We do love planet-friendly, sustainable weddings! This lovely and super useful article to help you plan your eco-friendly wedding was written for English Wedding by Hampshire wedding photographer Sarah Hoyle
If you are planning your wedding this year, you might be well aware that it can actually have a huge impact on the environment. There are lots of things only used once for the day and at a high cost. You may be feeling the pressure to fly guests in from abroad and also to fulfil a more traditional idea of a dress or suit, or flowers.
Remember it is YOUR day done YOUR way, and if caring for the environment is something you do as part of your lifestyle, all your values shouldn’t go out the window, just because it’s your wedding day. Also if you are the kind of couple who wants to help make positive change in the world this should be reflected in your wedding as part of who you are. Celebrate your selves and honour all that is important to you.
So, where on Earth (excuse the pun) do you start?! There’s a lot to think about and juggle anyway with planning a sustainable wedding and trying to make eco choices along the way just adds to the confusion and overwhelm. This is why I’ve put 5 easy tips down as a starter for ten. Small swaps can make BIG differences so shop smart and I’m sure you will have the day of your dreams without compromising your vision and creating a large carbon footprint.
1. Firstly ethical wedding food!
Try to avoid using too much meat and dairy in your wedding menu. The way we farm and produce meat and dairy at the moment contributes to 14.5% of global greenhouse gasses. Vegan food is much more accepted now and plus it’s super tasty! And whatever your food choice, choose caterers who source local produce.
When you book your caterer check their eco policy. Do they recycle, separate and compost the waste food or do they throw it into the same bin afterwards? Also, who oversees if this will actually happen? Sometimes caterers have great intentions, only to then hire in agency staff who know nothing of the environmental policy and unknowingly throw everything into black bin bags. A catering manager should keep ALL staff up to speed with what happens to the food afterwards.
2. Your guest list
Consider a smaller guest list. After Covid, most people have started liking the idea of small intimate weddings anyway. More people means more waste at your wedding. So who could you get away with leaving off the list? Aunt Beryl? Also, consider how far your guests have to travel to be with you. If any are driving miles, could they take the train or car share? Or if some would need to fly over, would you consider not inviting them? Maybe having a live feed to the ceremony instead? This is an emotional one, rife with family politics and pressure. But remember it’s your day!! But a tough one so just do what you can to reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint here.
3. Sustainable flowers
Flowers are one of the most beautiful things about weddings. But do your research beforehand. Find a florist who works sustainably. This means seasonal, locally grown flowers. Not imported from abroad. Using natural ways to create displays and not floral foam, which is very damaging to the environment. It is made from synthetic, non-recyclable plastic and uses toxic foam.
Dried flowers that haven’t been bleached are also super on-trend right now and are more sustainable as they last. I know it’s all very tempting to try and recreate that Pinterest inspired bouquet but if it’s using out of season flowers, the florists would have to import them in and they may well have been grown using pesticides and chemicals. Ask your florist first what is available at the time of your wedding and plan your flowers around what can be sourced ethically.
4. Ethical wedding favours
Try not to give favours just for the sake of it, it’s a tradition that seems to have lost its meaning of late. Most people don’t even use or take home the favour unless it’s edible! So consider whether or not you want to give them. But if thought about more, you could give something that can be reused or has an actual purpose. For example, a seed packet, small plant, homemade jam, homemade lemonade for example. All have small carbon footprints and are super cute sustainable wedding favours!
5. Your wedding outfits
Now, of course, your dress can be VERY important! However, it’s a dress worn for one day, not the most eco-friendly item on the list! So to reduce the waste and carbon footprint, source a locally made dress, use a sustainable bridal shop, use recycled fabrics, buy vintage or second hand or you could even rent. All great options and actually probably less of a strain on the old bank balance too!
The same applies to wedding suits – often hired, but there are other options including a local tailor, or buying second hand. Wearing a suit you already own is absolutely fine as well: why not accessorise with a beautifully patterned waistcoat, a bowtie or cute pocket square and tie from a local Etsy seller?
Hopefully, you are feeling like you have more of an idea how you can help the planet and still plan the sustainable wedding of your dreams.
Here are some little extra thoughts too, I’ve seen these kinds of items panic bought at the last minute, so as long as you are planning ahead you can avoid buying mass-produced tat from China!
- No single-use plastic toys for kids
- no single-use flip flops
- no pots of bubbles
- Ensure bar suppliers don’t use single-use plastic cups
- Thoughtful thank you gifts for Mums and bridesmaids rather than bouquets that won’t last.
- Also, you could consider offsetting carbon by planting trees or ask guests to contribute to tree planting initiatives as part of their wedding gift.
- You could use the National Trust to plant trees or sign up to Ecologi to plant trees and fund carbon offsetting initiatives.
Have fun, do your research and don’t be shy to ask for your wedding suppliers’ Eco Policy!