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the downside of wedding diets

How often have we heard or read the dreaded phrase ‘wedding diet’?

Or seen the latest version of it being hawked from the newsstand by a glowing celebrity (whose bevy of meal planners and stylists no doubt give her a head start on the average bride on the street)?

A quick ‘wedding diet’ Google search returns a mere 69.7 million results.

Once you’ve decided to get married, the next few weeks, months or even years should be a happy time as you and your partner prepare for an exciting day that celebrates your love – not a frantic and stressful race to shed pounds to become some imaginary ‘best’ version of you.

Presumably, by this point in your relationship, both you and your partner have already accepted one another at whatever size you may be – but still the must-lose-weight-for-the-wedding mantra persists. Why?

Is it just a case of releasing the supermodel inside – hidden under the comfy layer of biscuits and wine? And what about the men – are there also grooms out there who are slimming for the suit?

The Wedding Diet Industry

It is no longer a joke to talk about a wedding industry – the venues, cakes, rings, gowns, all add up to big business and serious money.

But becoming more serious and more influential by the (big) day is the wedding diet industry: an endless parade of pills, potions, plans and treatments to get you thin, toned, and in fighting form for the most romantic – and heavily photographed – day of your life.

The articles, blog posts, and news items all point out the same thing: you don’t want to feel self-conscious as you walk up the aisle so best lose the weight and be your most svelte – and therefore confident – self. And don’t worry, there are plenty of tips to help you become a buff bride, tips such as buying a size 4 dress when you’re really a 6, or sticking to an elimination diet until the wedding day, or eating lots of grapefruit.

It’s all a bit disturbing.

When we asked married friends on Facebook whether they felt pressure to lose weight for their wedding, most said yes, even if they didn’t give in to it. Cara commented:

“I didn’t actually lose weight before my wedding (just maintained my normal fitness and drinking levels!) but everyone was convinced I did. People argued with me when I said I hadn’t lost weight. Like it’s inconceivable not to!”

While Dan proved it isn’t just brides who feel the pressure, replying:

“I felt I had to: [my wife] looked stunning (but then, she is) while I’m short and prone to getting fat. Would like to fit back into my wedding suit jacket again…”

In this social media age, image is everything, and the permanent record of how you looked on that one day can be in danger of overshadowing everything else. Rachel told us:

“I ended up going to the gym 3+ times a week (haven’t been that many times in the last year!) as I hated the thought of looking overweight in my photos.”

The wedding diet industry feeds off this – with ads for slimming pills and diets popping up the instant you change your status from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘engaged’ (top tip: don’t update it).

Even Georgia, who had a low key wedding (wore a cardigan and trainers with her off-the-peg dress), had a fantastic, stress-free day, and didn’t care about losing weight at the time, in retrospect wishes she had:

“Looking back now, I sort of wish I had lost some weight…from looking back on the photos and being critical. Also seeing other friends get married and feeling they look ‘perfect’.”

Maybe the answer is to ban the cameras, ditch the diet and keep the memories.

Wedding Weight Loss For All The Right Reasons?

But…. it can’t be all bad, right?

If someone really needs to lose weight, for their health, could it actually be a positive thing that their nuptials give them the motivation to take on the monumental task?

Like training for a marathon, if your wedding gives you a weight-loss goal to work towards each day, maybe it’s not such a terrible thing. What about this happy couple that lost a combined 11 stone before their wedding day?

Another couple happy to have slimmed down for their day (albeit as a consequence of a diet change, not on purpose) said:

“Although we were both interested in green issues before we got married, going on a raw vegan diet had a welcome side effect for both of us. I lost over 7kgs (two dress sizes) just by cutting out dairy and meat, and Mark lost a bunch of weight too.

“By the time the wedding came around, we felt so much healthier and had so much more energy while we were travelling on our honeymoon.”

Unfortunately, these couples may be the exceptions.

A recent study found that participants who endured months of strict dieting for their wedding put on the most weight in the first half year of marriage, when compared to participants who didn’t diet at all. The study also found that the pressure women feel to lose weight pre-wedding could put them at risk of long-term body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

Emmy Gilmour, Clinical Director at eating disorder treatment centre, The Recover Clinic, had this to say

“When we get into habits of restricting our food, our bodies don’t understand that we are intentionally starving ourselves. The message that we are sending our bodies is that food is scarce and that we should physically ‘hoard’ any food that we do eat in order to sustain us through periods of restriction. Our bodies are also far more likely to crave foods that we are denying ourselves, hence that restrict/binge pattern that we see so many dieters experiencing’.”

“Since wedding planning often now starts a year or more in advance of the day itself that can add up to 12 months+ of serious dieting – enough time for disordered eating patterns to become established.”

Being a Fat and Happy Bride

Of course, not everyone is trying to lose weight for the big day.

Offbeat Bride offers up a wonderful Fat Bride Survival Guide which is chock-full of advice about how to love yourself for who you are, as well as tips on dealing with the sadly unavoidable feedback you get as a buxom bride-to-be (for example, the suggestion to leave off the wedding guest list anyone who asks you how much weight you plan to lose). And the delightful Lindy West recently wrote about being a fat and happy bride for The Guardian.

