Updated: Feb 18, 2021
Want to have the most ethical and sustainable wedding possible?
Thankfully there are more ethical wedding suppliers and solutions than ever before so planning an eco friendly wedding has never been easier. We share some of our favourite tips and ideas below.
Panning a wedding is fun and exciting but also hard work! Despite your best intentions and strong values; it is certainly the case that planning an ethical or sustainable wedding adds an extra layer of complication.
Many couples love the challenge of planning everything themselves, but others would much rather have a bit of help along the way. If you want some help to plan an ethical or sustainable wedding there are lots of wedding planners out there who specialise in eco wedding planning such as Green Soul Weddings or Our Story Begins
If, however, you are going it alone some of the tips below may help.
There are lots of eco friendly invite options such as using recycled paper; or paper that is impregnated with seeds and can be planted and then grown into flowers.
Many stationer's specialise in sustainable invites these days so it shouldn't be too hard to find someone who can produce your invites in an eco friendly way.
If you want to save on the cost of your invites how about making your own? This can add a real personal touch right from the outset.
A super sustainable option is to send your invites out digitally rather than in physical form. There are lots of specialist companies that provide this service.
If you would rather send physical invites you could instead encourage guests to rsvp by email rather than card/letter.
The Venue & locality
It's worth thinking about how far your guests will have to travel to the venue. The further they have to travel the higher the carbon footprint of your event. Therefore, keeping your wedding as local as possible for as many guests as possible is a good option.
Also consider holding your ceremony and reception in the same venue; or as close to each other as possible to avoid too much travel in between. Not only is this more sustainable, it also makes life easier for everyone (including you!) on the big day!
Think about the venue's approach to sustainability: do they have a positive approach to waste management; or eco friendly consumption attitudes? Don't be shy about asking your venue about their attitudes towards sustainability; or in making specific requests that accord with your values.
Also consider using a venue which has a charitable/community interest aspect to it. There are many incredible venues that fit this purpose. For examples of venues in and around Manchester have a look at my blog about this here.
Many venues won't allow paper or plastic confetti which is no bad thing. An option is to use dried flower petals instead such our Frock Goddess biodegradable confetti. Or you could choose biodegradable confetti if your venue will allow it.
It's best not to opt for the super traditional practice of throwing uncooked rice as this may be harmful to birds who eat it. You could however opt for birdseed instead.
Keep it small and simple
It follows that the bigger, more lavish your do is; the less environmentally friendly it's likely to be. Therefore, the more sustainable option is to keep things simple and low key in all aspects of the wedding from the number of guests; to what what you wear, eat, buy etc
The Food & The Cake
Where possible use caterers who source their ingredients locally and support local suppliers wherever possible.
Ideally as many of your ingredients as possible for your menu and cake should be seasonal too.
You could also consider using a vegetarian or vegan menu for your food and wedding cake. There are many companies who specialise in vegetarian or vegan wedding catering.
It can be tempting to order more food than you need 'just in case' but in reality there's often food left over at the end of any party. So try to be mindful of this when you are ordering. Arrange for any leftover food to be donated to charity at the end of the day to avoid waste; or for your guests to take it home.
Most people want a tiered cake that will look amazing in photos. But there's often so much cake left over. You could opt for non-edible layers at the bottom and just have the top layer for cutting and eating. You could also get some eco-friendly cake slice boxes ready so that guest can take a slice home with them; handily doubling up as a wedding favour.
There are many different options for choosing a sustainable dress such as borrowing; buying second hand; or up cycling.
A good local seamstress who can make any necessary alterations for you is invaluable such as Ness Bridal
If buying new we obviously recommend that you buy a dress from a company with sustainable and ethical credentials such as us Frock Goddess ! We specialise in simple laid back dresses and outfits using only sustainable fabrics and local, ethical production.
After the wedding consider giving your dress a new lease of life. You could either sell it or donate it to someone else. Other options are to up-cycle the fabric of the dress into another use; or, depending on the style, have it dyed so that you can wear it again.
For more tips on choosing an ethical dress check out our blog here.
Ask your florist to use seasonal flowers. They tend to be cheaper more environmentally friendly. Better still: use locally grown flowers if possible.
An alternative to real flowers is paper flowers. There are some very talented paper florists out there who can create a stunning bouquet from sustainable paper.
Choose rings made from natural materials or ethical metals and stones. We adore these wooden rings by Eco Wood Rings
Make use of companies that hire out items such as decorative props; seating; signs etc. Not only is this likely to be cheaper than buying it is much more environmentally friendly.
Balloons are popular and look great; but they are generally not an environmentally friendly option. They are not biodegradable and can be harmful to wildlife if released.
There are many gorgeous more sustainable alternatives such as giant paper pompoms from recycled paper (Hobby craft have some helpful instructions on their site); or bunting from scraps of fabric.
Many people feel uncomfortable about asking for specific gifts. However the reality is that your guest will want to bring something so it's best to tell them what you would like to avoid ending up with things that will not get used.
Traditionally couples were setting up home around the time of their wedding and, therefore wedding lists at stores were very useful for this.
These days couples are likely to have lived together for a while before the wedding so tend to need less 'stuff'. However simply asking for cash feels wrong for many.
One perfect solution is to ask guests to utilise their talents where possible to help with the wedding instead of buying a gift. Do you have a guest who can make the cake; help with the catering; provide entertainment; sort the wedding flowers; do your hair and make up etc?
Alternatively you can ask for donations for specific aspects of your honeymoon. You could either ask someone to co-ordinate donations; or subscribe to an online site such as 'Buy our Honeymoon' . We used this site when we got married 3 years ago and loved it. Guests could contribute anything from a cocktail; lunch; candlelit dinner; or entry into tourist attractions. We posted pictures on social media of us using specific people's gifts.
Finally you could consider asking for donations to charity instead of gifts.
The Wedding Night
If you plan to treat yourselves to some special underwear for your wedding night UK based luxury lingerie company Something Wicked produce all of their underwear sustainably & ethically. They have a gorgeous bridal collection.
If travelling abroad for your honeymoon consider getting there by train, or boat and road instead of flying. This can be a great way to make the journey part of the adventure.
When you get there ensure your money supports the local economy by staying in locally owned accommodation and eating in locally owned restaurants and cafes.
Alternatively you could consider volunteering on your honeymoon!
It might not be possible to implement all of these ideas but every bit you do will make a difference and will help to make the day extra special for you and your guests.
(None of the links are affiliated)