didn’t want to exclude the majority of our family and friends from our celebration. So, a couple of days later we had a big party at our home.
The Guardian recently reported that over 10% of wedding food is thrown away. Which is kind of understandable; everyone wants to throw a spectacular wedding party, and it’s hard to know exactly how much food you’ll need. Usually we love cooking for friends, but on this occasion we brought in Chefs on the Move so we could just sit back and enjoy the party. We opted for canapés in the afternoon, followed by a cold buffet in the evening, choosing foods which would freeze well to eat later if any was left over (including pies from the Deli Downstairs and British artisan cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy). And my aunt Betty made us a spectacularly tasty wedding cake (no left-overs there …).
Initially we weren’t planning to have a photographer; but we’re so glad we did. James Allan took the photographs used in this blog post, and many more very special images of our wedding and party.
We didn’t want lots of presents. Increasingly we’re opting out of buying and receiving presents generally. So we suggested instead that our guests make a donation to one of our preferred charities: Amnesty International and Help Refugees.
And, finally, I’ve never given much thought to dry-cleaning services; I hardly ever use them. But my dress definitely needed sprucing up by the end of the party. Atif, founder-owner of eco-friendly dry-cleaning company Lagoon, opened my eyes to the toxicity of conventional dry-cleaning methods. He used only environmentally-friendly techniques, without any toxic chemicals, to make my dress look like new again .