If you’re a pregnant bride, while in the not too distant past you would have had to hide that bump at all costs, now, it can offer an escape from the body-conscious crowd. Eleanor said:

“I was 37 weeks pregnant at my wedding so definitely wasn’t worried about slimming – just making it through the ceremony without needing to rush to the loo! I wore a charcoal and flowered tunic over maternity leggings and had the best day!”

Focus on Health and Fitness

But let’s say you’ve read this far and you still want to lose weight for your wedding. What should you do? Personal Trainer Jo Dines says that the emphasis…

“…needs to be on overall health and fitness, and not on some arbitrary number on the scales. At the end of the day, how you feel is the most important thing.

“On the lead up to your wedding, focus on getting regular exercise and eating healthily – the stress of all the planning will make you want to indulge, but try to keep everything as clean and lean as possible with lots of protein, fruit, veg and whole grains. Plus lots and lots of water!”

The Wedding Diet to Beat Them All

So you’re probably expecting us to tell you to wave goodbye to the wedding diet and snuggle up on the sofa with a takeaway and your other half.

Well, you would have been right, but then we stumbled across ‘Hipmombrarian’ Megan Egbert’s wedding diet and realised we had found one we could wholeheartedly recommend. Follow it to the letter – and have fun being you on your big day.


Textiles and your wedding

wedding textiles

While the use of textiles for your wedding may not be  something that gets you eagerly searching Pinterest for inspiration (although you definitely could if you want to), it is the use of these textured fabrics that can add a completely unique and layered feeling to your nuptial celebrations. Depending on the time of year you may aim for a delicate lace decorating your summertime tables, or a thicker damask hanging from the chairs at your mid-winter party. Whatever you choose, it will surely have an effect on the ambiance and overall feeling of your wedding.

Textiles in cultures

In many cultures, the use of textiles holds, and has historically held, importance as a marker of cultural, economic, and symbolic significance. Jewish couples stand under a chuppah, a bridal canopy fashioned to the top of four poles, covering the couple as they say their vows. Persian weddings feature a silk scarf or shawl held over the bride and groom by unmarried female relatives who gently grind sugar above their heads and onto the shawl during the ceremony, to shower them in sweetness. The traditional red silk of a Chinese wedding dress still has its place in contemporary society, often switching roles for a white gown to be worn later on the wedding day.  A delicate bridal veil is worn in countries the world over, a Scottish groom would be remiss without his traditional tartan kilt, and the list goes on and on and on. And that’s textiles!

But what are textiles?

While the word originally meant woven fabric, it has come to mean any material manufactured with fibres or yarn. And as you can see, one can’t have a wedding without using any textiles at all! Everything from your dress to your table cloths will be made of something, and you have a lot of freedom when it comes to picking out what those things are, and even more freedom when it comes to making sure that your fabrics and materials have been ethically sourced.

Choices choices choices

The textile world is really your oyster! With the option to go with luxury fabrics, aiming for a feeling of opulence with exquisite hand embroidery and golden thread hand stitched into the work, or something more rustic, with recycled paper leaf place cards, and repurposed cloth hangers, making all your textile choices ethical ones is easy to accomplish.

Once you’ve chosen the bits and pieces that work for you, you may want to do some research into taking care of these precious materials after the big day has come and gone. Staffed with experts in the field, the Victoria & Albert Museum even offers tips on caring for your textiles.

Textiles by season

Not sure what will work for you and your day? Try to let the season take the lead when it comes to coordinating your use of textiles with your wedding date. Textured materials such as burlap can be easily repurposed for a summer wedding as table runners, while a winter wedding will call for something a bit more substantial, such as velvet or faux fur. And as far as keeping things as ethical as possible-second-hand, recycled fabrics will add more emotional bang to your wedding, and save you money too!

bride thumbing a ride from groom

After the vows have been said, the rings have been exchanged, and the band has packed it in for the night, the time comes to drive away off into a new married life – often in a car picked especially for the occasion. But what goes into picking out the car – or other form of transport – that will take you into your new married life (or at least off to a lovely honeymoon, hopefully someplace warm)? And how can you do it as ethically as possible? Here are a few options for making your getaway as green as possible, without skimping on style, or fun.

On Foot

The first, and easiest way to keep things ethically sound for your transportation is to use your own two feet. Planning your matrimonial events – service, reception, party, etc – to take place in the same area, or areas close to one another, can minimise the carbon emissions spent by you and your guests moving from one place to the next. Venues such as manor houses, large hotels, and outdoor areas are great for this as once you all arrive, everyone will be there for the whole event with no need for further transport.

On Two Wheels

Bikes are another simple way to get a move on while also adding some quirky and photogenic aspects to your big day! Hop on two wheels and get peddling, and you’ll be where you need to go in no time. Fingers crossed for no rain, obviously. And it doesn’t have to be the bride and groom that do the physical labour either – while nothing could be cuter than riding a tandem bike off into the sunset, there’s the possibility of hiring a bike taxi instead. Or you could even take a rickshaw, if you’ve got access to that sort of thing!

