Having just planned a wedding in 5 months, I wanted to gather my best advice and a few tips I’ve learned along the way for anyone who might be interested in planning a conscious wedding.
First of all- congrats! You get to plan your day and it can be anything you want it to be.
I’m a strong believer that it’s your day and you should make the calls on how you feel it should be. So take my advice with a grain of salt! :)
Spend some time on Pinterest and instagram and come up with a mood board for your wedding and use it as your guide. We made a mood board for our cake, flowers, reception and even some photography we liked. It ended up being a super useful tool to share with vendors, and a reference point for us to make all those little decisions like what kind of holders to get for our table numbers.
Budget: Pick a Splurge and a “Conserve”
Be ok with breaking tradition. If there’s something that you could do without-do without it! Simple is better, less stressful, and less costly in the end. Figure out what budget works for you and your S.O. and decide what is most important to you both. Decide one thing you want to splurge on, and then be ok with conserving on some other things. Is it the perfect location for a venue? Is it a certain restaurant that you want to have catered? This way, you won’t feel like your skimping out on everything and you won’t kill your budget.
Delegate and Celebrate!
Find a few key things that are super overwhelming to you and ask your S.O to take care of them. When you find a venue and date or made a big payment, go out for a drink or have dinner. It’s so important to celebrate along the way and enjoy this time together!
Make the Most Out of Your Wedding Website!
We wanted a quick engagement and set our date for the fall of this year after getting engaged at the end of may. This meant we had to move quickly on our planning. Our first priority after setting our date was to set up our website so we could share the details quickly with our friends and family. We decided to use our website as our “Save the Date”. Once we got our engagement pictures- taken by our dear friend Thi Lam- we found a wedding template on https://www.squarespace.com/templates/wedding and used it as a guide.
To keep our lives easier, we added our Registry, honeymoon fund, and RSVP page to our website. We used myregistry.com which allows you to add any item from any brand- and it’s free! You just download the app and can literally add items from your phone. highly recommend.
Don’t Be Afraid to DIY
Having invitations designed and printed can be super expensive. Not to mention if you want to do placecards, menus or table numbers. If you want to use paper for your invitations, it’s a lot cheaper to design it yourself (or ask a friend) and upload your own artwork. Paper Culture allows you to upload your own and also has some great designs for inspiration!
Placecards, table numbers and menus get a little trickier but I found some beautiful seed paper on amazon, designed them, and printed them on the printer at my parents house (lol).
Find Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Wedding “Staples”
We wanted a confetti exit after our ceremony but since our ceremony was outdoors, our venue wouldn’t allow it -understandably. I thought to google biodegradable confetti and found EcoFetti! It’s a water-soluble confetti made from blown cornstarch. It breaks down quickly when exposed to water and is harmless to plants and wildlife.
For our rehearsal dinner, we did a casual outdoor family BBQ catered from a local BBQ spot. Instead of using single-use plastic cutlery and serving utensils, we ordered bamboo cutlery, serving utensils and plates- all on amazon! Here’s what we used.
Finding the Right Vendors: Support Small Business Owners
Finding the right vendor can be tough and extremely overwhelming. My advice is start small. WeddingWire.com is an amazing resource to help you find local vendors and small business owners. They have detailed reviews and sometimes include cost estimates- yay! Use your budget to bargain and pick up the phone! Being open and honest with people always helps. If you give them your budget, most likely they will work with you!
We found a local woman-owned bakery in the nearest small town to do our cake. She makes each cake herself and it was the best wedding cake I’ve ever had. Small business owners are usually entrepreneurs and extremely passionate about what they do! We found both our wedding photographer and videographer in Instagram just searching hashtags! @kayla.snell and @littlegrayfilms_co are both incredibly talented and lovely people. Investing in small business owners was so worth it for us- they were all delightful to work with and eager to go the extra mile to make our wedding day truly amazing.
When my fiancé Aaron and I started talking about rings, my immediate reaction was panic. I had no idea where to begin. My tastes change constantly and the last thing I wanted was a trendy ring that will go out of style in 10 years. My second concern was that I wanted it to be ethically made and sourced but the options I was finding online seemed way over our small budget. I stumbled upon Foe and Dear on instagram. I started looking through their bespoke designs and they seemed perfect for us! I shared the brand with Aaron and he was thrilled to hear that Katherine (the owner and designer) would work within our modest budget.
Aaron suggested we have a coffee date and create a simple mood board (he creates video content for a living and is super creative). We went through Pinterest together and found some inspiration we both liked. We both loved the idea of a super thin, dainty band. Also I like the emerald cut because the diamond is more understated than the other shapes out there. Also, I don’t love the way prongs look and wanted something super clean. The choice to go recycled white gold was a joint effort-we both love a matte finish and I (of course) wanted it to be as sustainable as possible!
