Bill Bensley is world-acclaimed for his extraordinary contribution to award-winning landscapes, architecture, interior design, and quirky hotels across Southeast Asia. Less known is his true passion for the environment, upcycling, and helping animals through conservation and thoughtful care.
Born in California to British immigrants, he grew up on a self-sustainable farm surrounded by quails, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. His father taught him to be an apiculturist, mushroom grower, and composter. Bensley effortlessly combines his two loves to ensure that he benefits local communities and the environment around them. He’s fondly known as the slightly eccentric ‘Willy Wonka of Design’ for his love of characterful designs, traveling, and all things natural.
Bensley integrates sustainability into all of his designs; not a scrap of fabric goes to waste. He takes pleasure in showcasing his glorious collection of artworks, trinkets, and artifacts, together with a treasure trove of beautiful accessories, throughout his creative collection. Bensley has also created a collection of one-off upcycled jackets. It’s his mission to encourage as many people as possible to band together and do their bit to reverse climate change.
What better way to follow in his footsteps and inject some vintage or sustainable styling into your wedding day? By opting to go vintage, you can embrace family heirlooms and ensure that your wedding day is unique with a sense of romanticism. Try incorporating family china, a pre-loved wedding dress, or other elements from long-ago fashion that are rich in history instead of insisting on something brand new. It allows you to be playful, have fun and upcycle. There’s a considerable difference between sourcing authentic vintage items preserved over time and choosing vintage-inspired pieces; they are no different from brand-new items; nothing is sustainable about them.
Enjoy the challenge of sourcing true vintage items. Wherever you live or travel, you’ll find antique, pre-loved, and charity shops, pop-up flea markets, and car boot sales brimming with precious pieces that can be adapted to suit your wedding day. The best thing about vintage is that it can all be gloriously mismatched. Each vintage dealer should be able to tell you the origin of each piece and its provenance. Scouring markets is fun and worth the extra environmentally-friendly steps to find pretty cups and saucers, glassware, crockery, and cutlery. A really fun idea is to purchase old figurines, paint them your theme color and use them as placeholders or wedding favors. Bensley is a master of mix-matching quirky antiques, unusual lighting, repurposing picture frames, and adding fantastical oddities to the mele of design. You might even go as far as using an antique bar cart and including rat pack cocktails like the old-fashioned martini, classic sidecar, or a Manhatten.
Vintage dresses are part of fashion history and are usually more artfully crafted than machine-manufactured gowns. Celebrities such as Princess Beatrice reworked the wedding dress that her grandmother wore on her wedding day; re-loved fashion is definitely in vogue. If a vintage dress springs to mind, you’ll have shops locally that stock vintage or re-made clothing with exquisite hand detailing, beautiful beading, and carefully handsewn with delicate gossamer fabrics. Vintage by P Ped in Bangkok has everything from delightfully sequined dresses ideal for a wedding rehearsal or going away, art deco wedding dresses, tea-length dresses, and stoles to cover your shoulders. Jackets and oversized capes can be embellished and donned as a playful leaving cover-up.
Antique jewelry is a fashion collector’s dream. You can work with modern-day jewelers to create unique settings for engagement and wedding rings or gorgeous statement pieces to complement your vintage-inspired wedding. Light up your reception with vintage chandeliers, taper candles, and candelabras; there is nothing more glamorous than the silver-screen balls from the past.
Katie Hollamby is a well-travelled public relations specialist turned writer for various international publications, tourism boards and ethical brands. Originally from the UK, she’s worked around the world, lived in and explored North America, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives and now Thailand. She’s passionate about the welfare of animals and sustainability. For more adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @thekatybooks.