In the UK there are about 230,000 weddings a year; research shows this statistic is reducing, with more couples choosing to live together rather than 'tie the knot,': with the wedding industry being worth about £10 million a year, and the average ceremony costing the couple and/or their parents about £30, 000, you have to think, are they living together to save money? Or are they just tired of the same old formula?
Church hire, venue costs, dress, bridesmaids, food, guests cost (including accommodation), travel, honeymoon, photography, hair and make-up, bridal and groom wear, the list goes on. Are we beginning to lose the love we had with this fairytale type of wedding? Has it all got a bit mundane?
Our romantic ideals for a wedding made -in -heaven, comes from the young brides eager to copy their newly crowned Queen Victoria; who back in the early c19th chose to get married in a grand, white satin dress. Before this, white dresses were rare, (previously only affordable to the richest), ceremonies small, and usually conducted in one's own home. But Victoria set the scene for big venues (the ordinary folk now opting for the church, where more people could be seated), big dresses, and big food; the middle class now being able to bring in, and hire caterers; simple,homely cake and floral arrangements were now being done by professionals.
As the nation and the world have grown richer we've taken all this on; but have we had enough of all this frippery? More and more people seem to be looking for a simpler, more natural day in which to celebrate their love. And this might be something more profound than just saving money. We all think more now about waste, and how we can do our bit to save the planet, and all that tinsel, plastic, energy and sheer extravagance is starting to get to us.
Attitudes have relaxed; most of us are comfortable with gay marriages, civil ceremonies, cliff-top and sky-diving unions. We are doing more preparations for ourselves rather than having every detail being taken over by the professionals. And I've spoken to a lot of women who would rather just be with their partner on the day, and elope to a secluded, beauty spot. But that's not always possible; parents, friends and relatives often want to share your day.
Many couples nowadays want a modern, stylish, wonderful day; one which offers eco-friendly choices, as well as leaving the smallest ecological footprint. So let's think for a minute about this madness, times 230,000 and what we can do about it.
Choose local caterers
Eat local grown, caught, and raised food, use local food retailers, and choose your menu around the seasons.
Even wine, beer and spirits can usually be sourced locally: This cuts down travel costs and emissions, usually tastes better, and is often very much cheaper.
Flowers, buy British
Up to 90% of all our cut flowers (sold in supermarkets etc) are imported from abroad. Places like Columbia and Kenya do rely on this industry for a lot of their income, however many workers still suffer ill effects from exposure to pesticides so it is worth noting if your flowers are safeguarded with the Fair-trade stamp. If you can find a local florist who uses locally grown leaves and flowers, and perhaps uses recycled packaging that would count towards a smaller ecological footprint.
Flowers, and flower decorations can also double up as wedding favours, or can be donated to rest homes or hospitals when your day is over.
This is usually the most expensive item of the day. Again choose local where you can; this gives you more time with guests and provides less stress, as travel is costly on time, energy and nerves. Romantic outdoor or woodland settings can be cheaper, use not- for- profit spaces, and you might consider a smaller guest list.
Use recycled paper for handmade decorations; consider on-line invitations, or ones without envelopes, such as postcards, or save-the-date post notes, place cards, and thank you notes. You could also start a wedding blog.
Again you could stay local to cut air miles, if not, once there, look at hiring bikes, taking eco-friendly public transport. Stay in a tepee, a yurt or book a 'green hotel'.