The Secret Wedding professionals Want To tell You – But Are Too Scared To

What makes an awesome wedding? It’s the people.

Sandra Henri

“We need to talk about weddings. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a romantic.

Weddings are a dreamy and delightful thing, but can you think of another occasion on which we’re encouraged to spend the equivalent of a mortgage down-payment on a ball gown designed to wear once, 200 pink porcelain napkin rings and a silver cage of hired white doves?

Images: Sandra Henri Photography

ethical wedding

"What makes an awesome wedding? It’s the people."

Love is… what? A couture gown? Long-stemmed roses flown in from Amsterdam? A roomful of heart-shaped helium balloons with plastic streamers? Disposable cameras for each table, and a retro kissing booth?


Oh how I adore Clare Press’ tongue-in-cheek take on weddings in her interview with us here.

As a wedding photographer for over 10 years, I’ve been to countless weddings.

I should also mention that I am blissfully divorced myself, so please excuse if you detect a little cynic hiding in this read ? It’s given me plenty of time to reflect on wedding traditions, what stays with me long after a couple’s wedding day, the moments that bring back the joy when I edit their images or they see their wedding album for the first time.

I can 100% assure you that I have no memory of what style of flower topped cake was chosen, what the meticulously chosen table decorations were, or which version of the strapless dress was worn.

I do however remember the wedding where the couple made an active stand against marriage discrimination by asking all their guests to cover their ears whilst the celebrant read the legally required “marriage is between a man and a woman”. (Pictured above). Or when an entire wedding was planned around accommodating a treasured friend with a disability. Or the absolute joy that is felt in the crowd when two souls are clearly meant to be.

What makes an awesome wedding?

It’s the people. The love that they share for each other and their tribe. All the pretty details are just a bonus.

ethical wedding

Yet we spend almost a year searching Pinterest, dedicate weekend after weekend to meeting vendors to essentially project manage one massive day. Do you have a wedding spreadsheet? Yep, you’re project managing! We’re bombarded with expectations and opinions, and those who want to run away and elope to just be together are seen as selfish.

Then there is also the environmental impact.

The average Australian wedding costs somewhere between $35-65k depending on which source you choose, much of which is spent on consumables.

Sure throwing a big party is going to be costly and it is our ‘one big day’, but then again is it sustainable when we already consume beyond our means (financially and ecologically)?

Let’s take a look at wedding traditions.

I do wonder if we would place so much emphasis on how a wedding should be if we knew the deeper meaning of many wedding ‘must do’s’.

Spring weddings, are they are symbol of new growth? Nah, probably more to do with June being a great time to hold a wedding after your annual bath. But just in case you needed a little extra to entice your groom, a bouquet of flowers should do the trick to cover any remaining body odours.

Bridesmaids all wearing the same? That was to confuse evil spirits, or potential kidnappers depending whichever you were of higher risk of. And we all know that ‘giving away the bride’ doesn’t have the most feminist of origins. Then there is the banquet of cakes! Oh wait, I love that tradition.

Seriously though, why have weddings been so slow to evolve when our expectations of relationships have so dramatically changed? Could we intentionally influence our future wedding culture to be more aligned with our current cultural values?

ethical wedding

I’d love to see the equality of our relationships to be reflected in our weddings.

For the groom to be equally as involved in the planning, and for the bride to not only be complimented on how gorgeous she looks, but how she has brought together a community and how the wedding embodies her passions. The wedding day can be so much more than two people starting their ever after, it can be two people starting a journey of living purposefully.

I hope that by being more mindful and expressive of what we hold most dear that we can be more intentional in creating a life together, one that has deeper roots when times get tough.

And that’s the dark dirty secret that wedding professionals want to tell you. When a couple are madly in love, that’s all a wedding needs. Two people committing to do their best come better or worse. All the rest is ‘stuff’. But shhh…I’ve said too much already…we might leave it at that OK?

Find your tribe of like-minded sustainable and ethically focused wedding professionals, at a wedding expo with a difference, Mindfully Wed.

Here we celebrate simplicity, caring for our earth and giving back. Feel empowered to create a wedding day aligned with your values and learn skills to nurture your relationship as you begin your ever after.

Our next event is Sydney on 7.10.17 (tickets here). We’d love to meet you wedding changer!

Sandra Henri

Sandra Henri is the founder of Australia’s hub for eco-ethical weddings, Less Stuff - More Meaning. Going beyond the pretty, Less Stuff - More Meaning provides resources for couples to create more sustainable, ethical and minimalist weddings. Sandra believes weddings can change the world, simply by using our consumer power to create wedding experiences aligned with our values.