How to plan an eco friendly wedding
Often couples plan an eco friendly wedding as their way to demonstrate to family and friends that this is the lifestyle they have chosen and that they care about the impact that a large event like this can have on the environment. But for any couple interested in planning a sustainable wedding, it's a good idea to start with an open frame of mind.
One of the first steps in wedding planning is choosing a venue. A truly sustainable ceremony might take place in a venue powered by solar panels and illuminated by light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, and wiped down afterwards with eco friendly cleaning products. When scouting out venues, ask how the facility handles food and drink, table settings and trash, to see if it’s done in an eco friendly way.
The best caterers for a sustainable wedding, minimise waste of resources and use locally sourced ingredients.
A list of questions to ask might be:
- Do they recycle paper, plastics, cans and glass if it can’t be done on-site.
- Do they offer local and organic food choices.
- Do they serve food on reusable dish ware that’s washed and reused after the event.
- Can you provide utensils like palm leaf plates that are biodegradable in an approved commercial composting facility.
- Do they provide condiments, beverages, sides and other items without individual packaging.
- Do they donate left-over food scraps to an agency like OzHarvest, Second Bite, FareShare, Food Bank or other organisations that support the homeless by distributing surplus food.
One example of a green local venue is the beautiful Kanimbla View Clifftop Retreat set in the heart of the world heritageBlue Mountains. Kanimbla is a breathtaking 12 acre ecotourism retreat with spectacular views of the Kanimbla Valley. Located on the Shipley Plateau at Blackheath, just two hours by car or train from Sydney. Kanimbla offers the perfect venue for an intimate eco friendly wedding, where you can either prepare your own meal in their recently renovated commercial kitchen, or enjoy the culinary talents of chef, Tony Barlow. The Lodge dining area can accommodate up to 22 people. The lower level is an informal living space that sweeps round the fire and looks out through tall sash windows onto beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland. The Lodge also has its own sound system, two bathrooms, and a spacious outdoor deck and BBQ area.
Before any of this can happen, you have to alert your friends and family to your upcoming nuptials with an invitation. If you’re planning a sustainable wedding, that can mean breaking with tradition.
For traditional weddings, “the invitation is really what sets the tone for the event, often employing the upcoming wedding’s colours and motif. But more and more green-minded couples are dispensing with printed save-the-date notices and formal printed wedding invitations. One eco friendly alternative is the online invitation website Evite, which offers about 50 free wedding/engagement announcement designs that can be customised with the couple’s event information and sent out to their friends and family via email and Facebook. The guest list is updated in real time; you can opt to be notified when guests RSVP or comment, and can export your guest list to an Excel spreadsheet for easy access.
The Wedding Dress
These days, eco friendly wedding dresses are becoming more and more popular thanks to the popularity that is building on the importance of planning an eco friendly type of wedding. There are a number of wedding dress designers worldwide, who showcase a variety of wedding dresses to choose from whether you are tall and lean, voluptuous and short, petite and slim. Because of this, choices for environment friendly pieces have become aplenty, making it more competitive with non eco friendly dresses. One choice would be Threadhead Creations on Etsy.
The least expensive and best green option is considering a second hand gown or those dresses that are being passed from one generation to another. You may need to do a little cleaning or alterations, but a second hand gown is always the best way to stay sustainable on your wedding day. If you think these dresses are going to be cheap or tacky, think again. Websites like Preownedweddingdresses.com sell designer dresses like Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier (which retail at up to $15,000) for half price, and sometimes even less.
The Bridesmaid Dress
Bridesmaids may wear dresses they had already purchased for some other occasion or bought at vintage shops. These days there are no rules as to what to wear especially if you have the environment in mind while planning your green wedding.
The Grooms Attire
Both Groom and groomsmen are encouraged to rent rather than buy tuxedos unless the Groom is sure he will get a lot of further use out of it. If your groom has his own kind of style why not consider putting together a second hand ensemble from a thrift or vintage store.
When you look at generations gone by, your grandmother would have chosen flowers that were handy. Give your florist a general style and colour scheme, and any flowers that you dislike, but generally allow them flexibility so they can use what's in season and readily available locally. Though local choices may be limited, it’s easy to be creative. Think out of the box and incorporate things like herbs, fruits and even vegetables, using whatever is fresh you can create an interesting and eco-friendly arrangement. Being conscious of the season when planning the date can also create a positive impact. If your heart is set on a certain species choose to get married at the time of the year that particular flower will be in season. Just because strawberries are available year-round doesn’t mean they taste great all year, the same goes for flowers. For something really different you could get crafty and make your bouquet out of fabric and buttons as shown on our blog.
Carbon dioxide levels are now at 400 parts per million so consider using low-carbon transportation when the big day arrives by searching for a green alternative to your standard limo company or you could hire a Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius to make a real eco statement. Inspire guests to get leave their cars at home and hop on a bus or train instead of taking a taxi. If you simply can't arrange sustainable transport you can offset your emmissions - Easy Being Green offer an all-in-one wedding carbon neutral package.
There's no doubt that ensuring your guests are dazzled by your choice of decor, is a huge part of creating the atmosphere for your reception. Get creative, there are so many simple things you can do like the photo above. If you don't have a lot of time rather than depleting the earth’s resources by purchasing your decor, many couples choose to rent them instead, from places such as lovestruckweddings.com.au.
Don't stress! Trying to make your wedding completely eco friendly may be overwhelming, but by choosing the important parts to “green up” can make all the difference. It’s not just about being the most eco-friendly, it’s about working in the right direction to make a difference. In the end knowing that you have made an effort to protect the planet, is well worth it.
For more natural wedding advice visit our green wedding ideas & green events blog.