Typical weddings are known be heavy on resources and can clock up quite a few carbon emissions and materials going to waste after being used just for one day. But having the time of your life doesn’t mean you can’t be kind to the environment at the same time, without compromising on your dream day’s appearance.
Here are some tips to throwing the best party ever with the least environmental impact.
Generally speaking, the easiest way to “greenify”your wedding is to simply making it smaller. The fewer people, the less travel, materials and waste produced.
But you can of course counterbalance the wastage by adopting a minimalist approach to reduce resources used in the production of your wedding day.
Think that you are confined to a rustic theme with brown invites, vintage tea cups and home made decor? You needn’t skimp on elegance just because you go green. Keep the elegance by implementing a botanical theme, use minimalist as your main approach and buy a sophisticated dress from a eco-conscious designer such as Minna or Reformation. Off-set the carbon imprint by serving a vegan/ vegetarian menu and hosting your wedding locally. Instead of asking for gifts or giving out favours, you can ask people to donate money into a charity with an environmental cause.
Invitation environmental ingenuity
There are wonderful paperless options for your invitation – just look online and you will find numerous wedding websites and apps that are often free and easy to use both for yourself and your guests. It makes RSVPing so much easier when the guest clicks a button in their electronic invite and you instantly get an updated list of who is coming, and can keep a quick tally of the numbers and any dietary restrictions. Don’t we all prefer to do everything online these days anyway?
If you must have traditional paper invite, source recycled paper and make them as small as possible. Instead of making separate papers for Details, directions and RSVP, try to fit them on one paper, or provide a wedding website address where the guests can look up further information. You can skip the Save the dates altogether – or just make a phone call to those who live far-away who may need to make travel plans further in advance.
Instead of printing menus for everyone – save time, money and paper by writing the menu on an old window or mirror by each table instead.
For your registry – unless you really need a toaster and new crockery – consider asking your guests for a cash donation instead of something that might end up collecting dust. This way you can spend the money on something really worthwhile – and it will save a lot of paper on packaging too.
Green dress success
The fashion industry, including the bridal fashion industry, is not famous for it’s environmental consciousness. But there are ways you can be eco-clever with your bridal attire: number one is to repurpose an old dress – for example your mothers – where you use existing material and turn it into your very own dream dress. It is a wonderful way to pass down a special heirloom and it will great for both you and your mum for many more reasons than environmental.
Buying a second hand dress is equally eco-friendly. Look in local classifieds or designated preloved dresses online shops for gorgeous discounted designer dresses that need a new bride to make happy.
If you want to purchase a brand new gown, seek out designers who either has a “zero waste” policy (which means all the wastage from pattern cutting is minimized) and/ or choose a designer that creates sustainable gowns, whether it’s by hand-making the dress or supporting women in developing countries.
Certain fabrics are more eco-friendly than others. Buy fabrics that are decomposable and made of natural fibre, and for extra conciseness, make sure the fabrics are made in fair working conditions.
Ingenious brides who dont want to part with their dress, may also find ways to make use of their wedding dress after the big day is over: a baby crib cover, baby girl dress, teddy bear, a new top and skirt, lingerie, cushion cover, a scarf, lanterns – anything you can think of making something white with. You can even make a necklace!
As for most stylish weddings, less is more when it comes to decor – the less material you use, the less wasteful your wedding will be. Minimalist = environmentalist. You will save money and time too!
Make sure that your decorations have either been re-purposed already, or will be possible to re-purpose after the wedding. How about thrifting all your reception decor from charity shops or vintage shops, and handing it back to the shop they came from afterwards? I guarantee you will have the most unique wedding ever, and this is just such a great way to put a personal stamp on your decor.
For the more modern and minimalist look wedding look, paint recycled wine bottles white for elegant and classy vases.
Or how about sourcing your decorations from your local landscape? Rocks, driftwood, grasses, feathers, shells – fits like a hand in glove with a bohemian decor scheme. Combine with harvested wild flowers and you have a wedding as beautiful as Mother Nature herself.
Upcycling – another wonderful way to save on resources. Pallet wood, tin cans, jam jars, glasses and plywood can make fantastic and on-trend decorations with just a small bit of DIY that anyone could handle.
If you want a traditional decoration for your wedding, try to at least avoid using polystyrene and plastic, and recycle as much as you possible can.
Avoid balloons and send-off Chinese lanters – they are pretty but create garbage in undesirable places.
A clever way to reuse (and make some bucks) is to sell or rent out your wedding decor after the wedding – you can of course hire yours as well if you have the possibility – it save a lot of effort and hassle too.
If you are getting married in spring or summer, you should easily be able to find your wedding flowers in abundance in a nearby field.
