These days more and more couples are considering the planet when planning their special day. We spoke to Jen Marsden, author of Green Guide for Weddings, who told us that for lots of couples an eco-wedding is not only kinder to the environment and more personal, but also cheaper!
- Be green from the very beginning with the invitations
- Go eco chic with the clothes, rings and even make-up.
- At the church and reception
- Top tips from eco wedding expert Jen Marsden
- Have you had an eco wedding? Tell us all about it on our forum
An eco wedding can actually be a much more relaxed affair and it can be easily tailored to your personal taste. There are no strict rules so just do what ever feels right for you. Get started now with our step-by-step guide to saving money with an eco wedding day.
There are several environmentally friendly ways to send invites. You can use recycled paper and ask a local calligrapher to write the invitations for you. Or send e-cards instead. Research shows that the average person spends over £180 a year on greetings cards -and that’s without including postage – so e-card sites could save you a lot of money.
There are quite a few e-card sites out there but to be frank, most of them are pretty rubbish (particularly the free ones) so be careful which one you choose. Here at Moneymagpie we like the wedding cards designed by Jacquie Lawson. For only £6.25 (which is much, much less than you would pay for invitations) you can send as many cards as you like. Have a look at her selection. Another good site is Purplehoot where a year long subscription to send and receive an unlimited amount of cards costs £9.99 .
You could even set up a website which all the guests can access. You can put everything they need to know on the website about dates, timings and venue information – they can also RSVP online so no paper needs to be used at all!
Direct your guests to companies like Natural Collection and Ethical Superstore which sell environmentally friendly and Fair Trade products. Another option is to ask your guests to donate money to an environmental charity of your choice. Both Good Gifts and Oxfam Unwrapped offer wedding lists that help developing countries. The Carbon Neutral Company can also provide gifts that offset CO2 emissions.
Use natural cosmetics and beauty products. Not only will they be kinder to your skin – they’ll also be much kinder to the planet. LoveLula stocks hundreds of affordable, organic beauty products so get browsing now. Green People is another useful site selling natural health and beauty products.
Why not rent your wedding dress rather than buy a new one. Hopefully you’ll only be wearing it the once, so why spend a huge amount of money? Take a look at sites such as Weddingdresshire.net and for listings of bridal shops in your area check out UltimateWeddingDirectory.co.uk.
Go second hand for big savings. Charity shops are well worth considering – in fact Oxfam often sells dresses that are nearly new or new and donated by designers or bridal stores so they’re usually in great condition. Click here for a list of Oxfam shops that have bridal departments.
Or, for something really special you could always wear your mum’s old dress if she’s kept it – you’ll probably find it’s back in fashion now anyway! The dress can be altered so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t fit or look quite right. Another idea is to get a vintage wedding dress – they can be really beautiful and there are lots of places to find a bargain.
Try Vintage Dress where you can view some of the antique/vintage dresses and make an appointment to see the whole collection. For some amazing bargains on wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses and suits take a look on eBay and start bidding on anything that takes your fancy.
If you do go for new, find a dressmaker who uses ethical and organic materials. Read the Green Union’s guide to being an eco chic bride. They have a directory of dressmakers who specialise in ethical and eco friendly dresses.
Choose a ring made from recycled gold. Go to Greenkarat for rings made from synthetic diamonds and recycled gold or find a jeweller that specialises in conflict free diamonds. You could also buy a vintage ring which you can then have reset. Once again Green Union is a really useful source. Look here for a list of jewellers who sell fair trade and ethical mined rings.
Natural options that come from the floor of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, with companies such as Jungleberry Trading offering handmade treasures of colourful tento, acai and jarina seeds, are another option.
Alternatively, Just Trade and Leju offer clever ‘vegetable ivory’ pieces and Arzu Keles sells rare handmade Turkish lacework. Or, why not support fair trade artisans in Mexico with gorgeous silver jewellery collections from Silverchilli’s wedding service.
Sea glass (also known as beach glass) jewellery is another local alternative to the unfair practices of the gold and diamond mining industries. Sea glass is manmade shards of glass have been reshaped by the sea so no one stone is the same – guaranteeing you a unique piece.
