In the past large celebrations and events have been known for their show of extravagance and excess, leaving massive carbon footprints without much thought. But now, I'm pleased to say, there is far more awareness when it comes to caring for our planet and couples everywhere are looking at ways of celebrating their special day in style whilst doing their best to keep the environmental impact as low as possible.
I truly believe that weddings can be unique and inspiring, letting your personality and style shine through, without costing a fortune, being wasteful, or leaving an unnecessary impact on the earth.
Throwing a wedding that is kinder on our planet doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your vision of the day, it just means embracing the process with the slightly different perspective, and incorporating simple practices that will only add to the beauty and magic of the day itself.
Below are a list of helpful tips on making your wedding a little greener. I hope you find some or all of them helpful, and please add any other helpful hint's that you may have.. . . .
With most of our friends and family being able to receive emails in their pocket now'a'days, going paperless is a great way to save not only our trees, but all the energy that goes into making and recycling paper.
You can create your own wedding website for people to visit and get all the necessary info, or there are wedding website service providers out there who can do it for you.
If you prefer to keep things simple, you can set up a personal wedding email address and do all your correspondence from there.
Snail mail is not that eco friendly, but it's so special to receive something beautiful in the post, especially a wedding invitation, so if you really want to go with paper invites do some research and go with a company who use recycled products.
There are also seeded paper options, which can be planted in the garden, or you can look into alternative paper materials such as cotton or bamboo, which are more sustainably grown.
Have a look at The Natural Wedding Company for some great suppliers.. . .
Where to start.. . . there are loads of options out there when it comes to choosing an eco friendly wedding venue.
Choosing somewhere where you can marry, have the reception and accommodation for you and your guests all in one place (or very near by) is a good start as this cuts down on the need for traveling from one place to another.
Marrying outside is a great eco friendly, and beautiful option as you are using both natural light and backdrop for your ceremony.
This however can be a bit risky in the uk due to our unpredictable weather, so canvas is a good middle ground.
There are some great companies with ethical credentials supplying fabulous structures for weddings, from tipi's to giant circus marquees that create a beautiful space for a celebration.
Asking your guests to camp onsite is also a great option, there are even companies who will hire out and set up bell tents for all your guests if you don't want to ask everyone to do it themselves.
Clamping sites are good, providing you with all the facilities you need, but keeping your carbon footprint low, and they are generally set in stunning locations across the Uk.
Think Botanical gardens, forests, beaches, barns, warehouses.. . . . there are endless options that can accommodate marques and camping.. . . .
If you would prefer to have an inside wedding and reception, search for eco friendly venues.
There are lots of wedding venues dotted across the UK that are energy efficient and use all natural products from washing up liquids to paints. Supporting venues with good eco credentials goes a long way to helping make our world a better place.
Always make sure that either your group or your venue hosts are recycling, composting and using natural products where possible.. .
3, What to wear?
Re-using, borrowing, hiring and up-cycling are by far the most energy efficient options when it comes to nearly everything - outfits included.. . .
Luckily this is a really easy, cost effective, and often the most unique option now'a'days.
There are charity shops who specialise in second hand wedding attire, hire options for brides, grooms and bridesmaids, and talented, stylish seamstresses ready to help you alter or up-cycle pre-loved items.. . Enjoy getting creative with your mother or grandmothers dress perhaps?!?
If you really can't find the perfect pre-loved dresses or suits think about having them made or buying new in natural, fair trade fabrics such as wool, linen or organic cotton.
4, Wedding decor
Again re-using, borrowing, up-cycling, hiring and all things vintage and pre-loved is the key here.
Whether you and your family and friends want to get creative, or you'd like to leave it up to someone else, there are lots of options on transforming a space without using things that are going to end up in landfill.
Talk to friends who may have things from their weddings (so many people collect so much decor, such as bunting etc for their wedding and then store it) Also search eBay for job lot wedding Decor in your style.
Start collecting things like vases or plant pots way in advance from charity shops and car boots, or look at vintage hire companies who rent out everything from tables and chairs to tea cups.
Think of creative alternatives such as hay bale seating, and vintage bottles for vases.
Steer clear of anything that doesn't biodegrade. Natural alternatives such as rose petal confetti and greenery to decorate spaces can be strikingly beautiful and can be put straight back into the earth.
Wild, local, seasonal flowers are a great way of supporting our environment. The more we encourage the growing of organic, native flowers the better life is for our bee's.
If you or your friends and family are into growing, plan ahead and plant plenty of your favourite flowers in preparation for your big day. I have really enjoyed preparing pots months in advance to use as displays at weddings.
Alternatively find a local grower and florist, there are more and more British flowers being grown across the country by talented artisans, and if you contact them in advance they are often happy to plant specific flowers or colours for your big day.
Just like the flowers, going local, seasonal, organic and ethical is the way forward. This is an area that can be a bit more expensive, but if you keep your menu seasonal it will help to keep costs down and it really is worth it. Not only does local, seasonal and organic food taste so much better, it strongly supports the environment as well as local communities.
In my experience it's always the small, local, artisan food producers and caterers who deliver exceptionally delicious food. They are really reasonably priced, and the friendly, personal service when working with home grown family businesses is lovely.
If you are planning a large wedding, and you don't want to compromise your ethics on food, but are not sure how you can afford it, there are creative solutions to help make it possible.
I recently helped plan a wedding where, instead of gifts, the couple asked their guests to bring one special dish of their choice. This took a bit of co-ordination (to make sure everyone didn't show up with dessert!!) but the end result was a colourful buffet made up of an impressive variety of home cooked, delicious food with plenty to go round.
You could present this request to your guests with the challenge of producing a dish made from only local, seasonal and organic food, and let them enjoy getting creative.. . .
Or you could ask them to bring a dessert of their choice, freeing up some of your budget to spend on the meal.
It's now possible to get eco gold and silver as well as precious gems reclaimed from pre-loved jewellery. Search for a jeweller who works with eco materials, there are bespoke jewellers that will work with you to design your own rings and use eco materials to bring your vision to life.
8, Car Sharing
Although car sharing or taking the train is not always practical if guest are coming from all over the place and have a lot of luggage - it's always worth suggesting it. You could even suggest a couple of train times and have mini busses ready to pick your guests up from the train station.
Keeping travel to a minimum once all the guests have arrived is probably the most practical way in which you can reduce the carbon footprint.
There are an array of talented wedding suppliers out there with great ethical credentials, ranging from natural make up and hair through to ethical photographers, so with a little research it's possible for your wedding to support small businesses who are making a difference. Check out The Natural Wedding Company as a good resource for ethical wedding suppliers, and research what suppliers are local to where you plan to wed.
When it comes to any holiday, staying in the UK is always going to be the most earth friendly option. Try exploring a little corner you've never been to, or involve an activity you've never tried.. . .
Wherever you go it's always important to consider eco tourism. Support small local businesses, instead of going for large chain hotels or all inclusive deals.
If you really want to go abroad research eco resorts and eco tour services as these companies comply with eco tourism and will be doing their best to support their local environment and community.