Fair trade gold and known source gems by Ash Hilton

When it comes to wedding planning, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the ‘must- haves’. Ask any wedding professional, and they will tell you the couples who enjoy their wedding the most are those that embrace simplicity. Somehow all the extra stuff leads to extra stress. As a bonus, by taking this approach you are already on your way to reducing your wedding’s footprint. Less stuff = less consumables = less waste.

So what does an eco-ethical wedding look like?

We believe that it can vary between each couple, determined by what is most meaningful to you. Bearing in mind that it could potentially drive you a little batty trying to source everything ethically and sustainably, we recommend aiming for progress not perfection. Remember, each time a couple has an eco-ethical wedding, you potentially inspire 100 more people, who will in turn make their own contribution towards to mindful living. Every little bit helps!

Circle of Love ceremony by Sarah Tolmie Life and Love

We like to think an eco-ethical wedding includes:

  • Consuming mindfully with care for our earth and people
  • Having an appreciation of the beauty in simplicity
  • From a place of gratitude giving a little something back

So you’re meeting with your wedding vendors…what questions can you ask to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to sustainability?

Our tip is don’t be shy! The reason for this is that wedding suppliers are generally small, service based businesses who aim to please. More than likely you’ll be welcomed with an open mind and “let’s find out” approach. And if they have already begun the path into sustainability, they will have researched their supply chain and will have lots to say on the matter!

Fair trade gold and known source gems by Zoe Pook Jewellery

Organically grown flowers by Farmer-Florist Gooseberry Hill Farm

Here are some simple questions to get you started:

  1. Ask “where was this made/grown”?

Don’t be afraid to ask your dressmaker, jeweller or florist these questions. The sourcing of fabrics, gold, gems and flowers all have their own unique challenges. An eco-ethical conscious supplier will have worked hard to create networks of people they trust and perhaps have even visited the area of production for their own peace of mind. We recommend reading the Mindfully Wed E-Guide to familiarise yourself with the particular issues within each industry.

  1. Consider how can we reduce waste?

With some creativity and a thoughtful approach, you can do your bit to extend the life of your wedding consumables. Explore re-gifting the flowers following the wedding day, or use potted plants instead of florals. Ask your venue if they recycle or compost. Other ideas include using e-invites, bamboo disposables, or giving your bridal party the freedom to wear whatever they want, and are likely to wear again.

Relaxed bridal party wear by Sandra Henri Photography

Relaxed bridal party wear by Sandra Henri Photography

Photo by Sandra Henri Photography

  1. Consider how your wedding can benefit your local community?

Try to source local, organic and support the little guy. There are so many part-time wedding businesses that do a little happy dance every time they get a booking!

  1. How is this going to benefit our relationship?

Remember the only things you really need to get married, are two people in love, and an awesome celebrant who will create the atmosphere of your day, and help you set the intentions for your marriage. The rest is optional. Set free one layer of wedding ‘must-haves’ and donate to a cause, or invest in relationship coaching; the happiness of these far outlasting your wedding day.

If you’d like to learn more about planning an eco-ethical wedding, grab our Mindfully Wed E-Guide, which shares all our combined industry knowledge. Our goal is that you go about your wedding planning, confirmed in your desire to tread lightly, celebrating something bigger than ourselves, all in the name of love.

Go you change-maker!

Ms Zebra Says: I’ve definitely taken on board ALL of what I’ve read this month – what great ways and ideas to simply help the world!!! Thanks Sandra for more ways to go a little ethical, a little green!

About Sandra Henri of Less Stuff More Meaning: Sandra has been a wedding and family photographer for more than ten years, now specialising in small, intimate weddings.

Through her time in the industry, Sandra has witnessed a trend towards consumerism and extravagance that she feels has detracted from what’s truly important – both in marriage and the world at large. Meanwhile a mid-life “opportunity” took hold, leading Sandra to fulfil a long held dream of volunteering in Africa as a photojournalist. Unsurprisingly, Sandra returned from her experience in Malawi with a whole new lens and life direction.

The stark contrast between these two worlds stirred Sandra’s passion for social change. Inspired by couples who were scaling back and giving back through their weddings, Sandra felt drawn to inspire a new wedding culture around eco-ethical weddings.

Over time, and with countless contributions from others, her philosophy of Less Stuff – More Meaning has grown into the development of Australia and New Zealand’s first eco-ethical wedding hub.

I guess the first thing you need to know is ethical jewellers don’t necessarily wear hemp trousers and have incense burning.  There’s this thing that happens when you mention the word ‘ethical’ – there is sometimes still a lingering assumption that somehow anything to do with ethical products is a bit, well, hippie…. crafty… new age… you know what I mean. So, that’s the first thing you need to know.

Now, on a more serious note, approaching any service where you feel out of your depth is no fun. I don’t enjoy talking to engineers for that very reason. It’s always better to feel prepared, to know what’s coming, to ask the right questions. So here’s a list you can take with you, if you ever have the need to visit a jeweller, and even better an ethical jeweller.

1.  Know your budget. Do a bit of research online first, make sure your ideas are in line with the dollar figure you have in mind. Don’t be afraid to say what your top limit is. This makes it much easier for a jeweller to design the right ring for you.

2. Have an idea of the style you’d like. This doesn’t have to be a fully formed design, just some vague ideas; gold colour (yellow, rose or white); gem colour and shape, vintage / modern / art deco. That kind of thing. Images from Google / Pinterest / Instagram are always helpful.

