What did Amal Clooney, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley’s weddings have in common?
Beyond gorgeous dresses, dashing grooms and celebrity guest lists, all three brides made the choice to hold an ethical wedding.
But what is this ethical wedding trend?
Think Fairtrade dresses, vintage flair and conflict-free diamonds. It’s all of the luxe you want on your big day, but with a couple of decisions here and there to make sure you feel as good as you look.
Here’s how to make like a celebrity in 2015 and get on board the ethical wedding train (you might even save a bit of cash along the way).
Rock an ethical rock
Amal Clooney and Natalie Portman both have ethical diamonds on their ring finger, and you should too.
When buying diamonds, make sure you purchase from a jeweller who can provide you with certification to prove that your diamonds have been ethically mined, and not used to finance third-world corruption.
Alternatively, go for a unique look with a different stone. Pearls, emeralds and sapphires can all look great set in an engagement ring, and they’re sure to attract compliments. Just ask Penelope Cruz, whose ring has a gorgeous opal sapphire at its centre.
Have more than one ‘something old’
‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...’ it’s the rhyme a lot of aunts are going to harp at you as you plan your big day, but don’t be afraid to stray from it.
(And, have you picked up a bridal magazine recently? Rustic and vintage is in.)
Buying things new for a one-time event doesn’t make environmental (or financial) sense. By buying vintage or second-hand items, you will find something unique at a lower price point.
You can then share the love by passing it on to another happy couple for their special day. Or, even reuse it yourself! (Keira Knightley has managed to wear her wedding dress to two subsequent red carpet events - reckon you can beat that?)
And, if you are picking out ‘something new’, make it Fairtrade
To incorporate a Fairtrade mindset into other areas of the celebration, consider sourcing Fairtrade fabrics for the dresses and suits. While Fairtrade wedding dresses are thin on the ground in Australia, online retailers such as Celia Grace and Kendal Leonard Designs have been recommended by In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings as ethical designers that will ship their Fairtrade designs down under. Alternatively, trawl Etsy to find the perfect fabric, design and dressmaker for you.
Fairtrade wedding bands are another unique way to show your commitment to each other. Zoe Pook Jewellery of Sydney is the sole supplier of Fairtrade Certified gold jewellery in Australia.
Opt for money above gifts
ABS stats show that 39% of married Australians lived with their significant other before tying the knot. If that sounds like you, it seems unlikely that you and your partner have lived together without a crockery set, or a toaster, or an iron, or any of the other household items that tend to pop up on wedding registries.
Your wedding will produce a whole lot less waste if you’re upfront with your guests about what you and your significant other actually need. And, often, that’s the money for your honeymoon, or a house deposit. Hey, sometimes all you need is a nice cheque to send off to your favourite charity.
While the trend of giving money above gifts has been around for while, online options are making things even easier with digital wishing wells allowing guests to simply transfer their cash gift into a special bank account.
Your guests don’t have the hassle of present shopping, and you don’t have the hassle of finding shelf space for a third blender; it’s a win-win.
Give your leftovers a good home
No matter how well you thought you liased with the caterer, there will always be food left over after a wedding (especially if you had a dessert buffet - no wedding in history has ever finished one of those). Unfortunately, this food - the ten extra entrees and mains, the extra tier of cake - often goes straight into the bin.
Let your caterer know in advance that you want to donate all leftovers to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, and see if there’s a charity in your local area that can help facilitate this (OzHarvest is a great one).
This way, you cut back on wastage, as well as help those in need.
Pass your blooms on to brighten someone else’s day
Between the bridal party’s bouquets, corsages, ceremony decorations and reception centrepieces, it’s hardly a legally binding wedding if you haven’t spent a pay check on peonies.
But, there are ways to keep your expenditure - and environmental ethics - under control when buying flowers. Opt for Australian native flowers above imported ones, as they are generally cheaper and help support local wildlife and land quality.
(On a superficial note, white waratahs and banksias look gorgeous in a rustic wedding bouquet.)
You should also consider what happens to your flowers after the big day. Many hospitals and nursing homes would be grateful to receive them as a donation.
What are you tips for an ethical wedding? Tell us below.