Your Ultimate Guide to Planning a Sustainable Eco-Friendly Wedding

Your Ultimate Guide to Planning a Sustainable Eco-Friendly Wedding

Have you ever stood beneath the blue whale model that hangs from the ceiling in London's Natural History Museum? The massive aquatic mammal has done its part to put the scale of the earth into perspective for over eighty years.

Now consider that the average British wedding produces waste equivalent in weight to 47 blue whales. That's approximately 4,900 tonnes of plastic, which returns to the ocean, where those incredible creatures live.

Whether out of love for whales or a passion for the earth, contemporary British couples are eager to throw more eco-friendly weddings. These waste-free, thoughtful affairs are as stunning and exuberant as any other marriage celebration but feature venues and vendors that prioritise sustainability and the earth.

We've created this eco-friendly wedding guide to help brides and grooms-to-be curate a spectacular, life-changing event planned with the future at the forefront. We've gathered countless ideas to help planet-conscious couples arrange the green celebration they (and their future children) deserve.

Read on and explore our comprehensive green wedding guide below.

A Venue You Can Feel Good About

A destination wedding might seem like a sustainable wedding idea as an abstract idea. After all, if you pick a stunning natural setting, flowers, scenery, and natural ambience come standard. That's so much less stuff to deal with!

Think again. About 5% of all global warming is due to air travel, and studies suggest that even one long flight per year can contribute an excess of harmful CO2 to the atmosphere.

If your entire wedding party hops on a round-trip flight, you're doing more harm than good, even if you skip the decor and flower delivery. Instead of springing for plane tickets, we encourage you to seek out a destination closer to home.

With that in mind, many local venues go above and beyond to help the earth.

Designated green venues, such as sustainable farms, are just as gorgeous as any far-off, scenic destination. An outdoor venue on a sunny day can save you energy, and many rental fees help support local conservation efforts. A botanical garden, park, or historic site can eliminate the need for decorations by providing a natural backdrop to rival any balloon arch.

If you choose to party indoors, ask about LEED or BREEAM certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and ensures that all buildings take recycling and renewable energy seriously. Many certified facilities are brand new, with compelling modern designs, perfect for your wedding photos.

Other elements to look for in sustainable venues might include:

  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • A composting program
  • Energy-efficient windows
  • Natural building materials
  • Water recycling and conservation
  • Solar or wind power

Not every venue will be perfectly sustainable and carbon neutral, but even a little bit can mitigate your climate footprint. Booking a green venue goes a long way toward throwing a party you can feel proud of.

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Music Close to Home

Even if you've booked the greenest local venue, you can expect some of your guests to drive in from out of town. Car travel contributes less Co2 to the atmosphere than plane travel per trip, but most personal vehicles rely on unsustainable fossil fuels. When you factor in travelling vendors and deliveries, all that back-and-forth can cause more environmental harm than you think.

No wedding is complete without an energetic wedding band, but do you know where your band is coming from or how far they must travel to reach your venue? When you go out of your way to hire local musicians, you can eliminate fumes while fostering talent close to home.

You can take your sustainable music choices even further by eliminating the need for electricity. Neither Acoustic nor orchestral performances contribute to your wedding's energy consumption. Consider the following types of unplugged performances when planning your perfect day:

Unplugged performances have been all the rage for hundreds of years, pre-dating the invention of electrical amplification. This is one sustainable throwback you and your guests will not regret.

When you book performers through Bands For Hire, you can be sure that the finest local professional musicians will arrive dressed to impress on your big day. Reach out with any special requests, and we'll do our best to accommodate and ensure that your green wedding meets all your aesthetic needs.

Do the Earth a Favour With Your Favours

When was the last time you received a wedding favour that you brought home, unwrapped, and used regularly? The truth is that beyond edible favours, very few see much use. Most lovely favours end up in the trash or contribute to landfills, which is never the goal.

What if you could give your guests a gift that gives back? Consider gifting a wedding favour that guests can use to transform their own habits beyond the reception, such as glass water bottles, reusable tote bags, birdfeeders, or organic, fairtrade coffees and teas. Some couples might go a step above and grow succulents or potted plants at home, which can double as place cards during your wedding breakfast.

If you gift edible favours, try not to choose aesthetics over practicality after all, does anyone actually enjoy Jordan almonds? Consider giving guests bulk treats in sustainable glass jars. Glass is infinitely recyclable, and edible favours never end up in landfills.

Though radical, you might skip favours altogether and instead make a donation, plant a tree, or perform an act of charity on your guests' behalf. Many couples also auction off their centrepieces or offer them as prizes for games at the reception.

vegan wedding food

Try Farm-To-Table Wedding Fare

The kindest wedding is vegan. Farming animals is a wasteful, often unsustainable practice, and plant-based meals use fewer resources. Using local caterers and produce means you'll experience mind-blowing flavours without harming the environment.

