Putting the ‘Fair’ in Fairy Tale Wedding – My Story
When my husband and I got engaged, we didn’t plan to have a big wedding. But after speaking with both of our families, we ended up having two celebrations: an informal ceremony in New York City (NYC), where we both reside, for our friends and co-workers; and a formal ceremony in Florida, where I grew up, for our families and closest friends. For both events, I chose vendors that matched my values as a consumer – ones that respect human rights and the environment as much as possible.
My first decision was the dress. Actually, I told my family about the engagement on Christmas Eve by wrapping up my mother’s wedding dress in a gift box, and presenting it to her with a note that asked, “Can I borrow this?” Everyone was so thrilled that she forgot to ask me if I was serious about wearing her dress (I was – after removing the billowing sleeves). She didn’t like the idea of re-using her dress, because it’s rather simple, so we agreed that I would wear it for the ceremony but would purchase a modern dress to wear at the reception.
I chose Minna, a bridal boutique based in London that uses remnant lace. I loved the idea of a short dress that I could dye and re-use as a cocktail dress, and decided on the Valerie Dress. I also wore that dress for our NYC celebration, pairing them up with my Love is Mighty ballet flats, which are made cruelty-free by artisans in India with recycled plastic bags. Of course, like any good Floridian, I wore Kino’s Sandals for our Florida wedding – handmade in Key West since 1966.
The next item on my checklist was invitations. For our NYC party, we used Evite to save trees and money, since my husband and I paid for that celebration. But my parents insisted on tangible invitations for our Florida ceremony – so we used Green Field Paper Company’s plantable seed paper invitations in a seashell design. I got so many compliments on these and with the leftovers, my husband and I plan to start a garden on our first anniversary.
After the invitations were sent, I moved on to flowers. For the NYC celebration, I didn’t have a bridal party and only needed a bouquet for myself, so I purchased six fair-trade felt wildflowers from Global Goods Partners. I had worked with them for a week in Nepal during my graduate studies and was so excited to include their product in my wedding. Aside from supporting a women-owned, fair-trade business, this bouquet can be handed down to my future children! For the beach wedding in Florida, I chose a local florist and asked her to source seasonal flowers so that the arrangements didn’t leave a huge carbon imprint from shipping items across the world. To make them beach-themed, I added in some sustainably sourced seashells that were collected by a beachcomber on Etsy.
Next, I had to decide what to ask the women in my bridal party to wear and how to accessorize them. My husband and I had already picked green as our wedding color, with gold accents, so I asked them to wear anything Kelly Green. Then I purchased all of them Marquet binh minh shawls in gold, as well as Made by Survivors coral reef earrings with gold plating. I used to work for Made by Survivors, and was so excited to showcase their artisans’ jewelry. Those two items really tied everything together, so that despite the different lengths and styles of dresses, everyone in my bridal party looked like they were part of the party.
For the wedding guests, we custom ordered gift bags from Destiny Reflection in Kolkata, India. With my friend, I co-founded this social enterprise that provides vocational training to at-risk women and exports their products to clients in North America and Europe. For my order, they used recycled green saris with gold embroidery to make drawstring gift bags, which we then filled with fair-trade chocolate and fragrance samples.
Finally, I picked out my own accessories. Two of the jewelry designers that volunteer with Made by Survivors, Nancy Edwards and Diana Badalament, used recycled gold to custom make our wedding bands and my wedding earrings (respectively). And my dear friend, Lacey Elliot, did my makeup in NYC using several cruelty-free and eco-friendly products.
When all was said and done, my husband and I would plan everything again. Celebrating our marriage with friends and family was one of the most rewarding experiences, but sharing my passion for ethical consumerism with them was the icing on the cake!