After the mood board was ready, I passed it off to Aaron to take care of the rest! Aaron worked with Katherine who created sketches of the ring, showed him different diamond options along with their different pricing etc. A few months later, the ring arrived (insured in the mail) and Aaron asked me to marry him on May 20th!
After our amazing experience, I wanted to share our process in case anyone else is looking for a custom ring that is ethically sourced, hand-made, and women-owned. I took the opportunity to ask Katherine a few questions about her process, why she started Foe and Dear and where she gets her inspiration from. Check out my interview below!
What inspired you to start Foe And Dear? How did you become a jewelry designer? Foe & Dear actually originates in New York. After graduating with a Fashion Design degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, I moved to New York and started working with an inspiring jewelry designer/shop owner in Brooklyn. It was then that the path became clear, my hobby needed to become my career, and designing jewelry was what I wanted to do forever. The brand has grown so much in the past few years; I'm incredibly lucky and proud to work with such inspirational and hardworking women.
A lot of people are asking questions about ethically sourced diamonds. Where do you source your materials from?
“Our focus is to create beautiful and meaningful, master crafted pieces from recycled or fair-trade metals and conflict-free/ethically sourced gemstones. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the right suppliers to work with.” - Katherine
All our diamond suppliers are Kimberley Process Certified. The Kimberley Process (KP) is the key international initiative aimed at stemming the global flow of conflict diamonds.
For fine jewelry, the whole production of your ring stays in Vancouver, we have a team of local master goldsmiths, stone setters, and engravers that work on your piece. We source gemstones from local suppliers when we can, and if we need to ship your stone in, we make sure that they are mined ethically and conflict-free.
For someone who is looking for a bespoke ring but isn’t necessarily a designer or super creative, how would you recommend they proceed? Just reach out! Creating a custom ring can be very overwhelming! For us, it isn’t necessarily how big the sparkle is (although we love big bright diamonds!), it’s the meaning behind it. It’s a symbol to represent the two of you. It’s a piece that you’ve designed with your partner in mind.
“Creating a custom piece is truly a collaborative and personal experience between you and us. We take everything that you mention about your partner in mind. Everything is important (even though it may seem like it isn’t) - personal style, job, what they value, what they like to do on the weekend.. etc.”- Katherine
First step - Give our page about Custom Design a read and fill out our online consultation and a member from our team will reach out! - https://www.foeanddear.com/pages/custom
For those of us who are on a budget, what are some cost-saving tips for designing a ring? Are there any materials or cuts that are more affordable than others?
“We work with all budgets, and a lot of interesting materials. If you’re looking to save some dollars, maybe consider using an alternative stone to a classic white brilliant diamond.”- Katherine
There are so many beautiful coloured gemstones out there that can add more character to the ring - sapphires, rubies, emeralds, salt and pepper diamonds, moissanites. etc are all super beautiful and will last a lifetime. We have an incredible resource and supply of gemstones at our fingertips and are here to help you find the perfect match for your ring.
Are you a one-woman show? What are some of your biggest challenges with Foe and Dear? I was a one woman show for a long time - grew the company from hobby to full-time career (it’s kind of a dream). Now, we are a small team of women who work our little buns off to create wonderful jewelry for wonderful people.
Some of the biggest challenges… Figuring out what direction to grow, how to grow, always trying to fit in time to learn new things (CAD design is on the to-do), and leaving work at work.
At first Aaron and I were a little nervous to work with someone remotely-it requires a lot of communication and trust! Do you run into this with other clients? How do you usually address these concerns? Of course, communication is very important! We’ve made many pieces for wonderful people, such as yourselves, that live outside of Vancouver. The process we’ve created is to keep our clients as involved in the process as possible, and we are always available to address any concerns. Everything is done online, so even if you’re a busy bee and we are in the same city, you don’t necessarily need to come to the studio. We create online moodboards for inspiration, showcasing stone options and videos, and designs. But if there are concerns, we always want to know so we can better our process and keep evolving.
Foe and Dear has such a beautiful aesthetic. What inspires you? Art, architecture, design and mostly nature. Nature provides us with great resources - gold is from the earth, as well as the most beautiful gemstones. However, raw materials only become practical and appealing after a craftsman makes something beautiful out of it. We utilize raw materials and creates dream-like and meaningful pieces for our clients. Our pieces are both aesthetic and functional, and always tie back to the raw beauty of nature.
