When it comes to finding sustainable wedding ideas, where do you even start? What does it mean to have a sustainable wedding? And is it all just even more faff?
Actually, it’s not as much hard work as you think. There are so many simple tweaks you can make to ensure that your big day is more conscious – and there are some sustainable wedding ideas that are so easy to make a reality.
David Rhode – the co-founder of London’s leading ethical fin jewellers Ingle & Rhode – said: ‘As climate change becomes an ever more urgent issue, it’s crucial that we look at every element of our lives and consider what we can do to ensure we are behaving in an ethical and sustainable way.
‘A wedding – one of the biggest events in most people’s lives – is no different. It’s a one-off occasion, so by its very nature can lead to lots of things being bought, booked and used that will never be used again.
‘From your engagement and wedding ring, to your choice of location, dress and decorations, it’s crucial that we start to look to sustainable alternatives in order to ensure the happiest days of our lives aren’t having a saddeningly detrimental impact on our environment.’
Let’s take a look at some of the best sustainable wedding ideas…
Sustainable wedding ideas
Here are some expert tips from Ingle & Rhode for anyone wanting to make their wedding as conscious and sustainable as possible.
Buy Fairtrade or recycled wedding rings
‘Did you know that producing a wedding ring from gold can create up to twenty tonnes of waste? With this in mind, it’s really important that you look to have your wedding ring made from either Fairtrade or recycled gold or platinum.
‘A recycled wedding ring lessens the need for newly mined metals, so reduces the environmentally damaging effects of mining practices. It’s a common misconception that opting for a recycled wedding ring will mean compromising on quality or style. In fact, recycled gold and platinum are of identical quality (and therefore completely indistinguishable from) newly mined metals.
‘Fairtrade is also invested in providing mining communities with better living and working conditions, as well as protecting the environment. Ask your jeweller whether their precious metals come from one of the world’s four certified mining organisations and if not, look for a jeweller who can guarantee this is as standard.’
For Fairtrade and recycled wedding rings, try Ingle and Rhode
Host your wedding locally
‘Ditch the idea of a destination wedding that relies on flying and driving – resulting in soaring CO2 emissions – and host it closer to home. Take a look at your guest list and go for a destination that requires shorter travel times for all guests, as well as somewhere that is accessible via public transport, or even better, by foot.
‘If car travel is inevitable, encourage your guests to ride share if possible. Not only will this ensure your wedding is more sustainable, it’s also a great way for people to get to know each other better before the festivities officially begin. If the group is really big, hire a bus or coach.’
Curate an eco-friendly menu
‘Whether the venue is catering the meal, or you’re hiring an independent catering company, make sure they’re sustainably minded and use organic, local and Fairtrade produce. You could also have a go at creating an entirely vegetarian or vegan menu. Or, at the very least, incorporate elements of these diets into the options. For example, you could only serve animal-based products in one of the courses, and go for plant-based starters and desserts.
‘Keep these criteria in mind for your wedding cake, too. Does it need to be shipped miles, or is there someone local who can make it for you? Sourcing your alcohol locally is another way to cut down your carbon emissions.’
Source a vintage wedding dress
‘We’re not necessarily suggesting you walk down the aisle in your mother’s wedding dress, but sourcing a vintage or second-hand dress is not only stylish and totally unique but also more sustainable.
‘The circular fashion economy reduces the need to manufacture new clothes, so saves energy, resources and waste; from the moment it goes into production, to the moment it’s shipped. If Carrie Bradshaw can do it, so can you! Whilst you’re at it, why not ask the bridal party to look second-hand, too?
‘If your heart is set on a brand new dress, there are plenty of ethical bridal designers to choose from. Also, pick a timeless style that you can wear again, or repurpose, to avoid wearing it just once.’
Create seasonal floral arrangement
‘A great alternative to flowers on your wedding day are potted herbs and plants, or foliage. However, if you’re keen to keep the flowers around, then opt for a seasonal floral arrangement that’s dictated by what’s available at the time, rather than flowers that need to be shipped internationally. Ask your florist to source only local flowers in order to reduce your carbon footprint.
‘If you fancy following in the footsteps or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, donate your floral arrangements to a local charity afterwards to brighten up someone’s day, and avoid waste. You could also send your guests home with an arrangement each, and once the flowers have been enjoyed, encourage them to dispose of them in the brown bin.’
Avoid single-use decorations
‘Do away with single use decorations such as confetti. it creates harmful plastic litter which is almost impossible to dispose of once it’s on the ground. There are plenty of alternatives, such as biodegradable confetti, recycled confetti or dried flower petals.
‘Try to source recycled or reusable wedding decorations, too, including glassware and hanging ornaments made of fabric. Lots of decorations can be hired or bought second hand, and if they’re still in good condition once your special day is over consider selling them, donating them, or repurposing them for your home.
‘Reduce the amount of paper you use on the big day by writing programs and menus on chalkboards or signage, and by sending digital copies to guests. You won’t need to print out hundreds of pages and it doesn’t matter if you make a spelling mistake.’
Opt for sustainable favours
‘Wedding favours are a great opportunity to encourage your guests to get on board with your ethical principles. Make a small donation on behalf of your guests to a charity or organisation dedicated to helping the environment or provide your guests with a packet of seeds. Think flowers, plants or even produce. Your guest can take their gift home and plant it in the garden, enticing wildlife.’
Now it’s time to make these sustainable wedding ideas a reality…