Although weddings are magical days for you and your guests, they are not usually the most environmentally friendly events.
They often involve lots of wasted food, packaging and decorations that are thrown away once the event is over, and having all your guests travel to the event can create a huge carbon footprint.
As people become more aware of their impact on the environment, the demand is growing for how they can celebrate their wedding in a more eco-friendly way.
Here are some tips on how you can plan your wedding so its negative impact on the environment is reduced as far as possible.
1. Pick a local venue designed to hold big events:
One of the biggest ways that a wedding can negatively impact the environment is through the carbon dioxide produced when hundreds of guests have to travel a long distance to get to the location.
The easiest way to reduce these carbon emissions is by picking a wedding location that is close to where you and the majority of your guests live.
If you live in a city and want a spacious outdoor wedding, then choose a small town just outside of your city.
By far the most environmentally damaging mode of transport is flight, so if you can avoid having guests fly in as far as possible then this should have a hugely positive effect on the environmental friendliness of your wedding.
You can also reduce the waste produced by your wedding by picking a venue that is specifically designed to host big events.
As these venues host large gatherings regularly they will already have the infrastructure in place to meet you and your guest’s needs and will be able to reuse these resources over and over again.
Avoiding having to buy, transport, and eventually dispose of a marquee will further reduce the wastefulness of your wedding, so try to find a venue which has all these things in place.
In addition to protecting the environment, this will also save you and your guest’s hassle and potentially money.
2. Decorate your wedding with items that you can reuse:
All too often wedding decorations end up getting thrown away once the big day is over.
Decorating your wedding with items that can be reused is one of the simplest ways that you can reduce the amount of waste generated by your wedding.
One of the best ways to do this is by having decorations that are designed to be taken home as keepsakes. For example, rather than signifying your seating arrangement with pieces of paper with your guests’ names, you can use drinks bottles with personalized labels.
Rather than being thrown away at the end of the wedding, these bottles can be taken home by guests and use to decorate the house or to put flowers in.
Another way to reduce the wastefulness of wedding decorations is to use organic, biodegradable products.
Dried flower petals, for example, can replace confetti. These can be sourced from you or your guests’ gardens.
3. Be conscious of paper waste with your Eco-friendly wedding invitations:
Paper currently makes up 25% of our landfill waste. As much as we love elegant and elaborate wedding invitations, if they are thrown away once the event is over then this is hardly an efficient use of paper.
The most obvious way of reducing paper waste from wedding invites is to use digital invitations. You can make beautiful invites for free using graphic design software like Canva. You can even create video invites personalized for each of your guests.
If you want to send out physical invites, then make sure that you use recycled paper, you can ask your card manufacturer about this. You will also want to make sure that your guests recycle their cards and can include a line at the bottom of the card gently reminding them to do so.
Remember that if you decorate your card with non-paper based items such as ribbon and glue then this will make it much harder to recycle.
4. Have a plan for leftover food:
No-one wants to under-cater for their wedding. Therefore having leftover food is inevitable.
Wasted food gets put in landfill and as it degrades it produces more methane than many other types of waste.
You may want to consider having a plan for any leftover food. You can either organize to have it taken to a food-bank, or create a system for staff and guests to take it home after the ceremony.
5. Eco-friendliness can extend to wedding gifts:
If you are truly committed to having a sustainable wedding then you should encourage your guests to give you wedding gifts that promote this cause.
You can ask your guests to make gifts themselves or have a list of environmentally friendly retailers that you want your gifts to be brought from.
If you are less keen on receiving gifts, ask your guests to give a donation to a charitable cause as their gift to you.
About the Author: Didier Penine is the owner of Say it With Champers, a UK based company that creates champagne gifts with personalized labels.