Planning an eco-friendly wedding isn’t about serving jam jars of green juice, or wearing a dress crafted from biodegradable loo paper. It’s about planning your dream wedding with a little conscious thought to the environment.
For some it’s compromise: yes, to a pair of nude glitter bridal sandals; no to plastic- covered favours. For others, it’s asking guests to donate to a worthwhile cause in lieu of gifts, or honeymooning in a destination that doesn’t involve clocking up endless carbon miles to get there. Regardless of whether you decide to do a little or a whole lot, planning an eco-friendly wedding will really help to ramp up the feel-good factor, because you know you’re doing something special for the planet. You’ll skip the guilt – and, as a bonus, you might even save some money!
Related article: 30 last-minute wedding tasks you won’t want to forget
Embrace your inner greenie
First things first: enlist an eco-friendly wedding planner, or gather your friends together, crack open the organic Champagne and get your green groove on.
It all starts with the wedding invitations. Go for earth-friendly vegetable-based inks on recycled paper invitations, or choose seeded paper that guests can plant after the event and watch it sprout and grow. Of course, you can always use e-invites, but add a personal touch by creating a heartfelt invitation that shares details of your journey together so far.
Keep blooms local
Chat to a florist about locally grown, chemical-free blooms. Yes, they do exist! Or get some of your green-fingered friends to gather bunches of wildflowers for the big day and pop them into pre-loved glass vases on your wedding tables. You can also use potted orchids or topiaries as centrepieces. They’re beautiful – and guests can take them home afterwards.
For greenery in your flower arrangements, consider long leafy branches or edible filler like kale. When decorating tables, use natural materials like flax, organic cotton, linen or bamboo for tablecloths, napkins and placemats.
Take baby eco steps
It only takes a few small tweaks to make a big difference to the sustainability factor of your wedding. Take favours, for example: so many are quickly forgotten or thrown away. Instead, source yummy edibles (and drinkables), like organic wines, or jars of organic teas, honey, sweets or cookies. Go organic with scented beeswax candles, goat-milk soaps, bamboo coasters, or even sweet little potted succulents. Remember, you don’t need to choose a second-hand gown to have a green wedding either – instead, look for beautiful natural materials like silk, bamboo or cotton.
Other ways to keep it green include making your way to your ceremony or reception in a horse-drawn carriage, suggesting that wedding guests carpool to reduce emissions, and zooming off to your honeymoon in a hybrid vehicle. Oh, and speaking of your honeymoon, there are plenty of feel-good luxury eco retreats for guilt-free indulgence, or crank things up a notch and consider volunteering in an exotic location for an amazing, altruistic experience.
Set the scene for romance
Cut back on electricity and get married outdoors in the sweet sunshine (although we totally get it if you can’t face the thought of a Queensland summer wedding without air conditioning!). When darkness falls, the scene is set for romance under a canopy of stars. Power up the celebrations with solar fairy lights threaded around tree branches and jars filled with twinkling soy candles.
If you don’t want to marry outdoors, choose a reception centre in an organic setting – botanical gardens, a windswept hilltop venue or beachside spot – to connect you to nature. Hold your ceremony and reception in the one place to save on travel miles.
Serve up smart
When choosing your menu, opt for dishes that make the most of in-season, local produce – you’ll save on food miles and be guaranteed fresh flavours. Being eco-friendly also means reducing waste, so take care to size your wedding cake so there’s just enough for all your guests.
If there’s any leftover food after your reception, ask friends to package it up and hand it out to homeless shelters (just be sure to check it’s okay with your caterers or venue, and the shelter). Oh, and if you have any leftover flower arrangements, get them dropped off at a hospital or nursing home – what a sweet finale for your wedding blooms.
The gift of giving
Instead of setting up the usual gift registry, ask guests to donate to your favourite charity. Or, request a vintage gift – an antique photo frame or decorative plate has its own unique story to tell.
Plan an eco-friendly project, like greening your backyard, and ask guests to pitch in as their gift. Or, invite them to pay it forward in the lead-up to your big day with a random act of kindness to a stranger – and then get a handful of them to share their stories at the wedding reception. You’ll be breaking out the (recycled, organic, eco-friendly) tissues in no time!
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