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Are you struggling with where to start when considering your wedding suppliers? What are your own ethics and are you concerned about compromising on them for your wedding day?

We have vegan wedding photographer Erika Tanith – one of our TNWC Recommended Suppliers – with us to share her thoughts on some of the things you might want to ask or consider. She’s got lots of recommendations and thought-provoking questions to help you determine how best to choose the wedding suppliers that fit with your personal ethics.

Erika Tanith Photography is a TNWC Recommended Supplier of The Natural Wedding Company directory. Find out more about her here.

Choosing Wedding Suppliers Whose Ethics Match Your Own

Wedding planning is all about choice. The choices we make in our wedding suppliers is how we make a wedding our own. It’s not just about the colour of the flowers, but the artistry that goes into making the bouquet. The style of the cake is important to the aesthetic of your day, but the taste and the ingredients are also key. Similarly, the suppliers’ values and ethics matter.

So why are your suppliers’ values important and how do you figure out if they align with your own?

Why it’s important

Ultimately, you want your hard-earned cash to go to people who will use that money wisely. If you yourself are someone who diligently recycles then you wouldn’t give money to someone who sends their waste to landfill, especially if that waste were generated at your behest. If you believe in LGBTQIA+ rights, you wouldn’t give money to an openly homophobic organisation.

Our values are a big part of our lives and personalities, so making informed choices on who you have at your wedding is key to maintaining integrity and the joy you’ll feel on your big day.

What you might look for in a supplier

Venues

Choosing the right wedding venue is about finding somewhere that’s right for you as a couple, and right for your guests as well. If you have people attending who have mobility issues, does the venue have good accessibility? Are there ramps? Accessible toilets? Handrails? Having your dream wedding on a beach is wonderful, but will everyone be able to attend, or will you be leaving some of your guests back that the bar? You don’t want people to miss out, so get everything in place ahead of time.

Does the venue’s website and social media pages showcase a diverse range of people? Is every couple that they showcase young, attractive, heterosexual, white, and able bodied? The world is moving on, and if those are the only couples you can see on the site that may be cause for concern.

Diversity training exists, and it may be worth checking to see if your venue has invested in its staff with regular courses for both new and existing staff.

Photographers and Videographers

The most obvious thing to check for in a visual artist’s portfolio is the diversity of their clients. But what about the quality of their work within that diversity?

While a range of skin tones is good to see, how well retouched are the images of people with darker skin? Are the pictures just as beautiful as the ones of white people, or do they look token? One picture of a dark-skinned wedding guest does not prove inclusivity.

Are there couples showcased on the site who are LGBTQIA+? Again, a single picture doesn’t prove much. Quantity and quality are key.

You and your guests want to feel comfortable with all your suppliers, and your photographer and videographer are an integral part of your wedding. They will be there for most of the day, interacting with your closest family and friends, and recording everything. You want to see happy, relaxed guests, and that’s not going to happen if your values don’t align with each other.

If you’ve booked your photographer and videographer for the whole day, it’s generally accepted to give them a meal. It’s a long, hard day for them, so a good meal is important. If you’re concerned about the environment and you’re vegan, will they be happy with a vegan meal? Food is an important part of any wedding, and you want everyone to be on board.

Caterers

Speaking of food, this is a big one. An ethical caterer will be mindful of all parts of the process of creating the perfect wedding menu. It’s not just the meal itself, it’s how the ingredients are sourced, the impact on the soil, the transportation costs, the water usage, how leftovers are dealt with, what happens to packaging etc. There’s a lot that goes in to being an ethical caterer, and therefore in choosing one for your big day.

All this information should be included on their website, but if you have a question ask them. You might even prompt them to think more deeply about their supply chains.

If you are vegan then you want your wedding feat to be vegan too, so choosing a caterer who can create stunning event-worthy dishes is important. This is supposed to be the happiest day of your life; you don’t want to be eating a salad followed by a fruit salad. You deserve better than that. Increasingly, vegans are being catered for, but not always well. What is on offer, what can they do, have they catered for vegans before? Go for tasting sessions and ask as many questions as you can.

Hair and Makeup Artists

Finding someone you trust to do your hair and makeup is not an easy thing to do. How we look is very personal to each of us, so finding someone who knows how to make you feel beautiful is important.

Check your suppliers’ portfolios for people who have similar skin tones and hair types to yourself. You need to know that you are going to be in good hands. Call the people that you like and ask if they have experience of working with people of your skin tone, skin type, and hair texture.

When striving to appear at our best, we don’t want to compromise our inner selves. That makeup may be the perfect shade, but if you’re an animal lover you don’t want to use products that are tested on animals or contain animal products.

If they suggest you bringing your own foundation or hair products and refuse to supply them then I would not book them. They are providing a service and should be fully equipped to do so. It is not okay for them to ask you to provide something for their services because of your ethics or ethnicity.

Wedding Dresses

A wedding dress is rarely worn more than once, so if you’re against fast fashion how do you factor that in to buying your dream dress? Second hand is often touted as an option but it’s not always the best choice, or the one that will most align with your own personal values.

What makes fashion ethical or not is down to many things, not least the labour in creating the piece. Every single item of clothing is made by human hands. So, who is actually making your dream wedding outfit? Is that person fairly recompensed for their skills?

The type of fabric and dyes used will impact the earth and the dressmaker.

If your day-to-day fashion choices are informed by a consideration for the planet and the workforce then luckily there are more ethical choices for wedding outfits now more than ever.

All Suppliers

When researching a potential supplier: read, read, read. Read their content, the reviews on their site, and the reviews on other websites that aren’t curated by the supplier themselves. That will give you a great indicator, not just of the quality of their work, but the character of the business as well.

When talking about their clients, does the company assume every couple consist of one bride and one groom? Do they use gender neutral language where appropriate, or is everything geared towards the new “Mr and Mrs”?

When looking at the company’s website and social media pages, can you see a diverse range of people represented therein? You want everyone at your wedding to feel comfortable, after all.

About Me pages are a great place to find out even more about your suppliers. What do they talk about? What is important to them? Are they committed to low energy usage: do they use recyclable products, conduct meetings via video call to reduce carbon emissions, use green suppliers themselves? Is the company and/or the owner vegan? Are their products cruelty free? Do they recycle? Do they have equality policies in place to protect their workforce? If the company has no mention of their green credentials, ask about them.

What is mentioned is just as important as what isn’t there. If there is no representation on the website for people who are LGBTQIA+ or BIPOC, why isn’t there? What are they doing to address the lack of diversity in their client base? If they reply that their main customer base is white, so showing their black clients won’t fit their business model then that’s a big old red flag right there.

It’s unlikely that every supplier will fit in with all your ethical requirements as well as your budget, so where are you happy to compromise? Maybe you won’t have to? Just by asking questions you might get a supplier to change. You never know.

The Natural Wedding Company champions ethical and eco-friendly wedding suppliers. You can find them all our eco wedding directory.

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