Your green guide to organising an eco-friendly wedding
We get it; weddings are freaking stressful and you’ve got a zillion things to worry about, without considering the compostability of your cutlery. But imagine how pleasing it will be; planning a day you both dreamed of, that also adheres to your eco beliefs. And flip-side, think how hangover-worsening it will be to watching as plastic cups are gallingly chucked into black bags the day after.
That’s why we’ve lessened the effort with a comprehensive eco wedding checklist for the whole planning process, from hen (and stags) to honeymoons and everything in between:
- Ask your pals to get on board with your decision and throw you a green hen or stag, with no single-use plastic (and, yes, that tragically means penis straws are out) and that doesn’t involve everyone jetting off to a party city.
- Find a venue that’s environmentally-inclined, whether it’s big on energy efficiency or allows you to get married outside, cutting it down even further. Be conscious of the destination too; flying everyone out to a little Greek island may look dreamy on Instagram, but it’s not so good for the planet.
- Paperless mail for invitations, or at least save-the-dates, is the simplest way to cut down on paper waste — and what it lacks in charm, it makes up for in convenience as your RSVPs can be automatically recorded. If that’s a non-negotiable, make sure they are made from recycled paper and preferably written by a calligrapher (like Natalie Charlotte) to avoid energy and chemicals involved in printing.
- Avoid outfits you’ll only wear once. Either borrow from a friend or family member; buy something you know you can wear again from a vintage, second-hand or sustainable brand (like Reformation or Reve En Vert), even if it means dyeing it from white afterwards; or rent from Wear The Walk, Hire That Look or Front Row. Bonus: it also means spending far less.
- Check the fabrics of the clothing worn by the bridal party. ‘Go for natural materials, rather than synthetics which will release tiny plastic microfibres into the water system when washed’, says Rosie Cotgreave, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
- Put on shuttle buses or encourage car sharing between venues to decrease fuel outgoings or, greener still, have the whole day at the same place.
- ‘Don’t shower yourself with plastic at the end of the ceremony’, says Cotgreave. ‘Go for paper or natural petal confetti.’
- Stick to vegan or, at least, vegetarian meals. Though it’s not typical, those meat-eaters can do without for one day and it will cut costs, as well as the hassle of having multiple options. If you want a variety, find a caterer that sources locally and, preferably, organically — and avoid buffet format, which will inevitably lead to a lot being chucked.
- Stick to crockery that can be washed (preferably borrowed or bought second-hand) and don’t move onto plastic cups; either stick to glass or, if necessary, try biodegradable or compostable materials, like palm leaf, instead.
- Instead of sticking steadfast to your flower of choice, speak to a local florist about what’s in season. Or, better still, pick wild flowers or grow your own. And make sure the bouquets are wrapped with twine or silk, rather than anything plasticy.
- Choose your table decorations consciously, so swap big blooms for herb pots or homemade soy candles (which are super simple to make and a good use for upcycled glass jars! Just wrap twine around to finish) or mini succulents you and your guests can take home after. If you have a specific style in mind, see if you can borrow what you need. ‘Using pre-existing objects instead of buying new decorations will save on huge amounts of waste,’ says Cotgreave. ‘Asking around your friends and family for antiques and heirlooms will give your wedding a wonderful, bohemian charm and is a great way for everyone to feel involved.’
- Don’t go fast and loose with your present requests, however tempting. Either pick a list at an environmentally-friendly store or check the fabrics and details of where things were made carefully. If you’re feeling truly philanthropic, ask to donations for a charity of your choice.
- After all that, you’ll deserve a honeymoon in a beautiful eco destination, whether it’s low-key and rustic, like camping, or a ‘Grammable green resort. Though, of course, picking somewhere you don’t have to fly to is greener sometimes it’s just not possible, so try and keep stops to a minimum (as 25% of plane emissions are from landing and taking off, according to NASA) and buy offsets .
- And just get the photographer to email the pictures, rather than sending proofs.