While many people are choosing a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, weddings are largely still marked by luxury and indulgence. However, being eco-friendly on your wedding day doesn’t mean the end of glamour and beauty – nor does it mean walking down the aisle in a biodegradable paper wedding gown.
Amid the magic of becoming engaged and making plans for your big day, reducing your carbon footprint may not seem like the most romantic notion. Yet with the average Australian nuptials costing in the vicinity of $30,000, weddings leave a huge mark on the environment – not to mention your budget. For some aspects of your wedding, going green can cost more money, in other areas you’ll save money. You don’t have to be eco-friendly in every aspect of your wedding to make a difference – even one or two green decisions in simple areas can still have an impact on the environmental footprint you leave.
Wedding rings and saving our planet aren’t generally things you would associate, but being green is easy when selecting jewellery. Using a ring handed down to you from a family member or having a vintage ring remodelled can be meaningful and doesn’t involve the mining of precious metals for a new ring.
There are also programs in existence which give cash for old or broken jewellery, which is then turned into recycled or ‘post consumer’ jewellery. Some jewellers are also happy to make rings from jewellery pooled by family members. These are usually melted down and reworked into the coloured metal and style you want.
Dresses and suits
A vintage wedding dress can be a beautiful thing, especially if it belonged to someone special like your mother or grandmother. If you want to give the dress your own twist, have it restyled or just altered to fit well.
If you are going for a less formal look, hire or choose dresses you and your bridal party can wear again. This will not only make your bridal party members happy, but it will reduce the waste of paying for something that will only ever be used once. Another option is to look for more environmentally friendly materials such as silks that are not dyed.
For the groom and his party, hiring is often the most ‘green’ option.
Recycled, tree-free or handmade invitations are all good ‘green’ options. Check out Plane Tree Studio for some great handmade paper options.
We do recommend old school snail mail for the wedding invitations, but for save-the-dates, going paperless is becoming more common. You can also reduce the inserts in your invitations by directing people to your wedding website for any extra details.
When you’re thinking eco-friendly, a gift registry makes sense. Not only does it stop you getting three kettles, it also gives you a chance to direct people to eco-friendly stores, or the eco-friendly gift options within regular stores. Visit Your Habitat for details.
If you and your partner already share a home and don’t need much in the way of material gifts, then you can always set up a registry for donations to a particular cause or charity in your name – consider the Leukaemia Foundation. Donations could also be made to a travel fund for your honeymoon.
Also, check where your bomboniere is sourced from, and aim for local or at least environmentally responsible or fair trade suppliers. Think organic chocolates, beeswax candles (rather than paraffin) or for something everlasting, seedlings or seeds in recycled paper packaging.
Think simple and local
Sourcing and booking as many aspects of your wedding as you can locally, is great green practice. While the romantic notion of picking a far away destination to be married may seem appealing to some, the cost, logistics and carbon footprint of all the guests travelling can become large. Compromising to a venue more central to most people involved, makes a lot more environmental sense.
Accessing as much local produce for your reception also makes great environmental sense. Having your reception for example, at a winery or farm which produces some of the food or wine you are serving can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. If you can find a place that will feed your food scraps back to animals or compost on site, then you are looking at the ultimate waste-free wedding.
Really want to impress your guests? Supplement your table decor with herb plants in terra cotta pots, like basil, parsley or rosemary, that guests can add straight to their dishes.
Use local florists for your bouquets, or even just for ceremony and reception venue decorations and table centrepieces. Allocate people to be presented with floral arrangements before they leave your reception, to ensure the enjoyment of your flowers is maximised. Alternately you could even use locally grown fruit as part of your centrepieces, which guests can take home to eat later.
Ask your florist where they source their flowers from. Many imported flowers use heavy pesticides and are harvested under poor working conditions. They also create a huge carbon footprint by the time they arrive in Australia.
Another eco-friendly choice is to choose potted blooms, plants or topiaries as centrepieces. This way, you can take them home and replant them after the wedding.
While a central wedding venue can reduce the amount of carbon emissions from travel, there will still be a lot of people driving their cars to your wedding. Putting a few people travelling from similar areas in touch with each other, might encourage people to car pool which can make travelling a lot easier (and responsible if they want to drink), as well as being better for the environment. If people are living or staying close to the reception, you could even organise a small bus to pick up and drop people off. Carbon emissions can also be reduced by ordering a limo, or one larger vehicle for the bridal party, rather than several separate cars. Or for the ultimate in eco-friendliness and romance – visit Heritage Horse Drawn Carriages and travel to your wedding using real horsepower.
There are many so-called organic suppliers you can go to for anything from food and beverage to flowers and make-up. While many are genuine, the term ‘organic’ can also be loosely applied by some businesses. When you are going organic, look for reputable and certified suppliers. If you really want to get serious ask the hard questions. Check where products are sourced from and what pesticides and practices are used, for example, to grow flowers or food. Don’t pay more for something that is not the genuine article.
There are many ways of going green on your wedding day. Whether you choose eco-friendly alternatives for every aspect of your wedding, or just for some parts, you will be making a difference and you’ll be proud you did.