It is probably not surprising but weddings can often create masses of waste. Everything from paper invites, guests travel and leftover cake can add up to a bigger carbon footprint than you might want for your wedding. If this is something you are concerned about don’t panic! It is possible to have a wedding without destroying the environment. So here is the ultimate guide to making your wedding waste free or at least more eco.
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Step 1. Pick the right venue
Your wedding venue choice is always a big decision. However, with a low waste wedding it becomes even more important and a bit more complicated. Firstly, destination weddings are out – sorry! The CO2 emissions created from your guests travel is the quickest way to up the waste level of your wedding.
Secondly, you will need to find a local venue. But not just any local venue as you will need to find one that understands your low waste concerns. To do this there are a few more questions to ask than usual but the main thing to ask is how they handle food waste and recycling. Most venues should be able to tell you how they handle food waste, rubbish and recycling and on the whole they will probably do the right thing. However, If you have your heart set on a venue and they just cannot cater to your compost or recycling needs you might be able to outsource this to a local company.
Lastly, try to look for a venue that is already decorated or will shine with minimal decorations. Having a rustic theme is great for this as often a barn or hall will look super rustic and beautiful without lots of embellishments.
Step 2. Go paperless
Wedding invitations can be a deceptively costly exercise both for your wallet and the environment. You can buy invitations made of recycled paper and hand deliver them to counteract some of the financial costs and the emissions created in sending invitations. Or you can go paperless. This can be as simple as creating your own wedding invitation on Canva that you send out from your email. This is easier than it sounds because Canva has lots of templates set up and you can use the free version. Another option is to create a wedding website on The Knot or With Joy. These websites will send out invitations, record your RSVPs, create a gift registry and give your guests access to a rundown of your wedding plans.
Step 3. Keep It Local
Make all your choices local. Look for a local caterer who uses local produce and supports local farms. Also find a florist that, as much as possible, uses local suppliers and make sure the flowers have been grown pesticide free. Try to find a cake locally and keep its size to a minimum. Also you could ask for a water station stocked with tap water in sustainable bottles or glass jugs and cups. Basically if there is a wedding decision to be made try to find a local supplier.
Step 4. Hire everything
The best way to keep your waste down is to hire everything your low waste wedding needs. This could include the decorations, wedding dress, suits, crockery, glasses, flowers. Basically everything. This option will not be for everyone but it can save you heaps of money and means that your wedding will not be adding any of these things to landfill. If you still want to buy your dress or some special decorations try to look for sustainable options or things that you will re-use. This might sound hard with a wedding dress but if you buy bridal separates you can easily wear most tops again. Also depending on the skirt you could have it adapted so that it is more wearable in a non-wedding environment.
Step 5. Use compostable or ceramic crockery
This one is quite simple. Do not use disposable cups and plates. These will just end up in landfill and are super bad for the environment. For most weddings this can be solved by hiring crockery and glasses. You could also consider buying wedding glasses to be given out as wedding favours. This way they will be used after the wedding by your guests. If you are having a festival style wedding and just cannot have ceramic or glass crockery look for compostable options. There are heaps available now.
Step 6. Use sustainable brands
When making your low waste wedding planning decisions try to find sustainable brands. This can feel like a lot of work as you will need to research not just what you like and can afford but also where the items are from, how they are made, what they are made of and how their production and comsumption affects the environment. Although this sounds like hard work there is heaps of information out there to help you. Also making sustainable choices is becoming more and more important in society so there are lots of companies that will cater to your eco demands now. For some inspiration check out our Pinterest board dedicated to low waste weddings.
Step 7. Don't worry about wedding favours
If you think about it wedding favours are like Christmas on steroids. Depending on the number of guests you have you will end up giving out heaps of tiny, fairly cheap gifts that your guests may or may not like or use. This is waste central. So bear in mind that wedding favours are not mandatory and no one will be upset if they leave your wedding without one. Therefore, if you want to create a low waste wedding don’t worry about giving out wedding favours. Or if you still want to give them out look for consumable favours in recycled packaging or seeds and plants that will boost the environment.
Step 8. Donate leftovers and flowers
The amount of leftover food can be a big problem for a wedding. Some of it can be composted but if you have large amounts of untouched food left it might be worth donating it to a local charity. You could also consider doing this with your wedding flowers. Depending on the size of your wedding you might find yourself in the position of having spent heaps of money on flower arrangements that you only need for one day. You can obviously take some home or give them to family members but you might still be left with lots of flowers that will go to waste. In this case you could look at donating the flowers to a local retirement village.
Step 9. No gifts?
With lots of people getting married later in life now wedding gifts have become less essential. At one time you would have been given everything you need to set up home on your wedding day but now you are more likely to have set up your home before getting anywhere near the aisle. As such, wedding gifts have become much more wasteful. So unless you really need some essential things maybe don’t ask for gifts. Instead you could ask for money towards something important like a house deposit or you could ask for donations to charity. Whatever you decide make sure to specify it on your invites so that you no one will bring any unwanted gifts.
Step 10. Maybe just elope?
For the lowest of low waste weddings you could consider eloping. This way there will none of the usual waste that goes with a wedding and it will be a lot cheaper. But eloping does not mean your wedding will be any less special or exciting. Also in the current strange times it might be the best way to have the wedding you want. Check out our Eloping section for everything you need to plan a rustic elopement.
We hope these ideas have inspired you to plan a low waste wedding. If you are looking for even more low waste wedding information keep an eye on our website or sign up for our newsletter. We have lots more ideas and more detailed blogs coming soon to show you exactly how to plan a low waste wedding. Let us know in the comments if there are any eco wedding choices you are struggling with!
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