Earth Day was on the 22nd April 2020, and since then for the last 10 weeks, I’ve been posting weekly tips on my Instagram page (follow here) about how you can have an eco-friendly wedding.
This year's theme is climate action, which is something I'm really passionate about! Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. You can read more about it on the Earth Day website.
Unfortunately, weddings can be unfriendly to the environment and produce excessive amounts of waste. Below are my tips to have a wedding that is more sustainable and kinder to the environment.
As a Wedding Planner, I’m making a commitment to producing weddings that are as environmentally-friendly as possible, through working with like-minded suppliers and choosing sustainable products. We can make a difference.
Flowers can produce a huge amount of waste, not only in the production process but also after your wedding – what happens to all those beautiful flowers once your day is over? Discuss with your Florist about what you can do to reduce waste and minimise the impact buying flowers can have on the environment.
🌿 USE FOAM FREE FLORALS: Often floral designs will consist of a water-absorbent foam that helps to keep all the flowers in place. It's so convenient but it is also a single-use plastic and full of carcinogens that will end up in the soil if the foam is left to disintegrate in a landfill. Speak to your florist about creating a floral design that is foam-free.
🌿 BUY LOCALLY GROWN FLOWERS: The UK spends more than £2bn on cut flowers per year, but around 90% of these are imported from Holland or flown from African and South American farms where they have been treated by chemicals. The carbon footprint from shipping, habitat loss and declining numbers of wildlife from unregulated farming are just some of the reasons you should go British. Do your research on what flowers are available in the UK and speak to your florist about what designs you can create with locally grown flowers.
🌿 DONATE FLOWERS: Once your wedding is over have you thought about what you're going to do with your flowers? You may want to keep some to dry as a memento but as for the rest, it's a lovely idea to donate these, perhaps to a nursing home or hospice.
Food & Drink
Another source of large amounts of waste and a big impact on the carbon footprint produced by your wedding is through catering. Speak to your chosen caterers and bar providers about what options are available to you so you can make an informed and eco-friendly decision.
🌿 SOURCE FOOD LOCALLY: When looking for a caterer for your wedding make sure to ask them where they source their ingredients from and what food will be in season at the time of your wedding. Work with suppliers with sustainable and local sources.
🌿 VEGAN MENUS: If you're interested in having a vegan menu at your wedding but are worried about alienating some of your meat-eating guests, work with your caterer to come up with an exciting menu that is so delicious your guests won't even realise it's vegan or vegetarian!
🌿 REDUCE FOOD WASTAGE: Discuss with your caterer what happens to food waste after your wedding - Can any edible leftovers be donated? Can the rest be composted?
🌿 SINGLE GLASS PER GUEST: Encourage your guests to hold onto their glass instead of receiving a new one every time they order a drink. It cuts back on the amount of washing up that needs to be done, as well as lowering the number of glasses you need to rent!
🌿 AVOID INDIVIDUAL CANS AND BOTTLES: It's not just excessive glassware that causes waste at your bar but also drinks served in cans or individual-sized bottles. Stick to full-sized bottles and where possible use kegs for beer.
🌿 FORGET WATER BOTTLES: Provide jugs of table water to guests to cut down on individual water bottles being used.
🌿 AVOID SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FOR DISHES AND UTENSILS: If you're looking for something simple and easy it can be tempting to go for cost-effective single-use items. But use sustainable, compostable, or reusable products wherever possible. Ditch the plastic straws and use a recyclable kind instead!
🌿 RENT DISHES (and linens): Use linens and dishes from rental companies if you don't have enough for your guests, instead of using disposable goods, especially plastic.
Similar to florals, think about what will happen with your décor once your wedding is over and also the long-term effects of something like releasing balloons or Chinese lanterns into the air.
🌿 REUSE DECOR AT YOUR WEDDING: Try to find a second use for your wedding decor, bouquets can become centrepieces, ceremony backdrops become photo booth backdrops. This is a great money-saving tip too!
