January 25, 2019

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Bohemian Wedding

When Eric and I got engaged in 2016, we knew that our big day had to be a reflection of who we are. Tree-hugging, textile-loving, environmentalists and self-proclaimed modern hippies. Yup, that’s us! As conscious consumers and business owners, our commitment to protecting our planet through TAMGA echoes our personal values and world-views, and so it’s a no-brainer that the most important day of our lives would have to do the same. Forget the wastefulness of paper stationery, over-the-top spending’s, and single-wear wedding dresses! We’re sharing tips, tricks, and photos from our bohemian-inspired wedding that was not only eco-friendly and low-waste, but arguably the best wedding our guests have ever been to (or so we are told!).
Sustainable Wedding TAMGA Designs
Choose Ethical Rings
Choosing an ethical ring has never been easier (or trendier!). You can go with a unique antique find, make use of a passed down heirloom or work with a dealer who is committed to responsible sourcing and artisan production. You’ll value a ring even more when it has a special story behind it.

Eric got my engagement and wedding band from fine-jewellery brand ARTËMER, founded by husband wife duo based in Tel-Aviv, Israel (my hometown). I have been a fan of ARTËMER for years and Eric knew that proposing to me in Tel-Aviv with ARTËMER rings would make the occasion that much more meaningful. We visited their studio, watched them work and learned about how they source only conflict-free diamonds.

Eric’s ring was custom made by our friend Blythe from Elizabeth Blythe in Canada. Blythe is incredibly talented and passionate about the craft. She created Eric’s ring exactly as he wanted and even shared photos of the process with us! Each piece Blythe handmakes is cast in recycled precious metal and all gemstones are ethically sourced. 

When working with a jeweler, ask them about recycled metal options, whether their diamonds are conflict-free and fair-trade, and for supporting certifications. Ethical and meaningful jewellery is not hard to find – make sure you take your time to look for it!

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The Wedding Dress
Finding the perfect wedding dress is often the most time-consuming and difficult task for a bride. Ironically enough, for me it was the least! Two weeks after Eric proposed, we went on a trip to Byron Bay, Australia to attend a friend’s wedding. Popping by a little boutique store, I tried on a white maxi dress by LA-based brand, Stone Cold Fox, and immediately fell in love with it. The dress fit me like a glove - the cut, the style, the details, it was me through and through. It wasn’t a traditional wedding gown which is exactly what I loved about it. I wanted a dress that after our wedding, I could naturally dye each year a shade darker (using onion and tree bark), and wear it out on our wedding anniversary (so every year it will look like a completely different dress!).

I bought the dress thinking it would be a great back-up if I found something I loved more – 2.5 years later, I wore it on our wedding day. When I purchased the dress, I was just beginning my journey of understanding sustainable fashion. So although the dress wasn’t made using eco-friendly fabrics, I was happy to know that it was made responsibly in USA and will be worn countless times after our wedding.

The traditional bridal industry is being slowly disrupted with sustainably-oriented brands. You can always consider wearing a dress that was passed down in the family (and having a seamstress adjust it for an updated look), buying or renting pre-worn dresses/gowns, or purchasing from a designer that produces ethically using sustainable materials like silk, organic cotton or TENCEL®. 

Most importantly, choose a dress that you will wear again and again after the wedding – after all, wouldn’t you want to re-live the best day of your life?

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Jewellery and Shoes
Now that you have your dress picked – you can complete the look with sustainable shoes and handmade jewellery! Again – invest in pieces that you know you will wear after the wedding. I wore Sydney Brown wedge sandals which are made from sustainably harvested cork from Portugal, PERF-certified beechwood wedge and natural rubber latex that supports indigenous tribes in the Amazon. Sydney Brown is a true pioneer in the footwear industry - other sustainable footwear brands that I considered included  NisoloMint & Rose and Bryr.

As when choosing your rings, there are so many amazing ethical and independent designers to buy jewellery from! Lucky for me, my friend and incredible jeweler Miranda Hope is one of them! I asked Miranda to custom make me a pair of gold earrings with pearls. We worked on the design together for weeks and the earrings turned better than I imagined!

As always, you can always opt for renting, borrowing or buying second hand when it comes to Jewellery and/or footwear :)
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Sustainable Bridesmaid Dresses
I am not sure how or when, but at some point it was decided that bridal dresses need to have an outrageous price-tag, be made out of cheap polyester, and be so unflattering that they’re never worn again after a wedding. Enter the obvious solution – TAMGA for bridesmaids!