On Public Transport

Public transportation is a great option for areas where it’s available. Hopping on the Tube or local bus is affordable and easy, and leaves you without worries about who is doing the driving or who is riding with whom. Just whip out your oyster card and spread the love to everyone on the carriage with you – your fellow passengers won’t be able to resist cracking a smile for your big day.

On Four Wheels

If a car is really necessary or desired, you’ve still got a few options that aren’t going out and hiring a petrol guzzling SUV. Can you borrow someone’s car? If you are looking for the classic Bond style, mine your personal circle of friends and relations to see what you can come up with. You may even be able to find a friend’s friend who can do the driving for you – you’d get a chauffeur built right in!

Finally, there is always the option to hire a car, and it shouldn’t be hard to find one with a bit of personality. A classic VW Bus or an authentic London cab refashioned to be completely eco friendly, for example, would mean you can have a car without throwing your eco wishes out of the window.

It’s such a long time since I last posted (*hangs head in shame*) but I’m very happy to have another fantastic Follow That Dress story for you.

Our first post about donating wedding dresses to Malawi was over a year ago now but the responses from generous-hearted brides are still coming in. Today, we’re sharing Hannah’s story.

Follow that dress logo for Ethical Weddings initiative

Hannah’s story

When I went to look for a wedding dress, I was expecting to find something COMPLETELY different (isn’t that always the way?). But when I put it on I felt like an absolute princess. It was the ONE! I was so lucky to be able to afford to buy my dream dress on my dream wedding day.

In time, however, my marriage sadly broke down, leaving me with memories and… a wedding dress.

For a long time I tried very hard to sell my dress. All the usual suspects: ebay, facebook, gumtree. All to no avail.

In 2013, I decided to be more proactive about life and started my blog (26-things.blogspot.co.uk) that follows my 26th year by doing 26 things. One of these things was to complete a Random Act of Kindness every month for the year. It occurred to me what a wonderful opportunity I had to pass along what was my dream dress to someone who would love and appreciate it even more than I could.

After a little Google search, I found Ethical Weddings and discovered that a lovely lady called Joyce in Malawi was hiring out dresses to Malawian women for their special day. And that is the story of me donating my wedding dress to this wonderful cause.

It wasn’t just a Random Act of Kindness, it was also a form of closure which allowed me in some small way to contribute to the lives of women half a world away.

A big thank you to Hannah for sharing her story – her dress is now with Clare, Joyce’s contact in the UK, and should be winging its way to Malawi very soon.

If you’ve been inspired to donate your dress, please get in touch.


Related posts:

Follow That Dress – every dress tells a story

Follow That Dress – first donation

Follow That Dress – Lucy’s story

Donate your wedding dress to Malawi

Ethical Weddings

What next?

Every ring tells a story

I don’t do rings – or so I thought. I’m prone to losing things, and I’m just not into sparkly, shiny jewellery. I like things that are quirky, unique, that tell a story. I like the idea of something simpler, more natural, but still reflecting the powerful and personal meaning of a wedding ring.

Wooden heart

On a trip to Cornwall, I came across a wood turner at the local community market. I asked him if he could make rings out of certain woods, ones that were significant to me and my family? He said yes, he could – but that it might be tricky.

He was hesitant, after some rings he had made in the past turned out to be too delicate to withstand daily wear. In the end, he made me something beautiful, from four different woods that were meaningful to my family, but with the caveat that it probably wouldn’t last very long.

Natural and durable

One solution is encasing the wood in metal. A Brighton company, Wedding Rings Direct, has teamed up with a Cornish designer to address the issues of making wooden rings a viable alternative to traditional magpie-targets.

“Wood tells a story”, says their marketing manager, Kate Rivera. “The wood comes from Cornish boat masts, trees in the designer’s garden and even mahogany from the Eden Project. The wood in the yew rings comes from his grandma’s garden!”

Most people go for oak, but pretty much any wood will work. They use recycled metals and match the metal colour and tone to the wood. If you do want a bit of bling, you can get a little diamond or something embedded in the wood, too.

Wooden Rings

You do have to look after it a little bit. “You have to care for it more than a plain platinum ring. You shouldn’t really wear it for hard labour. The wood will flex or contract a tiny bit, and it’s a good idea to use some oil to moisturise and hydrate it. However, most of the time the natural oils in your skin will help with that too.”

The whole thing I like about natural rings is the idea that they’ll change over your lifetime. As Kate says, “rings are sometimes the last thing people think about, but they’re the longest term part of your wedding”. Every ring tells its own story, and this continues with time; the wood will shift and change according to your lifestyle.

Soundwave rings

While the wooden rings will be an evolving symbol of your lives together, a different kind of storytelling ring can crystallise forever a couple of life-changing seconds – the moment you say ‘I do”.

Sakurako Shimizu, a Japanese artist and jewellery designer based in New York, has made ‘waves’ with her beautiful rings presenting the soundwave pattern of your voice saying a certain phrase. It doesn’t have to be ‘I do’ – any words can be recorded and captured – but that has obviously been a popular one with her clients. Again, the gold and precious metals are recycled (she even made the test rings by melting down gold rings belonging to her mother).

