Sustainable Weddings

Our guide on how to plan an eco-friendly, ethical wedding

How to throw a sustainable wedding UK

Table of Contents

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Weddings are glorious occasions. A celebration devoted to love. A day of closest and most cherished people confabbing under marquee points and pub rooves and village halls and house turrets and oak trees: stuffing cake crumbs into lip-sticked teeth and letting prosecco wash away all other worries. A time to honour one unique expression of love; one particular couple’s experience; one never-told-before story. An occasion to cry as much as you like, dance as much as you like, grasp every inch of joy hanging in the air.

I really love weddings.

They can also, however, be pretty wasteful. Harmful to the planet. Unkind to animals. Single-use plastic, food-waste, fast-fashion and unseasonal flowers are just some examples. So how can you plan a sustainable, eco-friendly wedding that will blow the socks off you as a couple, and your loved ones too?

picture of wedding dress hanging on rustic wardrobe door - how to buy a sustainable wedding dress

DRESS CODE

For a lot of brides, the dress is the most important element of the day. There are so many ways to shop a bit more sustainably for your dress now. These include:

  • Borrowing the dress your mum, sister, aunt, next-door-neighbour wore. These can either be worn exactly how they are (with alterations to fit you), or used as a canvas to recreate something you love with the help of a local seamstress or tailor (with consent from whoever originally owned the dress)
  • Thrifting the dress through platforms such as ebay or vinted, in charity-shops or through websites such as stillwhite, bride2bride
  • Buy vintage. This is more expensive – but you can find some absolutely exquisite vintage pieces (think lots of antique lace!) A good starting point is Jane Bourvis
  • Platforms such as Herr are great for renting dresses too. This is a good option if you are thinking of an outfit change in the evening into a party dress!
  • Extend the life of your dress once you’ve worn it on your wedding day. Dye it, have it altered into an evening dress or top and skirt, pass on to a loved one or sell to a grateful stranger.

For your guests, we love the dress code that the glorious Venetia La Manna used on her wedding day:

the words "something old, nothing new, something borrowed, something renewed" overlayed on an image of a woman's foot curled into blankets

Encouraging guests to wear a loved outfit they already have in their wardrobe is a great way to cut a bit of the carbon footprint of your wedding day!

When it comes to wedding rings, you could:

  • Shop for vintage ones. This not only means you’ll find something completely unique, but are extending the life of an item already in existence – helping Mother Nature
  • Buy from a sustainable, ethical jewellery maker (such as one who uses recycled materials)
a vintage car parked outside a forest. a post about how to plan a sustainable wedding

VENUE AND TRANSPORT

When searching for a venue, look for things like: do they have recycling facilities? Could they compost any food waste from your wedding breakfast? Do they take care of nature – perhaps by planting trees, protecting wildlife, engaging in soil enriching activities? Do they have sustainable initiatives in place – things like renewable energy, rainwater collections, eco-friendly toiletries?

It’s also worth considering ways to potentially cut the carbon footprint of your guests by arranging coaches, car-shares, communal taxis or helping with public transport.

a woman slices a loaf of crusty bread.

FOOD

To make your menu kinder to the planet and all its’ inhabitants, opt for a vegan menu or up the vegan options on offer. Look for a caterer who can work with ingredients that are as local and seasonal as possible (meaning exotic items won’t be flown from miles away!). If you can, include organic fruit & veg, as these hopefully will have been grown in kinder ways for the soil and wildlife.

To reduce waste, you could offer sharing boards, buffet style or ‘serve yourself’ dishes to the table. This way, guests only take as much as they feel they can eat (rather than set ‘portion sizes’ which may be too big for some people). If there is any food leftover from serving bowls – this could be sent home with any hungry hospitality staff or kept as leftovers at the venue if you are staying over (!). Any gubbins left on people’s plates could be composted.

DECORATIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

This is my favourite bit! The decorations. Ways you can jazz up your venue more sustainably are:

  • Thrifting for vintage glassware, crockery or table linens. These can add a really fun aesthetic – such as collating lots of different teacups & saucers for the after-dinner teas and coffees (a quirky Alice in Wonderland vibe)
  • Shopping for sustainable glassware – such as our repurposed glasses in different colours!
  • Renting cutlery/glassware/crockery
  • Using natural & sustainable materials for napkins & tablecloths – such as our organic linen napkins
  • Using eco-friendly alternatives to confetti – such as dried flower petals or even handmade pompoms that can be collected afterwards and made into bunting!
  • Foraging for gifts from nature to adorn ceilings or tables – branches, pinecones, conkers
  • Collect old jam-jars and decorate with glass-pens, fill with tealights or fairy-lights
  • Using our repurposed tumblers to decorate your tables with our naked tealights – adding that warm, fairy-like glow to the room
  • Creating bunting from offcuts or deadstock fabrics
  • Saying no to sky lanterns (these can cause fires, setting alight animals’ homes and habitats, not to mention injuring animals themselves). Opt for natural, sustainable candles instead to create a cosy, romantic ambience. Our rapeseed wax candles are perfect for this
  • Using recycled or seed paper for invitations (these can then be planted by your guests!)
  • Choosing alternatives to traditional wedding favours – things like vegan soaps, thrifted mugs or seed paper. You could also handmake favours – things like homemade jams, cordials and painted bookmarks. Or, of course, you could ditch the idea of favours altogether – they’re not essential!

Eco-friendly entertainment could include:

  • Renting lawn games
  • Using seasonal fare for games! E.g. haybales to create a bowling alley or apples for apple bobbing
  • Using items you already have to create games. This could include bringing along board games to scatter around the seating area or muddy wellies for welly-wanging!
  • A scavenger hunt for the kids – create a list of natural items to find e.g. a pebble, some moss etc
  • Homemade quizzes
sustainable wedding flowers in colours of green and purple in repurposed handmade glassware
gorgeous sustainable wedding flowers in colours of red, yellow and green - in repurposed handmade glassware on a magical wedding tablescape

FLOWERS

Flowers are so absolutely beautiful… but the way they are grown can be really harmful to the planet.

It’s estimated that around 90% of the flowers sold in the UK are imported from other countries. Flower farms are industrial – a far cry from the image of an idyllic meadow we may have in our minds. Instead, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are sprayed causing huge damage to all forms of life (human, animal, plant etc). In places such as Kenya, lands have been taken from local communities to grow flowers on a mass scale for the European market – causing environmental issues such as toxic run-off. Often workers at these farms receive low pay and unacceptable living conditions.

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What about buying British?

Buying British flowers does not guarantee that they have been grown in a sustainable way. Flowers are still grown using pesticides and chemical fertilisers, out of season and to huge detriment to all life forms. Not to mention the single use plastic they come in too! 

What to look for?

If buying imported, look for accreditation such as Fair-trade or Florverde. Find your local flower farm, that is organic or doesn’t use any nasties on their flower-fields, and grows seasonally. Flower companies that work with nature and her seasons rather than against her. Businesses that take care of the animals and wildlife that call their flower-fields their home. Dried flower companies (that don’t use bleach or dye) are a great option too – and these will last you for a lot longer. Or you could of course grow/forage your own – tying together with a lovely bit of twine!

How to buy flowers sustainably for your wedding?

  • Opt to buy from a local, sustainable flower farm
  • Go for dried flowers instead (with no bleach or dye)
  • Use potted plants instead! These could then be given to guests after the wedding or come home with you to continue their life
  • Ask florists not to use floral foam. This stuff is a single-use plastic, can’t be recycled, won’t break down in landfill and releases harmful toxins that are damaging to animals and humans

Hopefully there are some sustainable tips and tricks there that’ll help you plan one dreamy day for: you as a couple, your guests, our fellow animal friends and Mother Nature. Let us know if anything inspired you or helped your ideas along – we’d love to hear from you!

To find out more about throwing sustainable celebrations, check out our journal on hosting a candle-lit dinner & this one on planning a Christmas party!

And, of course, sign up to our gorgeous mailing-list for all things sustainable interiors, gentle wellbeing & seasonal magick:

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