BRIDE BLOG #2: an ETHICAL wedding?

I wrote last week that I felt the wedding industry was like a blown-up version of the beauty industry; it would be more true to say that the wedding industry is like a louder, brighter, bigger version of everything…food, transport, accommodation, clothing, decorations, printing: a lot of everyday things wrapped up in bows for a day, really! I think this is part of the charm of weddings (other than the union of two people promising to love each other for the rest of their lives!) It will be special to have ‘normal’ things that are embellished – our existing friendships with a little extra celebration, a family meal with a few more guests, nice clothes with some additional sparkle, our church with an order of service we’ve designed.

I am trying to live better for others by improving my code of ethics as a consumer. So, if our wedding is just an extension of our lives, we want to live it well, too.

3 ways in which we’d like to make sure our wedding is as ethical as possible… (What else? Tell me!)

I mentioned in my last post that I am designing my own wedding dress. Eek. I haven’t done something like this in years, but I do remember a pretty nifty floral dress I made with my friend Noémie’s mum’s sewing machine (she worked in a fabric shop and was very gracious in allowing us to ‘enrich’ our wardrobes constantly.) Anyway, it is generally accepted that dresses can take up to 9 months to be made: part of this is because the materials used by dressmakers are very specific, but also because a lot of dresses are made further afield. I noticed this aspect very quickly as my Pinterest habit took flight: a lot of online wedding shopping seems to involve Asian suppliers. There is nothing wrong with shopping online, or indeed with buying things internationally (it is very rare for our clothes in the West to be entirely sourced or produced locally).

Online shopping is also great for sale shopping. But I found a few dresses that were not in a special sale with very low prices. Store prices are crazy, but to have such a margin between a dress in a shop here and a dress on a website doesn’t quite sit right with me. The clothing industry has been under scrutiny for a while in terms of its ethics. It is SO hard to shop ethically. Things are hidden. Retailers don’t necessarily know where all their materials are sourced. Nor do they necessarily care. I have the privilege of partnering with the organisation that is leading the way in changing this. (Click the link, seriously – you’ll love it!) And I want to be sure that my wedding dress is traffik-free.

Now, you don’t have to design your own dress for it to be traffik-free. Beulah London use traffik-free fabric and employ women who are trafficking survivors. And Blush Bridal on the Lisburn Road in Belfast are champion local designers and tailors.

But I’ve decided to design my own dress – because I’m a diva with a particular idea of a dress in mind, and also because I’d like to trace the story of my dress: to know the people who are making it (and to know how they are treated) and to work with them on the materials they use in sourcing ethically produced fabrics. I’m looking forward to sharing with you how this all goes, probably AFTER the wedding!

The next two things we’re working on are food-related. We’ll be working with the event manager to ensure what we give our guests to eat has been sourced ethically – this can be hard, both when it’s from NI (forced labour happens in our agricultural industries) and further afield. Also, we looooove chocolate and so we’re working on a wee cococovered project for the wedding, and knowing about the horrors of the cocoa industry involving child labour exploitation, we’ll make sure it’s all certified (not necessarily ‘Fairtrade’: did you know Galaxy was certified too, with another board?!)

And lastly, we are both (Dan’s been much more active in this than me) concerned about how animals are treated in the meat industry, BUT (hooray!) are also aware of how small NI is, and also of the fact that our reception venue is owned by a family of farmers: score! So we are going to ask that the meat on the menu is sourced locally and treated ethically. You may remember my attempt to ‘live locally’ by only eating local produce last year, which was quite a difficult goal…but one that I think is worthwhile in supporting local industries and which does make it easier to trace the ethics of suppliers.

So there we go. These things may seem trivial, or perhaps idealistic. We think people, and animals, should be treated well. And if our wedding is a magnification of our lives, and if the way we go about this is the way we go about our lives, we’d like to try to do it right.

Do you find it easy to live ‘ethically’? What does that mean for you? If you are married, do you have any tips for ensuring the various elements of our wedding are traceable and ethical?

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10 responses to “BRIDE BLOG #2: an ETHICAL wedding?

  1. Gemma I’m reading 7 by jen hatmaker at the minute. I’ve just read the chapter that deals with ethical living. I feel challenged by this. I confess it has never been a priority for me. I really admire your attempt to have an ethical wedding. X

      • I finished 7 last week and I meant to tell you about it earlier.
        I so enjoyed reading it. It was very challenging yet not in a heavy way. At no point did I feel like jen was suggesting I do the fast of consumerism yet without doubt she touched some sensitive spots. For example, I come away from the book feeling much stronger about buying local and supporting the local economy. I feel stronger about environmental issues. Most of all I already had a stirring in my spirit about giving what I have to and for those with less than me. I don’t have money but i do have time and compassion so I have started some volunteer work with the local Foodbank.
        I think you’ll find it an interesting read but probably for different reasons than me because your life is at a different stage. I recommend this one when you can fit it in. Enjoy x

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