Love story

When it comes to a ring telling a meaningful story, however, it doesn’t get better than this. To propose to his girlfriend, Luke Jerram designed an engagement ring with grooves etched onto the surface, same as a vinyl record. When he played it on a miniature record player (in a hot air balloon, no less), it revealed a 20 second recording of his proposal: “Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!…Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!”

He did something even better for the wedding ring, designed to incorporate a tiny photo projector so that, when held to the light, a series of portraits are revealed. He made miniature photo slides, inserted into the edge of the ring.
But before you ask, it’s not for sale. Apparently, Luke gets lots of enquiries for commissions but he wants to keep the design unique for his wife. Now there’s romantic…

Ethical Weddings

What next?

We found out about this wedding fair a month or so ago and suddenly it’s coming up this weekend so we wanted to share it with you.

CreativWeddings sounds like our kind of wedding fair – they’re promising “local, traditional suppliers, makers and bakers” with “alternative wedding suppliers and venues” who cover everything from Steampunk to vintage, from across the UK and online.

CreativWeddings Fair flyer

When & where

The CreativWeddings fair takes place this weekend

  • in and around Caedmon Hall at Gateshead Central Library, Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, NE8 4LN
  • on Saturday 21 September
  • from 1.30pm to 5.30pm

We particularly like the sound of the  ”Cakery” – a place where you can sample bakers’ work, buy cupcakes and even order your wedding cake.

And if you’re in need of some pampering, there’s a pop-up Body Shop just waiting for you.

How much?

Entry is £2 for a single/couple/mother and bride (or any other combination!).

This includes prize draw entry and a goody bag with wedding guide and supplier info.

There are only 250 goody bags, so you might want to buy an advance ticket from the event blog: creativweddings.blogspot.co.uk

Have fun if you go and send us some pics so we can see how you got on.


Ethical Weddings

What next?

This week we welcome new blogger, Megan McAuliffe who has some tips for us on getting ready for your wedding in slow style. Over to Megan…

5 slow beauty steps to get you down the aisle looking, and feeling, amazing

There is an ironic twist to our well mapped out wedding plans: in order to get to the big day radiating the joy of a blissful bride, we have to march through an onslaught of stress and tension. Then, worn out, we flop into our wedding dress, put on a big smile, knock back a Bloody Mary and fall down the aisle.

Bride lying on bed

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but we understand, it is exhausting.

So, how do we make it to the chapel all in one piece, and drop dead gorgeous at the same time?

Here’s a liberating concept: Slow down, take time off the grid, throw away all those quick fixes and transform your beauty routine into a meaningful, holistic practice.

‘Slow beauty’ is a philosophy and an inner-outer fusion which takes time and dedication. We all know that when we feel good, we look good. Which is, in essence, the key to true beauty.

1. Slow rituals

We could all take a leaf out of the Ancients’ book. They worshipped rituals, performing daily practices of love for ourselves and reverence for life. And, with our bodies, minds and spirits so overloaded by our fast-paced lifestyles, rituals help us feel alive, calm and content.

Light candles, draw a fragrant bath of jojoba oil and frankincense and give your skin a thorough body brush. Dry skin brushing helps shed dead skin cells and encourages your body to discard metabolic waste. Gently heat massage-grade sesame, coconut or sweet almond oil and massage it into your skin from head to toe.

Take some time out to sit and daydream, read a book, or get away to the country and walk amongst nature. Whatever your ritual, do not underestimate these subtle, restful respites. We need these moments to experience regeneration on a cellular level.

Bride meditating

Close your day with a meditation. Even ten minutes a day of silent breathing has been proven to make you feel younger, improve health and longevity and keep your brain sharper, for longer. Deep breathing slows down brain waves and releases endorphins into the bloodstream; a regular practice strengthens the immune system, helps to maintain a youthful appearance and calms the nervous system.

You could even try ‘52 Mindful Moments‘ which promise to take you ‘from stressed to smiling in under sixty seconds’ by former Ethical Weddings blogger, Clare Josa.

2. Slow treatments

Whether it’s monthly sessions at a spa for beautification or the realignment of your teeth in preparation for those wedding photos, beauty isn’t about being stuck on a conveyor belt of quick fixes and pre-packaged wonder creams.

According to research, 45% of adults are unhappy with their teeth, but most feel that braces are for children. Invisible braces or Lingual braces are a gentle, slow, yet effective way to straighten the teeth and a socially acceptable way for adults to feel happy about their teeth.

Big smile bride in red trainers

After all, smiling is good for us, studies have shown that when we smile a real ‘Duchenne’ smile, endorphins are released that result in feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

3. Slow food

The Slow Food movement has caught on fast, a welcome counter to the fast food movement that wreaks havoc on our bodies. We are enjoying better quality food which has been produced in its natural state, harvested in the right season and baked with loving care. Eating is a ritual in itself, take time to sip and savour, rather than eating on the run.

