How to Create a Sustainable and Unique Ceremony

As I write this, we are in #secondhandseptember. Now, if you’re the kind of person who never visits a charity shop, never thinks that secondhand stuff could be an option, and says to themselves “no – my ceremony is going to have everything completely brand new – I’m really not interested in secondhand stuff and whatever you say, Helen, is not going to convince me to buy anything other than brand new stuff” then is NOT the blog for you (or rather it most definitely is for you and you should read on to open up your world to a whole new outlook!).

If you are interested in having a sustainable ceremony, a ceremony that has a positive impact on the environment AND makes your guests say “oh wow – that looks good, I like what they’ve created here’, read on!….

So, why would you consider buying seocndhand/pre-loved items?

Well, there are lots of things you can do that can impact your ceremony; think secondhand, vintage and unique pieces, bringing that extra special something to your ceremony (who wants to go into a shop and buy exactly what everyone else can buy, when you could have something that is unique and special?!) So, 1. Let’s not beat around the bush – it’s much cheaper to buy secondhand (and who doesn’t love a bargain and getting value for money?!); 2. Unique items – even if at the time they were originally made, they were mass produced, fast forward 30, 40, 50 years later, there’s probably not that many around anymore meaning that you get something that is unique and possibly not seen before by your guests; 3. It’s a no-brainer in terms of environmental impact.

#secondhandseptember principles

You may have seen the hashtag for secondhand September floating around on your social media, but did you know that it’s a campaign originally started by the charity Oxfam in 2019. Although it started as a way to combat ‘fast fashion’ it’s now become a method that can be applied to all areas of life – including when you’re planning a ceremony! At the campaign’s core are 4 key principles – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reinvest:

  • Reduce the amount of stuff you buy brand new
  • Reuse what you’ve already got (could your item be embellished or altered in some way to give it a new lease of life?)
  • Recycle what you’ve already got (could your dress/plate/lamp etc be repurposed/fixed/updated?)
  • Reinvest – could stuff you already have be given to charity once you no longer have a use for it? – reinvest that piece so that someone else can make use of it and get their unique item (and the charity gain from selling it too!)
How can I apply this to planning and creating my ceremony?

When you have a ceremony, of course you will want to look good and feel special – because it’s an important and special occasion. And no matter what type of ceremony you are planning – whether it be a Wedding, Naming, Renewal of Vows, Commitment (or anything else!), there are always going to be bits and pieces that you want to buy. It could be decorations, garments, invitations, gifts for guests, possibly crockery if you’re organising the event yourself (there are some amazing bone china tea sets I’ve seen lately that would look divine laid out on a table!). 

For weddings in particular, I’m sure you will have heard the phrase ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ – so the ‘something old’ could indeed be a garment or piece of jewellery that is second hand/pre-loved. And of course you’re very likely to find ‘something blue’ in a charity shop/online pre-loved store that would fit the bill.

Whether you’re a bride, mother-of-the-bride/groom, parents to children having a naming ceremony, a married couple renewing your vows – you will want to feel special and unique in what you’re wearing. Even if you don’t find a garment that perfectly fits the bill – you could get creative and have it altered – maybe adding embellishments, having it dyed a different colour, having sleeves added where none exist already. And if you’re not feeling that creative yourself, there are lots of talented dressmakers, tailors and designers out there who would be delighted to get their hands on something old and make it new again!

More Ideas

Something else to consider are flowers. Flowers are often incorporated into a ceremony for decoration so you could consider using dried flowers instead of fresh (this is currently a growing trend too). Most of us think that flowers have a certain shelf life – they die off and then that’s it, they’re thrown away – but preserved and looked after in the right way, dried flowers are just as beautiful and dramatic as fresh.

Depending on the look you’re going for, bunting might be a lovely way to decorate your venue. You could use off cuts of material you have at home, or pick up ‘end of roll’ fabrics from textile shops (the pieces of material that aren’t quite big enough to make a complete garment from, but totally usable for something like bunting).

Get in touch 

If you have any thoughts or tips about about how you can create a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and unique ceremony, or want to ask anything at all just get in touch via the website ; email ; sign up to the newsletter for ceremony tips, advice and ideas on the homepage ; Or message me via facebook or Insta. Go on, I dare you! – find out what the possibilities could be for your ceremony!

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