Weddings and the planning of them can result in lots of waste, so where better to go eco-friendly? It’s not like you’ll be thin on ideas, either. In fact, eco weddings give bountiful opportunities for personality and some of the most beautiful ideas. And not only that, but it’ll save you some money as well!
Read on to see our first 5 eco-wedding tips for the following. And you can now read Part Two for eco-friendly tips on wedding lighting, wedding entertainment and technology, wedding catering, wedding fashion and wedding hair and make-up.
1. Save the Trees
Above, environmentally-friendly, reusable tote bags from the Confetti shop.
Trees are gorgeous with their swaying leaves and far reaching branches and their vibrant ecosystems of birds and beasts. They’re helpful too; they give us wood to build, fruit to eat, and oxygen to breathe. So why are we chopping them all down?
Just think about it: do you need that many envelopes? Typical wedding invitations are usually housed in multiple envelopes–one for the actual invitation, one for the Save-the-Date card and one for the RSVP. The process of making paper is hugely harmful to the environment with the machinery and additives involved (and the fact that deforestation seems to be worsening.) Consider recycled paper and an eco-friendly ink such as soy ink; it won’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. Stationery made from recycled materials is just as pretty—and more environmentally friendly—than the newly-made stuff.
Alternatively, look into stationery made from renewable materials such as hemp, or send an e-invitation and cut out using tangible materials all together. Plus you have far more opportunity with an emailed invitation, for you could even make the invitation move, and add some music or a voice over. So much possibility! Granted, not every one of your guests may have an email address so you may just wish to stick to the traditional invitation etiquette.
Above, some ideas on paper alternatives. Clockwise from the top-left: Biodegradeable Throwing Confetti Pack | A Vintage Affair Confetti | Preserved Natural Rose Petals | Natural Rocks With Card Etch | Faux Birch Log Card Holders | White Butterfly Seed Favours Pack
With a little creativity you could replace some paper wedding stationery immediately—for alternative place cards, write guests’ names on rocks or painted leaves, or spell out their names on plates in caramel. Make your own confetti, adding extra meaning by using a copy of your favourite poem, book, book passage or song lyrics. You could even use leaves or feathers, or dried/preserved real petals. (Petals are a really inventive option for an alternate aisle runner too!)
Go one step further with your eco wedding by encouraging tree and/or flower planting. An alternative union wedding ceremony idea is for the bride and groom to plant a tree together. And you could give seeds or bulbs (or even mini terrariums) as wedding favours, or give a donation to a charity in your guests’ names.
Be creative with your wedding stationery—save the trees, save the environment. But you don’t have to go so far that you should send your invites by carrier pigeon. (Well, you could….)
2. Save the Flowers
Roses are red, violets are blue…does anyone even know what the original ending to this is? Flowers are extraordinarily pretty, coming in countless colours, shapes, and sizes, and symbolising all manners of things. They’re ingrained in wedding tradition from bouquets to centrepieces, so there’s huge demand. But flowers produced en masse, or when out of season, are often grown with the aid of chemicals and fertilisers, and are covered in pesticides.
Ideally, you should shop locally for your wedding flowers. This way you can support local businesses and avoid shipping from abroad (and the shipping costs that come with it). And perhaps try to use in-season flowers to both cut costs and ensure your out-of-season flowers aren’t grown with chemical aids. You could even grow your own flowers if you’re particularly garden-savvy, or you could collect local flowers in spring and summer and preserve them for later in the year. But if you do decide to import your flowers because your heart is set on a certain type, seek Fair Trade suppliers.
Above, a selection of wedding flower ideas suitable for an environmentally-friendly wedding. Clockwise from the top-left: Vintage broach bouquet from Lucy and Adam’s Vintage Real Wedding | Button bouquet from Claire and Conal’s Real Wedding | Green and white orchids in Laura and Kenneth’s Real Fairytale Wedding | Flower cuttings from Janine and Gary’s Real Wedding
Of course, there are flower alternatives. Artificial wedding flowers like silk flowers are always growing in popularity, and they’re of such high quality these days that you can barely tell the difference between real and fake. They’ll last longer as well, becoming pretty wedding day mementos after the big day. Dried and preserved flowers are a good option too, and bouquets certainly don’t have to be made of flowers. A few alternative bouquet materials include broaches, buttons, paper, and fabric.