Our sustainable fabrics and unique prints make for the perfect summer bridesmaid dresses, and they’re versatile enough to be worn over and over again after! My beautiful bridesmaids shined in their custom TAMGA dresses and I am so excited for them wear it to future occasions. The girls wore a TAMGA wrap dress that’s inspired by the Adinda dress, which meant that they could adjust the fit as they desired. In the hot summer weather, the sustainable micro-TENCEL fabric kept them cool and comfortable throughout the day. They wore comfortable shoes they already owned and threw on their own jewellery – dare I say they looked better than me?!

I decided to gift my besties their dresses, but if you’re ok with some variation in the bridesmaid dresses, you can ask your gals to wear a dress they already own in a given color palette! This way they wear what they have (the most sustainable thing we can do) and the shade variation in photos can look seriously cute!

If you're looking to gift your bridesmaids with something to wear on the big day, consider gifting them an item that was produced responsibly and made from eco-friendly materials. We like to think that our TAMGA kimonos are perfect for bridesmaids to wear when getting ready together! Not only does a TAMGA kimono echo a bride's passion for style and the environmental, but the kimono will remind them with each wear what a special day you all shared together.

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Choose A Sustainable Wedding Venue
We chose to get married at Eric’s family farm, which has been in the family for 50 years and it’s our favourite place in the world. We spend nearly every weekend and our summers up there and we knew that it was the perfect place to celebrate our love with family and friends. We were lucky to have a free venue, but using a family space also allowed us to control waste, energy and water usage ourselves. We recommended that our guests car-pooled to the venue and we arranged for school buses to take everyone back to their hotels at the end of the night.

If you don’t have access to an outdoor property (or if your wedding day is not in the Summer), seek out event spaces that share about their energy, water and waste practices. If you're in Toronto, check out venues such as Evergreen Brick Works or Kortright Centre for Conservation outside the city.

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Wedding Invitations and Stationary
When planning a sustainable wedding, thinking about paper waste can make a big difference. Save-the-dates, invitations, programs, menus, and thank-you cards can quickly add up to a whole lot of paper that simply gets thrown away. We went digital and used Paperless Post for our save-the-dates and invitations. It made tracking guests and updating details online a breeze, and it meant that we reduced our carbon footprint by not mailing across the country! For our wedding program and menus, we had Toronto-based artist Leslie Phelan create larger than life signages on chalkboard and linen fabric that we purchased in Bali. Leslie had complete creative freedom and nailed the aesthetics for a farm wedding.

Millions of trees are cut down each year to create paper products – avoiding unnecessary paper when planning your wedding is an easy way to lessen that impact.

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Wedding Food & Drinks
Farm-to-table. In-season. Locally grown. Those are just some of the things you can look for when putting together your wedding menu! Make sure you talk to your vendors about where they source their ingredients. We put a lot of time and effort into finding the right local-caterer and baker for our big day.

Our caterer Shawn (who owns the Flying Chestnut in Flesherton and Pow-Wow Cafe in Toronto) is known for his use local, organic and in-season ingredients. He put together an incredible combination of appetizers, and because we have a wood-fire-oven at the farm, we decided that the main course would be handmade wood-fired pizzas with a selection of salads. Our guests could even customize their own pizzas (the kids loved that!) and we had plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. 

Our local baker Amy from Amy’s Espresso and Cakery made our wedding cake dreams come true. She combined my favourite cake (red velvet) with Eric’s (banana bread) to create a one-of-a-kind dessert. The entire cake was gone in about 20 minutes.

We bought our beer from local breweries around the farm, and purchased 5 gallon water jugs that we used to fill up large glass dispensers. In order to avoid plastic bottles and cups, we had to rent A LOT of extra glassware – but it was totally worth it!

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Waste and Recycling
Waste is a big problem at weddings! Make sure you set up a disposal system that includes several bins for regular garbage, recycling for cans and bottles, and a compost bin for food and garnishes. If you avoid plastic cups, paper plates and other disposables you should be sending very little to the landfill.

Renting all your serving ware, plates, napkins and tablecloths has become a norm and this is offered by most event companies (they will pick up the dirty dishes to clean in the end). If you have to use disposable serving ware, seek out biodegradable products.

Bohemian Wedding Decor & Eco-Friendly Favors
DIY, DIY, DIY! When it comes to the décor for your wedding, the project options are limitless! One thing I found incredibly helpful is using Pinterest to find some inspiration.

