It’s 2022 and global warming and the climate crisis are definitely at the forefront of most of our minds. There is one question we are asking ourselves – how can I reduce my carbon footprint?
There are many easy things to be done in day-to-day life such as carrying a reusable coffee cup and water bottle around with you, reducing the amount of plastic you use, recycling, etc, however, how can your everyday efforts translate to your wedding?
Many couples are now choosing to make their weddings sustainable, and you don’t have to be an eco-warrior to do so.
Before we start, I would just like to say that, as there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ wedding, there’s also no such thing as a perfectly sustainable wedding. The prospect of planning an ‘eco-wedding’ might seem daunting but the very fact you are reading this means you are interested in how, and that is a great first step.
There are some very easy choices you can make when it comes to planning your wedding that will lower the environmental impact of your big day whilst keeping it how you always dreamed it.
Here are my top tips:
Before the big day:
Choose a sustainable venue
Many venues are making an effort to be more sustainable now and by choosing a ‘green’ venue as a first step, you can lower the environmental impact of your wedding day without having to actually do anything yourselves!
If a venue is truly sustainable, they should be advertising it proudly, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to spot one! Some things to look out for are accreditations and awards, for example, BMA House has a GOLD Green Tourism Award, and have won ‘Greenest Venue’ two years in a row, ‘Most Sustainable Venue’ and Silver for ‘Best CSER or Sustainability Initiative’. These kinds of awards are extremely competitive and take a lot of evidence to be submitted before even being considered so, to win one is a huge achievement. We are very proud to have won these awards and we have them displayed on our website, social media channels, on our listings on wedding sites and in our email signatures, so everyone knows we are a sustainable venue.
So, when looking for your venue, keep an eye out for these kinds of awards and accreditations and don’t be afraid to ask questions. How do they dispose of their food waste? Are their ingredients locally sourced? What’s their plastic and recycling policy? Grill your potential venues and make sure they are doing their part to help the planet.
Keep it local
It’s no secret that traveling by car or by plane is a huge contributor to carbon emissions and our individual carbon footprint and by keeping things local for your wedding you can help to lower the impact on the environment.
For example, think about the location of your wedding and where you or the majority of your guests might be based to reduce travel. Destination weddings are on the rise and whilst these are often overseas, this just means they take place a long way from where you and your guests live, resulting in excess travel. If your guests are widespread, is there somewhere central you could choose that has easy access for everyone via train or public transport? Can you encourage your guests to carpool? You can set up an email list with guests who would be willing to share accommodation or offer out-of-towners a place to stay. A little bit of thought can go a long way and help to reduce unnecessary fuel being burned.
Additionally, consider locality and seasonality when it comes to your suppliers. Are they based locally meaning they don’t have to travel far to get to your venue? Do they source their produce locally e.g, meat, vegetables, flowers that are UK based (or better, grown in the area!) and not sent from overseas? Choose seasonally, for example, certain flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients naturally grow at certain times of the year so choosing live produce which is in season at the time of your wedding can help lower that carbon footprint further. Just ask your suppliers what your seasonal options are and they will help you put together something spectacular.
Choose natural or e-invitations
You will need to send out ‘save the dates’ and invitations for your wedding so consider how you want to do this.
The most sustainable option is to do this electronically. A save the date can simply be an email, however, there are some websites/apps which can be used to make these look pretty such as ‘Mailchimp’. This is simply an informative email, so it requires no interaction from your guests.
When it comes to your invitations, you could send these as emails to asking for a reply RSVP, however, there are some fantastic websites out there that can make this an enjoyable experience for your guests as well as keeping everything in one place for you. For example, ‘withjoy.com’ sends interactive invitation emails to your guests and can help you organise your guest list, save the dates, invitations and RSVPs, gift registry, and information about your day including location, local hotels, transport links, pictures of the bridal party and more.
This reduces the paper used for the print and also the emissions caused by postal vehicles delivering them all to your guests. If you wanted to print a few invitations to keep, send to close family and friends, or to grandparents who don’t necessarily use email, then consider printing on recycled and sustainable paper.
