Weddings are a celebration of love and life. And what better way to celebrate these values than by making your day as sustainable as possible. I won’t go into climate change facts or the reasons to reduce carbon emissions because you know that already, that’s why you’re reading this.
As much as we love the jubilant excitement of wedding celebrations, we have to be aware that weddings can be really wasteful events and the wedding sector has a major impact on carbon emissions. Between the travel, food, paper stationery and all those little, disposable extras, weddings can be expensive for you and for the planet.
You don’t want to skimp on your big day or feel like you are missing out on anything and we get that. So, here are some eco friendly alternatives that can help you to have it all while still being sustainable.
1. Opt for a pre-loved dress
Instead of buying a brand new dress that you will wear once, what about getting a pre-loved alternative? This can work really well as you can get a designer gown at a better price and also reduce waste. And the money you save could be spent on some vintage accessories.
On a practical level, Oxfam offers a wedding section where you can make an appointment and try on dresses. There are also a growing number of vintage wedding dress suppliers. There is something lovely about giving a beautifully and carefully made garment the chance to shine again. You can have it all – the perfect dress at the best price and help the planet.
2. Go paperless for your wedding
Weddings involve a lot of paper. It may not be the first thing you think of when weddings come to mind, but that wedding stationery really adds up.Wedding stationery goes way beyond Save The Dates. There are… Save the Date cards, invitations, info sheets (often included with invitation), RSVP cards, thank you cards, envelopes for all these posted cards… and on the way there are ceremony booklets, menu cards & seating plan cards. When you add it up, that’s a lot of paper.
Eco-friendly, sustainable wedding invitations are key. Paperless wedding invitations are becoming more popular both in Ireland and around the world.
If you want to go with a paperless alternative that goes beyond invitations and Save the Dates, check out our Everything wedding app ‘Be Our Guest’. Our app is a mobile platform for you to communicate with your guests at every stage in the run up to your wedding and the big day itself and among our 75 (and growing) features, we’ve added a digital, paperless alternative for all the wedding stationery.
This is also a flexible option. We are living in uncertain times. Many weddings are being postponed. If you need to send Change The Dates, it’s free and easy to do this with Be Our Guest.
3. Opt for an Eco friendly venue
There are a growing number of wedding venues who go above and beyond to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. These venues are run with sustainability in mind and this comes across in every aspect of the venue and their policies. They aim to reduce food waste, prevent the need for disposable plastic and they often come with a verified list of eco-friendly suppliers whom they’ve worked with in the past.
4. Advice guests about single-use, disposable items
Ban single use items like coffee cups or water bottles at your wedding – or at least mention that you’d prefer guests to use sustainable alternatives. A good reminder can often be more effective than imposing a ban on anything!
Many eco friendly venues already impose this ban. Personally, I hate the idea of banning something and I doubt it’s effectiveness. Instead, I’d opt for advising and reminding guests about the problems associated with disposable bottles, cups, plastic food containers, cameras, etc. This is where communication is key.
5. Have guests order food in advance – (guests can do this with beourguest.app) or opt for a banquet style meal to reduce food waste
One way to reduce the waste impact of your wedding is to reduce wedding food waste.
There are a few ways to do this. First, you could have a buffet or banquet style wedding. This can be great in terms of reducing food waste but it could be challenging for any guests with allergies or dietary requirements as it can lead to cross contamination. It can also be uncomfortable for guests if they feel that they have to compete with other guests to get to the food!
Another option is to ask guests in advance what meal options they will choose. Yes, this removes the element of surprise, but for many guests, it also helps them to relax and enjoy the wedding better as they are not worrying about whether they will enjoy the meal. This can really help to dramatically reduce wedding food waste.
As well as the sustainability impact, pre-choosing meals makes the event less stressful for the wedding venue and this can give the waiting staff the opportunity to dedicate more time to every guest as they are not as run off their feed, leading to a better guest experience.
6. Go local
For sustainable weddings, you can’t go wrong when you source stuff locally. Carbon emmissions from transporting and storing foods, flowers and other items can really have an impact on the environment.
Many florists now offer locally grown flowers and the same goes for other wedding components. Shopping local also helps to keep our economy going and ensures that we still have our little, homegrown businesses which enrich the tapestry of our lives.
7. Offer shared transport for guests to and from wedding venues
For example you could provide a bus from your wedding venue to your ceremony location and back.
There are many benefits to providing guest transport between wedding venues. This is particularly useful if your wedding ceremony and reception are in different locations and if many of our guests are staying at the same hotel.
Providing a bus to transport your guests means that they can leave their cars at home. If your reception is in a different location from the guest accommodation this also provides guests with the opportunity to drink alcohol and they don’t have to worry about booking taxis.
The wedding bus experience can also be an awesome bonding experience for your wedding guests and provides them with a unique way to get to know other wedding guests. With Be Our Guest, you can collect guest names for group transport and share this with your transport provider.
8. Provide vegan options, in-season options and local foods where possible
Always give your guests a good meal and try to cater for everyone, that’s a given. But, if you’re vegan or just open to vegan food, why not have a vegan main meal, evening buffet or welcome reception? Vegan food can be delicious, full of colour, texture and flavour and is often healthy too.
As well as this, vegan food tends to be much better for the environment.If you have vegetarians, vegans or flexitarians attending your wedding, provide them with vegan options. This is a no-brainer. But you can also incorporate more vegan options into your wedding meals as starters, sides and evening buffet. This makes your meal more inclusive and also reduces carbon emissions as many vegan foods, especially those made with locally grown, in season fruits and vegetables. If you can afford to go organic, that’s brilliant too!
9. Travelling to your honeymoon
Trains, boats and fantastic staycations are becoming more popular, especially with train transport getting better all the time.
Trains are the new planes. We often think of honeymoons as beach paradises that we can only reach by airplane. There is an expectation placed on couples to travel to far flung, expensive destinations. But your honeymoon can be anything you want it to be. If you would prefer a luxury glamping holiday at home or a train journey adventure stopping in fascinating places, that’s up to you.
If you have enough time, travelling by boat or train can be really pleasant and you can incorporate the travelling into your honeymoon as something enjoyable by booking luxury cabins or getting first class train tickets.
Getting to the same destination via land or sea travel is much more sustainable than air travel and can be a lot more relaxing too.
10. The little things
Remember that it’s your big day. Have it your way. If you can’t do everything on this list, pick what can do and make that happen.
Check out our 75 FEATURE Wedding App Be Our Guest. Save the Date and save the planet with ‘Be Our Guest’.