Eco-friendly and more sustainable weddings are becoming increasingly popular as many of us strive to make more conscious decisions about but going down the sustainable route doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality or luxury.

Photo Credit: Divine Day Photography

Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, owner of bespoke event and wedding planning business, La Fete, shares her top tips for throwing the perfect sustainable wedding celebration.

Sustainable Wedding Tips

Venue & decor

An eco-friendly venue doesn’t necessarily mean getting hitched in a field or forest (though this is of course an option!). Consider venues that actively work to reduce their energy consumption, with solar panels for example; and preferably opt for a ready built structure, such as a barn, hall, castle, etc, in order to avoid the large scale transport necessary to bring in a marquee. If you want a tent feel, why not opt for a luxury yurt? There are companies offering hand crafted yurts made from sustainable materials and whose mission is to leave the nature around them untouched. However, your eco-friendly wedding doesn’t need to look rustic: it can be as luxurious as you like, but sustainable through the quality of materials you choose to decorate with, recyclability of items and attention paid in reducing overall waste, for instance, hiring as much as you can as opposed to buying.

Catering & wedding cakes for a sustainable wedding

Photo Credit: Divine Day Photography

More than ever, caterers are offering sustainable options to their clients. Produce used to compose wedding menus is seasonal, organic and sustainably farmed, with an emphasis on local items. Also, why not consider a vegetarian or vegan menu? Removing meat and/or animal produce will cut down on your overall costs, as well as reducing environmental impact. Speaking of which, make sure not to have any plastic or non-recyclable disposable tableware on site. Prefer glass and ceramic, or for the party, if you want to avoid smashed glasses on the dance floor, there are companies that create fully recyclable eco-cups.
As for your cake, you can either opt for an organic bakery or theme your cake around seasonal fruits. More and more companies also offer vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free cake options, so do shop around to find the right fit for you.

Transport tips for a sustainable wedding

In order to avoid guests driving themselves to your venue, why not organise a coach for them? There are many options for you to choose from, either vintage with an old school double decker bus, or more modern with a sleek luxury coach. Our advice would be to have a maximum of two to three pick up stops, in order to minimise time on the coach and any schedule confusion among the guests. As an alternative, you can also organise hybrid cars and electric taxis to get your guests to the venue. For the evening returns, consider a rolling schedule of minibuses to get your guests back to their hotels/homes available for when they’re ready to head off: your wedding planner can make sure that they are full before leaving, in order to minimise the backs and forths.

Favours & wedding gifts

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With your favours, there are a million and one options that you could go for. Consider personalised biscuit place cards, local products such as honey or jams with custom labels, handmade soap/scent, lavender bags, candles, personalised seeds, small potted plants, personalised illustrations of your guests (on recycled paper of course), etc. Just make sure that your favours include no plastic or wasteful materials in their packaging. As for wedding gifts, consider donations from your guests towards your honeymoon (or carbon offsetting it), as well as donations to a charity of your choice. You can of course go for a traditional wedding list, but consider the items you are selecting carefully.

Flowers for a sustainable wedding

For us, a wedding isn’t a wedding without flowers: just think of the bridal bouquet! However, there are things you can do to avoid your stunning blooms going to waste after one day. Firstly, consider choosing seasonal and local flowers, as this will drastically reduce the transport cost and environmental impact. Avoid foam in your centrepieces, as it isn’t recyclable, ask the florist to avoid using plastic for transportation, opting for glass instead and if you want to avoid cut flowers, decorate your reception with potted plants (these can also double as favours). You can also organise to donate your flowers post-celebration, to ensure that they don’t go to waste. Also ask your florist if they can provide dried flower petals as a confetti substitute to throw post-ceremony.

Wedding stationery

We love stationery and the impact a beautiful save the date or invitation can have. However, if you want to be conscious of your paper consumption, you can do everything digitally with e-vites or use recycled paper. Our advice would be to send a digital save the date, designed in theme with your wedding, followed up by a paper/card invitation. Be mindful of the paper used as well as the ink: there are plant-based options available. For your on-the-day stationery, there is of course recycled paper, but why not consider using a projector, black boards, calligraphed wooden crates and edible options (such as the place cards).

How to Shop Sustainably for Your Wedding Dress

bride in wedding car “Incorporating a sustainable approach to your wedding dress isn’t as hard as you may think,” says Madeline Castagnera-Bond, aka The Sustainable Bride.

“There are a few ways you could make your dress more about the story and its journey rather than just a one off piece that is worn for a day.”

Shop Local

If your heart is set on a new dress, consider having it made bespoke by a local designer.  Specify that you only want to use sustainably-certified fabrics. These are becoming easier to come by and include beautiful fabrics and laces. Certifications to look for are Oeko-Tex, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). Peace silk or natural silk alternatives such as bamboo or hemp are also a great alternative.

Think Smart About Fabrics

If you really do want to order a dress from further afield, call the company you are ordering from and question them on where their fabrics are from, where the garments are made, where they are shipping from and how the dress will be packaged. You can then think twice about whether this fits your sustainable ethos. If a company isn’t willing to share transparency on their product that maybe answers the questions for you.

Future-Proof Your Wedding Outfit

Why not look for a wedding dress that is something you could wear again, maybe consider bridal separates such as a skirt or trousers and bodice or tailored jacket. You could also be creative with colour. Also consider passing on or selling the outfit afterwards so someone else gets to wear the outfit?

Shop Pre-Loved

Find a vintage or pre-loved wedding dress.  There are literally hundreds of dresses from every era just waiting to be re-worn and wearing vintage has never been more on trend.

Sustainable styling and wardrobe consultants Grace & Gadsby recently launched a pre-loved bridal edit, The Loop, with this pull towards conscious bridalwear in mind.

“We are certainly seeing and hearing brides wanting to make their weddings more sustainable and one way is to shop for a pre-owned dress,” say founders Grace Richmond and Abi Gadsby.

Azzaro Wedding Dress
Azzaro Wedding Dress, Available at The Loop

“When you think about the amount of time spent making the dress and the amount of money spent on it, it feels crazy that typically they are only worn once with no onward lifespan – which we are here to change! We launched The Loop to make sourcing a pre-loved dress an easy yet special and luxurious experience. No less new and no less special, sourcing a preowned piece is simply an opportunity to consciously extend an item’s story and build on its value, rather than take it away.”

Something Borrowed

Madeline adds, “wearing an heirloom dress, something that has been handed down to you, is so special, because there is always a story behind it.”

You could even take this as a base and modernise the dress to be more in keeping with your style. Whether its your dress, veil or your bridal accessories, incorporated something borrowed from your family or friends, is a great way to avoid shopping for too many new pieces.

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Ruby is Digital Editor of Wedding Ideas and the brand's sister magazines, Baby and Little London. Overseeing Wedding Ideas' online presence, Ruby covers everything from bridal fashion and beauty trends to venues, budgets and whether Brexit will affect your big day. When she's not navigating the world of weddings or scouring the internet for the latest lifestyle and beauty trends, you'll probably find Ruby trawling through the Zara sales, escaping the city for a weekend at the spa or cashing in the discount vouchers at her local Pizza Express. And when that doesn't work, she'll be parked on the sofa midway through a Netlfix crime documentary binge.