Mother and child eating vegetables on an allotment

And if our ancestors could knock back six pounds of dark green leafy vegetables a day, a salad or two and a green juice in the morning would be a perfect way to get your pre-wedding beauty regime off to a satisfying start. Green veggies are packed full of vitamins B, C and E which protect our cells from damage, and small amounts of Omega 3s which gobble up fat and cleanse the blood.

4. Slow skincare

For too long, the beauty industry has been churning out products that fail to nourish our body. Products full of harmful synthetic chemicals, which over the long haul do indelible damage to our cells. Natural skincare products use safer and kinder alternatives to keep our skin healthy and youthful. Natural Wisdom Organic Skincare and balance Me have beautiful products and strong ethical and eco values.

Skincare products surrounded by lettuce, peppers and avocado

If it’s consumer information you want, there is a fantastic US-based resource called www.truthinaging.com which has unbiased reviews on all sorts of chemical-free beauty products.

Your kitchen probably has a handful of items you can use for skincare. Mashed up fruit such as papaya, grape, lemon or lime work well as natural cleansers. So do yoghurt, milk, honey and coconut oil. Here are five homemade recipes to kickstart a natural beauty regime.

4. Slow medicine

The slow medicine concept is gaining momentum even among the medical community, which is increasingly promoting alternative therapies such as Reiki, acupuncture, herbalism and aromatherapy. Breathing exercises and therapies such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are being offered as a way to release hypertension and stress. Weddings are notorious for causing anxiety, slow medicine is an effective way to promote wellbeing and relaxation.

5. Slow Movement

More and more people are turning their bodies and minds to slower forms of exercise such as yoga, tai chi and even superslow weightlifting for muscle strength.

Bride doing yoga

It has been acknowledged that slow exercise is smarter as it uses precise, careful movements to push the muscles to become fully fatigued. Slower movements increases strength without placing unnecessary wear and tear on the body. In other words, you get all the benefits of a hearty jog, without having to wear a knee brace as a bridal accessory.

I hope you’ve found these 5 slow steps to becoming that blissful bride helpful. If you have more ways to slow down in the run up to your wedding, we’d love to hear them.


Ethical Weddings

What next?

We’re really excited today to bring you the story of Brian and Tegan’s wedding. Tegan runs the blog In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings so she has some great tips to share with us.

Just married couple, head-to-head

The couple: Brian and Tegan

Wedding date: 7 October 2012

Venue and location: Caldwell Presbyterian Church and Camp Chingachgook YMCA Camp, Lake George, NY, USA

Approx budget: $20,000 USD (no honeymoon)

What inspired you to have an ethical wedding?

Brian and I wanted a celebration that was fun and down to earth, but also a ceremony filled with meaning. Because we both value social justice and the environment, it seemed only natural to incorporate these passions into our wedding.

A bride by a lake holding an orange and yellow bouquet

By choosing to make the wedding more eco- and people-friendly, it helped me to feel excited and less stressed throughout the process. It was good to know that through our wedding we were supporting local farmers, local businesses, and artisans in developing countries and that we were also reducing the environmental footprint for the day by using local food. What could be better than making a positive impact on the world while celebrating our own commitment to each other!

What was the hardest part?

One of the hardest aspects of wedding planning was finding a good starting point. However, in my wedding research I wasn’t finding a lot about how to have a “fair trade wedding”. I found many green wedding blogs and websites, but not many that focused on an ethical awareness. I particularly struggled to find resources for wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. When I stumbled across Ethical Weddings I was really excited to find likeminded people!

Group shot of a wedding party outside a white church

However, I was finding that the UK simply had more socially-minded wedding websites and companies, more up-to-date resources and more ethical wedding designers than the United States.

Because of this, I was inspired to create the blog In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings (www.intandemfairtrade.com). I wanted to fill the void I found stateside, share what I had learned through my own wedding planning and hopefully inspire other couples particularly here in the United States.

Bride's bouquet in green, orange and yellow

What was the most fun bit?

I’m an artist so the most enjoyable aspect of planning our wedding was creating all of the DIY details. I made recycled paper leaf place cards, fair trade hanging paper decorations, repurposed wood table numbers, cloth banners and our save the date postcard.

Wooden place settings

What was also fun was working alongside my husband Brian. We love gardening so we were both excited to plant our own potted succulent centrepieces, which we gave to guests after the wedding to enjoy. Following in family tradition, I also had the opportunity to design my wedding gown along with my mother who made her dress for her wedding.

Floral centrepieces for wedding

How did it go on the day?

Our wedding went really well. They had predicted rain so we were delighted and surprised that the sun came out right before the wedding ceremony! The Adirondack Mountains of New York State were just beginning to turn a delightful shade of yellow ochre and red, and despite the slight chill in the air we couldn’t have picked better day.

Cream wedding cake with couple on top

Although I was a bit nervous before the wedding ceremony, it was great to see everything come together so beautifully. The YMCA lodge where we had our wedding reception was rustic so the nature-inspired décor reflected the season as well as the setting. Our caterer Spoonful Kitchen and Catering was so helpful and the locally sourced food was delicious. Because we really wanted to thank our friends and family for their support, I was so happy that our guests had a great time filled with good food and music.

What are your top tips for an ethical and green wedding day?

