It’s a truth universally acknowledged that weddings are beautiful celebrations of commitment and unity. But the traditions and expectations of extravagance come at a cost to the environment. Embrace love, laughter and low impact with this guide to hosting an eco-friendly wedding.
According to The Carbon Trust, the average UK wedding emits approximately 14.5 tons of CO2. This shocking statistic marries up to the carbon emissions generated by a typical person over four whole years. While every wedding should be a day to remember, this isn’t the kind of wow-factor that a bride and groom hope for.
From disposable decor to single-use attire, energy-intensive venues and excessive travel, there are various elements that contribute to the environmental impact of a wedding. But sustainability is on the minds of many, so it’s only natural that engaged couples are seeking ways to make their special day as planet-friendly as possible.
There’s hope on the horizon, with many vowing to take on a greener approach to wedding planning. Read on as we explore sustainable wedding choices that don’t compromise the beauty, sentiment or joy of this special day.
Eight green wedding tips for earth-conscious couples
Making a wedding more eco-friendly is a wonderful way to mark this significant milestone. So without further ado, we propose eight ways to achieve wedding bliss with a green twist:
- Choose a venue with strong values: Opt for a venue that has sustainable practices in place. Consider outdoor locations or eco-friendly venues that use renewable energy, have efficient water usage, conscious lighting and temperature controls and waste reduction programmes.
- Source a sustainable caterer: Work with a caterer that uses local ingredients and offers organic, sustainably-produced food. Aim to reduce food waste, compost any leftovers and use real dishes, glassware and silverware where possible. If you fancy something more informal such as street food, ensure your caterer provides recyclable, biodegradable or compostable packaging.
- Restrict single-use items: Minimise single-use plastics and disposables. Provide clearly marked recycling and compost bins at the wedding to encourage guests to dispose of waste properly. If favours are a must, consider eco-friendly options such as potted plants, wildflower seeds or locally made products. When it comes to gifts for the happy couple, encourage guests to donate to a charity, transfer money or choose items from a sustainable gift registry.
- Make green decor decisions: Use upcycled, reusable or biodegradable decorations. Get creative with wedding decor and accessories, for example by cutting up clothes or bedsheets to make bohemian chair tassels, or punching leaves and drying petals to make conscious confetti. Select locally grown, seasonal flowers, or consider silk or dried flowers that can be reused after the wedding. Donate, sell or recycle any items you no longer need, to ensure they continue their life cycle once the big day has passed.
- Go paperless: Reduce paper waste by sending digital invitations, or using recycled, compostable or plantable seed paper. Ask yourself whether you really need to send a “Save The Date” as well as an invite, and encourage guests to RSVP online. When dressing the venue, choose signage solutions which can be sold on or used again, such as chalkboards and letterboards for your order of the day, seating plan and more.
- Rewear wedding attire: Consider more old, less new, more borrowed, but blue is up to you. Choose an eco-friendly wedding dress made from sustainable materials, or say yes to second-hand. When shopping for bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits, think about renting or making purchases that will be worn beyond the big day: it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event but it doesn’t have to be once-in-a-lifetime attire. For the wedding rings, choose responsible jewellers that use conflict-free diamonds and ethically sourced metals.
- Give thought to transport & travel: Encourage guests to carpool, use public transport or arrange a shuttle service to reduce the carbon footprint of travel to the wedding. Pick a location that is reasonably accessible for most of your guests, to reduce travel-related emissions. For example, while destination weddings may provide a picture-perfect backdrop, they usually involve long-distance travel which result in a substantial carbon footprint.
- Offset your emissions: Using an online calculator or dedicated organisation, estimate the emissions generated by your wedding. If you have any money to spare after this expensive occasion, consider offsetting your emissions by donating to a recognised and reputable programme. Give back to incentives such as reforestation, renewable energy or energy efficiency. Visit The Woodland Trust, Carbon Trust or Gold Standard to find out more.
While not every wedding is wildly wasteful, there are environmental consequences of unchecked extravagance. Remember, it’s not about being perfectly zero-waste, but making thoughtful, eco-friendly choices wherever possible. Reduce, reuse, recite and raise a glass, because your sustainable celebration will inspire others to make a change too.
Written by Hannah Stark