REAL WEDDINGS: A Truly Eco Friendly Wedding in Wales

28th January 2015


When the lovely Simone from Welsh Green Weddings (one of our handpicked green wedding venues) tipped me off about a wedding that took place on her farm, Pen y Banc, last Autumn, I just had to follow it up.  The essence of the wedding was so befitting of Green Union’s ethos that I’ve been bursting to tell you all about it!

The very talented Jo Thorne of Horseshoe Photography was commissioned to shoot Amelia and Mark’s wedding.  They tied the knot in West Wales last year and today I’m delighted to be able to share those images and their wedding story with you.  As I mentioned, this wedding really appealed to me for its laid back attitude, commitment to nature and the environment and the all embracing sense of family.  Over to you Amelia ...

"Our names are Amelia Mustapha and Mark Harries. Our son is Nye Mustapha Harries.

We got married on 30/08/14 at Pen y Banc Farm (Welsh Green Weddings) in Drefelin, West Wales. We had the ceremony in their lovely outdoor pagoda area and the reception in the giant tipi at the top of one of their fields.

There were 100 guests but a good proportion of those were young children so the wedding was designed to keep them amused and entertained too with a bike-powered smoothie maker (the "blender vendor"),  giant games and a coconut shy. The guests came from all over the World - Trinidad, Washington, France, Spain, Sussex, London - and from just up the road too as many of Mark's family members live in West Wales.

We did have a budget of £10,000 and thanks to the wonderful  Simone we pretty much kept to it. She gave us great advice, warned us off expensive fripperies and lent us lots of stuff at no charge. Our photographer Jo also very kindly got into the spirit of things by hanging out and camping with the rest of us which saved us a fair whack in travel and accommodation expenses and meant she felt like a guest and friend so the photos came out looking really natural and relaxed.

It was incredibly important to us to have an eco friendly wedding and not just to off-set the air miles of our guests! My husband is a snowboarder so nature really matters to him and I was brought up to be mindful of my impact on the environment. Having a son also clarifies the importance of leaving a healthy world to future generations.

All the food and drink for the wedding was organic and sourced locally (right down to the Perry 'Champagne') if not actually grown on Pen y Banc Farm. The meal was mainly vegetarian but we served some local, line caught fish for the meat eaters. Simone and her team run a tight Eco ship so everything from the toilets to the amazing yurts the guests can stay in are green. My husband and I stayed in the gypsy caravan tucked away on the corner of the farm with the most beautiful view and amazing, space age Eco bathroom. A horse and cart delivered my mother and bridesmaids to the reception and then stuck around to give all the children wild rides around the fields.

There is a fantastic local gardener who heads a sort of consortium of other gardeners and we arranged to buy 3 boxes of whatever flowers and greenery were available which my friend turned into beautifully natural arrangements. We determined that there would be as little waste as possible so the cake stands were glass vases I had at home filled with flowers we foraged the day before.

My dress was bought second-hand on the King's Road and can be worn 40 different ways, washed in a machine and stuffed in a tiny bag so will be accompanying me wherever I go and seeing the light of day many, many more times. I baked the cakes myself and served them for pudding and breakfast the next day. 

And finally the decorations were a bit of a team effort - my mum dried petals for confetti; clients at the mental health charity I run grew and dried lavender for little bags to decorate the tables; I made hessian bags out of some old sack to house the sherry and almond favours that one of my best mates sourced from her local village in Spain. The cherry on the cake was the bunting made by our guests' children at an art session run by Eleanor (Pen y Banc's resident art therapist) the day before our wedding.

The wedding definitely matched our style - we got exactly what we wanted and didn't have to pay the price with our green conscience! I think the key to achieving this was making the most of the resources around us from the local food and flowers to being helped by family and friends who shared our principles. Using a wedding website meant we didn't have to send out too much paper info and people could organise things like sharing lifts. I asked the groom what his top eco friendly wedding tip was and he said, jumping in the river for a swim with his mates instead of having a hot shower! I'm not sure the fish would agree!

There were lots of little touches that made our day - the yoga session run by our friend to calm us all down and limber up for the dancing later was a good one. Getting my make-up done by possibly the most fashionable lady in the world was a brilliant last-minute lifesaver. Having a dance battle with one of the best men who is a professional breakdancer for the first dance and then turning around to see every child on the floor trying to copy him was genius. Cradling mugs of hot chocolate around the fire pit as the evening drew in was lovely. I have to say though that without my friend and colleague Laura who did everything from my hair to the flowers to giving me the recipe for my cake, the wedding wouldn't have been half as stylish. Everyone needs a Laura!

When I think back over our special day I remember being surrounded by love and a sea of faces wearing crazy hats. I didn't think it would, but marriage changes everything. I'm looking at my husband now and looking forward to spending each and every day of the rest of my life with him. That was definitely worth celebrating.”

What an amazing  wedding day with wonderfully evocative photography by Jo Thorne, who we hope to have more collaboration with in the future so watch this space.  As always I’d love to hear from any of our readers who are planning to throw a natural wedding, especially if it is to take place at one of our handpicked eco friendly wedding venues.

My heartfelt thanks to Amelia and Mark for sharing your beautiful day with our readers and I truly hope that your journey into marriage will continue to prove as rewarding as the first months have been. Warmest wishes for the future.

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