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How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

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Bride and Groom on outdoors swing at Middle Coombe Farm

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Planning a sustainable, eco-friendly wedding might feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Just keeping a few things in mind when making your arrangements and hiring suppliers could make a massive difference to your wedding’s carbon footprint. Here’s our top tips for planning your very own eco wedding.

Keep it local

Think carefully about your choice of venue location and try to limit the travel time for as many guests as you can. Of course you’re likely to have guests travelling from various parts of the country, if not the world, but it can help to choose a venue within easy reach of a bulk of them. If you know several guests are coming from the same area, why not suggest carpooling, or even arrange for a minibus to escort them on the day? If your venue is within easy reach of a train station, let your guests know this on your invitations. Laying out the travel options clearly may encourage people to leave their cars at home for the day.

It’s also a good idea to think local when it comes to sourcing supplies that will need to be delivered to the venue on your wedding day. Ask your venue about the local suppliers they would recommend, and ideally try to find suppliers who can provide more than one service in order to limit the number of journeys, such as marquee and tipi suppliers.

Tipi setup with flowers, tables and sofas
Pictured: Tipi setup by Katah Events

Choose a sustainable venue

If an eco wedding is important to you, you need to be sure it’s also important to your venue. So ask those key questions before you book. What are their environmental credentials? What recycling facilities do they have in place? Where do they source their supplies? Can they add any special eco-friendly touches to your day?

You’ll find that some venues place sustainability high on their agenda, such as Folly Farm in Somerset which gift-aids all its profits back to the Avon Wildlife Trust to protect local wildlife and inspire people about the importance and benefits of nature. Or Welsh Green Weddings which gives you the opportunity to plant a Welsh organic fruit tree in the orchard as part of your celebrations.

Bride and groom in a horse drawn carriage
Pictured: Welsh Green Weddings

Go plastic free

We all know that plastic is having a disastrous impact on our planet. For this reason more and more people are trying to lead plastic-free lives – so why not adopt this idea for your wedding day?

Start by telling all the suppliers you contact that you want a plastic free wedding and ask if they can accommodate this. Most suppliers will have taken steps to limit their environmental impact, or will at least offer options for you to consider. If they can’t offer plastic-free packaging for the goods they deliver, why not shop local and pick up the supplies yourself?

If you’re having a sit-down meal then going plastic-free should be a doddle as you’ll have crockery and cutlery provided by your venue or caterer. For outdoor occasions with buffet-style catering this can be more tricky, so make sure you ask any caterers you contact what their plates, cups and cutlery are made from. If the answer is single-use plastics – move on!

Outdoor wedding breakfast

Of course a lot will go on behind the scenes on your wedding day and you can’t have control over everything, so be realistic – the mascara you’re wearing probably came in a plastic tube and the lettuce in your side salad may have come out of a plastic bag. But focusing on the things you can control and communicating your wishes to your venue and key suppliers can make a big difference.

Go vegan!

In recent years it’s become clear that the global meat and dairy industry with its massive consumption of fossil fuels is having a major impact on the planet – making vegetarianism and veganism the fastest growing trend we’ve seen for a very long time. So if you’ve cut out or cut down on meat and dairy, why not share the joys of plant-based food with all your wedding guests?

If your venue is providing the food, ask to sample their meat- and dairy-free options. Or if you’re using an outside supplier then there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan caterers in the market who specialise in catering for weddings and events. You might even convert your guests to a new way of life!

Stay in season

Keeping the season in mind is particularly important when choosing food and flowers for your big day. Any food not in season at the time of year you’re planning to get married will have to be flown in from abroad, and any flowers out of season will be grown using chemical aids. So speak to your venue, caterers and florist (if you use one) about what products they would recommend for the time of year.

Bowl of strawberries and jar of strawberry jam on picnic table

Skip the gifts

Unless told otherwise, it’s inevitable that your friends and family will arrive at your wedding armed with cards and gifts to congratulate you, but put them all together and you’re faced with A LOT of packaging. So why not think of an alternative way for guests to treat you – perhaps by contributing towards your honeymoon or house moving costs. And if you’d rather not receive weddings cards, explain that to your guests in your invitations, assuring them that their love and presence is by far enough.

Rethink the invites

While we’re on the subject of invitations, it would of course be counterproductive to use extra sheets of paper just to explain the ins and outs of your eco-friendly wedding to your guests! So why not send your invites by email, allowing you to say as much as you like? There are tons of beautiful invitation templates to choose from online, and you have the added bonus of receiving your RSVPs by email – a much easier way to keep track of who’s coming.

You could even create a wedding website and email the link round to all your guests. This provides a perfect platform for keeping all the key details of the day in one easily accessible place and of course for explaining your eco-wedding ethos to everyone.

If you would prefer to send physical invitations, try to source environmentally friendly ones using recyclable (or even plantable!) materials.

Shop pre-loved

Shopping for outfits, especially for ‘THE dress’, is often one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning. But keep in mind that whatever the bride, groom and bridal party wear will have undergone a timely design and manufacturing process, only to be worn for a single day. So why not opt for second-hand? There are a great many outlets, including charity shops, that hire or sell beautiful wedding outfits for a fraction of the price compared with buying new, and nobody will know the difference on the day!

Happy bride wearing a second-hand wedding dress

Make, do and mend

Let’s face it – every man-made item you order in for your wedding day will have undergone a manufacturing and shipment process at some point, no matter where you purchase it from. So to overcome this, why not adopt a DIY approach to your decor?

You can be as creative as you like with items from your own home or garden. Start with a rummage through your recycling – perhaps those empty wine bottles would look great filled with flowers and used as centrepieces, or could your cardboard boxes be cut up and decorated to use as place cards?

Nurseries and garden centres can also be great places to pick up reusable materials for your wedding, such as pallets for your ‘Order of the Day’ or mini plant pots for your wedding favours. And you can even return anything your guests don’t take away for them to reuse – or to pass on to another eco couple!

Wedding order of the day on pallet
Flowers in a wellington boot used as a wedding table centrepiece
Champagne glasses on a stepladder decorated with flowers at an outdoor wedding
Image by Fordtography

Go outdoors!

Of course here at Outdoor Ceremonies we’re all about the outdoors, but holding your wedding day outside is not just about creating a beautiful occasion – it can also limit your wedding’s carbon footprint.

Hosting your celebration outdoors makes the most of the natural beauty around us and reduces the number of decorative supplies you need to source. Some of the most beautiful weddings are the simplest ones that allow the natural setting to speak for itself.

Outdoor wedding ceremony at Hidden Valley in Surrey
Pictured: Hidden Valley

When it comes to light and heat, think about alternative ways to power your day to avoid the use of a generator. A good-quality speaker system can last all day on battery power and can be used for your ceremony, speeches and music. You could choose to keep the catering simple with a buffet or barbecue, and as night falls make use of lanterns and firepits to create a magical, glowing atmosphere under the stars.

If you’re still looking for that perfect venue, take a look at our extensive list of UK outdoor wedding venues – and start planning your outdoor, eco-friendly wedding today!

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