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 do opt for a wedding list, make sure you only ask for things you really need and will use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Need more wedding inspiration?
Take a look at these eco-friendly wedding ideas on Pinterest.
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The original version of this article was first published on 02 April 2014.