HOW TO GUIDE #3: SUSTAINABLE WEDDING
By Maleehah Hussain
Reading time: 8 mins
So your other half finally popped the question, and of course, you said yes!! So now it’s time to get your massive folder out of that Pinterest board you’ve been saving since you were 17 and plan your dream wedding.
Weddings are one of the most important days in many peoples’ lives, and with all the excitement and planning, it’s easy to get caught up and go overboard in what we think our wedding needs. Whether it’s the food, the humongous 10 tier cake, gimmicky favours (No, your guests do not need a magnet with your faces on it), you can often end up splurging on things you do not need.
Not only are today’s weddings heavy on your wallet, but they also end up being costly for our environment, and we know planning a wedding is hectic, stressful, and might awaken the bridezilla in you, so we’ve pulled together seven tips to help you plan your perfect wedding, that won’t cost the earth.
Tip #1 Wedding Rings
Diamond’s might be a girl’s best friend, but when it comes to the environment, not so much!
Let’s talk about the rock you not only need but deserve, your wedding ring!
Selecting your wedding ring is no small task, and you deserve nothing but the best. When it comes to diamonds, you probably know what to look for in carat, cut, clarity and colour, but let’s add another to that list; conscience.
Traditionally mined diamonds negatively impact our environment, including deforestation and ecosystem destruction. So instead, consider lab-grown diamonds for your ideal wedding ring.
Lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical, physical and optical properties as mined diamonds without any negative impacts on the environment. they are natural diamonds that last forever and are around 30% less expensive than mined diamonds – A win-win situation.
Carat London is a great brand that provides you with a choice of over 7,000 conflict-free, independently certified lab-grown diamonds to create your dream ring. Plus, once you have designed your ring, Carat London also allows you to see an estimated ring price if mined diamonds had been used instead. Instagram: @CaratLondon
Another great option is Ethical Diamonds who can create your ideal ring from a choice of fairtrade or recycled 18k gold, finished with lab-grown diamonds that are certified neutral. Instagram: @EthicaDiamonds
Not sold on the idea of a lab-grown diamond? Look for ethically sourced diamonds from mines with strict compliance with labour and environmental regulations.
For instance, Taylor and Hart can create bespoke rings made with ethically sourced diamonds. Or Ecksand, an ethical jewellery house that uses ethical diamonds and 100% sustainable recycled gold. Instagram: @TaylorAndHart and @Ecksand
Often the style and design of vintage jewellery are unique and challenging to reproduce, making your ring a one of a kind item. Vintage rings have no manufacturing process or cost, and by choosing to go vintage, you are extending the life of an existing piece of jewellery. A clear winner in sustainability terms!
Tip #2 Say Yes To The Dress!
Choosing your wedding dress is not a decision to take lightly; you’ve probably already got a tonne of inspiration pictures for your ideal dress. That being said, have you ever considered the cost of that dream dress and whether it’s actually worth the one time you will wear it?
With sustainability on the rise in the past decade, there are many options out there that will allow you to have your dream dress for only a fraction of the price.
Another great option is to opt for second-hand dresses. Lyst reports that searches for second hand or pre-owned wedding dresses are up 38% year on year. They are a great option to help you find your perfect unique wedding dress for a fraction of the price a brand new wedding dress would cost you whilst keeping your carbon footprint that the fashion industry causes low.
An excellent place for great, jaw-dropping dresses is Still White, which is one of the largest resale sites for bridal gowns and includes many high-end brands, including Vera Wang and Berta, allowing you to save up to 70%. Find them on Instagram: @StillWhite
Another great option is Easy Wedding which allows you to find your perfect preloved wedding dress, with prices starting at £500
When you’re shopping for your wedding dress, always keep sustainable brands in mind. Some of our favourites include:
- Reformation, a brand that has been carbon neutral; although they are a brand based in LA, they have their bridal line available in London’s Westbourne Grove. Their mission is to provide sustainable fashion to everyone by ensuring their factory is a safe, healthy and fair environment for their workers.
- Instagram: @Reformation
- Kate Halfpenny offers bridal wear manufactured in England instead of shipping it overseas, reducing the carbon footprint. Also, the ink and the packaging they use are made from eco-friendly or recyclable materials.
- Instagram: @HalfpennyLondon
- Gemma Leakey, a Worcestershire based business that creates bespoke wedding dresses by using sustainable fabrics that she sources locally, reducing the carbon footprint that would have otherwise been generated if the dress had been imported from other countries.
- Instagram: @GemmaLeakey
One option you can consider is to rent all your wedding clothes; once over, renting suits for the groom and groomsmen was the norm, but now you can also rent wedding and bridesmaid dresses, keeping costs low and helping the environment too.
By Rotation is an excellent platform on which people can rent their dresses for others to rent and return for as little as £40 per day. They include a tonne of high-end designers such as Ganni and Gianvito Rossi. Find them on Instagram: @ByRotationOfficial
Something more you…
Alternatively, think about having a smart casual theme for your wedding, which would allow you and your guest to either buy new outfits that they know they will most definitely wear or rock an outfit they already have and love.
Why not upcycle a vintage family wedding dress?
