Making your wedding sustainable in a meaningful “its-carbon-footprint-is-as-low-as-it-can-go” way is deeply satisfying but it can be hard work. There is an easy fix: find a wedding venue that sticks sustainability at the heart of their events and congratulate yourself on your delegation skills. Climate change anxieties have kick started growth in a significant number of wonderful eco wedding venues catering for a range of budgets. Here are a few favourites.
River Cottage, Devon
One of the tops when it comes to being green, River Cottage makes organic, seasonal and (where possible) local food the life blood of its events. The kitchen team, led by award winning Head Chef, Gelf Alderson, work closely with their clients to make sure the menus are both delicious and eco-friendly. The ceremony can either take place in the renowned Farmhouse Kitchen Garden under a tunnel of woven hazel, in the carefully restored Threshing Barn or in the cosy firelit Mongolian Yurt. Because these guys think and breathe ‘green living’ you can be confident that no plastic confetti or unbiodegradable sparklers will slip into the proceedings. Guaranteed to be a thoroughly green affair.
Deer Park, Devon
The charismatic Mark Godfrey and team at Deer Park Country House offer the opportunity to have an exceptionally stylish wedding that is also underpinned by sustainable thinking. With a biomass wood pellet boiler, air source heat pumps and voltage optimizers they have the electricity and hot water systems covered. They have an eco-laundry that uses no chemicals and is powered by green energy, and they operate a zero to landfill waste program. Walled gardens supply the house with food and flowers, a new orchard has just been planted with 1500 apple & pear trees (cider anyone?), hives buzz with bees and plant-based wedding packages are on offer. For the green thinker who loves a bit of spoiling, what is not to love?
Elmore Court, Gloucestershire
Since this beautiful, historic stately home open its doors to weddings, events and parties in 2013, Anselm and his family have wanted the place to function as sustainably as possible. In the ‘already nailed it’ category they have heating powered by timber from the estate, they built the Gillyflower (the banqueting hall | ballroom | playroom) using the materials from their land, electricity runs on a green tariff and increasing amounts of seasonal goodies come from their walled gardens. The big win at Elmore, however, is their rewilding program. Ans is passionate and has recently committed a sizable 250 acres of the estate’s land to rewilding. The vision: a patchwork of woodland and regenerated pastureland that brims with biodiversity, colour and soon, native hardy herbivores.
Hayne House, Kent
Hayne House is a stunning wedding venue in Kent whose founder, Fleur Record Smith, and team believe “whole heartedly that weddings can be kinder to the planet – without compromising on style or quality”. They are recipients of certification from the Sustainable Wedding Alliance and have made it their goal to halve their carbon emissions by 2023 and to be net zero by 2030. Their approach to reducing emissions is forensic with calculations & graphs made to illustrate where the high carbon culprits are (heating the traditional Hunting Lodge, waste in landfill, employee cars, etc). Using the figures they have designed a clear plan of action which ranges from creating a composting area to installing a heat pump in the Orangery. If Hayne House turns their bolder commitments into action then it feels like these guys will crack the green wedding nut spectacularly well.
Abbey Home Farm, Cirencester
Abbey Home Farm prides itself on hosting truly organic weddings with small carbon footprints. Relaxed, friendly and informal, the location offers a number of heavenly spots for ceremonies including an outside terrace arbour, the veranda of the cafe, a little garden shed, an open fronted hut in a quiet and magical glade and a stone circle. A large green oak reception room accommodates 120 guests for eating and dancing. If the weather is fine there is also a large outside terrace with a pastoral view of the vegetable garden and chickens. Thanks to their organic certification the farm can also supply everything from the cake to flowers, hedgerow berries to the full wedding menu. Can you get more authentic?
Bore Place, Kent
Bore Place in Kent is a privately owned 500 acre organic farm and estate with a Jacobean manor house and large barn for parties. The estate has been a centre for sustainability and green living since the 1970s and the fruits of that agenda can be seen in the hum of life that fills the hedgerows, woodland, gardens and field boundaries. Sustainable energy is generated on site by wind turbine and photovoltaic panels, and woodchip from the estate heats the buildings and water. Food is organic, waste is recycled or composted and both waste water and sewage is processed onsite ready to flow back into the land’s streams. Bore Place feels neat and like their early 1970s commitments have settled, matured and are now paying dividends.
GreenAcres Woodland, Merseyside
If your dream is to be married under the canopy of living, breathing woodland then GreenAcres is the place for you. This family run haven is nestled into 65 acres of ancient forest and offers you the opportunity to hold your ceremony tucked into the trees, with alfresco dining for 20 guests to follow. You can also have the run of the carefully managed Woodland Hall, with its floor to ceiling windows, which can host 90 guests. If Merseyside isn’t within striking distance, don’t panic. GreenAcres have two more equally forested venues in Norfolk and Buckinghamshire.
Saorsa Hotel, Perth Scotland
Based in the dramatic surroundings of Pitlochry in Scotland, Saorsa 1875 is an 11 bedroomed boutique hotel that is unique for being totally vegan. This family run gem runs on the principle that the best experiences in life don’t have to come at the expense of animals or the environment. The hotel is both bohemian and eclectic, firelit and cosy. The menu is completely plant based and majors on local, seasonal and foraged fair to be enjoyed with craft beers and cocktails inspired by the region. An eco dream for foody weddings.
Pennard House, Somerset
This Grade II listed family home plays host to a colourful variety of activities from weddings to yoga retreats to film shoots to Glastonbury party nights. Run by Harry, Georgina and their two small children, the house is not only famously warm and welcoming, it is also a sustainably minded event space. Heating and hot water is generated by a biomass boiler that is fed with woodchip from the estate, electricity is from renewable sources, food is from local suppliers where possible, waste is recycled and anything that can be described as single use is either limited or avoided altogether. Plans to rewild 40 acres of the estate’s land will soon make way for the expansion of the existing woodland and a patchwork of wild flower meadows that Harry and family hope will boost natural habitat for greater numbers of bees, insects and small animals.
MAKING YOUR WEDDING CARBON AWARE
These green venues will do their very best to reduce your day’s carbon footprint, but some emissions will always be unavoidable. There are a number of ways to offset these, but my recommendation is to plant trees and plenty of them. Tree planting groups abound in the UK and I work at one of them – Carbon Aware Events. Through this site you can either calculate your event’s carbon emissions and then plant trees, or simply go direct to the plant page and plant as many or as few as you would like. You will then be sent information about your trees together with video updates from the field. And being UK based, site visits are not just possible, they are encouraged.