Are You Being Good?
Compromise-free ways to do a little bit of good for the world when you get married—or at least, do less harm.
Feel like today's weddings are too often just celebrations of conspicuous consumption? That may be overstating the issue a bit, but there is a sense out there that this whole "wedding thing" can be a waste of resources. If you're trending in that direction, let us show you how—with everything from small steps to grand gestures—you can have a wedding that's compatible with your values.
While we don't think you have to approach every aspect of your celebration as a way to save the planet (if you want zero environmental impact, head to city hall and stream it online), but wouldn't it be smart to choose vendors and options that are helping make the world a better place? There's a lot of money changing hands in the creation of a wedding—you might as well send it in a direction that makes you feel good. Here are some ideas that might be worth trying...
Hosting a destination wedding in an area that's been financially impacted by the recent Gulf oil spill could help boost that area's economy in significant ways. Louisiana, Florida, and coastal Alabama are home to many modern resorts and charming historic hotels that are well versed in staging weddings and would more than appreciate business from afar.
"Local businesses are truly suffering," says Charli Linn, owner of All the Details, a beach-wedding planning business based on Alabama's Gulf Coast. "When you cancel a wedding, there's a domino effect—there's the florists, the local musicians, the caterers, the hotel and condo owners...," Charli explains. She also encourages couples on the hunt for a destination-wedding location to consider getting married on one of Florida's or Alabama's still amazingly pristine beaches, which are now very affordable choices. "We're wide open," she explains, "and everyone down here is willing to make a deal."
Many couples are starting to consider how the purchase of their wedding rings will impact the communities and ecosystems where the diamonds and/or precious metals (like gold) are mined—fortunately they can now patronize vendors who address those issues. For example, Brilliant Earth uses conflict-free Canadian diamonds as well as ethically sourced diamonds from Namibia; designer Donna Distefano works primarily with gem suppliers who simultaneously support mining communities' public projects; Ruff&Cut makes its fashion-forward designs with fair trade diamonds from Sierra Leone and recycled gold. Recycling gold is always a great option, so if you're creating a custom ring consider having the band made from gold jewelry owned by the women in your (or his) family—that would be a great idea even if it didn't save you lots of money.
It's no secret that many wedding gowns (and ready-to-wear garments) are created in factories in China and Korea; and where labor is cheap, human rights are more easily compromised. All the more reason to shop "local,"—from, say, a wedding-gown label like Los Angeles-based Alix & Kelly, which employs seamstresses in the city's garment district. Bonus: If your bridal salon carries designers who produce locally, you'll receive your finished gown in less time since it won't have to be shipped from abroad or go through (notoriously problematic) Customs procedures. Other noteworthy designers who make their dresses in the U.S. include Amsale, Claire Pettibone, Lela Rose, and Oscar de La Renta.