Planning a sustainable wedding may be a lot easier than you think.
Did you know that sustainability goes far beyond the environmental footprint you make when planning and hosting your wedding? It’s also about choosing wedding suppliers who, through being part of your wedding day, build a sustainable industry that works with strong ethical standards and employ people who support you on your wedding planning journey, with fair pay and working conditions for all.
Cast a sustainable lens over your planning and enjoy your wedding day with a clear conscience knowing you have kept the planet and its people at the heart of all your memory making decisions.
Choose a venue and suppliers that embed sustainability into their daily business practice
Your wedding venue and suppliers are often the biggest contributor to the overall sustainability of your wedding. How they work directly impacts the quality of the footprint you leave:
- Location: How far will guests and suppliers need to travel to your wedding? Air travel, as well as car emissions, are the top contributors to environmental damage. Choose a venue close to home if you can, offer bus transport for guests to travel together or look at ways to offset your emissions if your heart is set on a destination wedding.
- Energy: What is the source of the venue’s energy? Is it renewable or does it have energy saving measures in place?
- Waste management: How does the venue or your suppliers deal with waste? Do they recycle or have waste reducing measures in place?
- Staff: It’s a big tick from us if they pay their staff (at least) living wage and have measures in place to care of their team’s wellbeing.
- Catering: Is produce locally sourced to support local farmers, vineyards and businesses, and reduce travel emissions? Consider including a vegetarian or vegan dish to your menu. Has your menu been designed to reduce leftovers, while still ensuring your guests tummies are full? Is your cake being made from ethically sourced ingredients such as fair trade cocoa? Avoid single use items for food service.
Invitations, menus, signage
Whichever way you look at it, weddings can be rather wasteful and include a lot of ‘single use’ or customised printing to help you achieve the unique look you are after. If you’re open to negotiation, here are a few solutions that are not only kinder on the planet, but it will save you money too:
- Save the date cards & Invitations: Consider e-invites and set up a wedding website for all the information that you would usually include on a details card. For guests (especially older family members) who might appreciate a physical invitation, choose recycled paper, use eco ink and avoid glue, glitter, ribbons or stickers that may not be recyclable or compostable.
- Menus: If needed, print these on recycled cardstock with eco inks and consider having only one or two per table. If your tablescape calls for one per person, design your menu to double as a place card to reduce printing requirements.
- Signage: Do you need a customised welcome sign? Or to print a large table plan on non-recyclable material? Consider the need for or use of your sign, and the material you are using before creating it.
Décor, Styling & Florals:
Budget depending, you may be DIY-ing your décor or perhaps you have a stylist pulling all your creative ideas together. Whichever way you go, you can still act with sustainability in mind:
- Hire décor and equipment: Anything that is used more than once is kinder on the environment and not only are you reducing your carbon footprint, you’re supporting a local business too.
- Re-use: Create décor that can be used between the ceremony and reception. Feature pieces can also be re-used in your home after your wedding day.
- Fresh florals: Choose in season florals that are locally grown for bouquets and styling, and use natural fibres to bind stems, rather than plastics and ribbons.If you have no use for your flowers after your wedding day, donate bouquets and centrepieces to rest homes or a pre-arranged place that can give the florals a second life.
- Dried florals: A wonderful option if you are wanting a keepsake of your wedding. Do your research in advance and make sure your florist or supplier aren’t using any toxins or chemicals that are harmful to the environment to dry, preserve or colour your florals.
- Upcycle and recycle: Use online marketplaces to find vintage or second-hand fabrics, tableware and upcycled items (or upcycle things yourself) for centre pieces and décor. Once your wedding is over, these marketplaces are a great place to sell your items too.
Dress & Jewellery
Choosing a vintage or pre-loved wedding gown will add a real story to your sustainable wedding. Vintage gowns are often made of high-quality laces that aren’t seen on modern day dresses, they are individual and hold history in their stitches.
- Something borrowed: It is common to hire suits for a wedding, hiring a bridal gown is a great option too. Find a bargain with a second-hand gown from a wedding dress buy and sell group or website like www.stillwhite.com.
- Something new: If you do buy your dress new, keep it for future generations – pass your dress or veil onto your children or children in law. Support designers who ensure fair conditions for their workers and use sustainably sourced fabrics.
- Jewellery & Rings: Many engagement rings come at a huge cost and not just financially. Choose ethically sourced gold and conflict free stones to complement your sustainable wedding. Know where your diamonds come from, and where and how they were mined.
Shop vintage or re-model family jewels for a special touch that brings special meaning as well as sustainability to your day.
*As seen in Canterbury Bride 2021*