Planning an ethical wedding can seem like a daunting task. Add in a wedding to the mix and the stakes just doubled. It’s so easy to throw everything out the window with wedding planning (especially with all of those Kmart wedding hacks on Pinterest!) but if ethical living in a big part of your life, it only makes sense that your wedding would reflect that!
Why Should I Have an Ethical Wedding?
People are waking up to realise that unfortunately much of the world is built on the exploitation of others.
This is why ethical living is growing to be so important to so many people. From cheap labour in dirty factories, to unsustainable worker wages and environmentally taxing production and consumption. Have you thought of how your wedding dress was made? Was it made by cheap, slave labour in India or made by people being paid a living wage?
Are your wedding favours cheaply made gimmicks or are they sustainable, useful or not there at all?
How about the food you’re serving? Do you know if it was grown organically or made with harmful chemicals with unsustainable farming practices? Are the workers paid a living wage? (Thankfully, many ethical businesses will do this research for you and tell you all this information pretty freely!)
It’s overwhelming to think about everything right?! There are so many domino pieces in the whole process. It’s important to remember that no wedding is ever going to be 100% ethical. Just like no person can ever live a fully ethical lifestyle.
But don’t panic! By choosing the right vendors and doing your research, an ethical wedding isn’t entirely out of reach. Read on for my 10 tips for planning an ethical wedding.
Buy from ethical brands
The best way to have an ethical wedding is by doing your research and buying what you need for you wedding from certified ethical brands. By buying ethical you’re supporting garment workers, farmers and makers with a living wage and safe working conditions.
I have written out list of ethical wedding dresses, jewellery and wedding attire to help you find your best ethically made wedding outfits.
When in doubt, rent
When you don’t have access to an ethical version, rent it from a wedding hire business instead. Renting also saves unnecessary waste (ie it’s more sustainable!)
Choose vendors that have ethical values
When you choose vendors that ethical values align with yours, you can know that your money is going towards a more ethical lifestyle. For me, when my couples book me, their money is helping me to support more ethical brands that I use in my personal life which in turn, trickles down to people who will be working and creating for a living wage.
Choose vendors that are paying themselves properly.
Because ethical payment doesn’t just apply to those making our clothes, it also applies to sole traders who need to make a living wage themselves.
It’s so easy to want to go with the cheapest anything and everything when it comes to your wedding. I get it! Costs add up and you’ll want to cut them anywhere you can. Does it matter if the photographer is only charging me $600 for a full day, second shooter and an album? Their choice right? What a deal!
Well…yeah it kind of does matter!
Imagine someone asking you to work for half your salary for the same amount of work at your job. You wouldn’t be very happy about that right? You’d probably start struggling to pay your bills and wouldn’t be able to buy the same amount of groceries each week. This is because, you wouldn’t be receiving a living wage anymore!
Someone paying themselves $600 for a full day is nowhere near making enough money to live on. By paying more, you’re supporting ethical wages for local vendors and supporting a healthy wedding vendor industry. What would happen if everyone was only booking $600 wedding photographers? There wouldn’t be any experienced, quality photographers any more because they wouldn’t be able to sustain their businesses!
If you want, ask your vendors to break down exactly what their costs are so you can see how much they’re ACTUALLY making. If it’s not much, move onto someone else who will be charging enough to cover a living wage for themselves and anyone else who works for them.
Having an ethical wedding is possibly going to cost you more in some places, but you can be sure that you’re supporting vendors by paying them at the very least, a living wage.
Consider A Vegan Menu
Vegan food is THE BOMB!! As veganism has grown, vegan food has pushed limits and created new and exciting ways to enjoy food without the animal products. There are so many options and SO MANY choices now! And when it’s made by professional chefs, it’s even better!
From dumpling stations to full on vegan meat roasts, choose a good vegan spread and even those hard core meat eaters will be digging in 😉
Find an ethical venue
An ethical venue? Whaaattt? What even IS an ethical venue?
An ethical venue can be one that gives back to the community (maybe a local church or hall) or a venue that directly supports ethical initiatives like The Freedom Hub who have patterned with initiatives to support survivors of and end human trafficking.
Or opt for a black canvas space so you can use your own ethical decors!
Have Your Ceremony and Reception in the same place
We all know that coal isn’t ethical. So reducing our consumption of it as much as we can is super important. Lower your entire weddings fuel consumption by having your entire wedding in one spot instead of having to travel between two venues.
Look into locally made and ethical alcohol
Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) much of the alcohol we consume is actually made with unethical practices. From the farmers, to the distillers, it’s likely that the people making your drink of choice don’t have access to simple rights as workers. Just check out this post from The Fashionable Thinker after emailing Cuervo Tequilla asking about their worker treatment and policies! VAGUE AF right?
Look around for a local business that can serve your guests ethical, locally made alcohol. Not only can you meet the people who actually made your drinks but you can reduce the carbon footprint of them getting it to you as well!
Instead of gifts, ask for donations
Most couples are living together before their wedding and already have the “house necessities”. No one needs another dinner set or another rice cooker. Instead, ask your guests to give money to your favourite charity. Not only will you be lowering your overall wedding consumption, but you’ll be supporting a cause near and dear to your heart.
Encourage guests to stay at eco accomodation
Encouraging your guests to stay at eco accommodation will help to offset any travel they way do to get to your wedding. This could be solar powered houses (removing non-ethical coal), hotels catered with local produce, residences that support ethical initiatives and even low-impact tiny houses!
Use a website like Green Getaways to find eco places to stay!
When your guests spend their money on eco and ethical accomodation options, they’re using their money to support businesses that will in turn, support other ethical businesses. IT’S ALL A BIG ETHICAL CIRCLE!!
Feeling Like You Could Do This?
Hell yeah you can!
As I said at the start of this blog post, it’s not possible to have a 100% ethical life let alone a 100% ethical wedding. But with some thoughtful planning, it’s easy to plan a beautiful celebration of your love while celebrating your ethical values.
By the way, are you looking for an ethical photographer? Well, look no further! Head to my past client galleries to see more weddings and contact me for info on how I can be your wedding photographer!