12 green ideas for an eco-friendly wedding

Did you know it’s estimated that the average UK wedding emits up to 21 tons of carbon dioxide? This is the equivalent of what the average Brit produces in almost four years. Yikes! Now that’s a scary thought, huh? 

It’s sadly well-known that weddings are often hugely wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. Just think about it… Single-use outfits are generally the go-to, guests travel from miles around, and excess food and cut flowers are tossed away.

But if you’re an earth-loving, eco-conscious couple and want to reduce your wedding’s effect on the environment, the good news is that there are plenty of sustainable alternatives around, without skimping on style.

From reducing electricity and fuel to re-purposing and giving back, here are 12 ideas to help your dream wedding be a green wedding too. 

Rings

Green wedding planning can begin as early as ring shopping. Rather than buying a brand new engagement ring, how about going vintage, and buying a gorgeous retro ring that will be unique and eco-friendly?

As another suggestion, if you have heirloom jewellery which isn’t worn or particularly liked, you could have the gold melted down and have any stones reset into a design of your own making. This is what my fiancé did – with the help of talented jeweller Justin Duance who brought his vision to life – and I absolutely love my engagement ring!

My engagement ring uses gold and diamonds from my Grandma’s engagement ring, with a new sapphire (my favourite stone) cast into the ring. The whole ring was then sand cast using sand from the beach near where I grew up to add a bit of texture. Our wedding bands have been made the same way too, with family gold. Since both of us are not massive jewellery wearers, these are rings that will be worn with love and are full of meaning.

Now it doesn’t come much more unique and personalised than that, does it?!

Invitations

As much as it’s a delight to hear that gentle thud as a gorgeous wedding invitation lands on your doormat, paper invites are sadly not very planet-friendly. 

So why not go digital instead? 

Going digital saves money on postage and also means that you can check the analytics to make sure your invitations have all been delivered and opened, as well as easily keep track of RSVPs. Paperless Post and Green Envelope are popular options. 

If paper invitations are a must, then look for stationers who use recycled paper. Seed paper invitations are also a great idea as they can be planted after to grow flowers, herbs or vegetables. (Check out Poppy and Thistle‘s lovely eco-friendly wedding stationery designs for some inspiration.)

Another good idea is to set up a wedding website. You can add all the info your guests will need – e.g. accommodation, travel, menu, gift list, wedding day timeline etc – and can easily update it when you need to. 

stained glass windows at Holy Trinity Church, Privett

Venue

Before you book, ask each potential venue about their sustainability practices. At a minimum make sure they don’t use plastic plates, glasses or cutlery and that they take recycling seriously. 

Travel

You may have your heart set on getting married in a particular part of the world. But if you’re happy to get married locally or wherever most of your guests are based, this will of course reduce the amount of fuel your event exhausts. 

Having your ceremony and reception at the one venue is also a great idea. It will not only reduce travel stress getting from A to B on the day, but it will lower carbon emissions. 

Or if you do have more than one venue, you could hire a bus to take guests from one place to the other, removing the need for multiple cars. Plus if you have a bus to deliver your guests safely to wherever they’re staying at the end of the night, they’ll really thank you for it. After all, no one wants to have to worry about going over the alcohol limit or having any hefty taxi costs to pay!

chocolate moose in shot glasses

Food and Drink

Request locally sourced, seasonal food where possible. And if it’s fitting, you might want to think about serving a fully vegetarian meal for a lower impact on the earth.

What about wine? Look for organic, and environmentally-conscious wine producers. Remember too, that single-serve packaging creates more waste, so instead order bigger glass bottles like magnums that can be easily recycled.

Leftovers

Rather than tossing leftover food in the bin, encourage your guests (and vendors) to take any leftovers home with them. You can also consider donating any extra food to a nearby shelter or food charities. 