I recently stumbled on Above Studio, a small business supporting artisan villagers in rural Thailand, and was immediately drawn to the tasteful and beautiful designs of their handwoven bags.
Sommy, the founder of Above Studio, grew up near Bangkok and works with artisans in three different villages, providing them with work in their off-seasons after the harvest. Sommy has a passion for providing economic empowerment to Above’s makers, improving their local communities, and upholding sustainable environmental practices in her production process. Scroll through for my interview with Sommy!
What inspired you to start Above Studio?
Ever since I found the hidden beauties of handcrafted products from local villagers, I want to be the one who help connect their extraordinary weaving skill to the world. Their woven baskets are so durable and neat. I came up with an idea of designing products that I like and making orders to them. Lastly, I always want people to experience our unique culture from my home country and, at the same time, to help local villagers improve their quality of life through their skills.
How many artisans work on your pieces?
I am currently working with 3 villages. (approximately 10-15 ppl per village, so total would be 30 roughly.)
What is the design process like?
I create the designs and patterns and sourcing the natural materials together with locals. After that, I pass them the patterns, designs, colors, and then the local artisans will weave the bags for me.
How are the bags made? Do you use natural materials?
“Most of the products are made from Water Hyacinth from the Chao Praya River, Thailand. Water hyacinth is a serious weed that clogs waterways. We recycle those unwanted plants to become accessories while making money for the villagers.” -Sommy, founder of Above Studio
The process takes more than a couple months to preparing the material for weaving. Dedication and passion are what make this work special and unique!
How do you incorporate sustainability into your business?
Sustainability is the number one objective of Above’s business.
“We looked only for local artisans who are in need and are from small remote villages in Thailand. We also ensure the raw materials used by the artisans are from natural resources and do not create a negative environmental impact.”
Furthermore, it is very important to make sure that the work we do makes an impact to these local communities, helping them create a sustainable environment and long-term economic growth.
Tell us about the artisans-how does Above empower them and help them build their lives?
“There are many villagers in Thailand and most of Thai craftswomen are farmers since our country is agricultural. During the farmer's season, there is plenty of work but after harvest season the farmers don’t really have a job. Above Studio provides them with an income during the off-season.”
Every product sold contributes back to the local communities and aids whatever the local people need. For example, clean water and the local school’s needs, in order to help our community to create a better and more sustainable life.
As I became passionate about ethical fashion, it was only a matter of time before I started to become more curious about living more sustainably in my day to day life. I found that there are so many amazing leaders in the zero-waste space (like one of my favorites, Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers), but the idea of actually living zero-waste was seriously intimidating. For someone like me, who was interested in living greener, but not totally ready for a radical lifestyle transformation, i wondered: Where do I even begin?
Soon I realized that there are actually a few small changes I can make in my lifestyle that significantly reduces my waste! Every change I’ve made I consider a huge step forward towards living waste-free. I’ve listed a few simple lifestyle changes that I think are super achievable for those of us who are interested in living more sustainably!
Ditch Single-Use Plastic
Switch from iced coffee to go cups to keepcup and metal straws. Try to carry a water bottle in your bag everyday. Yes sometimes it’s inconvenient if I want to carry a cute small bag, but I drink A LOT of water and it saves me from constantly buying water bottles. Also saves you from drinking from bottles with BPA ✨
Buy in Bulk
Buy your grains in bulk from stores like Whole Foods, use reusable shopping bags and produce bags for your produce items! For household items that you use a lot of like hand soap, dish washing detergent, and laundry detergent, try buying a non-toxic brand like Mrs Meyers in bulk.
Bring Your Lunch
Invest in a nice set of reusable containers, and keep a set of silverware at the office. You’ll save money, eat cleaner, and eliminate your daily lunch-time waste! Win-win-win! :)
Skip the Bag!
When you’re shopping, ordering a bagel, or buying groceries- skip the plastic bag if you can! I like to keep a canvas tote in my bag for these occasions. I noticed that most places bag EVERYTHING, even small items like a pack of gum.
The denim industry is one of the highest consumers of water in the fashion industry. Every step of the process to create a pair of jeans requires water. From the cotton fields to manufacturing facilities to the finishing process, it takes over 2,500 gallons of water to create a pair of finished denim.
For those of us who love a good pair of jeans but don’t know where to look for more sustainable options, I wanted to highlight a few brands that are changing the game in sustainable denim.
“A woman should never have to sacrifice style for sustainability. Our choices matter – smart fashion is our future.”- Linda Balti, Founder of Amour Vert
Amour Vert was founded on the belief that great fashion and social responsibility can coexist. Their name means Green Love in French. Amour Vert stands for American manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, sustainable fabrics, and uphold a zero-waste philosophy. They use organic cotton, ethically made in California, hand-crafted denim, and 1/10 if the typical water use to produce their jeans.