  1. Although it’s the least glamorous aspect of any type of wedding planning, I definitely think that it’s important to create a realistic budget and to stick to it! A budget will help you to plan out your wedding as well as prioritise your decisions and the causes you want to support.
  2. A really simple way to have a green wedding is to use potted flowers or plants as your centerpieces. For our wedding reception we potted our own succulents in simple terracotta pots. Not only was this a more eco-friendly alternative than cut flowers, it was actually a cheaper alternative to flower arrangements from a florist. After the wedding we encouraged our guests to take home a plant so that they could continue to enjoy them.
  3. There are so many new ways to reuse materials so buy items that can be reused or have been repurposed. Have your bridesmaids wear dresses that can be worn again, go to thrift stores or rummage sales for glass flower vases since so many get donated after other weddings, repurpose mason jars for candle holders, and so on. Pinterest has some great images for DIY projects using recycled materials.
  4. Share the wealth! Donate your dress and decorations to charities. I know that Oxfam sells wedding gowns in the UK, but in the US there are organizations like Brides for a Cause (www.bridesforacause.com), Wish Upon a Wedding (www.wishuponawedding.org), and Brides Against Breast Cancer (/www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org).
  5. It’s important to be creative and to think outside of the box. It’s great to see more and more couples having weddings that aren’t cookie cutter so embrace your quirks and passions!
  6. Lastly, try to have fun with the process and remember that the wedding is one day, albeit an important one. More important than the actual wedding is the marriage that you have and the exciting adventures that you will take with your best friend!

Wedding ring from Bario Neal

Little white book

Photography: (c) Sarah Smith Photography, 2012  www.sarahsmithphotography.com

Rings: Bride’s band and engagement ring, Bario-Neal www.bario-neal.com and Groom’s ring, vintage from his grandfather

Bridal Party Bouquets and Boutonnieres : Heavenscent Eco-Friendly Florist www.heavenscentfloralart.com

Caterer: Spoonful Kitchen and Catering-Farm to Table Catering – find them on Facebook here

Ethical Weddings

What next?

This is the question we’ve been asking ourselves for a while – after all, a hire suit is intrinsically eco-friendly as it gets worn again and again, but where and how was the suit made in the first place, and what happens to it when it just can’t make it up the aisle one… more… time?

Newly weds from the back - groom with arm around the bride

We put our intrepid blogger, Tara, on the case. Over to Tara…

According to the Office for National Statistics the number of marriages in England and Wales increased by 3.7 per cent to 241,100 in 2010. So I think I’m safe in saying that if every bridegroom bought and wore wedding clothes that were destined never to see the light of day again, that’s a mind boggling stretch of miles and miles of yarn ostensibly going to waste.

But why should it only be the bride getting all the attention and admiration?  Because although they might not admit it, every groom, best man and usher wants to look sharp on the big day too.

Suit hire no longer equates with cheap and nasty, shiny suits.  There are many companies in the UK that offer top quality tailored formal suits, morning suits and all the accessories made from real wool, cotton and often UK-made materials.

More and more grooms, best men and ushers are opting for less formal clothes that reflect their personal style, and can be worn again. But a lot of men still prefer the traditional and time-honoured look: the formal suit or morning suit. And who can blame them? Dapper, flattering and with a touch of vintage all rolled into one – it’s a look that’s hard to beat.

As a bonus, formalwear hire is inexpensive and sustainable: you’ll keep spending and waste to a minimum by hiring clothes that will be re-worn and reused.

We applaud formalwear hire companies for already supporting sustainability. But as part of our groom focus on the blog, we wanted to take things a step further and find out if there were any formalwear hire companies going the extra green mile. We spoke to three forward-thinking hire companies about what they are doing to get ethical.

Anthony Formalwear


Hire suits from Anthony Formalwear

An established and traditional company with over two decades of experience in men’s tailoring, they have a choice of traditional, contemporary, designer and vintage suits and groomswear for hire, as well as accessories and evening wear.

1. Where and how is your formalwear made? In the UK or abroad? Do you have any information on the working conditions or pay of those who make it?

I do not like to deal with any company on important items I cannot travel to and from within 24 hours. I like to know as much as possible about how and where items are made.

All of our own branded items are made in Europe. Our waistcoats, ties, cravats and so on are all made in England in our own factory. Our suits for hire are all made in Germany or Portugal, while tailoring is done in England and Europe.  All the suit factories are large modern establishments so pay would be in line with country average. Shoes again are made in Portugal or by Loakes in Northampton. We sell cufflinks by Ian Flaherty -  made in London. I have visited virtually all of our manufacturers and can vouch for the conditions.

We do have a few accessories and shirts for hire which we buy through agents and I have no idea about the conditions and pay of workers who make those items.

2. What is the formalwear made from? Are any organic, sustainable or fair trade fabrics used?

Harris Tweed Waistcoat from Anthony Formalwear

Our new range of Harris Tweed is from a small family mill on the Isle of Lewis. I chose to use them rather than buy a cheaper version from the East because I feel we need to support our industry.

