Our big fat world-hugging weddings

Great BritainYemen

Weddings are celebrations of love: love for the happy couple, for friends and for family. Well, what about some love for the rest of the world – the world outside the church or registry office walls?

Just as ‘God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16), meet four couples who made sure God’s world (the people and the planet) got a front row seat at their big celebration. One of them, you may well recognise...

Martha and Michael: baking plans together

Martha Collinson's wedding with flying confetti
Martha and Michael's wedding: the cake-lover's event of the year. (Photo: WeAreTheChamberlins)

Great British Bake Off star Martha Collison recently married her beloved, Michael Haywood. She was keen the wedding reflected two more of her loves: Tearfund… and cake. ‘A wedding’, says Martha, ‘is a big opportunity to shout what you’re passionate about.’ 

For baking, she had her fellow contestants whip up a pile of delicious cakey-creations. Meanwhile other friends and family pitched in for the big day. ‘We drew on the skillset of our friends and family,’ she says. ‘Everything from my mother sewing labels onto pashminas, to a friend photographing the event.’ 

And Tearfund wasn’t forgotten. ‘It was always important, as Tearfund supporters, that our wedding reflected God’s love for us, our love for each other and our love for others – the world,’ says Martha.

The bar in the evening was a Tearfund donation bar – guests left a donation and picked up a leaflet about us along with their drink. A Lebanese themed banquet was an opportunity for Martha to talk about her visit to the nation: ‘In Lebanon I remember seeing couples in wedding dress shops in refugee camps: it made me realise how privileged I am.’

Jo and Pete: no waste, lots of taste

'Another canapé – you don't want them to go to waste...'
'Do take another canapé: you wouldn't want them to go to waste.'

‘We wanted our wedding to be a complete celebration,’ says Jo Herbert-James. ‘But we also wanted to have the lowest environmental impact we could.’

The environment is an issue close to Jo’s heart. She works for Tearfund’s Advocacy Team and was happy to let guests know the various ways in which they’d ‘greened’ their wedding… all except for one, which they chose to keep under wraps – to start with at least.

‘We fed people with canapés made from food waste, food that would have gone into landfill otherwise,’ she explains. Food waste is a big deal, environmentally, contributing hugely to carbon emissions.

‘We found a company that caters with food waste. We had lovely cheese crackers and creamy fruit twists. I thought they’d be good but they were incredible.’

At the end of the afternoon reception, Pete and Jo explained what the guests had been nibbling on. ‘There was a mixture of responses: some were utterly shocked and unsure of what they’d been eating. Others had expected something like that, knowing us!’

Phil and Emily: stuff and no-nonsense

‘We started to feel a bit uncomfortable about receiving so much “stuff”’

Emily Keen
Phil and Emily join hands to marry
Phil and Emily's big moment.

Phil and Emily were midway through their wedding preparations. However something about their plans didn’t seem right.

‘As we began to think about a gift list, we started to feel a bit uncomfortable about receiving so much stuff, and about that amount of money being spent on us,’ recalls Emily.

They decided to give their guests the option of giving to Tearfund’s Yemen Appeal. ‘It is such an awful situation that needs so much light bringing to it,’ says Phil.

The response they received was amazing. They still received plenty of gifts and enough ‘stuff’ to embark on their new life, but they said ‘We had lots of positive comments. We were delighted that so many people gave so generously!’

Alice and Andrew: ring of truth.

Ethical wedding ring inside white rose
The only way is ethics: an ethical wedding ring.

No fairytale wedding would be complete without a pair of shiny, beautiful wedding rings. The origins of the rings themselves, though, can be anything but ‘fairytale’.

Many diamonds and precious metals are tainted by bloodshed and violence, often exploiting workers and the environment. Andrew and Alice decided they wanted to ‘do no harm’ in the choice of rings for their coming wedding.

‘We did lots of research and brought up the topic of ethical rings with high-street jewellers,’ recalls Alice. ‘They weren't really aware of the issues, so we had some really good conversations with them.’ 

They looked at buying a bespoke ethical ring online, but cash was limited (and there were solar panels to buy). ‘It has been a challenge. But we think we've ended up with a good solution involving recycled gold from a ring I inherited, and we’ve bought some ethical diamonds to go with it. It’s arriving next week – I can’t wait!’


Look back at the stories briefly. See how so many people found simple ways they could use their interests, passions and talents to contribute, turning the weddings into generous, world-hugging events.

Now think: do you have a passion or a talent that you could be putting to positive use more – whether it’s for creation, people in poverty, or just people you know? Ask God to highlight a gift that you could put to work, blessing others.

Ben Cohen
Ben is Web Editor for Tearfund. This can sometimes feel a bit like being ‘senior hairstylist for…