We’re really excited today to bring you the story of Brian and Tegan’s wedding. Tegan runs the blog In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings so she has some great tips to share with us.

Just married couple, head-to-head

The couple: Brian and Tegan

Wedding date: 7 October 2012

Venue and location: Caldwell Presbyterian Church and Camp Chingachgook YMCA Camp, Lake George, NY, USA

Approx budget: $20,000 USD (no honeymoon)

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?

Brian and I wanted a celebration that was fun and down to earth, but also a ceremony filled with meaning. Because we both value social justice and the environment, it seemed only natural to incorporate these passions into our wedding.

A bride by a lake holding an orange and yellow bouquet

By choosing to make the wedding more eco- and people-friendly, it helped me to feel excited and less stressed throughout the process. It was good to know that through our wedding we were supporting local farmers, local businesses, and artisans in developing countries and that we were also reducing the environmental footprint for the day by using local food. What could be better than making a positive impact on the world while celebrating our own commitment to each other!

What was the hardest part?

One of the hardest aspects of wedding planning was finding a good starting point. However, in my wedding research I wasn’t finding a lot about how to have a “fair trade wedding”. I found many green wedding blogs and websites, but not many that focused on an ethical awareness. I particularly struggled to find resources for wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. When I stumbled across Ethical Weddings I was really excited to find likeminded people!

Group shot of a wedding party outside a white church

However, I was finding that the UK simply had more socially-minded wedding websites and companies, more up-to-date resources and more ethical wedding designers than the United States.

Because of this, I was inspired to create the blog In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings (www.intandemfairtrade.com). I wanted to fill the void I found stateside, share what I had learned through my own wedding planning and hopefully inspire other couples particularly here in the United States.

Bride's bouquet in green, orange and yellow

What was the most fun bit?

I’m an artist so the most enjoyable aspect of planning our wedding was creating all of the DIY details. I made recycled paper leaf place cards, fair trade hanging paper decorations, repurposed wood table numbers, cloth banners and our save the date postcard.

Wooden place settings

What was also fun was working alongside my husband Brian. We love gardening so we were both excited to plant our own potted succulent centrepieces, which we gave to guests after the wedding to enjoy. Following in family tradition, I also had the opportunity to design my wedding gown along with my mother who made her dress for her wedding.

Floral centrepieces for wedding

How did it go on the day?

Our wedding went really well. They had predicted rain so we were delighted and surprised that the sun came out right before the wedding ceremony! The Adirondack Mountains of New York State were just beginning to turn a delightful shade of yellow ochre and red, and despite the slight chill in the air we couldn’t have picked better day.

Cream wedding cake with couple on top

Although I was a bit nervous before the wedding ceremony, it was great to see everything come together so beautifully. The YMCA lodge where we had our wedding reception was rustic so the nature-inspired décor reflected the season as well as the setting. Our caterer Spoonful Kitchen and Catering was so helpful and the locally sourced food was delicious. Because we really wanted to thank our friends and family for their support, I was so happy that our guests had a great time filled with good food and music.

What are your top tips for an ethical and green wedding day?

  1. Although it’s the least glamorous aspect of any type of wedding planning, I definitely think that it’s important to create a realistic budget and to stick to it! A budget will help you to plan out your wedding as well as prioritise your decisions and the causes you want to support.
  2. A really simple way to have a green wedding is to use potted flowers or plants as your centerpieces. For our wedding reception we potted our own succulents in simple terracotta pots. Not only was this a more eco-friendly alternative than cut flowers, it was actually a cheaper alternative to flower arrangements from a florist. After the wedding we encouraged our guests to take home a plant so that they could continue to enjoy them.
  3. There are so many new ways to reuse materials so buy items that can be reused or have been repurposed. Have your bridesmaids wear dresses that can be worn again, go to thrift stores or rummage sales for glass flower vases since so many get donated after other weddings, repurpose mason jars for candle holders, and so on. Pinterest has some great images for DIY projects using recycled materials.
  4. Share the wealth! Donate your dress and decorations to charities. I know that Oxfam sells wedding gowns in the UK, but in the US there are organizations like Brides for a Cause (www.bridesforacause.com), Wish Upon a Wedding (www.wishuponawedding.org), and Brides Against Breast Cancer (/www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org).
  5. It’s important to be creative and to think outside of the box. It’s great to see more and more couples having weddings that aren’t cookie cutter so embrace your quirks and passions!
  6. Lastly, try to have fun with the process and remember that the wedding is one day, albeit an important one. More important than the actual wedding is the marriage that you have and the exciting adventures that you will take with your best friend!

Wedding ring from Bario Neal

Little white book

Photography: (c) Sarah Smith Photography, 2012  www.sarahsmithphotography.com

Rings: Bride’s band and engagement ring, Bario-Neal www.bario-neal.com and Groom’s ring, vintage from his grandfather

Bridal Party Bouquets and Boutonnieres : Heavenscent Eco-Friendly Florist www.heavenscentfloralart.com

Caterer: Spoonful Kitchen and Catering-Farm to Table Catering – find them on Facebook here

– See more at: http://ethicalweddings.com/blog/#sthash.O9UwTVl2.dpuf