10 ways to have a green wedding

Weddings can be expensive all-consuming affairs but they don't have to be. Here are our top tips for ensuring an eco-friendly wedding.

1. Opt for environmentally-friendly wedding gifts

If you want to cut down on a pile of presents and packaging you don't need, explore some other ideas instead. 

How about asking for Friends of the Earth Shop vouchers so you can choose your own home or garden products?

If you've got everything you need, why not ask guests to donate to Friends of the Earth's environmental work instead? You can set up your own custom page with JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving.

If you do opt for a wedding list, make sure you only ask for things you really need and will use. 

Wedding voucher
If you want to cut back on presents why not choose a Friends of the Earth voucher or donation instead? by Jiewa Vieri

2. Choose eco-friendly wedding invitations and photos

Make sure you search for wedding invite companies that only use recycled paper or better yet, don't use paper invites at all. Choose an online invitation company to send e-invites. If you have additional information for guests, you could set up a wedding website and your e-invite could direct them to it. 

If you know you won't look at hundreds of wedding snaps, don't print them all out. Get your photographer to keep them in digital format and only print the ones you need for framing.

3. Try wildlife-friendly wedding favours

Save on consumption and packaging by giving your guests something useful, gorgeous and environmentally-friendly instead. These beautiful Wildflower Seed Favours are the perfect take-home gift, not only benefiting your guests' gardens but providing a much-needed source of food for bees. The packs can be personalised with your names and wedding date plus Friends of the Earth receives a donation from each pack.

Wedding favours
Wildflower seeds are great for your guests and for the bees.

4. Buy ethical engagement and wedding rings

Try hunting for a unique ring in antique shops or at the end-of-year shows for jewellery design students. Or seek out recycled gold or Fairtrade silver – just search online for suppliers.

For advice on buying conflict-free diamonds, see The Kimberley Process FAQs. For Fairtrade and Fairmined gold, recycled gold or platinum wedding rings, see our ethical jewellery information page.

Wedding ring
Do your research to ensure your diamond is conflict-free, by Bambi Corro III

5. Source local, organic food and drink for your wedding feast

Source your food from a supplier that uses local, seasonal and organic food or ask your caterer to do this for you.

Invite guests to bring their own contributions to the meal – this can help keep costs down too. Hire crockery and glasses to avoid disposables, and recycle whatever you can, including bottles and cans.

On the drinks front, look out for organic wines and soft drinks, and local beers or ciders.

Wedding buffet
Choose a caterer that uses organic food or ask guests to cook and contribute to the buffet, by Jake Vince

6. Hire your wedding dress

One of the biggest waste of resources at a wedding is the wedding dress. They can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds and will never get worn again. One way round this is to choose a style of dress that could be worn again for another function. Or consider hiring your outfit – ideal for bride, groom, ushers and children. For bridesmaids and page boys, buy something they can wear afterwards for parties – or invite them to wear their own favourite outfits. Of course, the bride can do the same!

Or check out vintage and retro shops. Alternatively search online for quality used outfits from Ebay or specialist sites such as The Dressmarket. Or you can buy from one of Oxfam's bridal wear shops. You could also consider borrowing from a friend.

After the big day, why not consider recycling your wedding dress or accessories? There are several charities that want used wedding dresses for terminally ill brides. By donating anything from jewellery and tiaras, to clutch bags and bridesmaid dresses, you could also support a fantastic scheme that helps brides in Malawi. 

Wedding dress
Buy a second-hand wedding dress or donate your dress to charity afterwards, by Nicole Laviolette

7. Choose an organic wedding cake

Ask your cake-maker or local baker to use organic ingredients. Or if you don't want to end up wasting food by having a wedding cake that will only get half-eaten, try something different like an organic cheese board with local fruit instead.

Wedding cake
Ask your cake maker to use organic ingredients, by Kim Appleby Photography

8. Opt for environmentally-friendly transport

Find a venue close to home to cut down on transport. Make a statement by turning up to your wedding in an electric car or horse-drawn carriage – or walk, or even cycle.

If you don't have the ceremony and reception at the same venue, encourage guests to share rides to the reception or provide a coach or bus.

If possible, include public transport details in your invitations, to encourage guests to consider leaving the car at home – and enjoy a few drinks.

wedding party on London underground, green wedding
“It is important for both of us to have an environmentally-friendly wedding." Stefanie Schmiedel and Robert Gray from Brent travelled by tube on their wedding day.

9. Consider biodegradable confetti

Biodegradable confetti is now easily available in the shops. How about asking guests to throw birdseed instead of confetti, so the birds get a treat?

Wedding confetti
This paper hearts confetti is available from Wildflower Favours

10. Look into a no-fly honeymoon

One of the biggest environmental impaces your wedding can have is a long-haul honeymoon. If you don't want to worry about adding to climate change, think about romantic destinations you can visit, including in the UK, that won't clock up the air miles.

There's a fantastic range of places you can visit by sea and train.

See Seat61 to find out how to make your journey part of the adventure. Check out more ideas for green holidays.

Eco-friendly honeymoon
Instead of flying long-haul, choose a scenic honeymoon by rail or sea instead, by Simone A. Bertinotti

Need more wedding inspiration?

Take a look at these eco-friendly wedding ideas on Pinterest.

Wedding collage
Check out Pinterest for more eco-wedding ideas, by Kim Appleby Photography

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The original version of this article was first published on 02 April 2014.

Eco-friendly wedding