The ethical wedding

Published date: 23rd January 2019

Though it’s still far from mainstream, we’ve noticed a very discernible trend over the last five or even ten years of couples being very concerned to make their big day what could broadly be described as ethical. There’s a lot of crossover with the concept of green weddings that we looked at some time ago, and (for some people) with the vegan wedding covered recently, but the ethical wedding has some significant differences with both.

A wedding website is not the place for detailed philosophical discussions about the nature of ethics (sighs of relief all round). To put it simply, what people seek when planning an ethical wedding is not to benefit from or be the cause of harm to others and to the planet. It’s a simple idea, but the consequences in wedding planning can be profound.

Take for instance your budget – a Bridezilla who pressures parents’ or her own and her partner’s finances beyond what is comfortable is causing harm. On a more detailed level, the reported exploitation of workers, and the overuse of pesticides by some suppliers of cut flowers can influence thoughts on your bouquet, flowers at the ceremony and reception, even down to boutonnieres! For flowers then the ethical choice may be to use locally grown (preferably organic) blooms. As a sideline on that, to show how complex these matters could become, using silk flowers instead of natural ones brings in another quandary – when most silk is made the silk worms are killed by the process, so the ultimate ethical choice would be buying what’s known as ‘peace silk’, where the worms are allowed to vacate their cocoons before they’re used.

Clearly the same thinking applies to silk dresses, ties and goodness knows what else. But it’s not just silk – the cotton grown in many places has damaged the environment and continues to do so, and the treatment of workers can again be open to question. And man-made fibres like polyester are oil-based, with everything that implies.

And jewellery doesn’t escape the net. Avoiding so-called blood diamonds has become more and more important for brides over recent years, though thankfully there are numerous sources of ethically safer gems; and as you’ll hopefully wear your gold bands for the rest of your life, many couples look for gold that has been mined with the minimum possible damage to the Earth.

Omnivore, vegetarian or vegan is your own personal ethical choice, but whatever the food you plan you may wish to talk to the caterer about sources as well as sauces. Unless you’re doing it yourself, of course.

To avoid you spending your life checking out every supplier and supply route, having your brain nearly melt, and worst case scenario walking up the aisle naked before eating dandelion leaves picked from your garden, we’d make a few simple suggestions as signposts.

Firstly, Fairtrade and its equivalents are very reliable as regards clothing, food, drink and numerous other consumables. Fairmined, for example, is a good short-cut to finding ethically acceptable gold; and the ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining) is another.

Secondly, re-use is the best form of recycling. You can’t do that with your wedding breakfast menu, but you can with clothing and jewellery to name but two things – and vintage dresses can look fabulous and cost pennies!

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if not every single detail of your big day is one hundred per cent certified pure and untainted. What’s important surely is to make an effort. And towards that end, why not have a charitable element to your wedding too – a collection on the day, perhaps?

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