20 Sustainable Ideas For An Eco-Friendly Wedding
Published date: 17th January 2022 | Author: Gracie Pritchard
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If like many of us you’re taking steps to live more sustainably, wedding planning can be a bit of a minefield. Food waste, plastic packaging and single-use decorations, not to mention all the guests travelling from far and wide mean weddings can be pretty wasteful events.
But the truth is, while no wedding can be completely sustainable, by making a few changes here and there it is possible to plan a day that will be better for the planet. And it’s easier than you might think. From finding a greener wedding venue to a more responsible gift registry, here are 20 sustainable ideas for an eco-friendly wedding …
1. Eco-friendly Location
First up, when it comes to planning an eco-friendly wedding you need to think about the location. Without a doubt, the biggest carbon footprint of any wedding is from travel, so if you can find a venue close to home – that can hold both the ceremony and reception to avoid extra travel – that’s a great start.
Another way to be eco-friendly, is to opt for permanent infrastructure, as opposed to a marquee or tipi, as transporting and erecting constructions likes these are not kind to the environment. But choose carefully. Different venues have different policies when it comes to recycling, using biodegradable materials and energy efficiency so just make a list of what matters most to you and ask about these when you visit.
Not sure where to start? Nancarrow Farm in Cornwall describes itself as creating a sustainable future and The Rosendale Public House & Gardens serves a sustainable menu. Search through our picks of the finest eco-friendly wedding venues in the country here.
2. Switch Up Your Transport
As we mentioned, travel is a huge factor when considering your wedding’s effect on the environment and no matter where it’s being held, some guests will have to travel further than others. Try encouraging people to share lifts where possible (you could ask your guests to tell you if they have a free spot in their car when RSVP’ing and match them with someone who needs a lift), or if you’re planning a local wedding, you could put on transport. From classic coaches to quirky red buses, there are tons of options available here
3. Make Your Own Re-Usable Decorations
Often, décor at weddings is used on the day then either thrown away or put in storage, never to be seen again – not to mention the reams of plastic it will inevitably come wrapped in. But rest assured there are more eco-friendly options out there. Swap plastic balloons for biodegradable options that you can pop and place right in your garden compost when you’re done, or reusable, biodegradable paper lanterns. Or why not make your own cotton bunting for a rustic feel that you can string up at your next celebration, too?
For the table decorations, there are lots of place setting and centrepiece ideas that are both stunning and sustainable. You could recycle glass bottles and/or cans and fill them with flowers as centrepieces, and scatter dried flower petals found in neighbours’ and friends’ gardens as an aisle runner (you could also use these dried petals to make your own environmentally-friendly confetti, too).
If wedding DIY isn’t your style, instead of ordering new props and decorations just for one day, why not just hire them, such as from Love Me Do Event Hire? In fact, if you decide to hire everything from just one company, you’ll cut down on travel for deliveries too. From flower arches to centrepieces, crockery to table linen.
Our suppliers have everything you’ll need.
4. Say Yes To The Right Dress
When it comes to choosing your wedding dress, there are plenty of ways to make a more ethical choice. For starters, you could consider a pre-loved dress, or if you fancy something a bit quirky, why not pick out a perfect vintage piece?
There’s also the option to hire a dress, such as at Zoe in Kent, in addition to your bridesmaid dresses and usher’s suits, rather than buying them, to reduce the environmental impact. But rest assured, if you have your heart set on a made-to-measure dress for your special day, there are a number of designers that use environmentally-friendly fabrics and ethical production methods.
Choosing a British-made design, such as by Suzanne Neville, is also a good way to ensure it’s been ethically made. Finally, who says your wedding dress can only be worn once? Cast aside the ‘trash the dress’ photoshoots and sell your gown so it can be enjoyed by someone else. Alternatively, if you want to keep it for yourself, why not dye your dress a different colour and voila! You’ve got yourself a brand new, totally unique evening dress. The same goes for all your bridesmaids’ dresses, too.
Take a look at our wedding dress suppliers here.
5. Make Your Own Wedding Favours
Another sure-fire way to throw a more sustainable wedding is by giving your guests eco-friendly wedding favours. Think handmade soaps, homemade candles, seeds or bulbs to plant, or even homemade cookies, which can all double up as place names.
Another option is to make a charitable donation to an environmental initiative or to anyone that might be in need, in your guests’ names. This saves giving unwanted favours and means someone or something will benefit from your day.
