Earlier this week I started telling you about my friends Laura and Darren, who I've been staying with on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. They bought and are now developing about 20 acres of land on what's known as a Lifestyle block. Having explained the reasons that motivated for Laura and Darren to live here I should say why I decided to come all the way out here to visit them. The big reason was their wedding, which took place two weeks ago. I must say it certainly isn't easy on the bank account or on your carbon credit to have your best friend living on the other side of the world from you. New Zealand really is quite a long way to go to perform Bridesmaid's duties and I can't claim to have travelled overland like the intrepid Barbara Haddrill. I have however offset my flights with the Carbon Neutral Company and rather than flying straight to NZ and back in two weeks I decided to make the most of flying around the world by incorporating other work projects into a longer trip (more of which later). Planning a wedding, which anyone who's done it knows, is a huge job. Laura and Darren are lucky that they are in the business of putting on events. Through their company Best In Tents they rent out tents and cater for parties, weddings and festivals. With their talent for the personal touch they were adamant that they were going to do all the organising of this event themselves. They wanted their Wedding to be home made. Laura says their objective was to make full use of Waiheke Island's resources. They sourced as much as possible, as locally as possible. If it something couldn't be found on Waiheke then it was sourced from the Auckland area. But happily Waiheke is full of creative talent and Laura found a local dressmaker, a local beautician a local chef, a local butcher and a local hire company.
As with most weddings the planning started with the invitations. Laura and Darren designed the invitation themselves on an A4 sheet of paper which folded up into an envelope minimising costs and paper use. Laura tried in vain to find a New Zealand supplier of either tree-free paper like bamboo or a 100% recycled stock that was printer friendly. In the end she opted for a paper that had 50% recycled content.
The wedding took place on their land, which is a 30 minute drive away for most Islanders and a boat ride for those coming from the mainland. Realising the cost of this journey they decided to have both the ceremony and the reception at home so that people didn't have to move between venues. They made a full day of it with the ceremony in the morning, followed by lunch and then a party for 200 people in the evening. They also hired local accommodation so that people could stay the weekend if they wanted to.
For the lunch Laura used the local hire company to rent all the tables, chairs, plates, cutlery, glasses and serving dishes. The meal was prepared and cooked in Laura's kitchen and using their very recently built clay oven outside. The menu was made up of organic and local produce, with veggies from their own garden, locally made chutney, herb spread, breads, Waiheke Oysters from the bay down the road. An organic, locally made, profiterole cake and of course a great deal of wine from Waiheke vineyards.
The evening meal was where friends and family could really get involved, lending time, effort and a few dishes to the proceedings. Several guys built an Umu, which is an earth oven, to cook local meat and veggies in the ground during the day. After about six hours of roasting under the earth on hot basalt rocks the enormous metal baskets were dug out. (If you are vegan or vegetarian you might want to look away now). The hessian layers were unwrapped and the succulent joints of wild goat, free-range chicken, roots vegetables and roasted garlic were produced. Laura had sourced biodegradable potato plates and corn starch bowls and cutlery for everyone to eat off.
The attention to detail was amazing in every aspect. Laura's hair and makeup was done using all natural Dr. Hauschka products. The table flowers and posies were bought from a local lady's garden and they used silk flowers to decorate the tents so that they can be reused again for other events. They asked people to give them plants and trees for their garden as presents. The meticulous sourcing of ingredients, food, equipment and decoration meant that Laura and Darren's wedding was not only stunningly beautiful, but ethically managed and kept the environmental impact as low as possible, whilst also promoting local talent and boosting local economy. And their solar panels managed to power most of the event. Oh and one more thing, did I mention that Darren's wedding ring was forged out of piece of the Rainbow Warrior?
In this series of posts about Laura and Darren's efforts to live a more sustainable life it is important to emphasis that neither I or they are claiming that they are totally green. As one commenter mentioned in the previous post living in the city leaves a smaller footprint than living in the middle of nowhere. It is clear that by living on a remote part of an island in New Zealand Laura and Darren have to do a lot of driving and their friends and family have to do a lot of travelling to come and visit them. However what's interesting for me to see are, within the lifestyle they've chosen, the little ways in which they are trying to reduce their impact on the environment in their daily lives. In the next post you can read about their permaculture garden and how they've been getting on with the Woofing scheme.