If you were really set on doing traditional printed invitations, how about printing them on seed paper? This should be made from natural and recycled products, it’s biodegradable and you can choose the seeds included and guests can plant this to grow some flowers which are good for our insects, instead of throwing them in the bin!
Make what you can and consider second-hand
Why not physically get involved with the aesthetic of your wedding?
There are lots of things you can make yourselves instead of purchasing them from a company which can;
- Look cute
- Mean you can save some money
- Add your personal touch
- Means you can know exactly where these things have come from and their impact on the environment
For example, you could make your own signage with a wooden pallet and some paint, or your own table plan with photographs of your guests, save the bottles of your favourite drink to put flowers in! Pinterest is a great website to use for DIY ideas! If you aren’t particularly creative yourself, enlist the help of your bridal party, family, and friends. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Do you have any friends or family who have been recently married, or will be married around the same time as you? Consider sharing things where possible so you don’t have to buy and waste items unnecessarily, for example, fairy lights, name place/table number holders, and signage.
Additionally, consider second hand or hiring suits/bridesmaid’s dresses! As lovely as your wedding party will look, it’s unlikely they’ll have many more (if any) uses for the specific bridesmaid dress, suit, or waistcoat you have asked them to wear on your wedding day. Fashion production takes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, with fashion waste contributing to the plastic polluting our seas. By choosing a more sustainable way of dressing your bridal party, this could help your carbon footprint (and theirs) a great deal.
On the day itself:
Choose an eco-friendly caterer
Whether the venue is providing the catering for your wedding, or you have hired an external caterer, you will be able to find a company that has a sustainable ethos, for example local, organic, Fairtrade, and ethically-produced ingredients.
Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet can considerably help reduce your carbon footprint so why not do this for your wedding day? There are so many vegan and vegetarian options available now that are delicious and many meat substitutes, that many meat lovers find hard to differentiate from the real thing.
BMA House as a sustainable venue, offer lots of vegetarian and vegan options within our standard menu and we also have a completely plant-based menu with some really exciting offerings. So, although your wedding menu may be less traditional, by going vegan or vegetarian it might be a nice surprise for your guests, giving them something to talk about.
If you are dead set on having meaty offerings, why not do a 50% vegetarian menu and try and opt for chicken or salmon? Studies have shown that these have less of a negative effect on the environment than heavier CO2-producing meats such as beef and lamb.
Additionally, sourcing alcohol from local wineries, distilleries, breweries and keeping your alcohol British is another great way to keep your carbon footprint down.
Sustainable wedding favours
Wedding favours are sweet little additions many couples like to include at each place setting to say a small ‘thank you’ to guests for celebrating with them. Sometimes, these can be a bit gimmicky and end up in landfill which is a waste financially as well as having a negative impact on the environment.
Why not choose something sustainable for your guests like insect-attracting seeds (save the bees!), plants or mini trees, handmade soap or small bottles of alcohol, jam or honey from a local supplier, or a reusable coffee cup (Huski Home and rCUP are my favourites). The ideas are endless but when choosing favours think about the environmental impact they could have during production and if they are disposed of and avoid plastic and other man-made materials where possible. Natural is always best!
Or give back – an alternative to wedding favours is to donate the money you would have spent on these to a charity of your choice or if you are feeling really generous, ask guests to make a charitable donation instead of buying you a wedding gift.
Confetti throwing is a lovely tradition and makes for some excellent photographs. However, many of the traditional confetti packs you can purchase are made of plastic or an unsustainable man-made material. So, make sure you check out what your confetti is made from before purchasing and check it’s natural and can biodegrade. Dried flower petals are a good option, and they’re super pretty too.
After your wedding:
For many, the honeymoon is a chance for a once in a lifetime adventure, so I am by no means suggesting you go to a campsite walking distance from your home! However, there are ways you can reduce the impact your honeymoon has on the planet, and research is key. Look into locations before you settle on a destination to ensure the negative impact you have when travelling there is minimal. Consider using a travel agent who specialises in responsible holidays, and support locally-owned hotels, shops, and attractions when you get there.
Most importantly, remember to ENJOY your wedding day and the planning process. It should be a fun and enjoyable thing for you to do and if you’re having fun, your guests will be too!