By the time the confetti settles the average UK wedding has produced a third of a metric tonne of solid waste and 14.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide in just one day! By comparison, annual carbon emissions per person in the UK are about 9.1 tonnes (Source: www.dothegreenthing.com).
As we become ever more focussed on saving our planets finite resources can you still have your perfect day but with a conscience? This latest article is in no way meant to preach at you, or make you feel guilty for any choices that you are considering but rather offer some eco-friendly alternatives – many of which will save you money as well!
Ways to go Plastic Free or Less Plastic
- Favours – consider the environmental impact of plastic packaging, and instead opt for recyclable card and paper. Often favours end up left on tables at the end of the evening so opt instead to donate to a charity you care about or give guests wildflower seeds to sow in their gardens and promote bees (for more low-cost sustainable favour ideas click here).
- Wedding gifts -If you want to cut down on a pile of presents and avoid plastic packaging, explore other gift ideas instead. Ask for eco-friendly gifts when you tie the knot. How about asking for vouchers so you can choose your own home and garden products? If you’ve got everything you need, why not ask guests to donate to a charity that means a lot to you. If you do opt for a wedding list, make sure you only ask for things you really need and will use.
- Invites – Make sure you search for wedding invite companies that only use recycled paper. Even better, don’t use paper invites at all. Choose an online invitation company to send e-invites. If you have additional information for guests, you could set up a wedding website and your e-invite could direct them to it.
- Photos – Make sure you get the images you want to display printed, framed, etc but opt for the remainder to be stored digitally.
- Confetti – Chose biodegradable confetti or alternative options like birdseed. You can see more suggestions here.
- Flip-flops, toiletry baskets, etc – these have become an increasing trend and whilst they are a thoughtful offering to your guests most adults will bring ‘dancing shoes’ or kick off their heels and pack their essentials in their bags! Most couples end up with loads of these items left over and flip-flops especially are a huge issue for landfill. Save money and the planet and leave out of your wedding.
- Venue choice – check that your venue doesn’t use plastic straws, buffet cutlery etc, or ask them if they would consider switching to a greener alternative.
- Using animals as part of your ceremony? Owls bringing rings, Wedding Llamas, Dove releases? No-one is saying don’t do these things and they can make a wedding truly memorable. But, make sure you have seen the companies animal licenses and checked out the business premises. For every reputable business owner that cares about their animals, there is a shady individual just looking to make a quick buck. Dove releases, in particular, seem vulnerable to this. Do your homework.
- Ensure caterers are using animal welfare certified meat and fish.
Organic and Ethically Sourced
- Engagement and wedding rings – Try hunting for a unique wedding ring in antique shops or at the end-of-year shows for jewellery design students. Or search online for suppliers of recycled gold or Fairtrade silver. For advice on buying conflict-free diamonds, see The Kimberley Process FAQs .
- Wedding Food – Source your food from a supplier that uses local, seasonal and organic food or ask your caterer to do this for you. Food from local farm shops or markets is less likely to come packaged in unnecessary plastic.
- Wedding Cake – Ask your wedding cake maker or local baker to use organic, local ingredients in your cake. If you’re going for a fruity wedding cake, ask for seasonal, British fruits rather than imported carbon-guzzling options. You could even try dairy-free wedding cake recipes that will be suitable for vegans and better for the planet. Or, if you don’t want to end up wasting food by having a wedding cake that will only get half-eaten, try something different. Like an organic cheeseboard ‘cake’ with local fruit instead, or individual wedding cupcakes for your guests.
- Flowers – opt for seasonal flowers that are grown in the UK and don’t come with air miles to import. You can check out seasonal flowers here.
Other ways you could make your Wedding Environmentally Friendly
- Hire your Wedding Dress – One of the biggest costs at a wedding is the wedding dress. It can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds and will never get worn again. One way around this is to choose a style of wedding dress that could be worn again for another function. Or consider hiring your outfit – ideal for bride, groom, ushers and children. For bridesmaids and page boys, make bridesmaids dresses and suits green by buying something they can wear afterwards for parties. Or check out vintage and retro shops. Alternatively, search online for quality used outfits from Ebay or specialist sites such as The Dressmarket . Or you can buy wedding dresses, wedding shoes and accessories from one of Oxfam’s bridal wear shops . You could also consider borrowing from a friend. After the big day, why not consider recycling your wedding dress or accessories? There are several charities that want used wedding dresses for terminally ill brides. By donating anything from jewellery and tiaras to clutch bags and bridesmaid dresses, you could also support other charities.
- Wedding Transport – Looking for the perfect wedding location? Find a venue close to home to cut down on transport. And don’t invest in hiring a gas-guzzling wedding limousine for your wedding car. Instead, make a statement by turning up to your wedding in an electric car or horse-drawn carriage. If you don’t have the ceremony and reception at the same venue, encourage guests to share rides to the reception or provide a coach or bus. If possible, include public transport details in your invitations, to encourage guests to consider leaving the car at home – and enjoy a few drinks too.
- Honeymoon – One of the biggest environmental impacts your wedding can have is a long-haul honeymoon. If you don’t want to worry about adding to climate change when you tie the knot, think about romantic destinations you can visit for your honeymoon that won’t clock up the air miles.