16 August, 2016

7 Ways to Fair Trade Your Wedding

Fair Trade Your Wedding
by Stefanie Colish, Fairtrade America’s Licensing Manager

Planning a wedding is hard work, but making it fair doesn't have to be. Here are 7 tips on how to make it an ethical affair.

If you're anything like me, the thought of planning a wedding is terrifying - the black hole of Pinterest alone is overwhelming! Elopement anyone?

But I'm lucky enough to have doting parents and a supportive fiancé who talked me into the idea that this might be fun and that we can do it on our terms. For us that means having a socially conscious wedding that leaves the smallest footprint. At first this seemed completely unrealistic – especially with the copious amounts of advice and social pressure coming from all directions. But then my co-worker reminded me that I work for Fairtrade (thank you, Mary) and have a plethora of resources at my fingertips.

So here it goes – my top 7 tips to planning a fair wedding!

Go paperless

Not only is this an environmentally sound option for your invites and thank you cards, but it’s also a huge cost saver! There are tons of customizable paperless options out there, and it also makes your life easier when tallying up RSVPs.  And for those family and friends who aren’t online, a friendly phone call gives you an excuse to invite them and catch up.

Location is everything!

For many people, the biggest expense for the day may be the venue so why not look for a venue that is a non-profit. This could be a historical society, a museum or a park. My non-profit location even uses part of the venue fee to directly fund programming! Plus you’ll probably have a unique and beautiful spot to celebrate…think of the pictures!

Put a (responsible) ring on it

One tradition my partner and I are partaking in is the exchange of rings. But neither of us wants to wear a ring from gold that was mined by people working in slave-like conditions. For reassurance, Fairtrade gold seems to be the only way for us to go on this. Another option is to look for recycled gold and have your own rings made.

If you’re looking to bling out your ring, I wholeheartedly request that you consider not using diamonds. I could go on and on about the awful scenarios associated with the diamond industry (Fairtrade does not currently certify diamonds for a number of reasons), but alas this blog is not focused on that topic.  I suggest you check out Global Witness’s thoughts on it.

If you are going to get a diamond, please ensure that it is at least Kimberly certified – a step in the right direction.

Fair Trade Your WeddingGreen flowers

One huge cost saver is creating your own floral centerpieces and making them eco-friendly. Think about using something like succulents or find a local flower greenhouse (check out your farmers’ market). If you can’t find flowers locally, Fairtrade has a few options. BeMyRose allows you to source flowers directly from their farm in Ecuador. As the owner of BeMyRose, Valentina, just got married herself, you can imagine that her company is super helpful and will ensure that your wedding has the freshest flowers.

Wine (sorry,I can’t think of a catchy heading)

Another cost saver is buying your own wine instead of having the caterer supply it. With that in mind we’re aiming to toast with wine from farmers and workers who got a fairer price plus premium for their product. Cape Vida supplies both a high quality red and white wine in 3 liter boxes from South Africa that are perfect for any celebration. If you’re looking for bottled wines, check out other Fairtrade options here.

Sweet sourcing

Who doesn't love something sweet, right? One of the best parts of any wedding is the cake and desserts, and to make my sweets even sweeter, I want assurance that those who cultivated the ingredients also got a sweet deal. This is where Fairtrade is lending a huge helping hand, not to mention some delicious options.

For my cake, I am dropping off some Zesa Raw sugar at the bakery. This is so easy to do and is something my colleagues do all of the time when creating Fairtrade cookies for events. Simply ask the baker how much sugar they need and drop off a bag (or two, or three). If your baker is as awesome as mine, this will cost nothing extra.

S’mores please! In addition to a cake, we’re planning to set up s’more stations – cost saver, easy, fun and delicious! The best part of s’mores, in my opinion, is the chocolate! Divine’s dark chocolate is the perfect foundation of any s’more plus they are a cooperative co-owned company.

(In all seriousness, if you have not had Divine’s dark chocolate bar, stop reading and quickly proceed to your nearest grocery to pick up a bar or twenty.)

After dinner buzz

To keep the party going, I intend to caffeinate my guests liberally to revive them from that food coma following dinner. Fairtrade has tons of delicious coffee options. We’re planning to opt for Kishe coffee, which is farmer-owned and based in Guatemala and has an all-female farmer coffee blend.  It’s not every day that a producer group owns their entire supply chain - I can’t say enough great things about Kishe!

But wait, there’s more!

Like these ideas? Check out these and a few more on this wedding board on Fairtrade America’s Pinterest. And, let me know your suggestions for an ethical wedding in the comments below!

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