The demand for “green weddings” is on the rise – and not just to cut back on wedding waste but to save money as well. SodaStream eco ambassador and zero waste advocate, Kate Arnell, talks us through how she planned her low key and low waste eco-friendly wedding.
Planning an eco-friendly wedding
I found planning our wedding pretty straight forward. I’m a no-fuss girl who hates organising things so we kept it low-key (and low-waste!).
Some questions to think of when planning an eco-friendly wedding. Do we really need it? Can we hire or borrow it? What is it made from? Where will it end up?
I found The Natural Wedding Co directory to be a really useful resource and I’m also lucky that my husband loves a spreadsheet and did a lot of the admin, but essentially we wanted a small ceremony followed by a fun reception with a great band and lots of dancing!
Wearing a sustainable wedding dress
I hunted through charity shops for a good a second-hand dress but I couldn’t find anything I liked and time was a-ticking, so in the end I asked a friend who had just graduated from the London College of Fashion to make my dress using natural fabrics and vintage lace.
I wanted something I could wear again after the wedding day, so chose a fun style that didn’t look too bridal.
Eco-friendly wedding invitations
If you want actual invites, try using recycled paper that can be easily recycled again (no glitter!) or recycled wildflower seed paper that can be planted.
Eco-friendly wedding gifts
We really didn’t need any more ‘stuff’, so instead we set up a wedding list where people could contribute towards activities on our honeymoon.
Eco-friendly wedding decorations
We got married in the local town hall and then had a reception at a nearby restaurant, both of which already had some decorations, like fairy light, candles in glass jars and flowers already set up.
I asked a local florist at the back of a greengrocer’s for a small bouquet – try to look for British grown flowers, preferably without pesticides – Organic Blooms are British grown and certified organic! Use natural, foraged or second-hand decor as much as possible.
Organic wedding cake
The cake was the first thing I got sorted and my criteria was as follows: organic and naked…. Yes naked! I’m not a fan of traditional, icing-heavy cakes and was delighted to find Nottingham Wedding Cake Company who use mostly organic ingredients and create the most delicious cakes – my brother, who is a bit of cake fanatic raved about it for several weeks after the wedding and insisted I contact the lovely Celeste who runs the company for her recipe, which I did and she willingly obliged. She also delivered it without plastic and we saved some in the freezer to enjoy for several weeks after the wedding.
Eco-friendly wedding venues
My husband and I are big foodies and we loved that the restaurant we chose served predominantly British, seasonal produce.
I was pretty strict with them about not using plastic on the night, so asked them to replace all plastic straws with cardboard alternatives and only hand them out on request. All cutlery, plates, napkins and glasses were reusable too.
If you’re using caterers, talk to them beforehand about your plans to reduce rubbish and see if they can accommodate you by composting food scraps, saving leftovers, working with a charity that collects food waste and avoiding cling film, for example.
Hire furniture, linens, tableware and cloth napkins if the venue doesn’t have them.
Biodegradable petal confetti
Confetti is literally plastic litter seconds after it’s been thrown, so I chose natural petal confetti from Wildflower Favours.
Eco-friendly makeup brands
I did my own using non-toxic and organic makeup products. I have since found plastic-free alternatives but back then I used minimal products in recyclable plastic. Better, not perfect!
Eco-friendly wedding verdict
Yes, we chose a local London venue (most of our guests were London based) , seasonal British food, reusables instead of disposables, e-invites and said no to ‘stuff’ but our wedding wasn’t ‘perfectly eco’ – and that’s ok.
I bought new shoes (I still own and wear them), we flew to California for a driving holiday and no, it wasn’t an eco car (we just hired what they had available) and my ring wasn’t made from recycled materials (but my engagement ring is second-hand).
Do what you can in the moment and don’t get too hung up on being a perfectionist.