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With the climate crisis high on the news agenda and sustainable fashion enjoying a real moment, these days more couples are considering the planet when planning their special day.
For lots of couples an eco-wedding is not only kinder to the environment and more personal, but also cheaper too.
It sounds to us like planning an eco-friendly wedding might be win-win all round. Here’s how to do it your way.
An eco wedding can actually be a much more relaxed affair and it can be easily tailored to your personal taste. As with any wedding there are no strict rules, so just do what ever feels right for you.
If you’re using a wedding planner, think carefully about what you want from them. Not only can wedding planners help you to make ethical wedding choices and help you with all the details, they may also be able to get you discounts of up to 10-20% through their preferred suppliers – potentially saving you more than you pay them.
There are several environmentally friendly ways to send your wedding invitations. You could use recycled paper and ask a local calligrapher to write the invitations for you, or if you’ve got an artistic flair (or an artistic friend!) design them yourself to save money. Remember, glitter is a big eco no-no – so exclude it from all your designs if you want to keep your green credentials.
You could also look at sites like Snapfish, where you can design your own cards and save loads of money in the process.
You could even send e-cards instead, using a platform like Paperless Post. 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 the quality varies. Here at Moneymagpie we like the wedding cards designed by Jacquie Lawson. For only £15 (which is much, much less than you would pay for invitations) you can send as many cards as you like in a year.
It’s also becoming increasingly popular for couples to set up websites which all the guests can easily 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!
When thinking about your wedding list, you could direct your guests to companies like Ethical Superstore, which sells environmentally friendly and Fairtrade products, or Aerende, which produces sustainable wedding lists.
Another option is to ask your guests to donate money to an environmental charity of your choice. Major wedding gift list company The Wedding Shop offers the chance to add charity donations to traditional wedding lists, whilst Oxfam Unwrapped offers wedding lists that help developing countries. Similarly, Carbon Footprint curates wedding lists, and offers guests the chance to plant trees everywhere from their local community to Kenya in lieu of expensive, environmentally-disastrous gifts.
Want your guests to do something, instead of giving money? Top gift registry Prezola offers a social gifting option, where guests can choose to help society by pledging to give blood or to help you out in the future with house, child or pet-sitting duties when needed (and these options won’t cost them a penny, making them a great choice when you know guests are on a budget.)
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.
Buying your own products on these sites and doing your own wedding make-up might mean you don’t need to hire a make-up artist for the day either, saving you a whole load of money.
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 Girl Meets Dress, Vonlee Bridal Hire and The Bridal Gallery for lots of options.
Alternatively, 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 they’re often 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.
For something really special you could always wear your mum’s old dress if she’s kept it – you might 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. 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. Head to the Green Union for advice on being an eco-chic bride. They also have a directory of dressmakers who specialise in ethical and eco-friendly dresses.
Choose a ring made from 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. They also have a list of jewellers who sell fair trade and ethically-mined rings.
Alternatively, Leju Londons offers artisanal pieces inspired by South America. 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 man-made shards of glass that have been reshaped by the sea so no one stone is the same – guaranteeing you a unique piece.
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.
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 will 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. Try putting the bouquets together yourself with some attractive ribbons and accessories. Get some help with Grow Your Own Cut Flowers by Sarah Raven, or why not spend a few hours doing a floristry course to get the skills you need? You could even make it a fun day out with your bridesmaids.
Berries and seasonal fruits are perfect for table decorations and bouquets during the autumn. Sweet peas and marigolds make great choices for a summer wedding.
Do you really need to spend £3 on a box with a truffle in it? Consider things you could make and share – such as baking a tray of custom biscuits shared on a platter instead of using individual boxes. Or could you give a donation to a favourite charity with a note on each table instead? It’s still likely to save you money, and benefits more than just your guests.
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. The majority of wedding photographers will offer this option, so don’t be afraid to bring it up.
If you’re having a green wedding, it obviously doesn’t make sense to have your wedding abroad – so rule this out early!
Obviously you might not be from where you’re currently living, though. If that’s the case, consider travelling home if possible. The key is to have your guests taking as few flights as possible, so if it means your family can stay local and just you, your partner and a few friends need to fly, this is likely to make the most sense when it comes to off-setting your carbon footprint.
If all your family and friends live within the same area, try to choose a venue close to home so that people don’t have to travel far.
Your dream venue might be far away, or your guests might be spread out. In this case you could set up a car-sharing scheme so that all your guests can get to the venue using the least amount of vehicles possible.
It goes without saying that these factors can be taken into consideration when planning your hen party, too.
Jen advises having 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. If you do have separate ceremony and reception venues, hire group transport like minibuses (or even a wedding double decker!) to get everyone ferried across with minimum environmental impact.
Try the au naturel effect. Autumn leaves are delightful, as are dried flowers, and they’ll blend back into the environment rather than causing any environmental damage.
Avoid food that needs to be imported (especially if it’s heavily packaged and flown in). Instead, ask your caterers to use organic, locally-grown, seasonal food. They might be able 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.
Think carefully about numbers. So much food gets wasted, so try not to over-order (although this might be difficult). Ask the caterers to pack up any leftovers too. Why not invite your bridal party round the next day for a leftovers buffet?
Where menus are concerned, don’t bother having any at all and have a set menu instead. You can let guests know about the food choices via your website. If you do have menus on the table, make sure they’re made from recyclable paper. A menu per person is an unnecessary waste!
Focus on quality not quantity. Vegetarian options will minimise your costs immediately as well as being significantly better for the environment. Got a friend who’s a star baker? Get them to make your cake as their contribution to your wedding gift list.
Don’t undo all your hard work with a long-haul flight – stay in the UK for a really cheap honeymoon without the carbon emissions. Try a coastal cottage in Wales, Scotland or Cornwall, 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 Europe is now far easier and cheaper than it ever was. Via Paris, you could be within the south of France in just a handful of hours. Cutting out the airport stress will make for a great start to your holiday, too.
Don’t mention the word “honeymoon” if you’re booking a package. This is a sure-fire way to get your costs ramped up!
Got any more tips for an ethical, sustainable wedding? Let us know in the comments.