Sustainability isn’t just a buzz word, it’s something that can inform all the decisions you make when you are planning your wedding (if you want it to). There are lots of things you can do to have a consciously sustainable wedding, or simply make it more sustainable; from the overarching large impact bits, to the ‘so small you won’t even notice’, but they’ll still make a huge difference. And it doesn’t have to mean purely recycling…!
Sustainability is really important to me and the way I work (read my sustainability statement here); here’s my guide to making more sustainable choices at each step, so that you can make your wedding as green as possible!
First and foremost! Choose wisely! Every supplier can make a difference in their own way, no matter how small. Look out for suppliers who have a specific sustainability statement on their website. Mine is a mission statement of business practices I aim to uphold and sanity check regularly, to maintain being a sustainable wedding planner as much as possible.
But, as a highlight amongst many of my practices, when you plan your wedding with me, for every new client (from May 2023 onwards), you have the easy option to add ‘plant a tree with me’ via The National Trust. This is just tick box on your online contract, and adds £5 automatically to your invoice, then I take care of the rest!
- Plant a Tree with Me via The National Trust
- 1 Tree = £5
- For every tree purchased by any of my couples, I will match it
I’m also a big fan, personally and professionally, of Patchwork Honeymoon & Giftlist Registry, whose ethos has always been eco. From the bare bones of championing not just giving ‘stuff’ for the sake of giving it, to also donating 50% of their honeymoon fund fees to environmental charities (you can choose which you’d like to support when you sign up to a honeymoon fund).
Food and Drink
- Consider going plant based. Plant based also covers A LOT of dietary requirements for the win. If you’re meat lovers and it seems a bit of a stretch not to have a meat main (I know, me too), there are small things you can do – how about just having plant based canapés? This is a really good eco conscious option that’s oh-so-easy to implement.
- Make sure your ingredients are locally sourced. We have so much amazing produce in this country. If you can, work with your caterers to create a menu that makes the most of whatever’s in season during your wedding month, and source those delicious supplies locally. The responsibility here will be with your caterer, but you need to work with them to make this happen.
- If it’s in the budget, there are some incredible English wines available these days, sipping on your delicious vino, you can also feel smug about keeping those air miles low. To this end, European wines obviously involve fewer air miles than new world wines. One of my own fav English sparklings is Nyetimber, if you haven’t tried it yet, make it your mission to pick up a bottle for your next wedding planning session at home with your other half! (You can nab some for as little as £29 on a promo with Waitrose atm! Also available in most supermarkets though.)
- Although it’s sometimes a little more expensive, if you can hire tableware and napkins rather than using disposables; this is the more green option. If you do plump for disposable tableware, make sure it is bamboo, paper and wood, rather than plastic. I know this seems obvious but the little things all add up…!!
- When it comes to catering, probably the most important thing is to work with a caterer for whom sustainability is at the core of what they do. All of the tips I’ve already mentioned will be much easier if you work with a caterer who already aims to work as sustainably as possible.
- Beginning well before the wedding day, I always advise my couples to start their green planning with their Save the Dates and invitations. I do love stationery, and tangible memories, but maybe you could look out for the planet (and your budget) by even just doing some or part of it electronically. How about splashing out on beautiful paper invitations, but sending a digital Save the Date, and/or asking guests to RSVP electronically? Avoiding plastic and acrylic elements and favouring recycled paper with soy or vegetable-based inks is also a great way to go. I was at an event recently where the dinner menus were on seed paper (by sustainable stationer Laura Likes – no affiliation though btw!), so you could plant it afterwards too!
- Biodegradable confetti should also be a no brainer – real/dried petals are also great, but they throw and fall differently (for photos) to traditional ‘confetti’.
- Florals rate fairly well on the sustainability scale as wedding décor goes, but there are ways you can maximise your sustainability points for sure. For example, I always advise my couples to reuse their florals between the ceremony and the reception where possible, and using potted plants rather than cut flowers means they can be replanted afterwards and have a second life. Choose a florist who uses British seasonal flowers; reducing their air miles and the materials used in forcing flowers through will reduce the impact they’ve had on the earth. I always look for florists who don’t use foam in their arrangements as well (it takes FOREVER to biodegrade and is terrible for the planet – most florists I know use chicken wire for sculptural pieces these days). One final floral tip – give the flowers away to your guests at the end of the wedding! Rather than ending up in the bin, those beauties can spend a few more days on your guests’ coffee tables.
- Centering your décor plans around items you can then display at home significantly reduces the waste after your wedding and therefore is better for the environment, but it also gives you a great piece of décor you can use to always remember the big day! Things like a custom painted sign (extra points if it’s repurposed!) or customised table names will look wonderful hanging proud in your home afterwards.
- You can also use decor that you already have. If you borrow elements that you already have from your house, it’s a great way to minimise waste AND make your wedding day a representation of the two of you.
- I’m also a MASSIVE fan of Facebook Marketplace and local reselling Facebook groups – I’ve had some amazing finds on there which I’ve been really chuffed with! And… you can sell stuff afterwards on there again, too.
- Favours – don’t even think about it unless they are consumable. Even then, try to minimise individually packaged items; a donut wall or cake buffet is a better option.
- In most cases, eco-wise, it makes sense to hire rather than buy things for your wedding. If you can be smart about where you’re hiring from, not only will consolidating suppliers and reducing the number of deliveries save the planet – it should also save you some of your precious wedding budget!
- For those wedding essentials that do need to be bought, try and buy local, or at least British. If you are ordering things from overseas, the more organised you are and the sooner you buy things, the better. This way you can choose surface over air freight and save those air miles.
- Having your ceremony and reception in the same place reduces the amount of travelling you and your guests would need to do on the day. The same applies to getting ready at the same place you’re holding the ceremony.
- There’s always loads to consider when picking your venue; capacity, timings, recommended suppliers etc, but another thing to think about is how sustainable it is. Some venues will require less heating/lighting/electricity just by virtue of how they’re designed, which is a big consideration in the sustainability factor. But certainly more of a decision to mull over when looking at which season to get married.
- These days, there are a huge number of apparel rental companies. If you fancy wearing a designer gown or suit for your big day but don’t want to splash out only for it to be gathering dust in your wardrobe afterwards, this is a great option. I’m a massive fan of this anyway purely for budget and wow factor reason, but it’s obviously a massive bonus that it’s way more eco as well! I had a couple recently state the dress code on their invites as ‘Recycled or Rented Outfits Only’, which I thought was ace!
- If you do buy your outfit, think about how you can reuse or resell it after the day to make sure it’s not just sat there feeling sorry for itself, or worse – sent to landfill! There are loads of bridal charities that will take your wedding outfit (Brides Do Good is a fav), or you can look to resell on a site like Still White.
- If you can’t bear to part with your much loved wedding outfit, why not rework it into an evening gown or use some of the material to turn into a keepsake?
There’s loads of different ways, big and small, to make your wedding more sustainable… but you don’t have to tick them all off! This is just a few ways you can be more mindful in your decision making. It’s something I’m super passionate about and I’m currently working on a realistic sustainability statement that’s both meaningful and impactful. But I wanted to get this blog out there asap in honour of Earth Day at the weekend.
If you need a bit of a steer on all things green, don’t hesitate to get in touch to book in a Planning Power Hour.
Please email any hellos or enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org