Sustainable Wedding Alliance

Our Ambassadors

The Sustainable Wedding Alliance Ambassadors are champions of sustainability, and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from across the industry. 

Together we can not only drive change to create a more sustainable wedding industry, but also raise awareness and tackle climate change and attitudes, by proactively encouraging businesses to develop future thinking strategies and make responsible decisions.

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Gwenda Jeffs

Sustainable Wedding Alliance

I’ve been part of the wedding industry since 2012. I started off as a floral designer – and I’ll admit to not always having been the most eco-conscious one (no room to grow myself and limited local resources made for a heavy reliance on imports, however seasonally I chose). As the years went by, it bothered me more and more – the result was that in 2019 I switched to dried flowers which could be sourced predominantly from the UK, or better still, gathered fresh and dried myself from close to home. In a fortunate stroke of serendipity, at this same moment I was offered the opportunity to take over the GREEN UNION wedding directory and blog, which (thanks to both coronavirus and arthritic fingers) is now my full-time wedding industry baby!

GREEN UNION has both taught me a lot, and highlighted how far we have come – but it also reminds me how far we still have to go. However, I’m all about celebrating the small wins; Anne-Marie Bonneau’s famous quote about how “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” rings just as true to me if you replace ‘zero waste’ with ‘sustainable weddings’. In that eternal balance between budgets and ethics we must all find our place, vendors and clients alike. At GREEN UNION you won’t find any judgment or criticism, but you will find plenty or inspiration and advice!

 

“Strength in numbers”

It’s impossible for anyone in the wedding industry to not see the HUGE amount of waste that the average wedding is capable of generating. It’s been easier for clients and guests to remain oblivious, but with the growing awareness of our negative impact on the planet and increasing emphasis on sustainable living comes a growing number of couples keen to make their wedding days reflect how they are choosing to live – yay!

Ok, so we have to agree that still a pretty niche area, and depending on the sector there are still lots of challenges towards sustainable practice… BUT I firmly believe that it won’t always be that way, and that even now, if clients have the choice between working with a conscious business or one who isn’t, they will lean towards their moral obligations!

Getting the message of what you’re doing on behalf of the environment out there is the key, and that’s why I was so excited to be invited to be an Ambassador for The Sustainable Wedding Alliance – there truly is strength in numbers.

Kate Atkinson

Sustainable Wedding Summit 2021

Kate is the founder of Bridal Reloved.

I joined the wedding industry in 2013, when I launched my first Bridal Reloved boutique in East Yorkshire. Due to the demand from customers looking for more sustainable options when wedding shopping, we have now grown to 20 stores nationwide. Alongside Bridal Reloved I also run Social Twerk, a company to help brands with online audits, social media agreements and mentoring.

I just happened to fall in to a gap in the market when I joined the industry. I was looking for ways to reuse my own wedding dress. I didn’t want it to just sit in a bag in the loft for years to eventually be taken to the tip because it was dated, and having limited sewing skills to repurpose it, I decided to sell it whilst it was still current. I couldn’t find any specialist stores locally and the ones I did find were full to capacity… So I opening my our boutique.

Previous to this career I worked in the TV/film/theatre and media as a Casting Assistant, organising auditions for 10 years, after I finished studying Entertainment Industry Management at Buckinghamshire University.

“slowing it down”

During my experience over the last eight years in the bridal industry it became very apparent to me that there is a problem with production, In both the way wedding dresses are produced and the sheer amount of dresses that are made.

The other huge factor is that these garments are made to be worn just once! The largest, most expensive item of clothing you can buy is also one the fastest forms of fashion there is. We are passionate about slowing this down.

Fleur Record Smith

Sustainable Wedding Alliance Ambassador

Hayne House was founded in 2010 when I took on what had once been my family home to convert it into a wedding venue. I had just graduated and wanted to start my own business so jumped on the opportunity not knowing quite where to start or where it would lead me – I’m not sure I would be so brave today!

Over the years injecting life back into the house and growing the venue from its humble beginnings has been a labour of love.

I am a very active and outdoorsy person so recently I became interested in climate change and living sustainably. My husband and I had a bit of a lightbulb moment one Christmas when we looked at the piles of wrapping paper and toys, and came to the conclusion that we needed to change our lifestyle! We had a long way to go and faced challenges along the way but a lot of the changes we’ve made were easier to implement than I thought, and I realised that many of these could be implemented at the venue too.

Recently, I completed a Sustainability Business Course from Cambridge University which has given me more knowledge and determination to bring change to the venue and beyond.

I feel fortunate that I can align what I am passionate about with my vision for Hayne House, and that my team is as dedicated as I am to making it a sustainable venue. We still have a way to go but I hope we can inspire others to join us on this challenging but rewarding journey.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”  Nelson Mandela

We all know that weddings can be extremely wasteful and indulgent for one day – we see it first-hand here with the sheer amount of “stuff” that comes through our doors! I feel that as a wedding venue we have to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the weddings we host. But we can’t do this alone, and I genuinely believe that most individuals and business owners would like to be more sustainable, but they don’t know where to start, so working together will really drive change.

Until recently, the idea that our wedding venue could be carbon neutral would have seemed impossible to me. But having taken the time to assess and understand our impact, deepen my knowledge on sustainable business and generate ideas with my team, we now have a bold but achievable plan in place, and it is really exciting to work towards achieving a carbon neutral version of the business.

This is why I would like to work with others across our industry to help them on their sustainable journey and to see all the positive opportunities ahead for our industry, as well as giving our couples better choices because having a sustainable wedding does not mean compromising on quality and style for their special day. I am thrilled to be an Ambassador for the Sustainable Weddings Alliance and look forward to taking an active role to promote sustainability within the industry.

Stay up to date with the latest sustainable business news and events

Why does the wedding industry need to be more sustainable?
Why does the wedding industry need to be more sustainable?

As part of our #DrivingSustainableChange series we interviewed Gwenda Jeffs about the changes she has seen in the industry since taking over the GREEN UNION, through the pandemic and her predictions for the future.

Latest Sustainability News | August 2021
Latest Sustainability News | August 2021

Waste has been a real issue across the industry for many years, and although people are more aware of the damage that single use can do, in busy times they fall back into old habits and choose convenience over conscience. 

Three ways your business can reduce it’s energy consumption right now!
Three ways your business can reduce it’s energy consumption right now!

Every business has an environmental impact, and a substantial part of this comes from the energy used to run buildings and equipment. We asked the team at Energy Solutions Oxfordshire what their top three tips are to reduce energy consumption right now.