Fair Trade Weddings – Favours

Skip the trinkets and give your guests fair trade favours they will love.  My criteria for choosing favours is to always to pick something that is useable or consumable.  Here are my top 5 picks:

1. Donate to a charity.  Pick a charity that is close to your heart and make a donation in leiu of giving favours.

2. Coffee/tea. Beautifully packaged fair trade coffee or tea is a delicious favour and perfect for waking up after a night of dancing at your wedding.

3. Botanical Paperworks sells favour cards that you can plant, and they grow wildflowers.

4. Beeswax candles are natural, beautiful, and often locally made.  My favourite candles in Winnipeg are made by Barletta Beeswax.

5. Chocolate. Replace the jordan almonds with delectable fair trade chocolate for guests to take home and enjoy (or eat on the ride home).

Favours that are inspired by your location or wedding theme are also great.  Honey, maple syrup, candies, plants, etc are all great.

Eco-Fashion at the Oscars

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Photo: Daily Mail

There were two big eco-fashion statements on the red carpet last night, courtesy of Red Carpet Green Dress.  The Red Carpet Green Dress contest was started by Suzy Amis Cameron (wife of James Cameron) to have designers create sustainable designs.  The winning designs are worn on the red carpet (this was the fifth year).  Olga Kurylengo wore the winning dress designed by Alice Elia, and Kellan Lutz wore a tux designed by Jomnarn Dul (H Brothers).  You can read more about the materials used at ecouterre.

I’m curious – what do you think?  I thought the dress was great – beautiful colour and good fit.  The tux, on the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of.  I know the designers do great work, but this doesn’t seem to fit well.  Thoughts?

Company Crush: Nisolo

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Photo via Nisolo

When I was younger, my mom and I would look through the mall, pick out a few favourite items, then go for lunch and decide what we wanted to buy.  I still use a similar style today, going through the mall or searching the internet.  But when I came across Nisolo, I knew I didn’t need to go to lunch to know for sure that I wanted every single thing in their shop.

I came across Nisolo while on a search for a fair trade or artisan made purse.  The company makes high quality leather shoes and bags in Peru, and I have become slightly addicted.  I haven’t bought anything yet, but I have been on their website several times a day. For a week.  And briefly considered hitting “purchase” on my shopping cart and eating nothing but rice for a month.

Check out some beautiful shoes and have a great weekend!

7 Easy Things to Buy Fair Trade

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Photo: Erin Alexander Photography

1. Coffee. My favourite is Green Bean Coffee Imports (pictured above), and my second favourite is Level Ground.

2.  Tea. Fair trade tea can be purchased from health food stores, Ten Thousand Villages, and some grocery stores.

3.  Wine.  There is a great selection in Manitoba.  Winds of Change is my favourite so far.

4.  Chocolate.  Once you’ve tried fair trade chocolate, you’ll never go back to nestle.  As a bonus, fair trade is more expensive, so I eat less chocolate, but enjoy it more when I do. :)

5.  Gifts.  Ten Thousand Villages, Accompany, Etsy, Oxfam,

6.  Jewelry.  31 Bits, Soko, and Etsy are great options to start.

7.  Sugar.  Fair trade sugar can be found at health food stores, some grocery stores, and Ten Thousand Villages.

Becoming a Wedding Planner: Part 3

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First of all, thank you so much for the response to these wedding planning posts!  It’s been so fun to hear your comments.  This post is the story of how I got started.

When I was in university, I applied for a job as an administrative assistant at a church.  I was more than happy to end the stage of “uniform jobs” (grocery stores, waitressing, etc) and have my first grown up job.  On my very first task list was helping to coordinate a Block Party, and I loved it.  And so over the next couple years I looked for opportunities to plan events for the church and other non-profits.  One day, my boss suggested I consider planning as a career, and so after I graduated I started taking an event planning course by correspondence, and fell even more in love with the idea.

One of my class projects was to come up with a theme wedding, and I chose an eco-friendly wedding.  As I researched for my project I reached out to a few Manitoba vendors who were very, very supportive.  I read Blue Ocean Strategy and began to seriously consider starting my business around the idea of eco-friendly and fair trade events.  There were a few early encouragers: one of the owners of Tall Grass Prairie who took time out of a very busy afternoon to sit down and offer advice and encouragement, Yoko Chapman who offered to collaborate with me on a project even though I had just signed my first client the day before I met her, and several others.

With a Flourish officially launched on August 11th, 2008, with an article on Weddings in Winnipeg (now called It’s Love and under different owners), about flower recycling, which was a service I offered taking flowers that had been used at weddings and repurposing them to hand out at hospitals and nursing homes.  I received 3 calls that day about flower recycling, and a call from an out of town bride looking for a planner.  That first call turned into my first client, which turned into many more weddings and a variety of other events over the past 5 years.

