Sustainable Weddings. Going green without compromising style

Jan 27, 2021 | Weddings

Image credit Rockrose Photography

Having a sustainable wedding is very definitely a continuing upward trend as our desire to lead a more planet friendly lifestyle grows.

More and more brides and grooms are placing the sustainability of their wedding high on their priority list and are looking for constructive and creative ways for it to be more sustainable.

Etsy’s trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson confirm this and is quoted as saying about 2020 weddings that “ couples are casting aside traditions that don’t fit with their vibe, and making their big day a celebration of what’s most important to them, from inclusivity to sustainability”.

I don’t believe anything has changed.  Weddings are one of the happiest days of a couple’s life.  They are a unifying event bringing everyone together in a celebration of love.  Feasting, dancing and much merriment.

Sadly they are not sustainable and more and more couples are wanting to right that.However being so considered about your wedding planning is not easy.  But don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge.

So how do you go about making your big day a sustainable and safe event without sacrificing your style.  Here are some great tips.

Smaller celebrations

Small weddings have become a necessity because of the pandemic.    But even before the onset of Covid couple’s concerns for the state of the planet had already begun to influence the ongoing trend for elopements and micro weddings.

Many more modern couples are not wanting a wedding full of excesses and were already beginning to keep the guest lists small.

The smaller the venue, the fewer the guests and therefore the lower the impact.  Fewer guests equals fewer resources and overall carbon cost.

sustainable weddingsImage credit DHW Photography

Choosing a sustainable venue

There are now venues all over the country situated in woodlands, fields and eco friendly houses which pride themselves on offering sustainable wedding alternatives.

Each venue will differ in their approach as far as to the extent they go to being sustainable All have a shared agenda to protect the planet in whatever way they can and give you the big day of your dreams.

Here are two examples of such venues, local to me here in East Devon.  River Cottage is renown for its unparalleled home produced food and drink and breathktaking views.

Secondly,  Rock Farm a venue designed specifically with the intimate wedding in mind and putting sustainability at the heart.

Outdoor weddings are of course  an excellent way to save on energy.   There are countless options for holding your outside wedding ceremony.   Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of tying the knot in your family garden or on the beach.

You can exchange vows anywhere you like if you use the services of a wedding celebrant who can present ceremonies in any location.

Also consider a venue with accommodation.  The ‘weekend’ wedding is rightly a popular new concept.   Holding your wedding and reception in one place saving everyone from travelling is a great way to cut fuel emissions.

Consider not only the venue’s eco-credentials but also its location in relation to where you and the majority of guests will be travelling from.  The closer and more conveniently located the venue the smaller the carbon cost from travel.

sustainableImage credit: Kathryn Clarke McLeod

Use local suppliers

There are creative experts all over the country now not just in the bigger cities.  But like in all wedding planning – research is key and no more so than for a sustainable wedding.

You will find no difficulty in finding an excellent supplier be it a wedding planner, caterer, florist or photographer whose values and style align with your own.  Many now have environmental statements on their websites so don’t forget to check them out.

The advantages of choosing local suppliers are twofold whether a destination wedding venue or at home.   You cut the carbon emissions immediately and you are also supporting the local economy.

 What to ask the suppliers

When planning your wedding there are some ethical questions to ask your suppliers.  Here are some which may help guide you when meeting two of your main suppliers, the florist and caterer.

First up your caterer.  Ask if they offer a locally sourced and seasonal menu or can you bring in local caterers that can.  You simply can’t beat fresh, farm to fork ingredients.

Also enquire about what quantities are served to reduce leftovers and the possibilities of donating or recycling surplus food.

Ask your florist whether they source their flowers locally on a sustainable farm.  Are they grown with little or no pesticides?  Does the florist use wires, pebbles or stone as an alternative to the non-biodegradable floral foam?

Image credit: Kathryn Clarke McLeod

Minimising wedding waste

What you need to do is make your wedding as anti single use plastic free as possible, by reducing single use decorations and generally making efforts to eliminate waste.

Whilst researching this blog I read a report that suggested that 4,910 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic was used up and left behind at British weddings last year. That’s the equivalent to 47 Blue Whales.  To be honest it made me feel a little sick.

There are worse sustainability offenders than others.  And it’s scary how many things contain plastic.    Try to use recyclable or reusable items.

Ban disposables, including plastic straws, cups wherever possible and hire reusable crockery and cutlery instead or make sure your caterer does.

Hiring instead of buying is the greenest way to go and there are plenty of amazing specialist companies hiring props, furniture and accessories.

Paperless options for wedding stationery are increasingly popular for invitations and save the dates both of which can now be sent digitally.

And last but not least confetti.  There’s an easy alternative to traditional confetti.  If you still want a dramatic send off before your reception the natural route of dried flowers be it rose petals or lavender is just beautiful and biodegradable.

If beautiful stationery is a priority for you use companies  that are more sympathetic to the environment who print on eco friendly and recycled paper and use vegetable based inks.

sustainable weddindgsImage credit DHW Photography

What to wear

There are many options. Being sustainable does not mean you will look any less fabulous.

Fashion forward brides looking for cool comfortable alternatives to the norm have plenty of choice.  There are many popular wedding dress designers who focus on ethical production and eco friendly fabrics.

You can also give a pre-owned or vintage dress a second outing.   Princess Beatrice famously up-cycled one the of Queen’s dresses and Lyst reports that searches for “vintage” “second hand” or “pre-owned” wedding dresses are up 38% year on year.

Perhaps your Mum’s dress would fit or could be adapted.   This is a great sustainable option and there is also something magical about wearing a dress that was worn by someone is personal to you.

Grooms and ushers have been hiring their morning coats and wedding suits for years.  Moss Bros is a well known ‘go to’ who have created a range of eco-suit options.  But reports “brands and designers, please take note, there is a huge echoing void in menswear when it comes to eco-friendly, ethical, sustainable formal wear choices.  There’s clearly an opportunity for a budding fashion designer.

sustainable weddings

Image credit Caught the Light

In my opinion planning a sustainable wedding is just a change of thinking.  There is really no need to compromise too much on your style or vision for your day.  It just requires a little more research and the small changes you make have a major impact. So go for it.


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