Weddings are a time for celebration. We dance, drink, throw flower petals all over the place, spend time with our family and friends, and ultimately honour the couple who are beginning their lives together. The problem is, weddings can leave a big footprint on our planet. The food waste, once-worn clothes, and piles of 'stuff' that are thrown out the very next day, means weddings are usually far from eco-friendly.
Your wedding should be the perfect reflection of you and your partner, but there's no reason it can't be a green wedding too! Coming from a past bride who threw a huge hippy-eco-festival wedding, weddings with a green focus leave you and your guests with so many more great memories and warm feelings.
I've learnt a thing or two in my eco-wedding planning ventures, and now I'm here to share all my secrets! Although I could ramble on for days, here is your quick guide to planning an eco-wedding.
Choosing the Right Wedding Venue
Choosing the right venue is key to reducing the environmental impact of your wedding. Ask your venue if they have the facilities to recycle and compost, where their food is sourced from, if their plates and cutlery are reusable, or how they feel about you bringing your own. A venue that communicates efficiently, and matches your values around reducing waste, will save you a whole lot of time and hassle.
Finding Green Wedding Vendors
When it comes to vendors, it's essential to think about who you want to support, and why. A key trick to 'greening' your wedding: sourcing local. Finding local vendors who also source their products locally reduces the air miles of your products, and therefore, your carbon footprint. Supporting local also keeps your economy alive, and shows you are invested in the space where you will celebrate your special day. If you're in Australia or New Zealand, Less Stuff - More Meaning have built an eco-wedding directory where you can find eco-vendors at your fingertips.
Whether it be zero waste caterers, a vegan cake maker, solar run fairy lights, or sustainably sourced wooden wedding favours, you get to pick what is important to you.
The Eco Wedding Dress
Let's face it. Every girl wants to walk down the aisle to her prince charming, wearing her dream white dress. Don't worry, you can still do this the 'eco-way'! Assessing your budget fairly, and deciding what's on your 'must have' list, will make your decision so much easier in the long run.
Will it be second-hand, ethically made, cruelty free, borrowed from a friend, or a dress that you can wear over and over again? Scout second-hand shops, and research second-hand wedding Facebook groups in your area. Consider a two piece which you can re-wear (top and skirt), or find places like Celia Grace who have stunning dresses made with sustainable materials and in fair trade conditions.
Dressing Your Bridal Party
Just like your wedding dress, work with your fiancé to decide what your priorities are. At our wedding, we told everyone to wear something they already owned, and felt great in. If you're buying something new, go with pieces that the girls will love and use more than once (!). Have a little fun with it and get the girls to choose their favourite pieces from a brand that has a range colours and cuts (I love the way the Annisa Dress, Bethari Dress and Kezia Dress are different but fit the same summer wedding vibe).
Making sure your friends feel comfortable on your wedding day will mean the world to them. It's easy to avoid forcing your best man into a tux he doesn't like, or your maid of honour into a dress that doesn't suit her body shape. Think carefully about whether your bridal party will wear their outfits again, so their clothes won't end up at the back of their wardrobes, or even worse, in the trash.
Mindful Wedding Gifts
There are so many ways to manage wedding gifts. Gift registries, a honey-moon contribution, second-hand gifts, or a donation to a charity, are just a few. Especially if you've already established a home with your fiancé, chose a way of gifting that means money is well spent on items that will be useful, or experiences you will remember.
Even though it may be easy to say 'no gifts', remember your guests want to input into the beginning of your life together. Without direction, you'll probably end up with another set of ugly tea towels. Saying 'no gifts' but giving the option to donate to your favourite charity (one of ours is the Sumatran Orangutan Society) or carbon offsetting project is a great way to give back to your global community and offset your wedding footprint.
Whatever you do, and however you do it, consider your partner, your guests, the environment, and your global community. I promise you, your day will be a whole lot more fun because of it!
For your full guide to eco-wedding planning, check out the Mindfully-Wed E-Guide here.