Here is why the greatest day of your life shouldn’t cost the earth, and some practical ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly.
When we think of planning a wedding we think of endless to-do lists, countless decisions to make, sticking to a budget and the tug of war between the day of your dreams and the reality of certain constraints. What we often don’t think of is the waste that a wedding can generate and the options we have to make it more environmentally friendly.
Before we say anything more, let’s agree on the fact that your wedding day is all about YOU! It should be a reflection of your personalities and the love you have for each other, nobody else's. One of the most common stresses about the wedding planning process is managing the expectations of those around you and trying to make everyone happy. And it’s not worth it! So take a deep breath in, fade out the chatter and hone in on what is truly important to the two of you.
If sustainability is one of those things, then we hope to make your lives a little bit easier by breaking down 10 practical tips on how to make your wedding more earth-friendly.
01 Keeping it Simple
The easiest way to make your wedding more sustainable is to bring it back to the bare bones, and then only add on the extras that are important to you as a couple. For example, to get married you really only need three things; a celebrant, a witness and the signing of the register. Most people see their wedding day as a celebration and a bit of a party (as they should!), and so would want more than that. Your priority might be guests. By inviting only those nearest and dearest to you, you can cut down on a lot of waste. If good food is a priority for you, then look into the caterers you hire and what items in your table setting will be thrown out at the end of the night.
By sticking to your priorities and being thoughtful about your decision making, you can reduce the amount of waste created.
With things like Facebook marketplace, TradeMe and Amazon around, there is next-to-no need to buy your decor items new. Newlyweds will often do a bulk post where you can purchase things like arches, signs, vases and tablecloths for a much more affordable price.
Secondhand stores are also a great place to look for those unique items. For our wedding we purchased second hand china plates for our table settings - we just returned them when we were done! No waste and our guests loved how unique each piece was.
03 Donate or Sell
This brings us onto the next point - donating! The saying goes, “One man’s (woman’s) trash is another man’s (woman’s) treasure” and it’s not wrong when we’re talking about wedding items. You might have just had the day of your dreams and now you’re at the end of the process, but now you’re stuck with about 30 brown bottles, table signs and runners you have no use for! Instead of throwing them out, consider donating them to a charity store or selling them on Facebook marketplace. It might just so happen that someone is looking for 30 brown bottles!
04 Food Waste
While buffet dinners may seem most appealing because of the choice, they can often result in lots of food leftover that more often than not ends up in the bin. If you would like to go with a buffet option, preparing some take home containers for close family or the bridal party can minimize waste and help them out the next day if they’re too tired from celebrating to cook anything!
Plated dinners would be the easiest way to make sure that each guest likes their meal and that the portion sizes are suitable.
We thrifted or rented most of the decor for our wedding and it made things so easy! Having a simple list with the items rented, where they are from and when they are to be picked up/returned makes it super easy for those in charge to stay organized.
Renting items can give you access to some unique, quality items that might be out of your budget otherwise. While some venues might provide things like tableware, linens and lighting, others require you to bring your own.
06 Gift Bags
Wedding favours can be a way to say thank you to your guests for coming to celebrate with you, but they can also be easily left behind at tables or ‘forgotten’ at the end of the night. Think about gifting your guests with something earth-friendly, like a small plant or seeds, loose leaf tea, non-toxic soaps or a reusable tote bag.
Confetti is SUCH a fun way to make your exit down the aisle sparkle and get your guests involved. But realistically, who is going to have the patience (or the time!) to pick up thousands of tiny pieces of confetti?
For that reason, finding a biodegradable alternative is really worth thinking about. For our wedding day, Guy’s grandma dried bunches of hydrangea flowers and then we put the petals in small paper bags. They looked so pretty in photos and we felt good knowing that there would be no damage to the environment. There are some great companies out there now where you can just buy pre-made biodegradable confetti if you don’t have the time to make it yourself.
08 Invitations and Stationary
If you have guests attending your wedding, then letting them know when and where is kind of important. While some guests might keep invitations as keepsakes to remember your day, most will end up in the bin. So why not go online? For our wedding, we used a fantastic website called https://withjoy.com which is free and super customisable. Give your guests all the details without any of the paper, PLUS save a bunch of money. Using recycled paper can also be an option to minimise single use paper, though at the end of the day they will still likely end up in the landfill. If you have your heart set on something tangible, then there are companies that are no doing compostable or even plantable invitations which will sprout flowers or fully decompose in any compost heap or bokashi bin.
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