Updated: Jun 7
Weddings can be large, extravagant, expensive and can generate waste. Many of the decor items traditionally used at a wedding including; stationery, clothing, floral foam, wrapping materials, food and plastics, are used just once and then thrown away or are harmful to the environment. More and more couples are beginning to consider ways of planning more socially conscious and eco-friendly weddings. Here’s how, with a little thoughtful forward planning, you can arrange a more sustainable and greener wedding, simply by carefully choosing your wedding venue and wedding suppliers.
When searching for wedding suppliers, ensure they have the same ethos as you with regards to sustainability. Tell them you want to reduce waste and plastic, keep travel to a minimum, use recycled products and re-use everything after your wedding. Ask them to ensure the services they provide you are meeting your goals.
When searching for a wedding venue or suppliers, stay local. Travel is the biggest contribution to an event carbon footprint. By picking a local venue, and local suppliers you and your guests don’t travel far, everyone will use less fuel and as a bonus, you'll save on supplier's delivery charges.
Choose a venue that is dual purpose, somewhere you can have your ceremony and reception in one place. Or alternatively, pick a ceremony space and reception space held in venues within walking distance of each other.
Finally, although a very difficult process, try to keep the guest list strict and to a minimum. Less guests = less waste and less travelling!
Look for a pre-existing venue, rather than erecting a marquee or temporary structure that is erected for your event alone. If you've had your heart set on a marquee wedding, there are plenty of venues that offer permanent marquees as part of their event space.
Forward thinking venues are already thinking of ways to be sustainable and reduce power usage. You may find a converted barn that is off grid and powered entirely by solar power, like the barn at Elmley Nature Reserve. If you can't find an off-grid venue locally, many venues like to encourage the use of outdoor spaces in the summer months, no matter the weather, and candlelight in the winter months to reduce their electricity usage.
Search for venues that have existing décor or interesting features that you love. Look at venues that can be accessorised with hired decorations rather than event spaces that need to be completely transformed by decorations.
REDUCE, RE-USE RECYCLE
Choose stationers who work with recycled paper, card and envelopes, and who reduce paper usage and single use items by offering dual purpose stationery; for example; a wedding breakfast menu that doubles as guest place name. Ask stationers or a calligrapher to personalise chalkboards or wooden boards that you have hired from a prop hire company instead of printing table names onto card or foamex.
Think about how you could make other items dual purpose; one idea is to have edible favours that double as place names, however, ensure these aren't cellophane wrapped!
Use a local prop rental or event décor hire company and rent in decorations. Many companies curate collections of recycled items from items purchased from charity shops like or preloved crystal and cut glass vases and footed bowls or ethically made products like our artisan lantern collection. Some hand make furniture from reclaimed wood Anthology Vintage Hire, create unique props The Prop Boutique and Rock The Day Styling and up-cycle furniture like our 'Something Blue' dresser or curate eclectic collections of recycled or vintage crockery and glassware. Not everything has to match and using pre-loved and previously hired items instead of buying will help reduce waste and mass manufactured items being purchased for one use only.
Look for floral designers who work floral foam free like Urban Flower Farmer or florists who create potted floral arrangements that can be reused. If you really want fresh arrangements using cut flowers, ensure that can be reused at during both the ceremony and reception, as well as after the wedding. Florists who make arrangements for centrepieces using cut flowers are often conscious of reducing waste. They may suggest ways the flowers can be reused after your special day. Usually florists encourage the flowers to be gifted to guests or donated to churches or care homes locally. Some conscious florists are already recycling flowers by deconstructing arrangements after the wedding and using dried flowers as confetti for future weddings, or simply composting waste materials. You could look into finding local florists who grow their own seasonal flowers or who support local growers by buying British grown flowers, in turn minimising the event carbon footprint.
Weddings and catered events use a lot of linen. Look for companies who supply organic linens from sustainable and ethical sources or go without tablecloths to combat the impact of laundering or dry cleaning so many dirty linens. There are many venues who have, or hire in, beautiful reclaimed wood trestle tables or round rustic tables which do not need to be covered.
Find a cake maker and wedding caterer who uses organic, locally sourced ingredients, from local farmers committed to sustainable farming. Don’t over cater, order only what you need. For example, you may not need a dessert if you have a wedding cake that could be served after the main meal. The aim is to prevent waste; having huge slabs of left-over wedding cake and a half-eaten evening buffet, will have wasted both ingredients and electricity during food preparation.
You may have fallen in love with the work of a particular supplier, but they may not be working as environmentally friendly as you would like. Talk to them about your goals and ask if they can adapt their methods for your wedding. They may not have considered some of the above, due to their existing working habits. They may need a gentle nudge and you could be supporting them to change. We all can do better.
For inspiration and ideas for sustainable wedding décor visit Party Squared on Pinterest.