HOW TO HAVE A MORE SUSTAINABLE / ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING
As wonderful as they can be, weddings can be pretty wasteful, both in terms of money and resources. With all the guests travelling to and from your chosen location, the food waste (very few weddings under-cater!) and even the left over favours, weddings can actually produce as much CO2 as five people would in an entire year! But there are ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding day and it’s not as difficult as you may think.
However, bear in mind that just as there is no such thing as the total, perfect wedding - there’s no such thing as a totally eco-friendly wedding. A totally green wedding comes with a lot of pressure, so cut yourself some slack – the fact you are being mindful of your carbon footprint means you are more eco-conscious than most! You don't have to use every single one of these ideas, just choose the ones that mean the most to you and start there!
Choose your location wisely
It’s no secret that transport, and especially flying, is a major contributor to carbon emissions so it’s a good idea to think about how you and your guests will be travelling to your wedding destination. If you are determined to cut your wedding's carbon footprint then choose to get married in a place with the fewest plane or car journeys.
Look into the green credentials of your venue - do they already have a robust plan to reduce their environmental impact or are they doing the bare minimum? How much do they recycle? Do they source their produce for the meal locally? Do they use renewable energy sources, and what plans do they have in place for reducing their energy usage for example in the lighting they use or their laundry systems? Do they protect their outdoor areas by reducing fertilisers? Are they doing any carbon offsetting?
Food and Drink
Take your time and research the options available to you, along with any policies and practices your chosen caterer has to be more environmentally conscious. For example, some suppliers participate in a carbon offset scheme whilst others only use local, sustainable and ethically sourced produce.
Once you’ve chosen your caterer, work with them to create a menu that’s as eco-friendly as possible. This means thinking about seasonal, organic products and if you can, opt for those that are locally and ethically sourced. Whilst you are thinking about food and drink, you might want to also consider cutting single use plastics by for example, making sure that there’s no plastic cups or straws and your bar uses glass bottles.
Décor, Stationary and Flowers
More and more companies are now offering items to hire instead of buy and biodegradable options are increasing. Perhaps you could use recycled paper in your stationery, name cards and menus and use biodegradable confetti. You could even choose to make all your communication digital and not to have confetti at all. If you decide you would like to do without favours completely you may decide to make a charitable donation instead. To push your green credentials to the limit, ask yourself with each potential purchase whether you really need it and cut down anything that isn't absolutely essential.
When it comes to all things flowers, working with seasonal choices that haven’t been forced or grown out of season is the obvious choice. Avoid flowers that have been airfreighted half way around the world, especially when there are no so many independent flower farmers who are producing gorgeous blooms. Look beyond the flowers themselves and consider what goes into the floral arrangements. Oasis, the floral foam that some florists use as a base is incredibly damaging to the environment as it is not biodegradable and contains chemicals such as formaldehyde. More and more florists are going foam free - look for one that does. Re-gift your flowers to family and friends who have gone above and beyond for your wedding, or even donate them to a local care home.
Think about how many people you really need to cater for, especially in the evening. Your daytime guests will have probably eaten a large meal later in the day than normal so may not need lots to eat in the evening - its often OK to budget for two thirds of your guests in the evening rather than everyone to avoid lots of food being thrown away. If you’ve got any leftover cake, make sure it’s available for guests to take with them as they leave.
There are a few different ways to be more ethical when choosing the fashion for your wedding day. You could buy vintage, rent your gown like Carrie Johnson, consider wearing ethical jewellery and ensure your engagement ring has been ethically sourced too. Or you can buy pre-loved or ex-sample so that a whole new dress doesn't have to be created from scratch - for both you and your bridesmaids.
For the groom, there are also some ethical choices for example Moss Bros have created a whole range of eco-suit options. Suits can be crafted from earth-friendly fabrics like recycled PET polyester and responsibly sourced cotton. Or hiring can again by a less damaging option.
Give your beauty and make up routine a makeover
If you haven’t already, try adding some cruelty free, zero waste or locally produced items to your pre-wedding beauty routine. You can also ask your bridal hairstylist and make-up artist to use cruelty-free and low-impact substitutes on the day.
The Gift List
Think carefully about your gift list as it’s another way to easily overindulge when you don’t really need to. You can build a sustainable brand gift list or look into asking for donations to a bigger purchase that you really need. Or even donations to a green charity.
Your wedding day is above all about your future and you absolutely should have the day of your dreams. By being mindful of the above you can also show a little love to the future of the planet.