You could minimize the flowers you use and go for a majority of greenery and foliage instead – and you get extra trend-bonus points as well. Pampas grasses are another fashionable edition to this years flower design, and add interesting texture and movement to decorations and your bouquet.
Using succulents that can be replanted after the wedding (they root easily) is a smart way of making sure nothing goes to waste. Likewise, why not use potted plants on your centrepieces instead of cut flowers? Branches can also look just as nice in a vase.
Fruit and vegetables can be used as colourful and interesting centrepieces – what you can’t use after the wedding, donate to a local food bank or give to family to enjoy.
For your confetti: use leaves, herbs or small flowers such as lavender and rosemary instead. Pretty, fragrant and no clean up required after. Make confetti holders by rolling upcycled paper into cones.
If you are going for traditional flower arrangements I have only two words: local and seasonal!
Environmentally favourable favours
Give responsibly! Edible flavours such as homemade jam, organic coffee beans honey, or plants or a bag of seeds to plant are all great ideas of eco-friendly favours for your guests that everyone will appreciate. You could even give a little tree seedling to offset the carbon emissions from all the miles people have travelled to attend your wedding.
If you can’t think of anything worthwhile to give, how about offering the money you were going to spend on favours to a charity with an environmental cause? Your guests will not be disappointed, and you will set a great example for future weddings.
Hire the attire
Just as for your dress, consider having your groom and groomsmen renting their outfits, or using something they already own. Chances are they would only wear this outfit once anyway. Matchy-matchy is no longer a must for wedding outfits – just give a guideline and let them dig out what they have. Everybody has a white shirt and grey pants; and suspenders and a funky bowtie can easily be found in a vintage shop. Then let them rent a jacket and waistcoat – it will save everybody money and time too.
For your bridesmaids – give them a budget and colour scheme and then let them buy their own. If they choose something themselves, they will pick something they will wear again and this way the fabric has not been wasted just for one use. Perhaps they already have something in their wardrobes that can be coordinated?
Head to a vintage market together as an outing and be surprised how creative you can be with the bridesmaids look.
If you must have matching evening dresses for your girls, either rent the gowns, or buy preloved (like we hope you did with your dress).
When it comes to venue: local is better
For the venue, do consider your nearby options first. Picking a destination across the ocean for 100 people to travel to – well you can imagine how many tonnes of damaging emissions that produces. A farm, an Inn or a forest outside your town is a wonderful eco-friendly and less expensive alternative. Also consider your favorite restaurant, your local library or why not a warehouse for a bit of wedding-edginess.
If your venue is far from the nearest town, consider arranging a shuttle of guests or organize car-pooling – it will mean more guests can enjoy your bar menu without driving restrictions.
When setting up the venue,make sure that somebody installs 4 different bins for collecting waste: Paper, tins, glass and other.
Eating without cheating
Look carefully at the products used to create your menu. As much as possible, make sure the chef uses seasonal ingredients and locally grown produce. If you serve fish, make sure it is sustainably fished. If you are serving meat, use it as an ingredient as supposed to the main event. Chicken and pork are less heavy on water and resources than beef and lamb.
If there are organic options, choose them as much as possible. See if the ingredients could possibly be purchased from the farmer to minimize fuel for transporting to and from grocery shops, and plastic packaging.
Ask your chef to carefully calculate the servings as to minimize food wastage. Arrange all leftovers to be stored properly and be taken to a soup kitchen the next day.
Doing DIY for your wedding is a wonderful and fun way to personalize your wedding. It might even save you some money and the environment too. But keep in mind that not all DIY projects are eco-friendly. Try to use the principle of up-cycling when choosing your projects, I e turn something already used into something new. For example: doilies into dream catchers. Glass ware from a charity shop into votives. Tin cans into vases. A pretty garland made of fabric scraps.
Pinterest is full of clever DIY ideas – but remember to use “new” materials as little as possible and rather look at what is already available.
For crafts that calls for paper – why not use pages from an unloved book? You could even make a stunning table runner this way!
When planning your honeymoon, do consider the flights you have to take in order to get there. Flying less will not only save you money , but perhaps you will find a destination off the beaten track nearer to – or in – your own country that is just as exiting. Perhaps you can book a train instead of driving a car. Romance does not have to travel far to flourish – the most important thing is you and your spouse are alone in eachothers company and can connect and enjoy this precious experience of being newly weds. After so many busy months of wedding planning, chances are that all you want to do is to take it easy for your honeymoon, so anywhere quiet and pretty is going to be as good as anywhere exotic. (Even if you are a self-confessed environmental enthusiast – do NOT consider camping though – you need the comforts this time!)