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Culture of Excess at any cost? Is the 2023 maximalist wedding trend creating too much waste?

August 06, 20235 min read

Culture of Excess at any cost? Is the 2023 maximalist wedding trend creating too much waste?


Fast fashion sadly appears to be here to stay. It started with high street stores then things have really ramped up over recent years with the emergence of companies overseas selling things fast and at an ultra-low cost. Add that to a cost of living crisis and the peer pressure in wedding Facebook groups and you've got a perfect storm. Fast fashion has made it into the world of weddings.

The cost of living crisis has made people search for bargains. Although many choose second hand decorations and buy ethically within their means, a great many brides and grooms-to-be are opting for cheaply made fake flowers, wedding arches, favours, boxes full of bridesmaid gifts all bought from companies overseas with well-documented questionable ethics. Where has this all come from?

Pinterest for one. It is full of styled photoshoot pictures (I've done a few!) that have the level of detail found in high budget weddings. But it makes us all want the same! I get it, I've been there. The difference now, however, is that the level of décor can now be imitated if you're willing to buy from unethical sources...

If your moral compass is too strong to ignore and you have a low wedding budget, what do you do? Here are my tips for creating a beautiful wedding on a small budget without having to compromise your values.

maximalist wedding table with calligraphy

With that said, here are 6 ways to get the balance right on your wedding day!

1. Stay Classy

Keep it simple and classy. You don't need excessive décor and every single fine detail to have a beautifully elegant wedding. Remember that people have been getting married for centuries. Even 3 or 4 years ago a slightly more simple and elegant look was the norm. It's the magpie effect! If you find yourself being drawn into a dream that is making you question your ethical values... STOP! Take a breath and remind yourself WHY you are getting married... for love, right? If the noise around weddings is stressing you out, take a step away from the Facebook groups and Pinterest for a while, re-evaluate your WHY and go from there.

2. Go Second Hand

If I had a choice between a cheap dress from another country with cheap materials and poor working conditions, or a dress that was worn before but was beautifully handmade to an excellent standard in good working conditions, I know what I would choose! Plus the cost is usually similar! Mismatched bridesmaids dresses are very much en vogue this year so make the most of it!

The same for décor. There is SO MUCH for sale on second hand selling sights. Try to keep your options open rather than having an exact idea of what you want, then choose things that you thing will bring the vibe you are looking for. Slightly mismatched décor such as different coloured or shaped vases can have coordinating ribbon tied around them to bring them together. Don't overthink it, just enjoy the thrill of picking up a bargain!

3. Learn Calligraphy instead of using vinyl

Vinyl stickers are everywhere at the moment, but they're not the only way to personalise things. They're also not the most personal way of doing it. You can learn calligraphy pretty cheaply and achieve a nicer, less wasteful finish than buying vinyl stickers which are another example of single-use plastic. You can also write on ANYTHING which gives so much scope for exciting décor... a table plan on plant pots full of home grown flowers? An old mirror? A picture frame? - Then you can also do your own place names, envelope addressing, thank you cards and bridesmaid gifts... think of all the savings you'll make!

4. How does your garden grow?

If you'll struggle to afford a florist on your wedding day, instead of buying cheap silk imitations from companies with the morals of an alley cat, get out in your garden and grow your own! It sounds daunting but with a bit of research and TLC, this is such a fulfilling way to bring some personal touches to your wedding day. Picture yourself walking down that aisle clutching a bouquet full of flowers you have loved and cared for over the months for this special day. Not got enough? You can always do a little top up from a florist. There are florists even doing hand tied bouquet workshops now. Not got a garden? See if a friend or family member can lend a small patch.

5. Repurpose

Where possible, try to create wedding décor that can be easily moved from the ceremony space to the reception. This saves you money with very little effort. That's literally what ushers are there for! Consider them a well-dressed bunch of wedding assistants for the day, then you wont need to worry about doing it yourself

6. Manage your expectations

Personally I think this is the clincher. There is so so so much pressure to conform with the rest and the fear of not meeting other people's' expectations seems to be rife in today's society. All this does is make us feel inadequate, without realising that everyone else feels equally inadequate at the same time.

Before you go any further, remember a few things. Uncle Frank, Grandma and the Clark family could not care less what you decorate your wedding reception tables with. they don't expect wedding favours and in fact they'll probably forget the anyway once they've had a drink or two. Be a little kinder to yourself and try not to be caught up in the moment, trying to achieve 'perfection' at the cost of your fundamental values. The environment does matter, even on your wedding day. 20kgs of single use plastic are wasted on average at each UK wedding - a figure reported in 2018... I wonder how much more it is now? You can celebrate your big day without damaging the environment or endorsing poor working conditions in the factories where fast fashion is produced.

Stay classy!

Download my free 'Guide to Planning an Affordable DIY wedding'

classic wedding invitation suite

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Jane Morton Driscoll

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