If you enjoy a takeaway every once in a while do hang onto those plastic takeaway boxes. They can come in very handy for wedding leftovers. 🙂

up-cycled wine bottles and jam jars

Décor

Why bring in decorations if they already exist at your venue? When booking your venue, look for spaces that offer details that already fit your wedding style. For example, botanical gardens give you instant floral décor, and greenhouses feel lush without the need to add cut flowers. Plus, by doing this, you’ll also save money, so it’s a win-win!

Single-use anything obviously isn’t good for the environment. The good news is that there are plenty of companies geared towards renting décor and other bits and pieces you need/want for your wedding. Consider a hire companies, such as The Luxe Design Company, for reusable items such as linens, candelabras, signage etc.

You could also think about what you can recycle or up-cycle. For example, you could use old jam jars as flower vases and wine bottles filled with fairy lights to add a little sparkle to your tables. 

pink blossom and candlelight

Lighting

Limit the amount of electricity you use by choosing to illuminate your wedding reception by candlelight. As well as being eco-friendly, the flickering light will create a gorgeously romantic mood. 

Do bear in mind however that not all venues allow candles due to fire safety regulations, so do ask your venue whether or not candles are allowed ahead of time, so you’re not disappointed. 

There are lots of eco-friendly candle companies out there, making soy wax candles using using the high quality ethically sourced and eco friendly sustainable ingredients. Hazel and Blue Candles and The Rhubarb Candle Company are two examples.

wedding dress hanging on a door

Wedding fashion

If you fancy a mint condition dress at an affordable price whilst doing your bit for the planet, have a look at charity shops or second hand websites. You might be surprised! Oxfam have a large range of pre-loved bridal gowns, and more than 95% are new and come straight from designers and bridal shops as they change stock every season. Recycle my Wedding is another a great place to look for wedding dresses.

There are also a number of dress designers who pride themselves in being ethical and sustainable, such as Indiebride London and Brides Do Good

You could also go non-traditional and choose an amazing dress in your favourite colour that you can wear again. Or if your heart is set on wearing white, you could always get it dyed and altered after your wedding so it’s more wearable. 

Selling your dress (hello honeymoon fund!) or donating your dress to charity after your big day is of course an option. 

And chaps, rather than purchasing matching suits or tuxes for you and your groomsmen, consider renting instead. For example Moss Bros have a wide selection with branches across the UK.  

Hair and Makeup

When booking your hair and makeup stylist, ask about their product choices. Make sure the makeup and hair products they use are eco-friendly and aren’t tested on animals.

dried flower button hole

Flowers 

While you may have visions of having your wedding day filled with fresh flowers, rose arches and a flowing bouquet, the reality is that with fresh cut flowers being grown abroad and shipped it can be wasteful and have a huge impact on the environment. So, if you’re looking for a more sustainable, eco-friendly option, best to use seasonal flowers grown locally.

Or how about dried flowers?

There are specialist dried flower florists who create beautiful displays, so it doesn’t have to be a compromise. There are even more benefits besides. With dried flowers, you get to keep your bouquet in the same condition and quality as it was on your wedding day, and you’re not limited to choosing seasonal flowers. The Artisan Dried Flower Company have a great range from bridal bouquets, flower crowns to dog collars! 

Another alternative to fresh cut flowers, is to use potted plants or trees to decorate your venue that will live long past your wedding day.

Rose petal confetti in hands

Confetti

Although it looks pretty, confetti is a big no-no if you’re trying to have a green wedding. The good news is that there are lots of eco-friendly alternatives, such as rose petals, lavender and dried leaves. 

Have a look at Shropshire Petals and their gorgeous array of biodegradable confetti. Their natural confetti is available in all sorts of colours too. And you can even pick and mix, so you choose the exact colours you want!

Gifts

Instead of having a gift list, why not ask your guests to donate to a charitable cause? Bonus points if it’s an environmental one, such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth or others which support wildlife conservation, tree planting or protect the oceans. Your guests will feel good and you’ll feel good. 

And there you have it! Those were my top tips for an eco-friendly wedding. I hope they’re useful?

If you have any other great ideas for a green wedding, I’d love to know, so do pop them in a comment below. 



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