Everyone is talking about recycling more, reducing plastic waste, saving the planet one plastic bag at a time. So how can you make sure your wedding is as eco friendly as possible? Whether you’re looking to make a small difference or go full on eco warrior, I’ve got lots of suggestions to make your day more Earth friendly.
Pick a venue close to you/your guests
It’s fairly obvious that the fewer miles everyone needs to travel the better it is for the environment. If you live close to your nearest and dearest then it makes sense to pick somewhere relatively nearby to prevent unnecessary travel. However, if everyone is spread out over the country, or even the world, then try to pick somewhere central for as big a proportion of your guests as possible. There are so many beautiful venues available that no matter where you decide to get married you’re sure to find one to suit your style and budget.
Use local suppliers
Another one to reduce the mileage impact of your wedding is to use as many local suppliers as possible. Not only is this a great way of boosting your local economy, you’ll often find hidden treasures that you can go back to time and again! This is often applied to catering and using locally sourced ingredients which is clearly a must, but it can apply to all of your suppliers from the flowers and cake to the music and decorations. Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers whether their suppliers are local, flowers for example are often imported, but you can always ask to use similar locally grown flowers instead!
All in one venue - reduce transport between venues
More and more couples are opting for this type of wedding - the all in one venue where your ceremony and reception are all in the same place, or within walking distance of one another! This reduces the need to transport your guests between venues which is not only eco friendly, it also increases the amount of time you have to celebrate!!
Ride sharing/eco friendly transport
Where you are using transport, which is inevitable at some point during your celebrations, try to minimise the impact by encouraging ride sharing or more eco friendly options. Taxi shares, minibuses and guests giving each other lifts reduce the number of vehicles needed to transport people. If you’re in a city or town centre venue, ask guests to get the train and allow them to get changed at the venue! You could even bulk book train tickets for guests to save a bit of money as well as saving the planet!
So often the decorations at a wedding are one use only, when else are you going to use that ‘We’re Married!’ banner? Reduce the single use aspect of your wedding by hiring where possible. Bunting, fairy lights, table cloths, glassware, even flowers can be hired and the best bit is you’ll be hiring from a supplier who can advise you exactly how much of everything you need.
There are a couple of ways to reduce the impact your wedding flowers have on the environment. The first is, if you’re having fresh flowers try to buy locally and pick flowers that are in season and preferably grown in the UK. This reduces the air miles of your wedding flowers and will mean they’re fresher too. The other option is using artificial flowers. The advantage of these is that they last forever! Your wedding flowers will last a week or two following your wedding and you’ll probably be on your honeymoon so you won’t be able to enjoy them! Whereas with artificial flowers, they can be made well in advance of your wedding day, they are easy to transport and they can be hired too!
Most venues require this as standard now, but biodegradable confetti is such an easy way to be eco friendly on your wedding day. It’s an absolute must! This could be paper confetti that will decompose or petals or even bubbles. You wouldn’t want to harm the local ecosystem with long lasting confetti now would you?
Second hand decorations/games
If you’re not a fan of hiring or you’re on a really tight budget then check out your local charity shop or ebay for some great deals. Party games, outdoor games, bunting, even photobooth props are all available second hand and there are lots of amazing things you can upcycle too! Reusing is always preferable to buying from new; you could even sell them on again afterwards for someone else to use!
Use a wedding website rather than lots of paper in your invitations…!
Wedding websites are so useful and I’m pleased to see that they are gaining in popularity. I won’t go into too much detail here as I have a future blog planned that will discuss this in more detail however the premise is rather simple. I’m not suggesting you replace invitations entirely. Instead, consider setting up a wedding website with all the key information for guests and an option to RSVP. That way you don’t need to have printed versions of all that info in with your invitations. It saves on paper and makes it super simple for guests to find out everything they need to know about your special day.
Digital invitations/ recyclable invitations
Digital invitations might be a step too far for some people, and as a stationery lover I’m with you on that. If the idea of sending an electronic invite works for you, then it’s a very environmentally friendly option! What can also make a massive difference is making your invitations recyclable or reusable in some way. Some guests will want to keep the invites as keepsakes, which is great, but for those that don’t it’s important to make them as easy to recycle as possible. Things like glitter, embellishments and certain types of printing all make paper really difficult to recycle which means they’re likely to end up in landfill.
I love a vintage vibe and what better way to achieve this than buying a vintage dress? There are lots of great places to bag vintage wedding dresses or bridesmaids dresses, often at a really reasonable price if you’re on a budget. Remember, the dress you buy is merely a starting point. It’s amazing what can be done with alterations - things can be added or removed to suit you or update the style. I like to imagine the stories behind vintage wedding dresses, and where the couples are now!
Let bridesmaids choose their dresses
How is this an eco friendly wedding tip, I hear you ask? It’s about single use clothing. If you pick the dresses for your bridesmaids there’s a chance that it will be something they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves. It means that dress is more likely to end up in the back of a wardrobe and eventually make its way to a charity shop or even worse the bin. However, if you let your bridesmaids choose their dresses, perhaps within certain boundaries like colour and style, they’re more likely to pick something they love and will want to wear again. I also think different people feel comfortable in different things so acknowledging that and being accommodating is an all round good thing to do.
Hiring suits is a really smart choice, particularly as the variety available has never been better! As with dresses, it’s all about how often garments are reused and repurposed rather than bought from new each time. A hire suit will get a lot more use than one purchased especially for your wedding! Bonus, it’s budget friendly as well as eco friendly too!
Local produce for wedding food
This goes hand in hand with using local suppliers although there is a subtle difference. A local caterer may not use local produce so it’s always best to double check. Make use of the amazing food available in your region, particularly if you’re getting married in the UK. Meat, cheeses, fruit and veg, bread, cake, desserts, and even drinks are all produced in brilliant local varieties around the UK. I’m also going to put a vote in here for English wine, which has had a recent well-deserved boost. Consider contacting a local vineyard and tasting their produce with a view to including it in your wedding. What a great experience to share as part of your wedding planning!
Let guests take the cake or other food away to reduce food waste
There is often an abundance of food at a wedding and not all of it will get eaten. If you’re having a full 3 course wedding breakfast followed by further food in the evening you might find that people aren’t jumping at the chance to eat that massive wedding cake you’ve got in the corner. Once you’ve had your moment to cut the cake, arrange for it to be boxed up and give a slice or two to each guest - it could even double up as the wedding favours! Also, instruct the caterers or your wedding coordinator in advance to save any leftover food for friends and family to prevent it sitting out and going bad.
Refillable water bottles on the tables rather than fresh ones each time
This is basic as we’re all so used to refillable water bottles now. Ask your caterer to put jugs of water or refillable glass bottles on the table rather than fresh ones each time to save throwing bottles away each time. It’s that simple.
Favours - wildflower seeds, edibles, etc.
So often I see favours left at the end of the wedding. It’s heartbreaking when so much thought and time has gone into each and every one. There are certain favours that are more likely to be taken home. These include edible favours such as cake, chocolate, drinks and sweets. Another popular favour is wildflower seeds or plants which more often than not find a home with most of your guests. Candles, and for a winter wedding, Christmas decorations also work well. Think about your guests and what they are most likely to enjoy. If you apply this principle to all gifts as part of your wedding (I call this mindful gifting) you’ll have happy recipients and a warm glow knowing you’ve got them something they love and will use!
Obviously you don’t have to do all or any of these, and I’ve tried to keep them fairly simple and easy to do, so they won’t change too much about your wedding day. Nevertheless, if you choose to take my advice you’ll be opting to make your wedding just that little bit better for this planet we call home.
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