We did most of the signages for the wedding using paint and wood planks we had lying around at the farm. We also made low-sitting tables for the wedding – I wanted to have tons of pillows and handwoven Kilim carpets (rented from our friend Nema at Pealac Carpets) displayed all around the tables for a laid-back bohemian vibe. We used FSC certified wood for the tables and thankfully we have some real handymen in our family who brought our vision to life. We definitely plan on continuing to use these tables for future gatherings and summer soirees at the farm.

The arch we got married under was also constructed by hand by Eric’s dad using FSC certified wood. The star of the show was the handmade macramé that our friend Cassandra from Homebody Collective custom made for our wedding day. Cass used cotton for the rope and made our macramé dreams come true! The piece now hangs over our bed and is a constant reminder of the best of day of our lives.

Party favors are another thing you can easily DIY! We wanted to gift our guests with something from the farm and so we used maple syrup that’s tapped from the trees on the property (can it get any more Canadian?!) and bottled them up in mini glass jars (ordered online) which can be washed and re-used.

Looking for creative guestbook ideas? Head over to Pinterest for endless DIY ideas such as atlas books, rocks or vintage postcard signing. For our guestbook we had our friend and wood-worker Jasper from Toronto Wood Design create a beautiful live-edge wooden board for our guests to sign (it now hangs in our home).

For the confetti after our ‘I do’s’, we used dried flowers (ordered on Etsy) which I placed in a paper cone printed with the music notes of our first dance (yes, I’m a cheeseball!). Because we got married outdoors it was important to use bio-degradable ‘confetti’ and the dried flowers were the perfect substitute.

If your décor won’t permit a DIY project, try to rent instead of buy - we rented a number of wine barrels to be used as ‘tall-tables’ (practical and they looked great in photos!).

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Sustainable Blooms and Flower Arrangements
If you’re having your wedding outdoors, chances are there’s a lot of greenery and beauty for you to already work with. When choosing florals for your wedding, seek out a florist that works with in-season and pesticide-free florals. The floral industry uses so many chemicals in order to preserve the ‘fresh-looking’ state of blooms that it’s incredibly harmful to the environment.

We searched high and low and found Amber at Petals Flower Co., who is based 20 minutes from the farm. Amber grows all of her blooms on her farm, with no pesticides and so much love and attention to the earth. Amber gave us a tour of her farm when we first met and went into such detail about her commitment to growing flowers sustainably, it was a beautiful experience.

Amber also did an incredible job creating floral artworks that fit with our vision for the wedding. She used some of the blooms we had planted at the farm 2 months prior and even worked through pouring rain in the morning to set everything up! To make sure her beautiful arrangements did not wilt throughout the day, Amber used floral water vials instead of floral foam (which is extremely harmful to the environment), which I happily returned to her after the wedding to re-use. After the wedding, we kept the blooms for as long as possible and then placed them in compost to break down naturally.

We also wanted to give back to the land, and so a few weeks before the wedding we planted our ‘love tree’. After the wedding ceremony, we walked over the tree (Eric with a shovel in hand) and buried our paper vows in the tree roots. It was our way of thanking mother earth – and we plan on watching the tree grow stronger, along with our love for each other, for years to come.

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The Registry
Opting for eco-friendly goods in your registry is so easy! From bedding, dishes, furniture and textiles, there’s an eco-conscious company out there who makes it! Make sure you find out how your products are made (country of origin, ethical labour, values of a brand, etc.) and what materials (organic, sustainable, certified, etc.) are used to create it. We decided to opt-out from having a registry because we simply didn’t need more ‘stuff’. We don’t own a home so furnishing a place wasn't necessary. We decided to tell our guests that their presence is all that we ask for and that if they wanted to gift us anything, a monetary amount towards our honeymoon would be appreciated. Asking your guests for money is untraditional and not for everyone, but our wedding was anything but traditional and our request was welcomed by all.  

Sustainable Wedding TAMGA Designs

Planning a wedding is an incredibly personal process and more than anything, should be a reflection of who you are as partners. If sustainability is important to you, take the time to make decisions that are intentional and kind to our planet. Eric and I were engaged for 2.5 years so we made sure to think of every detail and how it could honor the land that we married on. With our values in the forefront, many Pinterest boards, and help from incredible friends, family and vendors, we had the eco-friendly wedding of our dreams. Remember that there’s no such thing as an entirely sustainable wedding, all we can do is try our best.

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