Our suits are all made from European silk, cashmere, wool or wool poly mix. Our waistcoats are made using European and English milled cloth with some of our accessories’ cloth coming from Japan. Again I prefer to buy British but some of the mills in Italy and Germany produce better cloth.

We did look at organic cotton shirts but it worked out too expensive – this is a price-conscious industry. We can make one-off items in organic and Fairtrade cloth through our made-to-measure department, so shirts, ties and suits can all be designed and made.

3. What happens to the clothes at the end of their life in the hire shop? Are they donated to charity? Recycled?

We sell everything useable on Ebay or to other shops, theatres, performers and artists. Anything not useable goes in the recycling.

4. As a company, do you have any particular ethical policies? Make any donations to charity? Support the local community in some way?

I have my own ethical morals, however, it is hard to bring those to bear in today’s economy where you have to make a profit to keep the staff employed.

In 26 years I have never been asked whether the cloth is organic or Fairtrade, however, a number of times people have commented that they bought from us because the item was made in the UK. As a company we have always tried to deal with businesses we know from the ground up.

Hugh Harris


Black Traditional Herringbone Morning Suit from Hugh Harris suit hire

Hugh Harris Formal Attire has been offering menswear hire and formal suit hire since 1914 with a focus on the very best quality, tailoring and service.

They offer a wide range of their own design suits and accessories in traditional or modern styling as well as an exclusive range from William Hunt of Savile Row.

1. Where and how is your formalwear made? In the UK or abroad? Do you have any information on the working conditions or pay of those who make it?

Currently we stock William Hunt, also of Savile Row, London. In regards to the rest of our collection, shirts, waistcoats, accessories and so on, we try and source as much as possible from the UK.

The majority of our suits are made by a company called Wilvorst who specialise in what is known as ‘Occasion Wear’. They are based in Germany, with all of their manufacturing taking place there. At Hugh Harris we also specialise in designer suit hire. We have worked in the past with Ozwald Boateng of Savile Row to create a collection exclusive to us.

2. What is the formalwear made from? Are any organic, sustainable, Fairtrade fabrics used?

Although we aren’t aware of any organic, sustainable or Fairtrade fabrics being offered or used by our suppliers at the moment, we would certainly consider it if we found it to be a suitable and cost effective alternative to the fabrics we currently use.

Around 90% of our collection is made from natural fibres. Wool, silk and mohair in our suits, silk in our waistcoats, cravats, ties, hankies and other accessories and cotton in our shirts. This is because natural fabrics create a far superior product to wear, and are often longer lasting than man-made fabrics.

3. What happens to the clothes at the end of their life in the hire shop? Are they donated to charity? Recycled?

Once we discontinue a line of suits, either because there is no longer a demand for them, or because they are no longer of an acceptable standard, they are usually donated to charity. We also often sell off our stock as ex-hire.

4. As a company, do you have any particular ethical policies? Make any donations to charity? Support the local community in some way?

Although Hugh Harris doesn’t currently have a specific ethical policy in place, our staff do make an active effort to reduce waste as much as possible, whether by recycling or by turning off unused electronics and lights. The managing director of Hugh Harris also donates to charity on behalf of the company on an annual basis. We regularly donate gift vouchers as raffle prizes for local events that support local charities.

Hugh Harris is also looking to upgrade their booking system to reduce the amount of paper we use. We aim to eliminate sending paper copies of customers’ orders, terms and conditions and other paperwork, instead sending this information digitally either via email, or via a web-based customer portal. This will also facilitate an improvement in how we manage, prepare and dismantle orders, again reducing the amount of paper we use.

Young’s Hire


3 men in grey silk suits

Located in Debenhams stores nationwide, Young’s have a large collection of pure new wool morning suits – in traditional or contemporary styles.

1. Where and how is your formalwear made? In the UK or abroad? Do you have any information on the working conditions or pay of those who make it?

All our factories and suppliers go through regular vigorous checks to ensure that all workers are paid fairly and work in safe environments. The majority of our formal hire suits are made by Swiss Garments in Egypt which is wholly owned by the Arafa group, which is our parent company.

2. What is the formalwear made from? Are any organic, sustainable, Fairtrade fabrics used?

A mixture of natural and man-made fibres are used in our suiting and all fabrics are sustainably sourced.

3. What happens to the clothes at the end of their life in the hire shop? Are they donated to charity? Recycled?

Most garments are donated to charity, unless they are beyond use in which case they are then recycled.

4. As a company, do you have any particular ethical policies? Make any donations to charity? Support the local community in some way?

Help for Heroes is our current supported charity; we have a kilt that was designed in conjunction with Help for Heroes and they receive a donation for each one hired – to date we have raised a considerable amount for the charity.

A big thank you to Anthony Formal Wear, Hugh Harris and Youngs Formal Wear for answering our questions and being transparent, something that isn’t always easy for businesses to do.

The following companies either failed to respond at all, or were unable to respond within the time frame: Jo McLaren, Slaters, Regency Groom, Moss Bros, Groom Hire, Ultimate Formal Hire, and Nicholas Smith. Burton menswear provided a telephone number to their head office but were unable to send us any information via email.

