Step away, Red Wedding. Green is the new white! If you're a bride or groom to be and torn between your fantasy wedding and sense of morality, don't fret. There are decisions you can make that will drastically reduce the impact of your wedding. And I'm not talking about eloping or micro-weddings either (though a small wedding is the greenest choice).
Keep in mind that you don't have to be ethical for your wedding (or ever, really). A wedding is a beautiful event where you choose each other over everything else. Splurge, make it as small or big as you want it to be, because you'll (likely) only do it once in your life. But if you have the headspace for it, why not go a little bit green?
The first step to planning your wedding and not losing your marbles is to let go of all the must-do's and must-have's. Expectations turn your wedding into a race, instead of a journey. Before you know it, you have a ring on your finger with no memory of your actual wedding day but for blistered feet and an elaborate runbook with a minute-by-minute description of forced romance and people managing. It's not a job - it's a celebration. So let loose, focus on friends and family, enjoy the moment, go with the flow, and do it as you like it.
Here are five tips for the eco-conscious couple.
Looking Fresh: The Dress & Suit
A sustainable brand.
One of the biggest purchases you'll make is your wedding attire. Plenty of sustainable brands provide wedding attire. Find an overview of sustainable dress brands here. Check some sustainable suits here.
Focus on the tailor, not the dress.
The most sustainable option is to buy a dress second-hand. In the Netherlands, we have a website called 'yes I did', where you can buy and sell wedding dresses. A good tailor can make massive alterations to any dress, personalising it to your body and style!
Keep it Local
A destination wedding is lovely, but not very environmentally friendly. Choose a location that's easy to reach by public transit and that, ideally, requires little to no air travel.
Food brings people together. At our wedding, we prioritised food - it was important that there was enough, it was good, and it fit us. We ended up going with a small pizza baker who did absolutely amazing! Of course, we bought way more than was needed. But we ate the leftovers in the week afterwards.
Just because you LOVE food, doesn't mean you have to wreck the environment. When choosing a caterer, or talking catering with your venue, discuss local, organically sourced and seasonal foods. Going vegetarian or vegan helps too, but nothing really beats local.
Our caterer made pizza, all items are rented.
We reused items we already had.
Stationery, Decorations & Gifts
Skip the paper.
The engagement flutters are tickling your tummy, and you're googling 'how to do wedding', leading to websites with musts and do's: you simply must have a save-the-date ánd a wedding invitation ánd party favors. Right? Nope! It's your wedding. For our wedding, we simply asked all the people we wanted to be there in person instead of sending a save-the-date. We did print invitations, but on recycled paper. You can go fully digital if you want, or skip most of the paperwork while spending a little extra on a statement piece, like the invitation. If you're printing, you can choose recycled paper or growing paper - an awesome benefit to growing paper is that you don't create waste and your guests can use your stationery to increase biodiversity.
Wedding decor is one of those things that you buy once, and never again. If you can, opt to rent. Keeping in mind the environment, there are some decoration options that can be harmful. Steer away from glitter, toxic candles, confetti and especially balloons: released balloons often end up in the ocean where their ribbons strangle wildlife, and the plastics end up in their stomachs or in the plastic soup. So if you simply must have balloons, make sure you collect and discard them properly at the end. Or opt for bubble blowing for an awesome photo moment instead, or pick some dried lavender heads for your flower children! Freshly cut flowers are expensive and not very sustainable. You can opt for potted or dried flowers instead, or skip the flowers for a creative alternative altogether. For decoration, go around second hand stores and bring out your DIY set: we used leftover wood to create signs, table pieces and more!
We rented all table items and added rosemary and lavender from our garden.
Using an old pallet, we created a collage of our family history as a DIY decor project.
Nobody should tell you that a wedding favor is a must. If people feel entitled to a present in order to come to your wedding, they're not friends. But if you want to give people a little memento, choose something that they will actually use: like a food item, or something versatile. Skip the bottle openers and keyrings, and instead get people sturdy socks, a map with local hikes, a seed bomb or something else that fits a green lifestyle. We opted for a heart-shaped carabiner with a seed paper thank-you card.
If you have the option, an outdoor wedding is cheap and sustainable. But if you don't want to be left to the whims of wind and weather, you might find yourself scouting locations. Those lucky enough with a family member who own a roomy farm, can consider such an option. But a venue is the most attainable option for most.
Your venue should help you reach your standards within your budget. So if you want to have an organically-sourced menu, your venue is there to arrange it. So discuss all your needs and priorities upfront to find out whether they have the capabilities to fulfil them and whether you and the location are a good fit.
Rent, rent, rent.
A wedding in a backyard is great, but you'll be buying a lot of stuff to make it happen - unless you can rent. At a venue, you simply tell them what decor you want and they will make it happen, no decor wasted, as the next couple will simply use them again!
Our rented chairs with ribbons and lavender from our garden; the paper is from an old watercolour paper sheet!
Now that you're both happily married, it's time to leave for the honeymoon. If you want to maintain your green streak, focus on romance over distance: find a destination nearby that you can reach by train, but that has you wallowing in romance and sustainable luxury. Or if you're not into luxury, consider a romantic tent-holiday at a nearby mountain range - nothing beats you and your lover surrounded by lush mountain views and fresh air, without people to infringe on your privacy.
Hopefully, this helps you and your love plan your wedding with your mind at ease. But remember: your wedding is yours, and no one should make you feel guilty about how you want to celebrate it. So discuss first how you want it to be, and then look at how you can make that happen, sustainably.
Photography: Rob Veldman Fotografie