Meet the bride who made her wedding cake using scraps from the bin.


I had a wonderful wedding.

Almost immediately following I posted the event to social media and well wishes came from friends and family around the world.

A haute couture designer posted pictures of us to their social media pages under the heading, “Tara and her groom look so happy in these pictures. Congratulations to a gorgeous couple! The #bride is particularly stunning in her [designer name] #gown.’

It was the beginning of an experiment I had in mind which culminated in all the reactions I’d hoped for.

Some friends from abroad were upset they weren’t invited if it was going to be such a big event, one even wrote to me and suggested spending so much money on a wedding dress (the couture dress retails for $13,000 Australian dollars) was hypocritical, since I was having such a small wedding.

In appearances it could be argued that I was indeed a hypocrite, but looks can be deceiving.

The truth is that the dress wasn’t designer couture, it was made by Daisy, a 24-year-old from Jiangsu province China, where I’d previously visited, and cost $200.

Daisy majored in English in college, but trained in lining and she’s saving to start a family. The cake I made myself from supermarket refuse, the weeks leading up to the wedding I spent trawling wheelie bins for bunches of overripe bananas, which I washed, peeled before baking into a misshaped tiered cake.

(The cake was thankfully proclaimed as delicious, eaten and no one fell ill with food poisoning!)


The décor was converted from wood cutoffs near our home and carving our firewood into candle holders, we picked our flowers from road sides, pressed our own apple juice, my husband’s shoes were five years old, I didn’t get a facial or my nails done, we asked friends for digital copies of their photographs.

The children played DJ with a computer and speaker. The list of hacks is relentless.

It was a more of a special day for us, I believe, because we tried to limit our carbon footprint, and because neither of us went into any debt because of our union. It was memorable because it was truly a lovely, small event with 28 of our closest family and friends from France, where we live.

We made candle holders from wood we found near our home.

The argument for and against excess on the ‘special day’ is relentless, and each person has their reasons for spending whatever amount they can afford or choose, no-one should be made to feel guilty or pressured to pay a stipulated price for their dress or whatever it is that is important to each particular person.

I’m merely suggesting that there may be alternatives to throwing the matrimonial moment, and the imaginary judiciary won’t notice the hacks, not even designers whose regular patronage are basketball players wives and actresses.

The most effective way to save money and environmental impact is to cut the guest list, suggest car pooling to the event, trains over planes, serve locally produced wine, seasonal food and limit excess. According to the paper published with United Nations Environment Programme, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.


The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereal crops. Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions.

A wedding may seem, from an environmental perspective, like one insignificant day but they can have a bigger impact than you imagine, the average wedding produces 63 tons of CO2, more than the average couple getting married produces in an entire year of general living (48 tons of CO2) according to Brighter Planet.

There are Pinterest boards and hash tags rife with wedding porn to tantalise us into following suit and splurging, but for whose gain? I believe our desire based consumerist culture is making us ill, ill to conform under the misconception of standing out, decked out in all the things we don’t need.

How much did you spend on your wedding? 

Tara June Winch is the author of award-winning novel Swallow the Air and has written for VOGUE, VICE, McSweeneys, Griffith Review and elsewhere. Her body of written work has been awarded the international Rolex Mentor and Protégé prize. She lives in France with her husband and daughter.