Photo Credit: Zoe Pook Jewellery

3. Have an idea of where your priorities lie in terms of the sourcing of the materials. Do you want Australian gems? Is it vital that the diamond be known origin or is conflict free ok? Would you prefer recycled metals or Fair Trade / Fair Mined? Just an idea, as you can discuss the pros and cons with your jeweller.

4. Ask what kind of documentation (if any) will come with the jewellery piece. There are a few things you can ask about; a hallmark – which denotes the purity of the gold or platinum; a diamond certificate – could be GIA or IGL; a certificate of origin for the gems – these could be an informal certificate from your jeweller or a formal, certified document from a gem studies laboratory, but something to say where the gem was sourced.

5. Ask about the processes that will be involved in the making of your jewellery. Will it be fully hand-made? Are any pieces going to be 3D printed (CAD/CAM)? Is the piece going to be made on the premises or by someone else?

6. Keep in mind that the sourcing of ethical, traceable materials is not in every jewellers area of expertise. Some will not be able to answer your questions about sourcing, or will be unwilling to disclose their sources.

7. Ethical sourcing can also take some time, especially where gems are concerned, it may take a little while to find the perfect, traceable gem for you, so be prepared to either wait a little or be flexible in the colour / shape / size of the gem you are after.

Photo Credits: Zoe Pook Jewellery

Ms Zebra Says: These are great tips to keep in mind when looking to find a jeweller and diamond/ring that is ethically sourced and produced. Thanks Zoe for sharing this great list with us!

About Zoe Pook Jewellery: As a classically trained jeweller, attention to detail is first and foremost.  She uses traditional tools alongside modern techniques to create beautiful and durable pieces. She finds that working with clients during the design process adds something special and more personal to the jewellery that she produces.

Images 1 & 2 via Bell Street Bridal

One of the most exciting parts about getting engaged is choosing your wedding dress, but it’s not always easy to find the right gown to fit your style, body type and budget. This week on Behind the Door I’m thrilled to head to a bridal gown store with a difference, Bell Street Bridal.

Owner Ali tells me that the idea for Bell street came quite organically. “I made my first wedding dress back in 2009 for my cousin, after we had a bad experience trying to shop for a wedding dress”. After making that dress, Ali had a couple of friends ask her to make dresses for them and she realised it could be a business.

Ali had been previously trying to start up a handmade clothing label (also called Bell Street) and decided to change direction and focus entirely on bridal dressmaking in 2013, after loving the experience of making her own wedding gown.

Image via Christine Mcnally

Ali started running a custom bridal gown business from home and tells me she liked that custom wedding dresses already have a wearer before they’re even made, so there is less waste. The idea for Borrow from Bell Street, her hire business, crept it’s way into Ali’s head about two years ago, after she had a few brides who decided at the last minute that they were worried about being cold on their wedding day.

“I thought it would be a good idea to have a little collection of cardigans and faux fur jackets for brides to borrow for the day” says Ali  “That little collection expanded into a shop full of beautiful vintage cocktail dresses and evening wear that people hire for all sorts of occasions and I’ve had the shop open for one year now”.

Image via Bell Street Bridal

Bell Street Bridal is located in Marrickville in Inner West Sydney and Ali tells me it is quite a large area in comparison to other inner west suburbs, and you can get pretty much anything you need. “Most of the shops and restaurants in Marrickville are small businesses and the locals are really keen to shop local and support everyone.

Whether it’s the older family businesses that have been in the area for years, or newbies like me” says Ali, “The Cook’s River is a lovely place to go for a walk and feel like you’ve left the city, and there are so many small bars and micro breweries for a really fun night out.”

Image via Shu Yeung

The store has a beautiful big shop window, displays of headpieces, veils and dresses to hire with some fantastic vintage furniture adding to the eclectic vibe. Further in are the change rooms and Ali’s studio where she creates her gorgeous gowns.

“I love working with lace as there are so many different kinds and I like how the design of the fabric can guide me on the design of the dress – it will tell me what it wants to do!” says Ali, “I am also addicted to sparkle and love doing intricate hand sewing, beading and embroidery and I especially love using these methods to include little pieces of a bride’s personality in their wedding look.”

Image via Ann Marie Yuen

Ali tells me sustainability is a really important part of Bell Street and at the very heart of her business. “While I love making wedding dresses, I personally had a lot of issues with the amount of waste created in the wedding industry, and Borrow from Bell Street was my antidote to that”. Brides can now borrow almost everything they need for their wedding – dress, veil, petticoat, bridesmaid dresses, and something to keep warm on the day.

An unexpected perk is that Ali has found a huge market in wedding guests who love being able to wear a “new” dress to every wedding they attend. “When it comes to making custom wedding dresses, I try to be really economical with fabrics and use vintage materials wherever I can”. Such a fantastic option for brides who care about sustainability and it sounds like the dresses speak for themselves!

Image via Daisy and Duke
Ms Zebra Says: It’s SO great to hear of people using incredible vintage fabrics/laces and creating a space where the aim of the game is to reuse! Well done to Ali on an amazing business.
About Amelia Waddell of Moonstruck Bride: I’m a proud bridal store owner with a love of exploring creative spaces. Whether it’s an office, event space, workshop or retail store I love seeing how other wedding businesses create their own special magic. When I’m not fitting brides I love immersing myself in everything wedding, in the name of “research” of course.



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