Weddings are incredible days that bring friends and family together for a celebration you’ll never forget. But they can also be very wasteful affairs, with lots of travel required to get everyone in the same place, plenty of one-off purchases (dresses and decor we’re looking at you) and so much food that ends up in the bin.
If reducing your environmental footprint is important to you, then planning a sustainable wedding should be at the fore of your mind. And we’re here to tell you that it’s not impossible, with plenty of venues, vendors and options available that will reduce your impact as you say “I do”.
Read on to discover how you can be considerate of resource usage on your wedding day and even leave the world a better place in the process.
Choose a sustainable wedding venue
One of the simplest ways you can go “green” for your wedding is by choosing a sustainable wedding venue. It may have been built with green accreditation, operate a comprehensive recycling scheme or be run on renewable energy. While you’re browsing potential wedding venues, check to see what they are doing to minimise their environmental footprint and how this aligns with your sustainability ethos.
It’s also worth mentioning that the closer the wedding venue is to your (and your guests’) home, the fewer emissions you will be emitting to get there. Presumably, there will be some travel involved, so consider creating a car-share network for guests or book a bus from a local hub so that everyone isn’t driving individually.
Check how “green” your wedding vendors are
Vendors come in all shapes and sizes, from wedding photographers to caterers, florists and DJs. How they run their businesses will determine whether they are having a detrimental impact on the environment or if they’re actually carbon neutral (or even carbon positive!) Some vendors will be doing everything they can to minimise their environmental footprint, which might mean cycling to your wedding venue, sourcing produce from local suppliers or only using organically grown florals. Perhaps they donate part of their profits to green initiatives or pay to offset their emissions. If a vendor’s sustainability practices aren’t mentioned on their website, ask them directly or start looking elsewhere.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
In this day and age, recycling should be second nature but, unfortunately, it’s not always the case. While you may be pedantic about recycling at home, that doesn’t mean the staff at your venue are going to be separating cans and bottles and ensuring any food waste is deposited in a compost bin.
If nothing about recycling is explicitly mentioned by the venue on their website, touch base with the onsite wedding coordinator and explain that this is important to you. Perhaps they are onboard or maybe it’s in the “too hard basket”, in which case, it’s time to set your heart on another venue.
Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle
Upcycling on your wedding day can mean everything from wearing a vintage wedding dress to sourcing all of your glassware from the local tip shop. Instead of buying jewellery that you are only going to wear once, why not don a family heirloom that has sentimentality attached to it.
When it comes to wedding dresses, you’ll find plenty of preloved options, all of which have probably only ever been worn once. If you don’t want to go used, look for designers who are using environmentally friendly materials instead. After your big day, be sure to swap, resell or recycle your wedding dress so it has another lease on life.
You can also decorate your wedding venue with up-cycled or handmade decor, rather than disposable balloons and lanterns that will just end up in landfill. If you are supplying your own crockery, consider hunting for one-of-a-kind pieces from your local second-hand store – you never know what you might find. Also, rather than using regular confetti, glitter and candles, look for non-toxic and biodegradable options.
Create a sustainably sourced menu
Whether your venue is providing your wedding meal or you’re hiring a catering team, there’s no reason why you can’t have a sustainably sourced menu. Organic, local and seasonal produce is the way to go, ensuring your food miles are kept to a minimum and there is as little impact on the environment as possible during their cultivation. Depending on the dietary habits of you and your guests, you might also want to limit meat dishes in favour of vegetarian or vegan options. You can also reduce your carbon footprint by sourcing beverages from local wineries, breweries and distilleries with a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Opt for eco-friendly wedding invites
It’s surprising just how much paper gets used for a wedding, despite all of the digital options available to us. From “save the dates” to wedding invitations, menus and “thank you” cards, it all adds up. If you don’t want to do everything digitally, look for eco-friendly stationery designers or write your messages on recycled cards, which are the perfect choice for rustic or boho-style weddings. Instead of providing individual menus, consider creating one large sign or blackboard and you’ll save a few trees in the process.
Look for ethical beauty products
It’s no secret that the beauty industry contributes significantly to waste through its use of packaging and some brands are still testing their products on animals. Giving your beauty drawer an ethical makeover is something you can do at any point in life but planning a sustainable wedding is a great excuse! Locally made, cruelty-free and zero-waste products are the way to go, as are those created with organic ingredients, rather than nasty chemicals.
Create arrangements from seasonal, local flowers
You might think that flowers are one of the most natural parts of your wedding day but that all depends on how they were grown and where. If chemical herbicides and pesticides are used in their cultivation, the impact on the environment might be greater than you imagined. It’s best to go with flowers that are in-season and locally grown, preferably from a supplier that is using organic principles.
Also, check with your florist about what happens to the arrangements after your wedding as you may be able to donate them to a local hospital or organisation where they will be appreciated for many more days to come. An alternative to using fresh-cut flowers is potted plants, which will last long after your wedding day is over.
Go green with your wedding favours
Instead of wedding gifts, why not ask your guests to donate to a charity of your choice that is committed to environmental sustainability. There are hundreds of NGOs out there doing amazing work that it might be difficult to choose just one! Not only will this make a big difference in the amount of material goods you end up with (all of which have their own carbon footprint), but you’ll do away with the mountains of packaging that inevitably come with gifting.
Escape on an ethical honeymoon
An ethical honeymoon might mean foregoing that overseas getaway in favour of a farm stay closer to home. Or, it might mean choosing a tour company that specialises in responsible travel by staying at green accommodation providers and supporting local businesses. Researching your dream eco-honeymoon might take some time, but that’s all part of the fun!
Once your sustainable wedding is done and dusted, be sure to showcase your images (and “green” features) in a handcrafted wedding album.