I’m very excited about this post but first I must apologise for the hiatus in our ‘All about the Groom’ theme – I’m blaming this largely on 2 bouts of chicken pox (1 each – nicely spaced). Anyway, we’re back with a great line-up of posts about the man of the moment. Over to Tara…
Lewis Davies told Ethical Weddings about the ups and downs of his earth friendly wedding.
We love a unique perspective here at Ethical Weddings, we’re mad about the devilish details of real life experiences, after all, nothing beats a true story. And so, in accordance with this month’s theme which focuses on that all-important, handsome, patient and often unsung hero of the wedding party – The Groom – we talked to Lewis about his wedding day. We hope you enjoy his engaging, comical and astute take on things as much as we did.
Which things were most important to you in the planning of your wedding?
“I think my major priority was that no one in either family got stressed out.”
If I could have measured, for example, the anxiety levels of my future mother-in-law at the beginning of the project, and at regular intervals throughout, and kept those levels at a constant, then I would have considered the wedding to have been a success. I am aware now that it was the fevered dream of a mad man.
We didn’t want everything to be too heavily staged managed. We’d been to a wedding the year before in the Downton Abbey house, and while we didn’t and couldn’t get married there (even though it has a mummy in the basement – an actual Egyptian mummy), we both liked being able to wander around the gardens in the down time. So I think the idea of a ‘wandery’ relaxed wedding appealed to us.
I grew up in Cornwall and we had the reception at my wife’s parents’ farmhouse in Devon. I know right? What could ensure the wedding was stress free better than deciding to have the wedding in one of the principal participants’ homes? Where they were both the parents of the bride and the venue managers?
Fevered dream. Mad man.
But, it was incredibly cheap, incredibly beautiful and had enough open space for that ‘wandery’ thing we liked.
“What was important to me was using local facilities.”
I have very strong ties to my identity as a Cornish man and to the West Country so I was really happy to keep all suppliers local. Almost everyone we employed was known by people we knew. I don’t think we Googled a single supplier, with the exception of the tent people.
Everything else came from people we knew in the local area by recommendation, so that was nice. The tent people were from a bit further away, but they did a thing to ensure the transport was carbon neutral.
“One of the things that was really important to Bronia was that it was a collaborative project with our friends”
She had spent a lot of her youth in the Woodcraft Folk, a sort of left wing pacifist version of the Scouting/Girl Guide movement with Brown Owl replaced by a woman in a home knitted jumper who had been at Greenham Common, and Akela was replaced by a man who sold Socialist Worker on the weekend and smoked roll-ups. Bronia liked the idea that all of our close friends would come down to the venue together a week early, along with her extended family, and would prepare the venue for the wedding.
At some level this unsettled me.
I was really keen on the idea that the last stages of the project would be completed by people with whom I had some sort of official contract, so that if they breached, I was in a position to demand my money back. I’ve tried to get people we know in our personal life to sign contracts like that, but Bronia says it’s not allowed. Anyway, that was important to her and I am happy to tell you that I was 100% wrong about it being a bad idea. A large group of our friends did come down before the wedding. And they did toil in the wedding mine on our behalf: they cooked, they cleaned, they built a stage for the ceremony and turned a garden into a venue.
The wedding wouldn’t have been possible without them and I think one of the things I took away from it was not only that I was marrying an amazing woman (which I’d already known) but that she had surrounded me with amazing people too.
How involved were you in the planning of things and was this important to you?
I think I had input in the early stage planning: “It’s going to be in a tent in your mum’s garden”. And at a more micro day-to-day level: “I’m going to put up a fence around this abandoned quarry on the site so that a child doesn’t fall in and drown”.
I did quite a lot of the sourcing of materials because we were more on my home turf than we were on Bronia’s. However, the planning in between was mainly hers. It’s worth pointing out that Bronia’s job at the time was as assistant to the woman who designed the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. So her logistical and planning skills outstrip mine to quite a degree.
I don’t know if I cared what things looked like in particular, beyond things that I thought were going to generate more stress for people.
I organised the barbeque – a guy from a local farm shop who also had his own fishing boat, but stayed far away from the additional catering that went on in the kitchen of the farm. That was the beating heart of the project, overseen by Bronia’s formidable grandmother. It was operating under a long established Polish tradition - that you need to make enough food for two weddings in case a wedding down the road has all their food stolen by invading Russians and they need to come and borrow some of yours.
Did you have a stag do, and if so how did you celebrate?
I had the world’s most circumspect stag do. I went to Brighton with two friends and got mildly drunk. I think they can be terribly forced affairs with people trying to act the way they think they are meant to act because it’s a ‘staaaaaaag!’.
I didn’t do the stripper thing, not because it’s unethical but because, as sex work goes, it looks like a really inefficient way of using one’s financial resources, and they don’t really make strippers who look the way I’d like them to. Also, what are you meant to be feeling while your friends watch a naked person dance on you?
I think all in all stag dos are something you have to try to come out of not feeling like a pillock. I can’t imagine what my ideal stag do would have been like. I guess that means the one I got was okay.
Can you describe the day and what was most memorable, beautiful or unique?
“Instead of confetti we had wild flower seeds thrown on us as we ran round a track cut into the grass of the bottom field”
We got married in a registry office in the morning with as many people as we could fit in the office in Tiverton and afterwards we drove back to the house where there was a cream tea. Then we did a little personal vow and music ceremony on the stage we’d built. Then we did dinner and had a Céilidh and a bonfire. We wrote our own vows, and that’s pretty special.
We ate and danced in the tent with everyone pitching in to clear the tables and chairs between the two sessions. I’d recommend a Céilidh because then you can do your first dance with six other people.
Have you got any advice you could offer our Ethical Weddings grooms who might be in the process of planning their wedding?
- Try to minimise stress for others, but accept that this will never be a system that is 100% efficient.
- There aren’t any objects or stuff or experiences that will ensure that your wedding is ‘perfect’ – only people can do that. Although striving for perfection is ill advised too.
- Take the opportunity to try to tell or show your wife how you feel about her. I did it in vows but that may not be your thing.
- Do jobs little and often.
- After your fiancé, your friends can be your most valuable asset.
Here comes the groom
Seven stylish ethical cufflinks
Keep calm, you’re getting married
My alternative husband