LUXURY WEDDING & EVENTS: SUSTAINABILITY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
In 2021 it’s fair to say that most luxury brands and event industry businesses know that they have to do much more and set higher standards when it comes to social responsibility and sustainability. It would make sense for the luxury market to be well placed to do that given that their marketing usually focuses around high quality and lasting value, however it is a little more difficult for live event and wedding businesses which cannot avoid an element of waste and short lived productions.
At Studio Sorores we have been reviewing and improving our mission statement with regard to social responsibility and sustainability for over five years now. We ensure we research and contract with suppliers who have impeccable standards and commitments themselves, trusting that they are transparent and confident in the way they work.
Increasingly though, I have felt that the wedding & event industry should be moving towards setting national/international standards and sharing best practices. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to assess, plan strategically, develop, monitor and even report our progress individually.
Luxury wedding brands in particular are usually created by entrepreneurs who have vision, passion and (hopefully!) integrity. I know that my own story from setting up my business 11 years ago has helped me drive things forward authentically and in line with my original values. That storytelling and commitment to a more sustainable and responsible path while delivering at the highest level for my clients has hugely helped.
I have written before about what “luxury” really means, and I think that is a hugely important element here. For me luxury has always meant artistry, exceptional service, skilled and talented staff or suppliers, quality and use of exceptional materials and ingredients. In so many ways the weddings, events and parties I create represent the opposite of mass market, low cost, throw away consumerism. And yet I often see agencies and planners producing high waste events with very little display of how this is offset or reduced in impact. You’ll see “luxury” wedding planners using the hashtag #sustainableluxury whilst commissioning installations using large quantities of floral foam, flying guests in from all over the world and showcasing far too much disposable decor overall.
The truth is that with weddings and live events it is impossible to be perfect given the nature of our work, but we can and should be doing so much more. The luxury end of the market is much better placed to invest and take on costs of research, development, and innovation.
I am personally embarking on in depth research and exploring in paths forward for floral farming and distribution in the UK and internationally in partnership with the British Floristry Association. I have set up groups with those of my preferred suppliers who have insight and advice on best practices across the event supply chain - from food to furniture.
There are so many ways we can continue to try and safeguard natural resources and biodiversity by committing to reducing waste. We can be intentional about building modern and resilient supply chains that continue to provide desirable jobs, increase and educate individuals with wider skill sets, strengthening the voices of our staff and workers, and advocating for more marginalised or vulnerable groups. By doing this carefully and with consultation outside of our immediate circle, it will help ensure longevity and authenticity, and commitments well into the future.
Aside from the ethical and moral call to action, by doing more it will only serve to build up our reputations, ensure our brands are not out of touch, and possibly even enable us to explore new markets or discover new brands. In my experience there are very few cost savings when turning a focus to sustainable luxury events, but I hope that will change.
Whilst speaking out about this issue may expose my business to more scrutiny and accountability, I feel it’s unquestionably a positive thing. We need more leaders in the sector to inspire and encourage change. The best way is the honest way. Vulnerability will surely only be driven by questionable marketing and initiatives without integrity.
When it comes to sustainability, luxury brands have the potential to drive change, to educate clients, and to make positive steps forward collectively. We must do what we do best and showcase out creativity whilst maintaining transparency and authenticity. Be prepared to admit your failings, and proceed with a plan to make positive steps for change.
I don’t have all the answers, but I am asking the right questions and doing my utmost to lead by example. I will undoubtedly get things wrong over time too. Isn’t that the best place to start? With humility and honestly. As we approach a new year we should all be asking what more we can do.
The future of weddings and events relies on people, this is my public commitment to continuing to build strong collaborative relationships with our suppliers. We will always take time to fully understand the complexities of sourcing materials, food, flowers, equipment and decor. We already engage with other brands and industry experts to openly and proactively discuss how we can manage impact and work together in the most responsible way possible.
I am determined to play our part in helping to create a better and more equal world, to be honest and accountable, to better protect people and the planet. I will personally strive to create the most beautiful, incredible experiences whilst trying to reduce our impact on our environment and imposing more conscious values.
It’s as good a place to start as any, and I have a long way to go, but want to thank our clients and supporting businesses for joining me in this important commitment.
Director & Founder of Studio Sorores