14 March 2017
Share the love - your guide to a more sustainable wedding
Weddings are fabulous affairs, but whether an intimate gathering or a big bash one thing is fairly consistent - they come with a hefty price tag, particularly in the context of a single day.
With the hiked prices of anything tagged with 'wedding' - flowers, food, décor, gowns - more and more couples are seeking ways to ensure their investment goes further. This includes working to reduce waste and minimize their environmental impact.
Upcycling (taking something that you might have otherwise thrown out and finding a way to make it new again) and recycling are huge and there are loads of tools and vendors out there to help you do it.
'Eco-chic' or green weddings aren't just a fad, they are here to stay, so this is a guide to help you get started planning your big day in a way that shares the love beyond the people at your wedding - with your community and environment too.
To begin, here are the basic rules to live by when planning a green wedding, and below is a more detailed guide:
- Keep it local
- Seek ways to give back to the community through your wedding
- Rent or buy as many items as possible - in particular decor and clothing
- Have a plan for waste reduction and minimizing unnecessary items
Key to consider with venue selection is where your guests are coming from and choosing a location that is central and easily accessible, to minimize carbon emissions. Selecting somewhere on a public transport route or organizing a bus to collect guests is also a good idea.
Discuss with your venue and/or caterers what they do with any food waste. Many locations already have a plan in place and compost leftover waste vs. throwing it in the bin. Better yet, ask to have any leftovers packaged up to take home or given away to a local homeless shelter or food bank.
When planning your menu ask your caterer to seek foods that are organic, seasonal and/or local - choose your menu based on what's readily available at that time of year with a local selection of fruit, vegetables and meat. This not only supports local farmers, it also reduces carbon emissions from transporting long distances.
Select flowers that are grown locally to reduce the carbon emissions from transportation. Also plan in advance what you'll do with all the flowers after the wedding - most flowers will last well beyond the day so putting them in the bin is a HUGE waste. Many couples are opting to donate them to a local hospice or elderly care home.
There are also not-for-profits like Floranthropie in Montreal, Quebec, who will do this amazing service for you.
This is a huge area for upcycling and recycling. Decorations also often end up being quickly discarded at the end of the night, but they can be recycled. There are so many places to pick up second hand decor items that have more than enough life in them for another few weddings.
Try fairs like The Bridal Swap, which brings together past brides, decorators, craft artisans and other sellers of wedding related goods, with brides-to-be who are on the hunt for wedding treasures.
And sites like Wedding Recycle are a great one-stop shop to donate and buy used goods.
Candles are a wedding staple these days, but best to use soy or beeswax vs. paraffin or petroleum based candles - they are good for the environment because they do not produce any toxins or carcinogens as they burn, and they are also biodegradable.
Second hand wedding dresses are now more accessible than ever, with loads of websites dedicated to helping brides find the perfect, once-loved gown. Or turn to family to see if there is a gown that was worn by parents or grandparents that could be upcycled, for extra sentimental value.
Alternatively, designers like Pure Magnolia are committed to using sustainable fabrics (organic cotton, vintage lace, Hemp, eco friendly silks) to create couture gowns and bridesmaids dresses. They work one-on-one with brides to create the perfect dress for their style, body, wedding and budget.
Image: Pure Magnolia Darcy gown
Invitations can be a huge area of waste, often just ending up in the bin - multiple pages of heavy card stock and envelopes wrapped in ribbon. The more eco option is to use online invites, at least for the save-the-dates. Paperless Post has beautiful designs and is extremely easy to use.
And what about the gifts? The wrapping, the ribbon and, (let's be honest) sometimes even the gifts themselves end up in the trash, not to mention shipping on hundreds of different items and the impact that has on the environment.
Cash gift registries are a way to ensure you reduce waste and unwanted gifts. When thinking about the types of gifts to list on your registry you also have maximum choice to ensure you stay green:
- Seek out shops that offer local, fair-trade, handmade, organic or other eco-friendly products
- Keep it natural: go for linen, real wood, organic cotton and other earthy materials
We’ve compiled some Inspiration Boards for the types of things you might ask for on a cash gift registry - some with a more eco focus. Use any of these for your own customized GiftSpaces registry ~ or have fun coming up with your own wish list!
Another great idea is to register for experiences and activities - and the gear you need for them.
Or, ask loved ones to contribute to your honeymoon instead of buying gifts.
Here at GiftSpaces, we are dedicated to helping brides-to-be, new parents, honeymooners and all those celebrating life's special moments turn their visions into reality through the power of community. GiftSpaces allows users to curate one registry with anything from anywhere and have friends and family contribute financial gifts.
Create your own GiftSpace registry for free here.