Let's face it weddings can be wasteful affairs, from the binned food, the huge number of cars travelling from ceremony to venue, the endless paper for invitations and orders of service, the special one-day-only attire, the favours of little plastic bottles of bubbles in the shape of wedding cakes..... I could go on, but I won't - you get the idea.
No wedding can be perfectly ethical and I'm not here to give you a guilt trip, more to give you some ideas on how just some small changes can really make a difference to the eco-footprint of your wedding.
Sustainable and ethical bridalwear - consider buying a vintage or second-hand dress and/or recycling your dress after your big day. Oxfam, Red Cross, Cancer Research all have dedicated bridal departments with nearly new 'only worn once' wedding dresses that can be easily altered by a dressmaker. Or consider the charity Brides Do Good with their amazing mission, for a really, truly ethical wedding dress. Otherwise, if you are buying new, research the designers and support those who ensure fair conditions for their workers and use ethically sourced fabrics. On this note, how about allowing bridesmaids to choose their own dress that they will use again after the big day, instead of it being wasted at the back of the wardrobe never to be used again. Give them the colour scheme and let them choose a dress that they will be comfortable in and will go on to wear for years to come. Believe me, they will thank you for it!
Choose your venue wisely - We all know that aeroplane and car emissions are among the top villains when it comes to environmental damage. So thinking carefully about the destination is an important one when it comes to having an environmentally conscious wedding. Think about how guests will get from the ceremony to reception. If you are set on a destination wedding abroad then this one isn't for you, but if you are in a few minds then think about where your guests are coming from and which venue will require the least car and plane journeys.
Eco-friendly menu - your venue may be providing the wedding breakfast, or you may have a catering team, either way, think about hiring a catering company with a sustainable ethos, maybe one who source organic, local and fairtrade ingredients where possible. Going one step further and having a vegan or vegetarian menu would be a fantastic way to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding admittedly this may not be for everyone, but perhaps think about how sustainable the main courses are instead. Reduce your carbon footprint further by sourcing the alcohol from local wineries and distilleries. There are lots of fantastic British sparkling and still wines out there, have a search and find your local vineyard - make a day of it together and go and try some!
Stationery - You could avoid paper wastage by sending all wedding correspondence digitally. Use a DIY graphics designer such as Canva or Enlight to create stunning invites to send directly to your guests' inbox. If you do opt for hard copy invites, ask your stationer to print on recycled paper.
Jewellery - try to make ethical choices here too, fair mined stones and metals, or again shop vintage or look for brands with a fairtrade or sustainable manufacturing ethos.
Flowers -think of replacing freshly cut flowers with potted herbs and greenery, ask your florist about sourcing local flowers depending on the season, or potted plants as an alternative to flowers that may have to be flown in from abroad. Are you getting married in the morning and another couple getting married in the afternoon? Maybe you could meet them and discuss how you can decorate the church or ceremony venue with flowers to suit both weddings to reduce wastage. Look into to donating the floral arrangements to a care home or hospice to brighten somebody's day after your wedding.
Decor - Think about the decor. As beautiful as they are, balloons, sky lanterns and fireworks can be quite harmful to the environment and local wildlife if not disposed of in the right way. Try and focus on recyclable or reusable items like glassware, bunting, ribbon, and vintage bric a brac items which you can hire or pick up in charity shops. Think about using biodegradable confetti or dried flower petals.
Favours - they are a lovely traditional way to say thank you to your guests for coming, but sometimes they can be less practical, more wasteful and complete landfillers. Think about seeds for guests to plant, small jars of local honey, bees-wax candles or something edible and personal like our personalised wedding biscuits. These can double up as table place names, saving paper wastage on using paper ones.
Ethical gift list - Ask people to donate to a charity that is close to your heart rather than a gift list, especially if you have already set up home together and do not need home start-up gifts.
Don't give yourself a hard time if you can't implement them all, the fact that you are reading this means you are more conscious than a lot of people, and even if you manage to do one of these things, it all helps in the long run and you may encourage other couples to follow suit.