11 simple ways to plan an eco-friendly wedding

Easy ways to eliminate waste at your sustainable wedding

With so many different things to consider while wedding planning, the environmental impact of your choices may not always be one of them. But let’s face it – weddings can end up being incredibly wasteful when you consider the single-use decorations, food waste, and even carbon footprint of guests travelling to the event. 

READ: How to find your dream second-hand wedding dress like Princess Beatrice

Luckily, there are plenty of simple changes that can help make your wedding more eco-friendly, from seasonal flowers to digital invitations. Take a look...

Send e-vites and create a wedding website

Electronic invites, Papier

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Wedding stationery not only means lots of paper, but it can also prove expensive. Save money and do your bit for the environment by sending out electronic invites instead, or create your own wedding website where guests can get all the details and RSVP in one place. For example, Papier allows you to create designs every bit as special as printed invites, and the benefit is that they won’t just end up in the bin afterwards. 

MORE: 10 stylish sustainable wedding dresses for ethical brides

Pick a local venue

Choosing a venue located close to your family and friends will help reduce the celebration's carbon footprint. You can also opt for an outdoor wedding venue, for example, the beach – with the sun shining, you won't be using lots of lighting.

Say yes to the (ethical) dress

To many brides, the wedding dress is one of the most important elements of their wedding day, but it can also prove one of the most damaging to the environment, when you consider the materials used, production and air miles they may travel just to be worn once. However, it is possible to be more eco-friendly and still get the dress of your dreams.

The likes of Reformation, Halfpenny London and more designers are committed to being more ethical and using organic, sustainable materials, while sites like StillWhite and Preloved may help you to find a second-hand gown or possibly a designer bargain from a fellow bride who no longer needs or wants it.

Use seasonal flowers

This is one element Princess Eugenie factored into her plastic-free royal wedding, to stunning effect. Rob Van Helden decorated St George’s Chapel with seasonal foliage and flowering branches that created a breathtaking entrance for the couple’s visitors, and it’s an easy way couples can make their weddings more environmentally friendly, too. Not only will it reduce the carbon footprint of flying in out-of-season blooms, but it will also save you money.

MORE: 8 unique ideas for that 'something blue' item on your wedding day

For a spring wedding tulips and daffodils are in season, while peonies, sunflowers and roses make beautiful additions to a summer wedding. Calla lilies and Dahlias are the perfect seasonal blooms for autumn, while a winter wedding can be decorated with berried ivy, jasmine and poinsettia. Beautiful and eco-friendly – win-win.

Use dried leaves and flowers instead of confetti

A lovely way to replace confetti with a natural, low-waste alternative is to make clippings from dried leaves or flowers using a craft punch. Confetti punches come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you can choose your favourite style to suit your wedding theme. Why not make a pre-wedding date out of it? Spend the autumn gathering fallen dried leaves or collect fallen blossom from trees in the spring, preserve them, and turn them into beautiful, natural confetti. 

Biodegradable Flower Confetti, £10, Etsy

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If you haven't got the time to collect and clip your natural confetti, you can also purchase biodegradable dried flowers to limit your plastic waste. 

Go plastic-free for your wedding favours

If you're choosing to thank your guests with wedding favours, there a plenty of ways to gift sustainably. You could make plantable name tags from seeded paper, or offer your guests beautiful beeswax candles, or even send your guests home with some seasonal flower seeds so they can always remember your special day. 

Eat local, seasonal produce

Just as you should consider using seasonal flowers, creating a menu using seasonal produce is another way to make your wedding more environmentally friendly. This is something that both royal weddings in 2018 had in common – Prince Harry and Meghan were keen to showcase seasonal British ingredients on their wedding day in May, with elements such as a lemon and elderflower wedding cake and produce grown on the Queen’s estate.

MORE: 8 royal wedding venues and residences where you can marry too

Use local suppliers

It makes sense to use local suppliers for so many reasons, not just to reduce your carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly. You’ll cut down on travel and support local business in the process, what more could you want?

Avoid disposable cutlery and tableware

Even though many places are becoming more responsible when it comes to giving out plastic straws and cutlery, it’s definitely worth doing your research about your venue’s policy ahead of your big day, as waste from plastic cups and other disposable tableware could soon mount up between a wedding party. If you’re planning an al fresco teepee or marquee-style wedding consider hiring these items instead to reduce waste.

Use eco-friendly beauty products

If you haven't already switched up your pre-wedding skincare routine to include low-waste, ethical beauty products, it's never too late to start. Take a look at our guide of the best refillable beauty products to buy in 2022 ahead of your big day. You could also ask your hairstylist or makeup artist if there are any cruelty-free substitutes they would be happy to use on the day. 

Hire reusable decorations

If your dream wedding décor requires you to splash out on numerous elaborate centrepieces and accessories that will be used once and never again, consider hiring them instead. This is another way you may be able to save money as well as save waste. Sure, you may think they’ll make a nice souvenir from the day, but what are you really going to do with ten oversized candelabras or vases?

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