6. Eco-friendly Wedding Stationery
If printing invite after paper invite, not to mention all those Order of Service, is keeping you up at night, there are plenty of ways to help you reduce the impact on the environment.
If you have your heart set on paper stationery and invites, the best thing to do is print them on to recycled card. Eco Print can create bespoke wedding stationery designed to your personal taste and have it eco printed on a range of specialist and exotic recycled papers and cards.
Also, make sure the invites are recyclable themselves. Avoid embellishments such as glitter and glue, and including a line on your invite, asking guests to recycle it after your wedding is a nice touch.
7. Food For Thought
Using local, seasonal, and organic food is the way to go if you want to your wedding to be environmentally friendly, so choose caterers who offer this, such as YOUnique Events Catering.
Cutting down on the amount of meat is better for the environment too, but either way, speak to the chef to learn more about which suppliers they use and if they use local and in-season produce. You can do the same with your cake maker and request they only use natural, organic ingredients, as Beth’s Bakes does.
To avoid food waste, steer clear of buffets as it’s impossible to cater exactly to the amount of guests, and disposable dinnerware, such as plastic straws, plates, cutlery and cups are also a no-no. (If your venue is concerned about serving drinks in glasses to be taken outside, ask if they can use compostable cups instead.)
8. Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers
From bouquets to buttonholes, what’s a wedding without flowers? But often they’re mass produced and grown out of season, which means use of chemical aids.
Ask your florist about their supply chain to ensure the flowers are grown locally, not just from a local wholesaler, and choose in-season flowers to avoid them being shipped from abroad. Another thing to check with them is whether they use floral foam, also known as oasis. This foam doesn’t break down in landfill so best to avoid.
You could even grow your own flowers if you’re feeling ambitious, or collect flowers throughout the year and dry them, ready to be used on the day. But if you want to avoid flowers entirely, little pots of plants that can be kept after the wedding (and given as gifts) make lovely centrepieces, too.
9. Ethical Wedding Registry
Gifts are a huge part of weddings, whether you want them or not, so it’s best to be upfront to avoid receiving three unwanted toasters and a barbecue. Choose sustainable, ethical products that will not harm the environment and if you don’t need (or want) any more things, then asking for donations towards a charity is a great option.
So, there you have it. Our top tips on how to plan a more sustainable, eco-friendly wedding. If you’re planning your big day and are looking for spectacular companies to make it a day to remember, check out our fabulous list of suppliers for unmissable inspiration.
10. E-Wedding Invitations
If you don’t have your heart set on paper invites, e-wedding invitations may just be the perfect eco-friendly solution for you! There are a wide variety of fantastic online wedding templates out there for you to try. Or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, you could use an app like Canva to create your own invites from Scratch.
Such a fantastic way to make your wedding that little bit more green – and there’s no chance of the invite getting lost in the post either!
11. Buy Ethical Wedding Rings
Buying ethical wedding rings for the big day is another great way to make sure your big day is more eco-friendly. It is recommended to track your diamonds (and gemstones) using services such as The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme – to make sure the diamond you buy isn’t a ‘blood diamond’ (smuggled diamonds used to fund civil wars) or that they’re conflict free.
Surprisingly, the best thing to do is to buy rings with factory-made diamonds such as Moissanite, which are just as beautiful, but more cost-effective and most importantly, not as damaging to the environment (no mining is involved etc.). Or buy second hand antique pieces for your partner, vintage is in right now!
12. Use Cruelty-Free Cosmetics
For the soon-to-be-weds looking for a gorgeous full face on their special day, try using cruelty free brands and makeup products for your final look. Or opt for locally-produced, sustainable products. That is if you’re planning to do your own makeup.
If you’re getting your hair and makeup done by a professional, reach out to them beforehand and ask if they use cruelty free products and we’re sure they’ll be more than happy to oblige. You’ll be relieved to find out that most beauty companies aim for all of their products to be cruelty free now a days. So more than likely, you’re in the green when it comes to beauty products.
However, if you would like to double check, Cruelty Free Kitty have a fantastic guide to cruelty free beauty brands!
13. Embrace Candlelight
If your chosen venue permits this idea, we would definitely recommend you try and embrace candlelight on your big day to remain as eco-friendly as possible. Now don’t get us wrong, we love grand chandeliers and fancy, fairy-lights as much as the next person, but we can’t help but think about how much unnecessary power they use up when it comes to weddings!