A note on my family:

When I started taking the event planning course, I had a 3-month-old baby and was working nearly full time.  My husband was on board from the beginning, and stayed home with our baby for several months so that I could pursue my “dream job” and has done more than his fair share so that I could work evenings and weekends.  He’s also my bookkeeper, keeps me (sort of) organized and helps me everything computer related.  Our parents have also been amazing at babysitting and helping with trade shows and providing many hours of free labour.  My logo and website were designed by my super creative sister-in-law.

A note on the wedding industry:

The industry has changed a lot in the past 5 years.  Hiring a wedding planner is much more common, and the job description has changed quite a bit.  At the beginning it was hard to gain respect, both from brides and other vendors (it’s amazing how many sarcastic comments I received at the beginning from the same people who now tell me they love to work with wedding planners.  The profession has come so far in a really short amount of time).  One of my first clients used to write me emails late at night that said “I HATE ALL YOUR IDEAS” – and we all know what caps lock means (in the end she was thrilled and kept in touch for a long time after her wedding).  I’m really glad that I stuck with it, developed a thicker skin (and learned not to check my email right before bed) and developed the job into something great.  I’ve met SO many amazing couples and it’s been a true honour to work with every single one.

I think everything else will be covered by a Q&A post for next week.  I have had a few questions emailed to me, and if you have one please leave a comment below, email me at celebrate(at)withaflourish.ca or leave a comment on facebook.

Fair Trade Weddings – Food

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Photo: Erin Alexander Photography

If delicious food is near the top of your priority list for your wedding, you have probably chosen a fantastic caterer, who is probably already using many seasonal, local, fair trade and/or organic ingredients, for several reasons.  First of all, these ingredients taste better.  Free range chicken tastes better than factory chicken.  Locally grown berries taste better than those flown in from thousands of miles away.  Wild shrimp has less of a fishy smell and a better texture than farmed shrimp.  And for a good chef, that’s great motivation on its own.  Besides that, chefs have often built relationships with local farmers and make it a priority to support the local economy.

Your caterer will be able to give you a great idea of what they can get that is certified fair trade, organic, sustainable, local, and in-season.  Here’s a few tips for the following foods:

Meat. Request meat that is grown in your area, free range and organic.

Fish.  David Suzuki has a list of the best sustainable fish, and what to look for and what to avoid.

Fruit. Bananas, avocados, oranges, grapes, mango and grapefruit can be purchased fair trade.  I’ve seen bananas, but never anything else fresh, so for your wedding you could request to stick with locally grown berries and fruits (seasonally, of course).

Vegetables.  Guidelines for veggies are similar to fruit – ask for locally grown, in season, organic vegetables. 

Coffee. Coffee is one of the easiest things to buy fair trade, and your caterer will likely be willing to make the switch for you if they don’t use fair trade coffee normally.  You may have to pay a bit extra but it is well worth it.

Tea. Same goes for tea.  This is an easy thing to offer to purchase yourself and drop off for the caterer to use.

And finally, my top 3 tips for talking to your caterer:

1. Be respectful of their professional opinion.  They’ve been at this a lot longer than you have and understand the background information that consumers don’t know about.

2. Do a bit of research ahead of time.  It can be frustrating to be on the receiving line of suggestions, no matter how well-meaning.

3.  Just ask.  Even if there are no options for what you are looking for, your caterer will know that you are interested.

Looking Back & Looking Forward

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When I decided to switch to more of a personal blog from a business blog I had no idea anyone would read it.  I thought I was blogging for myself, sharing my continued insights on weddings, my family, and things that I’m interested in.  So last week, when two posts I wrote on human trafficking received more readers than I ever could have imagined, I was shocked and really pleased – but also regretting not making this blog look a little more homey.  It’s kind of like having someone pop over for a visit just before you were about to clean your house.  It’s lovely to see them but also a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, after the heaviness of last weeks posts, I thought I’d just post a photo of my handsome men and congratulate my husband on a fantastic job at his first half marathon yesterday!  The boys and I had so much fun driving around and cheering him on!  We managed to stop and get out of the car three times, and yell out the window once as we drove by (which terrified the baby.  oops), and made it back to the finish line just seconds before Sam crossed, in second place.  Today he has the day off and we are going to celebrate it at Stella’s, our very favourite brunch restaurant.

Coming up this week are ideas for making your wedding menu more fair trade and sustainble, my third installment of How to Become a Wedding Planner (check out the first and second posts), and 7 things that are easy to buy fair trade.  See you tomorrow!