Planning an Ethical Wedding - Part Four: The Details
After all the big things like the dress, invitations, venue, and vendors are arranged, you find that there are a million little wedding details that you have to figure out on your own. What shoes to wear, what to give the groomsmen, what should the centerpieces look like, the list goes on and on and on.. The thing is, the list looks completely different for every couple. The details that Trey and I chose for our wedding are probably not things that other couples are going to replicate, but I do hope that they will inspire them to look for little ways to make their weddings a reflection of their own values. Here are some of the little ethical details that tied the whole magical day together for us.
Rather than buying new, I wanted to incorporate some vintage elements into our wedding. Not only did they fit with the aesthetics of our decor, but using vintage elements meant we didn't have to buy new, so nothing new had to be created. I went estate sale and antique shop-hopping in the months before the wedding and found vintage tea and food tins to hold flowers in our centerpieces. I carried a vintage beaded clutch, and wore vintage jewelry including my earrings and bracelet. Trey and I even used a set of my grandparents' antique crystal champagne coupes for the toasts, which made the moment all the more special.
Donating the Flowers
Long before I was ever engaged, I'd seen a news story about a charity that delivers leftover wedding flowers to Hospice. Since then, I'd always known that I wanted to do something similar. There is no organization here in Buffalo that offers such a service, so I took it upon myself to get my wedding flowers to people whose lives could use some brightening. I called Hospice Buffalo to coordinate a delivery for the day after my wedding. Even after guests took home many of the centerpieces, I was amazed by how many flowers were still left the next day. I had brought some old mason jars and other vessels to the venue, and spent some time that morning grouping the flowers into arrangements for the Hospice patients. I delivered a car load of flowers myself later that day. I felt wonderful knowing that the flowers weren't just tossed in the trash. Instead, they helped to bring smiles to dozens of patients in palliative care.
The Seating Area
This was maybe my favorite element of the whole wedding. I wanted to give guests an area to relax during the cocktail hour and reception, and for it to have a vintage bohemian garden party vibe. I'd been searching for the right used furniture pieces all year. When my parents' friends offered us an old sofa, chair, and side table, I was delighted to find that they were EXACTLY what we were looking for! A rug that had been passed around Trey's family really tied the space together. I did purchase some of the hanging and standing lanterns new, but we were able to sell them to our wedding coordinator so that they can be used for more weddings in the future.
Some Things Borrowed and Blue
Rather than plain ol' boring linens for the bistro tables, I thought tapestries would add to the bohemian vibe of the event. I had a few (from my college years!) and borrowed the rest from one of my closest friends, who had actually purchased them for her own wedding last year. I was able to save a few bucks on linens and didn't have to buy anything new. I also wanted little colored glass bottles to surround the vintage tins in the centerpieces. I found a few at garage sales and antique shops, but most were too expensive. While I was trying to figure out what do, I remembered a blue sake bottle that I had saved from a sushi date with friends. I called the restaurant and asked if they'd be willing to save some of the empty bottles for me. They totally went above and beyond and I wound up with over 40 bottles! They were perfect. (Thank you SeaBar!) My awesome blue shoes were from vegan designer Roni Kantor, out of Israel. They were surprisingly affordable and comfortable!
Things We Skipped
We decided not to have any kind of favors for our wedding guests. Have you ever left a wedding thinking "Gee, I'm so grateful to have this packet of jordan almonds, or this shot glass with the bride & groom's name on it!?" No, you haven't. Because that stuff is forgettable, and it always ends up in the trash. So we skipped it. Trey and I figured that guests should remember our wedding by the wonderful food they ate, drinks they imbibed, music they danced to, and by the love and joy that everyone felt on that day. And that is enough. We did consider making a charitable donation in lieu of favors, but then we would have had to print something out to let guests know about it, and that seemed pretty wasteful, so we skipped it entirely. Another thing we skipped was the cake. Neither Trey or I really care for cake all that much, and we certainly wouldn't have wanted to interrupt the awesome time we were having on the dance floor to cut one. Weddings cakes are expensive, and often most of the cake gets thrown away anyway. There are going to be plenty of wedding elements that people will tell you "YOU HAVE TO HAVE." But go with your gut. If there's something you don't want to do, don't do it. It's your day, and it should be a reflection of you, your partner, and the values you share.
I have to give a major shout out to Alyson and Nick of Rust Belt Love. I did not have to worry for one second on my wedding day about any of the details coming together. They set everything up beautifully, and the whole day was even better than Trey and I had imagined thanks to them! Credit for all of the gorgeous photography goes to the amazing Nickel City Studios.
That does it for my Guides to Planning an Ethical Wedding. Remember, the best thing about online wedding planning advice is that you can pick and choose only the bits that work for you. I hope that you've found parts of this series helpful in planning your own ethical wedding!