Do you adore a family member’s wedding dress? Perhaps with a few changes, it has the potential to become your ideal wedding dress? An excellent option for brides who want that sentimental value to the wedding.
Tip #3 Food
Over a tenth of all wedding food goes to waste. Financially, this is equivalent to almost £500 for an average wedding celebration.
Limit waste by considering catering a sit-down meal for guests; being organised and pre-ordering food means your guests won’t go hungry, but there will be less waste from a traditional buffet.
When choosing your catering company, keep an eye out for caterers that source local, organic and ethically produced ingredients where they can do so.
If you still have food leftover – Do Not Throw It Away! You can easily donate leftovers to a local food bank. Research this before your wedding, so there’s no fussing about it on your wedding day, allowing you to spend your time on better things and make priceless memories. Alternatively, speak with your guests and see if any of them are willing to take some leftovers with them.
Just as important is how you serve your food; used plates and napkins aren’t recyclable, and most plastic kitchenware is made from low grade or mixed plastics, which again can’t go in the recycle bin.
Look for compostable plates and cups, or better yet, opt for reusables where you can.
Tip #4 Wedding Cakes
Wedding cakes most certainly have a reputation for being expensive. On average, couples spend around £717 on their wedding cake, the majority of which ends up as waste as everyone is already full from the food served earlier. More than one in ten couples have admitted that they eventually bin all the uneaten cake.
If you’d still like the look of an extravagant multi-tiered cake but know you and your guests won’t eat it all, why not opt for fewer cake tiers and add ‘fake cake’ made from cardboard but iced to look like extra tiers? Easier on the wallet and reducing food waste!
Did you know?
Traditionally the Romans would break the cake over the bride’s head which symbolises good luck, and then the married couple would eat a few crumbs of it together whilst their guests would gather up the crumbs as tokens of good luck.
Tip #5 Wedding Invitations
When wedding season rolls around, the joy of receiving an invitation to celebrate milestones in friends and families life is terrific; however, if the invite has glitter or foil as part of the design, these invites cannot be recycled following the big day.
So, when planning your upcoming nuptials, think about how you can make it more sustainable from beginning to end, research invitations made from sustainable cards or think about going digital with your invites.
We’ve pulled together some great companies below to help you make a sustainable choice:
- Loupaper is an excellent place for sustainable wedding invites and stationery. Their invites are made from recycled paper or sustainable and responsibly sourced organic materials. In addition, they work with suppliers who offer responsibly sourced and 100% recycled paper.
In addition, they also offer handmade invitations that are crafted from recycled or reused raw materials such as plant fibre, corn, flax and coffee. Find them on Instagram: @LouPaper_
- Natural Wedding Company is another eco-friendly choice. The company keep printing to a minimum and only use recycled or reused paper. They also make annual donations to Cool Earth, which works with indigenous communities to halt rainforest deforestation. Find them on Instagram: @ANaturalWedding
When inviting guests, think about the carbon footprint, offer group transportation, or ask friends to car share to lower carbon emissions.
Tip #6 Wedding Favours
The very first wedding favours were known as ‘bonbonnieres’ and were gifts given to guests as they are today as a symbol of good luck, traditionally sugared almonds. However, today we see much more extravagant, often less organic gifts given to guests.
If you want to give favours to your guests, think about how you do it sustainably; some of our favourite wedding favours include:
- Organic Tea Blends
- Seed Packets
- Homemade Jam
- Eco-Friendly Tote Bags
- Eco-Friendly Soap/Bath Soaps
- Honeybee Candles
- Fresh Potted Herbs
Tip #7 Wedding Decor
Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the most significant celebrations of your life, but with plastic decor and tossed confetti, it can also be a day of considerable waste.
Check out our top tips below for sustainable decor ideas:
- Check if your venue can provide room dressings for your big day, reducing the need to buy new ones which can’t be used again. Book a venue that already has a stunning backdrop for your photos, like botanical gardens, greenhouses, and palm houses. If your wedding is more urban, why not think about a rooftop bar or terrace to give a stunning city backdrop.
- Avoid balloons; most are made of materials that don’t break down and contribute to overflowing landfill sites, alongside the serious choking risk to wildlife like birds and sea creatures.
- Floral centrepieces look stunning, so it’s no surprise how popular they are. However, the carbon footprint can be considerable as many flowers are grown out of season and shipped from overseas; why not use potted plants and herbs that could double as favours to guests or grow your own for added personalisation?
- As you and your partner make your getaway, the chances are that your guests are showering you with pretty bits of confetti. While that’s great for the Gram, it’s bad for the environment when made of foil, plastic or glitter. So instead, opt for plant-based options, including rose petals, fresh herbs or lavender.
- Cut down on unnecessary waste and cost with a chalkboard seating plan and menu, guests can always take a picture for reference if they need to, and these can be reused for future parties.
Sustainable doesn’t have to mean dull… your wedding can look gorgeous without costing you a fortune! A little thought goes a long way to making your day perfect.
What are your favourite hacks at organising sustainable events?
We’d love to know your wedding planning top tips. So drop a comment below or head on over to our socials to share there.