🌿 REUSE DECOR AT HOME: Pick out decor items you will want to repurpose to decorate your home, reducing waste and providing memories of your wedding day.
🌿 DITCH THE CONFETTI: There are so many biodegradable options and alternatives to confetti out there now that are much nicer to the environment. I've written a blog post about how you can use things like leaves, petals and dried flowers to make your own confetti, so check that out here if you want to find out more.
🌿 DON'T USE CHINESE LANTERNS: The implications of using Chinese lanterns are potentially horrific to animals, causing suffering and even death, and a massive fire hazard to the environment. They are already banned in some places such as California and Wales, and hopefully, the rest of the UK will follow soon!
🌿 AVOID BALLOONS: Balloons are not biodegradable. They can be especially harmful if you have a balloon release where they'll inevitably end up as litter where an animal could potentially swallow them.
I used to work in the fashion industry and it’s a passion of mine, however just before I left it was weighing heavy on my mind and heart what impact these companies were having on the Earth. The global fast fashion brand I worked for is making a commitment to increasing sustainability but ultimately reports have estimated that the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions and use 1.5 trillion litres of water every year. While a single wedding dress may not contribute much to these alarming figures if you’re committed to a sustainable and eco-friendly wedding then my advice is:
🌿 WEAR A SECONDHAND OR VINTAGE DRESS: Wearing a second-hand dress means you are giving a pre-loved wedding dress a second life and reducing your impact. I wrote a blog post about how to shop for vintage dresses and recommended stores which you can check out it here.
🌿 USE SUSTAINABLE DESIGNERS: Research local wedding attire designers that are committed to sustainability. Fast fashion is a huge contributor to pollution and water use.
I personally love receiving a wedding invitation in the post and will hold onto them and any other stationery I’m given as a memento but I know this isn’t the case for everyone and often your well-thought-out stationery ends up left at the venue and ultimately in the bin.
🌿 USE RECYCLED PAPER FOR YOUR STATIONERY: There are lots of beautifully designed invitations that can be produced on recycled paper, find a Stationer who works with recycled materials.
🌿 USE ONLINE INVITATIONS: If you're not bothered by having physical invitations sent out to your guests then go digital! It will save you money on stamps too! There are so many websites out there that will do this for you, for example, greenvelope.com so have a look around.
🌿 AND ONLINE RSVPs: Whether you choose to send out paper invitations or digital ones, you can collect RSVP responses by asking your guests to log in instead of asking them to send back their RSVP card - saving paper, stamps and helping you to compile a list of attendees through an online database.
First of all, don’t feel pressured to give out wedding favours, your guests don’t expect it (and often don’t appreciate it) so think carefully if you want them and if you do then think about what your guests are going to value and keep.
🌿 EDIBLE FAVOURS: Everyone loves food and something like macaroons in your wedding colours or chocolates will be hit with your guests. And any leftovers you can take home with you to enjoy!
🌿 BIODEGRADABLE FAVOURS: Avoid giving your guests favours that they'll take home, forget about it and will eventually end up in a landfill. Small plants or packets of seeds are cute ideas.
🌿 NO FAVOURS: It's absolutely okay to not give out favours and this is a great area to cut back on if you’re looking to save money.
Transportation is something that people don't always think about but it does impact the overall carbon footprint of the wedding.
🌿 USE THE SAME LOCATION: for your ceremony and reception, this will cut down on the transport guests need to use to, from and during your wedding.
🌿 PROVIDE BULK TRANSPORTATION: If you need to hold your ceremony and reception in different venues, and your budget allows, put on transport for your guests such as a coach to limit the number of cars being used.
🌿 USE LOCAL VENDORS AND PRODUCTS: Cut down on delivery times by using local vendors and products that need to be transported to your wedding venue.
I hope these tips and tricks have helped you in achieving an eco-friendly wedding if you come up with any more ideas, I’d be happy to hear them! If you’d like any of my help, you can find out more about the services I offer here and get in touch with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.