Keeping the Cost Down - financially and ethically
Weddings can be enormously expensive. However, there are many ways to keep the cost down whilst still making the day really special and memorable. The most important thing is that two people want to marry each other and spend the rest of their lives together, and that they want to ask God to bless that commitment in the sacrament of marriage. They want to make this commitment to God, in church, and in front of their families and friends. Their families and friends can help them plan and execute a day that will not cost the earth. And, indeed, the wedding will not literally ‘cost the earth’ if people want to think ‘ethical’ and ‘green’. Below are some ideas that might save a bit of money, followed by ways in which a wedding might be ‘ethical and green’.
Keeping the financial cost down
Ask a special friend to help you plan the wedding.
Design your own invitations on a computer. Buy paper or card and envelopes from a discount stationery store.
Make your own or look in second-hand clothes shops, or look on Ebay.
Make your own or look on Ebay.
Polish the family car and decorate it with ribbons to make it look festive. Be imaginative about transport. See what is available from family and friends.
Ask people in advance to provide flowers from their gardens. Guide them with colour ideas. If you are organised enough you can ask people to plant flower seeds in advance to go with the colour scheme. The bride and bridesmaids can carry loosely tied bunches of garden flowers. In winter months use greenery and berries tied up with ribbons to co-ordinate with the bridesmaids’ dresses. Ask the church flower team for their ideas. The flowers can be taken from the church to the reception. Or put ribbons at the end of pews instead of flowers. Both flowers and ribbons can be bought from wholesale flower markets at greatly reduced prices if someone is prepared to go very early in the morning.
Buy multi-packs of cheap and chunky candles – either white, ivory or in colours to match the flowers and dresses. You might attach a single flower, or a small sprig, or a piece of ribbon to match the colour scheme, to each candle. The candles can be taken on to the reception and placed on the tables.
Design your own service sheets on a computer. Thread ribbons to match the colour scheme through the sheets to make them look special.
Do you have any friends who could form a small music group to lead the singing at the service, or a friend who plays the piano or sings, and who could then provide gentle background music at the reception?
Rings vary enormously in price and can be bought second-hand as well as new.
Make your own out of tissue paper using a hole punch or scatter handfuls of rose or larkspur petals from baskets, or use rice.
Have the reception in the church hall, the parish room, a local school, an upstairs room in a pub, or in someone’s garden with a few gazebos in case of rain. A hired marquee tends to be a very expensive option unless you can hire one from a local scout or guide group.
Decorations at the Reception
Place tablecloths over long tables and arrange groups of chunky candles and glass tumblers of flowers at intervals. Helium-filled balloons are very effective. Anchor them in twos and threes to the centres of the tables. Choose colours to fit the theme.
Ask people to ‘bring and share’ plates of food. It is safer if you plan a menu in advance and ask specific people to bring specific items.
Although it is traditional to have champagne at weddings anything fizzy will do. Make a fruit punch and put it in a large glass bowl. Add pieces of fruit and heart-shaped ice cubes.
Ask a friend to bake the cake – either traditional fruit cake, or chocolate gateau, or carrot cake. A pyramid made with meringues or profiteroles looks very impressive – several people might help with this.
Photography and Video Film
Ask several friends with digital cameras to be the official photographers.
Being ethical and green
Design your own invitations on a computer and use recycled paper or card. Use envelopes made from recycled paper.
The wedding dress, bridesmaids’ and pageboys’ clothes, and groom’s clothes can be made from Fair Trade and/or organic cotton.
See above. If buying flowers choose Fair Trade varieties.
Ask your nearest L’Arche Community to make candles. You can give them a special order so that you have exactly what you want. Look L’Arche up on the internet to find your nearest community.
Ask guests to share transport. Give people details of buses and trains with their invitations and arrange for a coach or minibus to collect from stations.
Design your own service sheets on a computer. Print them off on recycled paper. Thread ribbons through the sheets to make them look special.
In summertime have the reception in a garden – have a few gazebos in case of rain.
As far as is possible use fairly-traded food.
Buy Fair Trade wine. Make a fruit punch using delicious Fair Trade fruit juice. The Co-Op or Traidcraft has a good range. Serve Fair Trade tea, coffee and sugar.
Bake a cake using Fair Trade ingredients. Buy and decorate a Fair Trade fruit cake.
Ask for ethical gifts – either gifts from Fair Trade or charity catalogues (eg Oxfam, Christian Aid, Traidcraft, Cafod, Tearfund, Habitat for Humanity etc) or gifts, given or bought in your name, that go to the charity (eg Send a Cow, Oxfam, Christian Aid). Gifts can be ordered from websites so put their web addresses on the invitations.