In The Beginning
Posted on 28 November 2018
Today marks the fourth wedding anniversary for Tim and I which sort of marks the fourth year of this business! Tim and I were engaged for around 11 months, which was also the period I was doing the research and preparation for launching Theo (then Jacob & Esau), so 2014 was a MASSIVE year for me! In classic Esther style, I thought I would overshare my wedding highlights video (97% of you actually requested I do so on the Instagram poll anyway!) which I'm proud to say includes a few 'sustainable' wedding alternatives, despite being at the very beginning of my 'ethical' journey. (I can't help it, I can't write the words 'sustainable' and 'ethical' without inverted commas because I don't want people to take my words as absolute truth/the be all and end all, but instead to take it as a 'step in the right direction'!)
4 years ago I knew very, very little about sustainability. I would go so far as to say knew nothing about the environmental impacts and even the extent of the labour impacts of fashion. All I knew was that sweatshops existed and that as a fashion design student, I didn't want to contribute to them and so I started my own label. I had people who had been in the 'eco' space for decades asking me why I wasn't using organic cotton and I just thought they were being busy-bodies!
Fast forward to today and I would say I have quite an extensive knowledge of sustainability in fashion and about issues I wouldn't have thought twice about in the beginning - plastic, landfill, pesticides, the list goes on. Anyway, I just wanted to say that we all start somewhere and while there are a few things I would do differently if we wound back the clock and Tim and I were to marry again, I'm quite proud of a few conscious decisions I made in the beginning, so here's a summary of some good wedding-related alternatives, and you can keep your eyes peeled for them throughout the video. Enjoy!
Engagement Ring: When I felt like ‘the time’ was coming for Tim to propose… Wait, who are we kidding? When I was ready for Tim to pop the question, I started giving hints and then progressed to a few very frank conversations about what style engagement ring I wanted and where it was going to be from because a) I was not going to wear an ugly engagement ring and b) I had heard about blood diamonds and knew that I would basically be stuck with this sentimental item for the rest of my life, so there were no second chances with ethically sourcing this bad boy!
Tim absolutely nailed it with my dream setting from Brilliant Earth, an online store selling conflict-free diamonds and ethically-sourced fine jewellery. My ring was accompanied by a certificate of origin and responsible sourcing, and although you still have to be careful with green-washing, I’m really happy to have found this alternative to traditional jewellers. It also came in a little wooden box rather than in a plasticky one. We also bought our wedding bands from Brilliant Earth and they are made from predominantly recycled precious metals!
Dress: I made my own dress from remnant lace that cost $10 per metre from Rathdowne Remnants in Brunswick. I had bought ridiculously expensive French lace but changed my mind (and the entire dress design) about a month out from the wedding so I still have the lace and I'm going to put it on Gumtree! I bought lining fabrics from Tyler’s Fabrics in Richmond and bought wayyyyyyyyy too many metres (again, because I changed my mind...) so I used around 1 metre for my own dress, and kept the remaining 5 metres for a few years before my sister agreed to let me use it to make her bridesmaids dresses pictured below!
Jewellery: I asked my sister for earrings for my birthday which she purchased off a small maker on Etsy. I gave her rough guidelines but I wasn't too specific about the design and I loved her choice!
Shoes: I scoured eBay for months patiently waiting for a specific pair of Badgley Mischka shoes to appear - and they did! I got the exact pair I wanted brand new for a fraction of the price because they had a tiny scuff mark on them. I think my brother paid for them as my birthday present too.
Bridesmaids: I also made the bridesmaids dresses myself with fabric from Franke Stuart in Glenferrie. I asked my bridesmaids to wear their own shoes, saving them from having to buy a pair they would likely never wear again. Same with jewellery, but I think they purchased their own for the day anyway.
I knew that one of my friends was really into make up so I asked her if she would do my bridesmaid's make up for the day, and she agreed! Now she has set up a side business for herself doing bridal make up and she loves it! You can find her @a.p.beauty on Instagram and see her work. She specialises in beautifully natural make up, and I love that I played a little role in kickstarting a side-gig that she's passionate about.
Groom: Tim splurged on a Hugo Boss suit and didn't he look dapper?! It is an absolute staple in his wardrobe now and will be kept pretty much for the rest of his life. (I'll make sure of it...)
Groomsmen: The Groomsmens suits were on sale from Oxford. Most chain stores have huge sales several times a year, so I'm quite sure we paid less than 50% of the RRP for all the suits and shirts and they were asked to wear their own black shoes. Their socks were custom made by a friend whose family runs an Ethical Clothing Accredited sock factory in Melbourne so they were an amazing special touch for the day! Check out Compuknit Hosiery if you're after custom designed socks Made in Australia. (Tim and I also have engagement socks haha, I'll try to take a photo of those.) Tim also bought tie clips off a small Etsy maker and had them engraved with the groomsmen's initials as a little gift and accessory for the day.
Flowers: We did our own flowers the day before, ordered through a small business that was based in Brunswick. I went to primary school with the owner (Amelia) and wanted to support her. (I think she's opened her own bridal boutique now called Moonstruck Bride so check her out!) We also made the button holes for the groomsmen and immediate family, and the corsages for our mothers.
Reception Vendors: I organised the entire reception at Two Ton Max in North Melbourne from scratch so I tried to support a couple of small businesses rather than going with a package at a well known venue. We rented the space, lights, tables and chairs, and had a small family-run catering business (mother/daughter founders) cook and serve the 2 course meal, a photographer who works for himself captured the entire day (Joseph Koprek) and my friend Mateusz (The Wedding Fair) did the videography as part of his own business too. The cake was made by a family friend who doesn’t actually have a business or anything - she just enjoys making cakes!
Reception decor: My friend Brad (who created the fit out in my South Melbourne shop!) made planter boxes for centre pieces from scavenged pallets that he took apart and reworked into box shapes before painting them white. We spent a good few months collecting used jars from friends and family to use as vases to sit in and around the planter boxes and filled them with flowers and foliage we arranged ourselves the day before. A lot of the foliage was Australian native because it's more affordable but it also means less mileage. I bought white vases, candle holders and candles from IKEA but didn't end up using most of the candles because we weren't allowed to light them if they didn't have holders... I resold the candle holders, unused candles and vases on eBay and at Camberwell Market so at least they didn't go to waste!
So there you have it! A lot goes into big events so making little mindful substitutes and just being conscious of everything really adds up. The important thing is to start somewhere with sustainability - there is no such thing as perfect!