3. The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the wedding we go! The journey to the wedding is a time of heart-hammering excitement and anticipation, and of course you’ll probably want to arrive in style. Hey, who doesn’t want to arrive in a magnificent limo, classic Bentley or gold-plated hummer? But these great big heavy cars emit untold quantities of CO2!
More eco-friendly wedding transportation alternatives are not limited to the horse and carriage (please ensure your driver and/or horse manager are of good quality, with no history of mistreating. And you could help ensure the horse’s safety by avoiding busy roads.) Other transport options include energy-efficient cars, which run on biofuel, or arriving on a boat or barge if your ceremony is being held near water. You can travel in all manner of eco-friendly ways—you could even be quirky and rollerblade there. Your choice!
Above, eco-friendly wedding transport ideas. Clockwise from the top: Decorated bicycles from Janine and Gary’s Real Wedding | Bus transport from Joanna and Tristan’s Romantic Country House Real Wedding | Horse and carriages in Lynn and Simon’s Real Wedding
(There may also be some guest transportation you may have to consider—it’s advised that you encourage shared travel. Rent a bus or coach for mass travelling, for example.)
Then, afterwards, you and your other half can ride merrily into the sunset on a motorbike and side-car, two-seater bicycle, or rickshaw. For your honeymoon, to stay eco-friendly you might consider staying local rather than travelling abroad. Or you could perhaps fly with an airline that you can pay to plant trees to balance out your carbon footprint? Stay in a cabin or go to a wildlife reservation for your time away together, and have fun whilst helping the environment.
4. Choose Your Location Wisely
Above, a picturesque forest meadow wedding ceremony. Get the look when you shop rustic with Confetti.
Choose your wedding venue wisely! Different venues have different ways of doing things whether in regard to their recycling policy, their energy efficiency, or their biodegradable materials. But don’t damn your venue to the seventh ring of hell just because they don’t have a compost heap. The best thing to do is ask about their policies when you visit. And you can always push the boat out by having the greenest wedding there ever was in the pretty outdoors, completely free of electricity.
The back-to-nature wedding isn’t for everyone though, and there are other ways to be environmentally friendly. To save yourself some cost, and the world from more pollution, it’s possible to hold your wedding ceremony and reception in the same place. Bonus: everything and everyone is already there. You don’t have to move things around or worry about people getting lost. So take care choosing your venue; it could even be that half your work is done when it comes to decorating.
5. Fun Decorations
Get off to a flying start with your wedding decorations by setting the scene with your venue! That way, whether you want a classic white and gold wedding or the glitz of all that is glam, you can have the look you want without breaking the bank or committing crimes against nature.
Above, a a range of eco-friendly wedding decoration ideas. Clockwise from the bottom-left: Wooden wrapped hearts from Janine and Gary’s Real Wedding | Rustic flowers in cardboard and tin can flower pots from Hanna and Billy’s Real Wedding | Vintage Inspired Ceramic Bottle with Lavender Motif | Decorating Glass Bottle Set | White Glass Bottle Décor Set | Pretty woodland table centrepiece decoration | Stacked Antique Book Box Wishing Well with Low Ornamental Wire Stationery Holder and Rustic Country wedding stationery.
Eco-friendly decorations can involve anything from using less paper to taking it easy on the fairy lights. Rustic or vintage weddings in particular are magnificently easy to accomplish with nature-friendly methods. Recycle old bottles and boxes, drawers and cans, and fill them with flowers as centrepieces instead of using newly-bought glass vases. (Or use recycled glass?) Scatter flower petals or leaves as an aisle runner. Hand-make your own banners and bunting. Incorporate wedding favours into the decoration by using them in the reception but allowing your guests to take them home. Tier your champagne or martini glasses on a table.…
With your creativity, you could do anything. You aren’t at all limited if you go eco-friendly! So see our article, How to Throw an Eco-Friendly Wedding Part 2, for a further five ways of making your wedding eco-friendly, from lighting your venue to choosing your dress.