5 Ways to Create a beautiful Eco Wedding 

By Linda Thomas of Linda Thomas Eco Design

THE GOWN

To have your dream Wedding dress being kind to People and Planet there are just two things to consider: “What is it made of?” and “Who Made it?” The finished gown will feel fabulous and will give a whole different energy to your Wedding day. You will feel as well as look good, knowing what your dress represents.

Many Wedding gowns, from cheap right up to super high cost bespoke creations use materials that are environmentally destructive. Many satin gowns are actually made from polyester which is a synthetic material derived from oil. Synthetic and mixed fibres are the hardest to recycle and this matters with the UK alone having an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of unwanted clothing and textiles in landfill each year (DEFRA). There is also evidence emerging that synthetic fabrics shed tiny particles into the water system which eventually end up in the sea and harming our beautiful marine animals. Up to 85% of microfibre sea pollution may have originated from synthetic clothing. (Mark Browne).

POSITIVE fabric choices include:

● Upcycled fabrics (I cut up old silk garments to make new gowns)

● Vintage fabrics

● New sustainable fabrics: organic cotton, hemp, linen, wool

● Other sustainable fabrics: peace silk, some bamboo and viscose, although processes can be very intensive to turn the pulp into fabric

● Recycled fabrics made from breaking something down and making new fabric, again may be very intense process

POSITIVE ways to ensure you are not perpetuating slave like conditions (that you would never personally put someone in first hand) are:

● A dress made for you by someone you can meet (directly ask who makes the fabric/dress)

● A genuine vintage gown

● A pre-loved gown bought from a specialist Charity Shop

● Adapt a dress you already have

● Make you own (Using sustainable materials)

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THE VENUE

What is the ethos behind the venue. Is there a focus on the environment. One main issue with a venue is if they expect you to have a certain package, such as using their caterers, then where do they source their food. Like dresses, high cost is no guarantee of high care for the environment. Look for organic, local and seasonal ingredients or that you are free to source your own caterers. Key things to avoid are non organic meat and non sustainably caught fish. Catering creates a large amount of the waste at any wedding, this can be limited by having a mixture of reusables (plates, cutlery) and recyclables. It is easier for yourself and your guests to separate rubbish from the beginning, by having containers for recycling glass, plastic, tins and compostables. Discuss with the Venue, their attitude to this will give you a clue to how green they really are.

The other issue is how it is decorated. If you are making things, think about whether it is biodegradable and just consider as much as possible limiting your use of plastic, in whatever form. Think wood, metal, china, fabric scraps and dried flower petals instead. Limit what will enter big black bin bags at the end of the day.

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RINGS AND OTHER JEWELLERY

The vast majority of precious metal has not moved on a great deal from the awful conditions of 100s of years ago. The good news is that ethical jewellers are out there. Look for upcycled, recycled or fair trade metal or some other unique material. I know couples that have got jewellers to melt down their own sentimental old jewellery to make their rings for them, others that have made their own rings over a supervised course or who have just bought certified fairtrade or recycled jewellery from one of the bespoke jewellers out there. If you have already commissioned your Jeweller, ask them to make the rings using recycled or fair trade metal, it is readily available. Similarly if you are having a stone then has it been grown or ethically mined.

THE FLOWERS

Consider the time of year you are getting married. If you want roses in February there are likely to be flown in to get to you. There are beautiful seasonal options for your foliage throughout the year. More and more local and organic florists and growers are appearing and you can either use one of them to deliver the whole package or ask your florist to order their flowers from an organic grower.

Another option, if planning your wedding well in advance, is to grow your own flowers and then arrange them yourself. Do a little research and see if your favourite blooms grow on a bush you can plant or from seeds that you can nurture ready for the day. For a late Winter wedding you can consider bulbs too. If you plant a bush or tree then you will have it as a lovely reminder of your special day. Look around at what you already have growing in your garden and offer it to the florist to use as the greenery, such as Ivy or Rosemary.

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MAKE UP AND HAIR

This is something where greening up your wedding may get you thinking about what you do all year round. What is in the list of ingredients of the products you use on your hair and body. Too many products are still tested on animals and many of the ingredients are derived from petrochemicals and known skin irritants. If you chose to use a make-up artist, then ask them about their products as their approaches vary wildly. I know some who love to use organic and natural make-up but get asked time and time again for a certain big brand name that has an appalling track record with animal cruelty, whilst others who really don’t care what their products are made of and it is all about ‘the look’. Ask them if they have experience with using ethical brands.

Having an Eco Wedding doesn’t need to be any more expensive it is about asking questions and choosing well. Themes of upcycling and recycling can lead to more creativity and fun and will hopefully inspire you into having a Wedding that feels more you and more reflective of your values. Enjoy.

Dresses: Linda Thomas Eco Design
Photography: Matt Revell Photography
Eco Make up and Hair: Rebecca Rose Robinson
Flowers: Organic Blooms
Ethical Jewellery: April Doubleday from Movement Boutique Bristol
Models: Ella, Jess and Jess
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Linda is an ethical dress designer, who only makes sustainable garments. She specialises in upcycling with luxury materials such as silk, cashmere and merino. Her Wedding gowns often feature ellaborate trains from hand felting merino onto upcycled silk. Every garment is entirely unique whether it is for the Bride, her Mum, or a Bridesmaid. Linda is passionate about clothes being made to fit the woman and not the other way around and is delighted to work with any special requirements, whether post surgery, adjustments due to illness, scarring or disability. She won Young Designer of Nottingham  more than 25 years ago (before going on to study Medicine), and in more recent times won a Silver 'Janey Loves Platinum Award' for her Fire Dress shown above. She can be contacted via her website www.LindaThomasEcoDesign.co.uk