Use a local florist so that you can pick up the bouquets yourself. Ask for fair trade, seasonal flowers
(which won’t rack up air miles and cost less too). Use the same flowers for the reception and the church – simply arrange for someone to move them for you. The green fingered amongst you could even try growing your own in time for the big day and putting the bouquets together yourself with some attractive ribbons and accessories. Get some help with Grow Your Own Cut Flowers by Sarah Raven.
Berries and seasonal fruits are perfect for table decorations and bouquets during the autumn and sweet peas and marigolds make great choices for a summer wedding. And, for an extra money-saving trick why not use the same flowers for both the reception and the ceremony.
Go digital so that there’s no need for chemicals or paper. They’re also much easier to make copies of and send to your friends and family.
Choose a venue close to home so people don’t have to travel far. If you’re dream venue isn’t near you can set up a car sharing scheme so that all your guests can get to the venue using the least amount of vehicles.
Avoid food that needs to be imported (it’s heavily packaged and flown in). Ask your caterers to use organic, locally grown food. Try talking to someone at the nearest farmers market – prices are about 30% cheaper and much tastier to boot.
Think carefully about numbers. So much food gets wasted so try not to over order and ask the caterers to pack up any leftovers. Where menus are concerned, don’t bother having any at all and have a set menu instead which you can let guests know about before the reception, or, only have a few menus per table made from recyclable paper. A menu per person is an unnecessary waste of money and paper.
Focus on quality not quantity and serve regularly rather than one big sit down dinner at the end of the evening. Vegetarian options will minimise your costs immediately and you could even get your guests to bring their own food for an informal picnic!
Don’t undo all your hard work with a long-haul flight – stay in the UK for a really cheap honeymoon without the carbon emission. Try Lastminute.com for savings on UK hotels and cottages, or stay in an eco hotel, click here for a list of some in the UK and Ireland.
If you do want to go outside of the UK, taking a train to European countries is now far easier and cheaper than it ever was. Check out sites such as the Trainline and National Express East Coast for big savings.
We spoke to Jen Marsden, author of Green Guides for Weddings, who gave us these fantastic tips for saving money with a green wedding:
- INVITES: Send e-cards instead of paper cards and upload all the details online.
- VENUE: Keep your venue close to where the majority of your guests live to save on transport costs. Try to have the reception and ceremony in the same venue -this way you won’t have to worry about transport and associated CO2 emissions, nor will you have to pay twice for staff and decorations!
- CAKE: Rather than spend a fortune on a cake, ask a friend who’s got the magic touch to make it for you.
- MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR LOCAL FARMER: Ask your caterers to use a local farm to get fresh, organic, nutritional meat and vegetables for your day. Not only will this be high quality, you are also likely to save money. If you go solely vegetarian at the wedding you will find you cut the costs.
- DRESSES: Buy a vintage dress to save money. It can still be designer and beautiful – but if you are only wearing it the once, why not shave off a fortune off the cost? An alternative is to buy outfits you and your entourage will wear again or can revamp into something else, such as cushions or lampshades for your matrimonial home!
- JEWELS: Consider buying a more natural ring such as sea glass if you don’t have the cash for a diamond. If you do buy a diamond, buy from an ethical company to ensure the diamond is conflict-free and the gold is mined lawfully and fairly.
- CONFETTI: Try the au naturel effect – autumn leaves are delightful, as are dried flowers.
- USE AN ETHICAL WEDDING PLANNER: Not only can wedding planners put you in touch with ethical wedding suppliers and help you to be organised, they can also get you discounts of up to 10-20%!
- WEDDING FAVOURS: As was the tradition, make the wedding favours yourself using spare fabrics. Do you really need to spend £3 on a box with a truffle in it? Or you could always give a donation to a favourite charity with a note on each table? It is still likely to save you money and benefits more than just your guests.
- HONEYMOON: Have an Ecoescape in the UK or Europe and go slowly by train. It’s likely to be fair more romantic and whimsical and not as expensive as the typical honeymoon packages.