WEDDINGS | Our Wedding & Location Woes


Taken by Emma J.
In my introduction to this series, I expressed my initial apprehensions towards having an ethical wedding. However, once I thought about it I realised that an 'ethical' wedding would be a reflection of the way the fiancé and I try to engage with the world everyday. So really, this challenge, should be like planning any other wedding: you have your set criteria for what you want it to be, then find those things that fit within that criteria, or compromise.

We have 5 months of planning left, a limited budget, three countries, a draft ethical checklist, venues, a few local caterers using local and seasonal produce, a vague idea of what we want the wedding to be like, and no clue what the heck we are doing. Perhaps I should elaborate a bit...

Now, although I spouted out a list of things in that last paragraph,It is my intention to clarify what it is I have planned for this Wedding. We didn't want to spend our wedding in debt and being consumed by the planning, so we first made a list with definites:
  • Budget - below £15,000 (including Parents' contributions, which will be in form of food, flowers and shelter)
  • When - May/June
  • Where - 3 locations (incl. UK & US)
  • Who - for each: 1st 40 including ourselves; 2nd  - max 80ppl; 3rd max 200ppl. 
  • Food - local and seasonal: vendors must be local and use seasonal and local produce
  • Clothing - take an ethical fashion approach that is modern and fashion-forward without being trend-led (Don't expect me to show up in a dress that looks like I am heading to Burning Man Party or a swing do).
  • Decorations - DIY (ooohhh bridal party, its arts and craft time), reuse, upcycle, etc.
  • Save the dates, Invitations - Green Printers, eco-printing press, DIY, e-invites
  • Other criteria to be listed soon, such as carbon emissions through travel we will have to comprise on. 

Compromise: Of course, there are somethings that are non-negotiable, like my[our] values, and that is at the top of my list. Never compromise on values. However, for every non-negotiable, there will be a few things we would have to compromise on. For us, the location(s) is/are the main item that we had to compromise on.

I am originally from Guyana, a country the size of the England and Scotland put together with less than 800, 000 inhabitants, and the fiance is from the Midlands. My parents now live in the US, and all of my loved ones are scattered across several continents. I have over 200 relatives, and perhaps twice as many pseudo ones who are very much like family (what can I say, Guyana is a small place). Patrick, the fiance, has a very very small family (which is surprising seeing that he is 1/2 Irish), and the all, with the exception of one, live in the UK. To Patrick the UK is a no brainer, for me it got a little more complicated.

With the exception of the Church, in which I was baptised and confirmed, in Guyana, I have for two years always wanted a small wedding in one of my favourite countries to visit (to be announced later), but with a family the size of a small English town, I had to come up with a way to have my cake and eat it too (that saying never made any sense to me, but you know what I mean). There was no way I could have my wedding in Guyana as almost all my relatives are living outside of the country, then having the wedding we wanted in the US would be nearly impossible--my mother has 6 siblings, all but one with children, my father has four siblings, and I have all my grandparents, almost all my great aunts and uncles, and their children within close proximity, and not to mention all of my friends, and to have it in the UK would mean all of my family would have to travel to the UK. So what did we decide:

1. We would have informal receptions in the UK and the US. In the UK we will be having a Hog Roast reception at a local estate, which costs £250 to rent, Patrick's friend will DJ, and we'll keep it informal and friendly. In the US, we will have a reception in my Parent's well-sized backyard/garden (cost-free), where all of my many aunts and uncles will make a dish each (we're Caribbean/South America, so catering is our specialty)--as their gifts to us. We'll have a barbeque, my sister's friend as a DJ, and a tent from a local family owned business. Also, this way any friends and relatives in Guyana who wanted to attend could do so with a little more ease.

2. The 'destination' wedding will be with just a few 38 of our family members and closest friends. This wedding is our ideal, as we wish to engage with our guests more intimately which is always lost in larger wedding parties. 

Now, of course one might argue that if I am traveling so much for this wedding then it is not an ethical one. I would say this is not as 'eco' of a wedding as one would hope for, but I do think it is ethical in the sense that it is based upon our virtues and values, and it takes into consideration our traditions. I agree that by having to travel to three countries and across the Atlantic is not ideal. However, I did the carbon footprint calculations, and in terms of our carbon emissions, if we had one wedding in either the US or the UK, then that would require more people to travel along greater distances. 
There are several Carbon Footprint Calculators out there, and I highly advise that you play around with these from time-to-time, as they cover many things, such as modes of travel and household emissions.
Budget-wise, this also ended up to be less costly than having a massive wedding that, in a way, did not represent us at all.

Much More to Come...

All images taken by Emma J.

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  1. Very smart to work out that having everyone travel to one location would be worse carbon wise than having three where just a few people travel. Think this series is going to be very useful for us international couples, with friends and family all over the place!

    1. It is really difficult indeed. This way we get to include more people, who we feared we would not be able to have.

  2. I'm having about 150 people at my wedding, and it is proving to be rather expensive. Have you managed to keep a tight budget? And how have you found taking the ethical approach whilst being on a budget?

  3. Wedding space is preferred by almost all for the special day celebrations and functions to enjoy it fully wit the dear ones.

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