So, if fee like that may be an issue, place candles of varying sizes around your chosen venue and light them as the sun begins to set (with protective boxes if you’re scared of the fire hazard). Plus, weddings by candlelight are always the most romantic, so what’s not to love!
14. Set Up A Disposal System
When it comes to weddings, especially if you’ve chosen to have a larger wedding party, food waste is one of the biggest issues for the environment. So, if your chosen venue haven’t already got one, ask if you’d be able to set up your own disposal system, that can them be used for recycling and compost waste, which is much better for the environment.
You could also encourage your guests to take any leftovers home with them to enjoy, so as to cut down on unnecessary food waste!
15. Go Thrift Shopping
Charity/thrift and second hand shopping has massively increased in popularity over the years, with static stores, online shops and pop up fairs all over the UK (and beyond). And you’ll be happy to know that these places aren’t just good for funky streetwear. Many couples are now choosing to buy their wedding outfits from charity shops (it could be your ‘something old’ AND your ‘something borrowed’) to be more eco-friendly on their big day.
Not only are they great for soon-to-be-weds and their bridesmaids/groomsmen, but they’re also fantastic for antique wedding décor, which can add a really cool, personal touch to your wedding theme. How amazing does that sound, and usually for such a good price too!
16. Have A Sustainable Wedding Cake
You heard that right, you can even buy sustainable wedding cakes now, which will be perfect for your future, eco-friendly wedding! And the great thing is, this idea is probably one of the most readily available bits on this list, which makes your job that little bit easier.
Ask local bakeries and cake makers if they can make your wedding cake with local, organic, Fairtrade products (some bakers may even be able to provide veggie/vegan alternatives) in your cake, making it better for the environment and the animals the ingredients were sourced from. You could even ask them to decorate with re-usable cake decorations and fondant – sounds delicious if you asked us!
17. Plan Your Ethical Honeymoon
As you can probably imagine, choosing to travel (especially abroad) can massively increase your carbon footprint, so think ethically when planning your honeymoon getaway with your partner. Perhaps take a coach or train to your desired destination if you’re planning a staycation with your new s/o. Or opt for a short flight to somewhere like Edinburgh or Dublin, for that getaway feeling on a much shorter flight and for a better price!
However, if you would still like to go abroad for your honeymoon, companies such as Jacada Travel provide fantastic experiences around the world, that are both good for you and the environment, with what they call ‘responsible travel’ as part of all their experience packages!
18. Ask For Charitable Donations
Asking for donations to your charities of choice can be a great alternative to a wedding registry if you’re not bothered about receiving gits on your big day. Most charities even have a section where you can set these pages up online, making it easier for your guests to make donations if they don’t have cash on them.
You can also buy small wedding favours from a number of fantastic charities, such as Cancer Research or the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, to give to your guests, will all money going to the charity in question – what a fantastic, eco-friendly wedding idea!
19. Choose An Outdoor Wedding
We don’t know many people who would object to an outdoor wedding without planning it to be eco-friendly. However, what better excuse to get married in the great outdoors than with the environment in mind. If you feel particularly connected to nature, opting for an outdoor ceremony (and reception if you fancy it) is a great way to make your big day that little bit more special.
And while there are a wide variety of fantastic wedding venues with private outdoor spaces for you to get married, there are also some amazing, unique locations to tie the knot, dotted around the UK, who primarily marry couples in outdoor spaces, such as Harvest Moon in Edinburgh, who carry out ceremonies on the beach!
20. Donate Your Unwanted Wedding Bits
And after all is said and done, instead of throwing all your weddings bits and bobs away (that you aren’t already boxing away as keepsakes), can be sold on, donated or passed down to other people looking to buy their wedding décor second hand. There’s always someone out their who will be willing to take your unwanted pieces off your hands – so donating is definitely the way to go.
Pop down to your local charity shop or put your unwanted items on Facebook marketplace for a fantastic eco-friendly alternative that means your weddings bit can serve more than purpose – what a fabulous idea!
As you can probably tell, planning an eco-friendly wedding really isn’t that difficult when you put your mind to it and do your research. From growing your own confetti to baking sustainable wedding cakes, there are a wide variety of ways to ensure that every element of your special day has been adapted for eco-friendly purposes.
We hope this blog serves as some great inspiration for your future, eco-friendly wedding – happy planning!