Reformation is committed to cleaning up the denim production cycle. Reformation Jeans uses deadstock and other sustainable fabrics for their denim pieces. According to Reformation, their production process for one pair of jeans saves an average of 1,468 gallons of water.
Reformation goes a step further with their Wet Program, cleaning a thousand gallons of water for every pair of jeans you purchase, starting with the San Gabriel River in California, in partnership with BEF and the National Forest Foundation.
Levi’s Water<Less™ program reduces the amount of water used in the finishing process by up to 96%. Their innovative approach simply removes water from stone washes or combines multiple wet cycle processes, allowing Levi’s to significantly reduce water usage.
Everlane partners with their denim factory which recycles 98% of its water, uses clean solar energy, and repurposes their denim waste to make bricks for affordable homes. The factory’s unique closed system recycles 98% of all water used with their super-efficient jet washing machines and when it comes out the other side, it’s so clean you can drink it.
All denim creates a toxic byproduct called sludge. Everlane's factory takes it and ships it to a nearby brick factory, and mixes it with concrete so it can't leech into the environment. The bricks are then used to build affordable homes. So far the factory has built ten!
In light of Fashion Revolution Week and the five year anniversary of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, I wanted to highlight Apolis’ efforts in empowering artisan women in Bangladesh, through their partnership with Saidpur Enterprises.
Bangladesh’s clothing and textile manufacturing business is notorious for their oppressive working conditions in their garment factories. Saidpur Enterprises decided to do things differently by choosing to empower their workers, providing them opportunity rather than oppression.
Saidpur works with 75 artisan women who hand craft beautifully made jute market bags. The women receive Fair Trade wages, annual profit dividends, and a retirement fund.
With 180,000 bags and counting, Apolis and Saidpur Enterprises are creating opportunity for their entire supply chain - from farmers to manufacturers.
The perfect carrier for picnics, trips to the farmer’s market, or an afternoon at the beach, the Market Bag has a waterproof lining and a personal pocket built into it.
Check out Apolis’ video below of the inspiring story of Mohammad Ghayassudin, General Manager of Saidpur Enterprises.
We’re taking a moment to talk about the actual benefits of essential oils and their positive effects on our brains, emotions and mood. Vitruvi makes 100% natural non-toxic essential oils at a sweet price point. Check out our interview below with Sara, the Cofounder of Vitruvi!
About the Brand
Vitruvi is the first direct to consumer essential oil company created by siblings Sara and Sean. They created Vitruvi from a passion for botanicals and traditions of cultures around the world with the goal of providing a little much needed self care to the lives of people during their modern hustle.
Sara was working in Kenya setting up women’s health clinics and alternative income projects when she became passionate about global health practices and wellness rituals.
Sara and her brother started blending their own products, taking botanicals and oils that have been used traditionally for centuries and redesigning them in a modern way to create pure and 100% natural non-toxic essential oils.
Scroll down for the interview with Sara and some of her secrets tips and tricks for using essential oils in creative ways!
What are the benefits of essential oils? How do they work?
“Vitruvi is really about taking everyday routines and turning them into wellness rituals by incorporating scent and essential oils.”— Sara
We created a scent for waking up, for working, for meditating, for sleeping which meant that no matter how much someone was traveling, or how hectic her day was there was a grounding moment with a scent that was designed to associate with that ritual.
Beyond that, they also have absolutely amazing chemical properties that make them helpful for creating your own skincare, home cleaning products and goods that are friendly for yourself and the planet.
Vitruvi oils are designed to help you create rituals that help you rebalance, refocus, and create a little peace in the chaos. What are some ways we can do this?
“I love pairing aromas to different parts of my day. The brain really likes routine, so by having an aroma with specific tasks and rituals that you do each day it helps cue the brain and body to get into that ‘zone’.”— Sara
For me I have a few standard wellness rituals in my day for several oils:
I wake up with Geranium using the oil on a face cloth each morning with warm water to wipe my face. This aroma has become the ‘aroma of my morning’ regardless of where I am in the world. It’s a little bit of home. When I think Spring, Geranium is definitely the first scent that comes to mind. Our Geranium Essential Oil is sourced from Egypt and helps keep skin and hair glowing, while giving off a floral and slightly minty aroma. Geranium helps with hormonal changes, and balancing the skin.
Our Bergamot Essential Oil is cold-pressed in France from the peel of the citrus fruit. Best known for creating the deep aroma of earl grey tea, this multi-use oil has a comforting, yet fresh scent. Add 7 drops of bergamot oil to a bath to create a cozy yet fresh evening bath this Spring.
