Choose Wisely

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PLANNING AN ETHICAL WEDDING WHILE BEING CONSCIOUS OF THE PEOPLE, THE PLANET AND YOUR PARTNER.

The words ‘conscious’ and ‘mindful’ are everywhere. From books to billboards, conferences to expos, our world has suddenly realised that being aware and awake are crucial to our survival and happiness. But being conscious is not simply about being aware of your surroundings, it’s responding back to them in a way that shows you understand, you are present, and you respect the beauty of your existence. It is one thing to be awake, but it is another to respond with purpose.

When it comes to weddings in the 21st century, the word ‘conscious’ seems to sit far, far away. Instead, wants, needs, and perfections usually drive decisions, often at the cost of people and the environment. As an ethical consumer and ‘conscious-seeker’, when it came time to plan my own wedding, I knew that ‘conscious’ would not sit far, far away, but walk straight into the room and become the life of the party. With the help of 30 of our closest friends and family, my husband Tim proposed to me in June 2016. This community driven proposal mirrored the theme of our wedding, and now embodies the foundation of our marriage.

With conscious intentionality, we recognise that we are two people in community, never standing alone.

Through reflecting on our planning process, I have discovered that planning a conscious wedding involves considering three key elements: the people, the planet, and each other.
Conscious of people: Being conscious of your guests, your friends and family may sound like a given. But when it comes to ethical wedding planning, it is not as easy as it sounds. Weddings have the potential to alienate guests. By conforming to the norm, and living up to what Western society says a wedding must be, even those closest to you can feel they are trapped in a formal role to play, or forced into wearing a dress they are uncomfortable in. Tim and I threw away the stereotypical wedding structure, and made our people the forefront of our decision-making.

From distant relatives to closest friends, we created a day that uplifted and celebrated all our connections for who they are, rather than what we wanted the pictures to look like— although the pictures did look pretty damn cool! Yes, your wedding day is about you and your partner, but how does your wedding honour your people? Your community is full of talents, and when you seek out these talented people, you will find they are more than happy to help! We found that calling on the talents of our local community enabled our friends and family to become invested in our big day. Our wedding was a great representation of the skills existent in our circle, and an enriching way for our guests to utilise their skills and be publicly acknowledged for them. A 12-year-old braided my hair (her braiding skills are simply amazing), 18 wonderful ladies made afternoon tea, friends were called upon to capture the moments, and a team of organised visionaries set up our ceremony themselves.

Our wedding guests were not the only people we thought about when it came to being intentional in our wedding planning and marriage. Ethical wedding hub, Less Stuff – More Meaning, introduced me to the idea of giving back to your ‘global community’. This is a phenomenon that I simply cannot get out of my head. Our global community are entwined with us both economically and socially, far more than we credit them for.

Planning a wedding is a great way to become aware of your global village and spark a relationship with groups who need your help.

Tim and I coupled with the Offspring Project who made us a beautiful throw crafted from recycled saris by women who were rescued from sex trafficking. This was hung up as a display at our wedding, and now lies at the foot of our bed; a sweet little reminder of our wedding day.

Conscious of the planet: It sounds funny to be conscious of the planet—don’t we walk on it, live in it, and interact with it every day? Being conscious, rather than simply going about our days, involves a much deeper understanding of how our actions and habits impact the earth. I love the outdoors; hiking through native bush, swimming in the ocean, running around glistening lakes. The intricacies of nature fascinate me, and after learning about humans’ destructive impact, I changed my habits to reduce my footprint so I could help look after the environment I love so much. Our wedding was no exception. Throughout our wedding planning, Tim and I carefully researched each aspect to decide on the most sustainable and eco-friendly way to approach it. I collected jars and odd glasses from second-hand shops, found sustainably sourced napkins, bought a dress made ethically of organic materials, chose organic food trucks who provided compostable plates, and borrowed where I could. Tim and I were vocal about these eco-friendly decisions, and our guests often let us know that our eco wedding encouraged them to start composting or buy second-hand clothes.

When it comes to weddings, it takes a lot of thought and effort to be conscious of the environment, but it’s worth it. Your wedding can even promote the care of our planet and urge your guests to become conscious of their everyday decisions.

Conscious of each other: Wedding planning is the process before the day where you lawfully unite with your partner. So, this process should be a time when you are most aware and conscious of their needs, thoughts and worries. However, wedding planning is also a time of a thousand decisions,
time constraints and shortened sleeping hours. Keeping conscious of your partner is the most important element to uphold, but also the most difficult.

Even though our wedding was one of life’s most wondrous days, I’ve learned marriage preparation and relationship need to come first. Tim and I were ‘consciously conscious’ of keeping a balance between work, wedding planning and spending quality time with each other. We gave each other interventions when the balance was swaying, and called each other up when we could see ourselves losing focus on what really matters.

Tim and I have always valued communication. We began our relationship as best friends, resulting in an ease of awareness, and strength to speak honestly and directly. Being mindful in our marriage means we assess our own decisions based on the impact on the other. When we witness each other losing direction, unconsciously hurting others, or ignoring core beliefs, we hold each other accountable by letting them know and working together to find our way back.

A conscious marriage involves copious amounts of respect, gutsy levels of communication and a generous bundle of kindness.

Consuming mindfully with care for our earth and people was the mantra at our wedding. It is a statement that continues to grow in our marriage and allows us to feel alive with purpose. Your wedding is a day to celebrate your love for one another with your nearest and dearest, but I challenge you to make it more. Dwell upon your greater purpose, breathe in your surroundings, investigate your impact and open your eyes in a conscious and responsive way to the people and the planet with whom we are intertwined.

Carly Tia

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