Wedding invites are incredibly expensive and waste lots of paper and stamps too. At Paperless Post, you can send out some beautiful e-invites, which not only save you time and money, but they make it much easier for the recipients to RSVP. Which in turn gives you an easy way of keeping track of your guest list.
You can also save time, trees, and money with Greenvelope, a Seattle-based company that delivers elegant and easy-to-use electronic invitation service. Their designs are exclusively created by a community of indie designers and they contribute a portion of all sales to environmentally-focused non-profits. You can always print off a small selection of paper invites for those close to you who may want to keep one as a souvenir, but we think this is a great paper-saving device for the majority of the guests.
No, we’re not going to suggest you wear hemp shorts and a Greenpeace t-shirt on your big day. Just because you are ethically minded, doesn’t mean you don’t want to look fierce.
But there are some slightly eco-friendlier options when it comes to finding your dress.
Unless you’re planning to go with something completely untraditional that you know you’re going to wear again and again, hiring a dress could be a good option.
Many local wedding dress companies have a hire option. Not only is it ethically sound to hire instead of buy, it also saves you having to store such a bulky item in your wardrobe for the next 50 years.
Alternatively, Oxfam and many other charities, sell second-hand wedding dresses on their sites.
For anyone based in the UK, we love Ashwell&Co which stock real-deal vintage dresses from the 1900s to the 1980s.
Who knows, you could pick yourself up a vintage designer bargain, unique from anything else you’ve seen this wedding season. And you can always donate it back to them afterwards, to help another bride to share the joy.
Finding ethical flowers can be more of a challenge than finding “The One”. And can take almost as much time.
80% of the UK’s flowers are flown in from abroad- most from over 3000 miles away. Added to that, florists often use materials that aren’t biodegradable.
But we all know how “blooming” marvellous (sorry, we couldn’t resist), a good flower display looks at a wedding.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to ethically source your blossoms, buds, and bouquets. Local eco florists are available in most areas, and if you are going to buy from one of them, do let them know you are happy to take “seconds”. These are the flowers pointing in the “non-upwards” direction and usually get chucked.
Shop Local – Many farms and local markets sell locally grown flowers. You can shop around, getting a selection from a variety of local suppliers, or if you give enough notice, you might find one who would be happy to grow them specifically for you.
Even better, if you have the time and resources, why not grow your flowers yourself? We know it’s difficult for most people, especially city dwellers, to find the space to grow all their own flowers, but why not farm out the task to friends and relatives? Your green-fingered Aunty would no doubt be delighted to gift you a gorgeous homegrown bouquet as your wedding present.
Go Wild – Nothing pretties up a boho wedding like a bunch of wild flowers. We’ve even heard of “Picking Parties”, where brides take a bottle or two of wine, a picnic, and a group of friends to a local farm (with the farmer’s permission of course), to pick their own wild flowers. A slightly classier activity for a hen weekend than a trip to see the Dreamboys (although there’s always room for both).
Get Creative – Cut down on your flower consumption, by trying something totally different for your table centerpieces.
Think about things you love, and incorporate them into the decorations. Used books, candles, even Lego! All sorts of items can be used in the place of flowers. We especially love things the guests can take away with them, so there is no waste on the day.
Speaking of alternative decorations, don’t feel like you have to blow the budget to make the place look pretty.
Items like bunting, or vintage crockery can always be sourced through friends and family, or even great sites like Freecycle.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends of friends who have recently had weddings whether they have any decorations lying around that they would be happy to lend you for the day. Most brides would be delighted to know their lovingly picked decorations will get another outing.
Decorate Your Wedding with Words
This is your big chance to tell the people you love just how much you love them, and thank all the people who have contributed to the wedding in any way. But don’t forget to make it funny as well as heartfelt!
If the thought of writing a speech gives you the cold dread sweats, don’t panic. Speechy website has a wealth of hints and tips to help, and if you’re still in need of a little support, you can buy a speech template, or purchase a bespoke speech from them. Their entire team are TV comedy writing professionals, so they know exactly what they are doing. You can even get coaching on your delivery.
Most people will be delighted with a funny, heartfelt speech, and you can even get it printed up to share with your nearest and dearest, instead of giving them a generic gift, which will probably gather dust in their cupboard.
There are some fabulous eco-friendly wedding venues all across the country. Hold your wedding in the summer, and you are less likely to need heating or lighting, and you can even hold parts of the day outside.
These days, loads of great venues are eco-friendly, and can help to keep your carbon footprint low, whilst still being elegant and luxurious. Don’t forget though, the easiest way to lower your carbon footprint is to hold the wedding as close to as many guests as possible, so they don’t have to travel too far.
If guests are travelling, why not hire a double-decker bus from the local train station, to encourage guests to leave their cars at home? We love these classic Routemasters. If glitter is more your thing, take a look at Eco Stardust – all their products are biodegradable and come in recyclable tins or biodegradable bags. They also give 10% of net profits to environmental charities. And they’re just bloody ace.
Remember to check with your venue whether this is allowed, however, as some don’t approve of the cleanup! Many venues nowadays refuse to allow non-biodegradable confetti, which we think is ace. But there is something romantic and traditional about that confetti shot of a newly married couple.
Luckily, many companies sell petal confetti nowadays, and we especially like those that source wildflower petals, rather than hot house roses, like this company in Shropshire. Worried about increasing your carbon footprint by jetting off into the sunset?
Honeyfund is a gift registry with a conscience. Partnered with The Nature Conservancy, they offer lots of budget-friendly advice on reducing waste for your green wedding.
If you really can’t forego a far-flung destination, there is the option of buying energy offset credits to rebalance the environmental impact of your travels.
Support Good Causes
As couples are mostly marrying older nowadays, and usually head to the alter way after they’ve moved in together, the traditional idea of buying gifts to set the happy couple up in their new life seems somewhat redundant.
No one needs 8 sets of fancy cutlery, and 3 china sets for “best”. Unless of course, the Queen does pop round your house for tea on the regular.
So, a great idea is to ask your guests to donate to some of your favourite causes. This is not only a wonderful way to raise some money for issues close to yours and your partner’s heart, but also raises awareness of those issues with your guests.
We know you can’t change the world with just one event, and really, today is about you and your partner. So choose the things that delight you.
However, just making a few of these smarter choices can make a massive difference, and you can head off to your eco-friendly honeymoon knowing you haven’t just begun an exciting new adventure with your partner, but you’ve also done your bit for our wonderful planet.