Rachel Arthur’s Guide on how to reduce the carbon footprint of your big day.
It goes without saying we are in the midst of a climate and ecological crisis. Increasing wildfires, flooding, droughts, winter storms and beyond are the new global norm. It’s all too easy, however, to ignore such news when looking to celebrate something as special as your wedding day. Indeed, what difference will one single occasion make in the grand scheme of things after all? Yet in my role working in driving sustainable change, we think about it constantly through the lens of every little counts. In fact, the more we all use our collective muscle to both demand such shifts and encourage it in others, the greater chance we have of getting there.
Faced with my own wedding, therefore, I had to really confront what it was we wanted to achieve. As I’ve written before, the most sustainable option would have been not to have one at all, so we went in as realists about what was possible and how. And while there were lots of ways we didn’t nail it – we still had a few friends flying in from around the world for instance – we made some really thoughtful decisions to help counter that footprint along the way. Our overall hope was to have less of an impact than you would typically associate with a wedding, as well as make some bold choices that would encourage other people to think a little differently too.
If you want to throw a more responsible celebration, I’ve rounded up five of the eco-friendly wedding ideas we embraced to inspire you to do the same on your big day.
One of the biggest differences you can make when it comes to cutting your carbon footprint and protecting our planet lies in the food you eat. Opting for a fully vegetarian or vegan menu on your wedding day is still a relatively bold choice (there’s always going to be someone asking where the meat is), but should increasingly be seen as a normal one for the positive impact it has. The best part: there’s incredible creativity in such dishes, as was our experience when we constructed it in detail with chef Martin Simcock of Bread & Flowers. His team also ensured everything was sourced locally and as little was wasted as possible. We rounded out the weekend by adding an eco-coffee van called Beans & Bites for guests in recovery mode the next morning.
Choose local and live
When it comes to flowers, go with what is both native and seasonal. There will always be a beautiful variety of choice on home shores, and it’s even better if you can convince some of your family and friends to grow them for you. A true tip however is to talk to your local garden centre to find out if they will let you borrow any live trees and plants. We had up to 8ft tall Euonymus, Cryptomeria, Magnolia and Ligustrum lining the entrance to, and the wild flower beds within, our marquee in the garden, thanks to the generosity of the trade division of one near us. We also gifted potted plants to our bridal party.
Whether you are using an established venue or creating your own setting outdoors, there is almost no need to buy anything, let alone anything disposable, for the occasion. Reuse is one of the most sustainable options out there, and is a given for things like tables, chairs, crockery and glassware. What you may not know is how many other bits and pieces you can find away from the mega e-commerce sites tempting you otherwise. We looked at giant mirrors, boho rugs and various decorative details all available for rent for the occasion, before settling on the aforementioned trees, some large-scale parasols from a friend and candle holders from our wedding planning company, Ten Four.
Opt for responsible outfits
One of the most obvious sustainable decisions you can make lies in what you wear. Think about second-hand or rented (again!) with each of the outfits in your wedding party, on the day itself and the events surrounding it. While my bridal dress was new, I wore a rented Vampire’s Wife dress the night before and a vintage piece I had previously picked up (and also worn to my engagement party) via the Daily Dress Edit the day after. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen all wore something different to suit their individual styles, with us finding success on pre-loved sites including Depop, eBay and Vinted, and rental platform Hurr. We also asked our guests to dress as sustainably as possible, and organised discount codes for them to a variety of different rental sites accordingly. We had so many of them taking us up on the idea, or wearing something they already owned, and thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Think recycled and repaired
If we’ve got reuse and rental well covered, we ought to talk about recycled and repaired as well. These are great opportunities when it comes to your accessories. We knew we wanted to be as ethical as possible with our rings particularly, so we chose recycled gold and lab grown diamonds from Alighieri (for him) and Kimai (for her). I also wore an antique necklace of my mother’s – a real orchid dipped in gold given to her by her father many years ago. And I sent my trusty gold Nicholas Kirkwood shoes (bought second-hand five years ago) to The Restory to have them lovingly restored ahead of the day. Something old, something (sustainably) new and something borrowed all ticked off. Needless to say, I went for something green over blue to close it out.
Related Article: Inside: A Stunning Sustainability-Focused Wedding