We understand that vegan wedding fare isn't for everyone, so we're happy to say that serving meat at your shindig doesn't have to be destructive. The key to a kinder wedding spread is research. Understand where your meat and produce comes from, how it's farmed and prepared, and whether the practices are hormone and pesticide-free, local, and sustainable.

If a green feast is important to you, reach out to a caterer or wedding chef specialising in eco-dining. They'll ensure every bite on the plate is seasonal, local, and gentle on the earth.

Even the most delicious eco-friendly meal will yield leftovers, especially if your guests are dining buffet-style. Some couples-to-be might make a note on their invitations encouraging guests to bring their own reusable containers so they can bring home leftovers to their families. In many cases, caterers or venues can help you organise a donation to a local shelter or organisation so nothing goes to waste at the end of the night.

eco wedding rings

Something Borrowed: Wedding Jewellery

Many contemporary brides feel conflicted about conflict diamonds or "blood diamonds." These gems come from exploited, often war-torn countries and contribute to violence, labour injustice, and ecological collapse. In recent years, many couples have recognised that marketing and capitalism are responsible for the diamond's place as a symbol of everlasting love.

Even so, exchanging rings and wearing jewellery remain meaningful hallmarks of one's wedding celebration. Rather than contributing to a destructive industry, consider vintage, borrowed, or heirloom jewellery. After all, you'll need "something borrowed," and reuse is key to developing long-term sustainable lifestyles.

Wearing heirloom jewellery can often be more meaningful than buying something new. Each piece has a history. Consider speaking to your inlaws about borrowing pieces that can serve as symbolic ties as you join their family.

With that in mind, we understand that choosing or designing a new piece can help create the heirlooms of the future. You can use old pieces as the basis for something new. Jewellers can reset extant diamonds, melt down precious metals, and create something brilliant and unique for you.

If you'd like something brand new, do your research and choose lab-grown or sustainable diamonds. They are visually and molecularly identical to natural diamonds. Some lab-grown gems are purer and more vibrant than their organic counterparts.

eco-friendly wedding gift

Register for Kindness

Like favours, not every wedding gift will see a ton of use. Even items you add to your wedding gift list with the best intentions end up collecting dust in your cupboard. Eventually, even state-of-the-art appliances become outdated and find their way to the landfills with the other rubbish.

Our best advice for curating a greener registry is to slow down and make your choices deliberate. Which shops reflect your values or donate portions of their proceeds to causes you care about? Will the items they sell help you in your goal to make practical lifestyle changes that lead to a cleaner, safer world?

Don't register for trendy gifts only to fill up your registry. If you have your heart set on that new k-cup coffee maker, be sure to register for reusable k-cups, too. Many small, functional gifts become perfect fodder for gift baskets, so don't feel everything has to be big ticket.

What if your thoughtful, eco-friendly registry is looking a bit scant? Rather than filling your home with junk to make guests feel included, set up a second charity registry. This provides guests with the opportunity to donate to organisations that do good in the world, such as conservation societies.

Pay It Forward and Pass It On

If you have a theme or aesthetic in mind, you may not be able to make your wedding zero-waste. Do you have a plan for your extra decor once the wedding's come and gone? Many altruistic couples find ways to pay it forward after they say, "I Do."

Weddings are expensive, and every tiny component quickly adds up. When you sell decor to other couples, they can achieve their dream party at a steep discount. Consider "freecycle" groups, where you can earn credits to use toward other items.

If you're still in the planning process, look for newlywed couples looking to pass on their leftovers. A coat of paint can completely transform structures like arbours. It's common to find used vases, stemware, and even signage at a steal.

Often, used pieces go for a song, allowing you to include elements that would otherwise be outside your budget. Look for used photo backdrops or photo booth props. They make for a whimsical addition to your celebration.

rustic wedding table decor

When in Doubt, Rent

You may wonder how to plan a green wedding if you don't want to fuss over selling or donating. Consider renting wedding decor, props, and even tableware. It's the most sustainable alternative to trashing single-use supplies at the end of the night.

You can rent and return nearly everything you need for your nuptials. Rented dinnerware is classier and more sturdy-looking than disposable alternatives. Swap paper napkins for cloth linens, which makes any wedding breakfast more elegant.

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

You're getting married because you care about the future. Planning an eco-friendly wedding is one way to ensure you're doing all you can to ensure a safe, comfortable tomorrow. The world you build for your new family depends upon today's actions, so take our sustainable wedding tips to heart.

Nearly every aspect of your dream wedding becomes greener and more sustainable when you choose vendors close to home. Bands For Hire can help match you with a local, unplugged musician to match any wedding theme or celebration. Contact us today to book a local band that everyone in attendance can feel good about.