Something a little bit different

If you’re after a keepsake from the day, something you don’t have to give back to the hire shop, how about a  quintessentially British flat cap? It might not quite fit with morning wear, but certainly looks cool with a suit, or why not pull one on as you drive off into the sunset?

Man on the moors wearing eco flat cap and waistcoat

The traditional flat cap has been given a sustainable update by East London label Cock & Bull Menswear, who offer a range of designer menswear made entirely in the UK from sustainable fabrics and yarns.  This tweed, hand-woven design is made on a Hattersley loom in the Outer Hebrides and spun from an eco-friendly blend of British Scottish wool. It’s 100% organic and made to last a lifetime.

Personally, I love this look, and you don’t have to be dressed in plus fours to rock it either.  Here’s what designer A.A. Lindsay said,

The story of this flat cap began with the hunt for exceptional fabrics for the outer tweed cap and an inner lining that would render our flat cap indestructible. Our journey began in the outer Hebrides islands of Scotland – known worldwide for their excellent production of wools and tweeds, and specifically for the British Isles’ most famous heritage textile – Harris Tweed.

What we wanted were hand-woven woollen tweeds in arresting patterns and palettes that would seriously blow away any hat lover. And we certainly got that!

Enjoy the hunt for your ethical groomswear – and if  you have time, come back and tell us about it, we’d love to share your stories.


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Meet the Groom: Collaboration, Cream Tea & a Céilidh

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This month we’ve been inspired by one of the coolest ethical and fair trade brands in men’s bridal fashion.

Our favourite shirt maker, Arthur and Henry, produces beautiful fair trade shirts in organic cotton. We wanted to find out more about them so we collared (sorry) company owner (also “chief herder of geeks and boffins”), Clare Lissaman for more info on this rather exciting company.

Arthur & Henry fair trade shirts for men

What are men’s top choices when they come into Arthur and Henry?

The classics: white herringbone and blue herringbone.  But we’ve also seen that men like little bits of design interest – our pink stripe with floral cuffs and collar has been flying off the shelves too.

Pink stripe floral cuffs shirt from Arthur and Henry

Have you seen an uptake in grooms coming in and wanting something organic for their wedding day?

As we’re an online business we don’t always know what people are buying our shirts for, but yes, we have had an increase in email enquiries from people wanting ethical choices for their wedding and excited to have found us.

One of our grooms, Matt Wilkinson told us this recently: “It meant a great deal to me to get married in a Fairtrade shirt. I didn’t expect to find one that fitted and was smart enough, but I was determined to look nonetheless.

I came across the Arthur and Henry website and immediately ordered two shirts to make sure I had the right size. I didn’t even consult my bride to be!

The shirt is stylish, very well made and looked just right with my suit. Fairtrade means that farmers get a fair price for their crop, which is only right. I was glad to support this idea on such a special occasion.

Groom wearing Arthur and Henry Fairtrade shirt

What inspired you to start Arthur and Henry?

I was at the World Congress on Organic Cotton, full of people passionate about organic farming and textiles.  Someone asked who was actually wearing organic cotton and while most of the women were, most of the men weren’t. They were mainly suited and booted and said that they just couldn’t get smart shirts in organic cotton.

So we decided to make some.

(Makes it sound so simple doesn’t it?  In reality it was a bit of a journey but we got there and are so proud to be the first company doing a full collection of proper shirts for men for work and play in organic cotton).

What does ethical clothing mean to you?

Maximising positive impact on planet and people and minimising the negative. Also, quality clothing that wears well and lasts rather than disposable clothing.

Why should a groom consider Arthur and Henry for his wedding day?

A groom deserves to feel and look his very best on his wedding day.  Our shirts are good shirts.  They are well made. (We don’t like to boast but we’ve received compliments on the make from a Savile Row bespoke tailor.)  And they’re also good for the planet and for the people who’ve made them. Which will make him feel even better on his wedding day.

We can’t promise they’ll take away the pre-wedding nerves. But we can say they’ll see him through the ceremony and the celebration with aplomb.

Arthur and Henry are already making an impact in the ethical fashion world and this is what groom Alex Dodds had to say on why he chose an Arthur and Henry shirt for his wedding:

“I guess the main reason why I was so keen to buy an Arthur and Henry shirt is your and my ethical stance. I buy Fairtrade and organic clothing and food as often as possible anyway, it only felt right to make sure everything involved with my wedding was as humanely and environmentally friendly as possible.

“Even if it means spending a bit more time and money searching out manufacturers like yourselves who care about the products you sell, and more importantly about the lives of the people who actually make those products. I really believe voting with your wallet and being careful who you give your money to can really help to make a difference in the world.

We couldn’t agree with you more Alex!

Our thanks to  Clare and the Arthur and Henry team.

Green grooms please get in touch to let us know what you think and if you know of any other innovative, ethical fashion companies catering to your tastes.


Related articles:

Here comes the groom

Seven stylish ethical cufflinks

Keep calm, you’re getting married

My alternative husband

Meet the Groom: Collaboration, Cream Tea & a Céilidh

5 great green grooms


Ethical Weddings

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