Essential oils can be used as a natural alternative to harmful household cleaning supplies, do you have any recipes you could recommend?
I absolutely love the fresh scent of Lemon, and use it quite a bit in my laundry, or in my kitchen! Add 5 drops to a fresh cloth and put in your clothing dryer to freshen up your towels as they dry. It also works great to help with cleaning up your dishes! Add 8 drops of lemon EO with your soap, directly to your hands or to pots and pans while they soak to help cut grease. Sourced from Italy, our Lemon essential oil is extracted by cold-pressing over 200 lbs of lemon rinds. Lemon is associated with uplifting emotions and a sense of order and cleanliness.
Spruce is fantastic to deodorize your rooms. Great for the office or creative environment, you will feel alert, clear and productive, simply blend with Lemon or our Boost Blend to create an effective blend. Our Spruce Essential Oil is dynamic and woodsy. Extracted from Spruce trees in Austria through steam-distillation, this oil is known for its fresh, yet grounding aroma.
Aside from diffusing, what are some other practical tips for using essential oils?
Sweet Orange has a wide range of uses from cleaning your dishes to brightening your skincare routine. As you may or may not know, citrus can be super refreshing and invigorating for the skin. So, in the AM, try adding 2-3 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil to your current face moisturizer for a little extra glow. Vitruvi Sweet Orange essential oil is certified organic and is extracted from the peel of Italian oranges. It's great for the after work slump, the mid day slump, or just anytime you need a little pick me up!
This is from our most recent collection of blended essential oils. Boost is a blend of Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lime and Juniper; it's honestly sunshine in a bottle. I love to diffuse Boost in the morning while I am getting ready. This along with a cup of coffee, helps wake me up, and get my mind ready for the day. It's become part of my morning routine, and if I ever forget to turn on my diffuser, I can honestly notice a difference.
This is one of my absolute favourite products! I've swapped it out for my daily perfume, and always have one sitting on my desk.
“It's great to give your face a little spritz in the afternoon, to reset, have a minute to yourself, and recharge in the craziness of a day.”— Sara
Sukkha Citta creates slow, socially-conscious, artisan-made clothes that are #MadeRight.
Sukkha Citta’s #MadeRight Campaign is pioneering a new kind of sustainability through transparency and fairness, fostering traceability to where, why and how their clothes are produced.
Through her research and travels to Indonesia, Founder Denica Flesch was inspired to find a way to support rather than exploit artisans and makers in the rural community.
Denica’s intention with Sukkha Citta is to create a platform to empower artisans by providing an opportunity for women to pursue economic freedom while taking care of their children at home through their craft.
Sukkha Citta created their own standard, called #MadeRight, which means that each fabric provides a living wage, promotes environmentally sustainable practices, while sustaining culture through their own modern reinterpretation of heritage.
The Senja shirt is handloomed and hand-dyed with subtle white lines that is created using the complex Double Ikat technique in Medano Village, Central Java.
MAN WOMAN shows are dedicated to building a well-edited community of brands from around the globe, including brands with a purpose behind them, made in the USA, hand made, or sustainably made labels.
MAN WOMAN shows are held twice a year in NYC, Paris, and Tokyo. Check out our 6 favorite conscious brands from this year’s WOMAN NYC!
Are Studio creates mainly accessories and some clothing, all made by hand in Los Angeles, sourcing materials and supplies from local family owned manufacturers and businesses.
Are Studio uses overstock and deadstock fabrics during production whenever possible, valuing minimal waste for their clothing pieces.
BY FAR is a Bulgarian shoe brand, emphasizing wearable luxury footwear.
One-third of their collection is now sustainable, made from dead stock leather rescued from luxury Italian factories. All BY FAR shoes are handmade in a small, family owned factory.
FARIS FARIS is a sculptural and artful jewelry line designed and made by hand by maker Faris Du Graf in Seattle, Washington.
Abraham is a gender fluid, NYC-based brand with a focus on local production and high quality, natural materials. Their materials are sourced in the USA when possible, produced ethically and sustainably.
BllueMade’s garments are designed in Brooklyn and produced in New York City’s historic Garment District in a factory owned and run by women.
They use Belgian linen for all their pieces, which is both sustainable, hypoallergenic and biodegradable.
Veja buys cotton from organic farmers, respecting fair trade practices. Their organic cotton is spun and weaved into canvas for Veja sneakers and accessories.
Veja uses sustainable natural rubber from the Amazon Forests, which aids in revitalizing an old practice of tapping trees for rubber, also contributing to preventing deforestation.