Something old, something new, something borrowed, something…green? Yep, you heard. Although weddings and sustainability seem to make an odd couple, here’s a few ways you can marry them together more harmoniously…
It’s no secret that weddings have the capacity to rack up quiiiite the carbon footprint. In fact, the average wedding party in the United States produces around 62 tonnes of carbon dioxide. For those of you thinking ‘wooooaaahhh…uummm how much is that relatively?’
Let’s be honest here. 1 tonne of CO2 remains an abstract notion for most of us.
On average, its about 62 return flights from Paris to New York, 31,000 CO2 fire extinguishers or driving just short of 400,000 miles in a diesel car. That’s 16 times around the circumference of the earth…
In other words. A lot.
Then throw destination weddings into the mix and the air mile figure alone can be eye watering, let alone the rest of the wedding’s carbon footprint.
You’re probably thinking…crikey. I’ve just killed 2 million trees and I’m a bad person. BUT. This article is not meant to make you feel like an eco traitor…it’s meant to inspire easy, eco-conscious decisions when planning your big day. Nor is it meant to put you off hopping on a plane to the wedding destination of your dreams. If you want that destination wedding, to say your vows barefoot on the beach, do it! There are plenty of other ways, aside from cutting down air miles, to make your celebrations green and sustainable.
So, ditch the guilt and take a look at our top 5 tips to consider how you can give back to the environment with a greener wedding day…
1. Scrap the paper…
Well, not entirely…I’m talking bog standard A4 here. That can go.
Although it would be easy to say, ‘scrap the paper invitations and send digital invites’, I personally would never do that and so it would be disingenuous for me to suggest it. After all, this isn’t some Facebook invite event…it’s your wedding day! It’s undeniable that there’s something magical about receiving a physical invitation. It’s romantic. You can feel the parchment between your fingers, open it a bajillion times, smell the fresh ink on the page…
But, there is a middle ground. Instead, why not print on recycled paper or use up-cycled fabrics, leather, or wood? Far more chic than plain card! Seed paper is another excellent option, a biodegradable material that sprouts into flowers when planted in a pot of soil. You can’t get greener than that!
Other small things like having one communal menu at the entrance or one sign with the order of service instead of multiple ceremony programs…
Everyone can read it…just tell Uncle Brian to bring his specs ;)
2. Say ‘I do’ in the great outdoors
Want to get married on the beach? Great plan. We couldn’t recommend it enough. The Riviera Maya is one of the dreamiest wedding destinations in the world, home to flour-white sand and crystalline waters. The most idyllic backdrop for our photoshoots.
Just think how much money you'll save on your energy bill by cutting down on artificial lighting…thank you Sunshine! Even BETTER than this though…the perk of all this natural light will result in the most stunning photographs.
Oh, and the silhouettes at night? Pure magic.
So you’re on the beach, sand between your toes, feeling the tropical vibes…why not follow in the eco-friendly footsteps of Caitlin and Chris, who took reusable glassware to a whole new level…
Personalized coconut, anyone?
Ummm. Yes please.
3. Reduce, recycle…re-bloom!
When you think ‘wedding’, you think dress, you think cake, first dance song, epic dance floor and DJ…but flowers, I think, are one of those things on the wedding checklist that have the capacity to be overlooked. But in reality, they’re everywhere. The bride’s bouquet, flower girl’s floral crown, boutonnieres, centerpieces, corsages, altar arrangements, aisle decor, the tossing bouquet…take a breath. The list goes on.
Flowers. Are. Everywhere.
BUT. Although they look and smell like a dream, freshly cut plants aren’t the most environmentally friendly option. Before you cry, we’re not saying ditch the blooms entirely! No no no.
Instead, switch out cut flowers for live plants: consider potted plants like orchids or spray roses…or you could even be a little quirky and throw some herbs and small shrubs into the mix! I worked at a wedding once where each table pot plant was labelled and given to a member of the bride and groom’s family as a gift after the reception.
A little unorthodox but the great thing about these options is that they can be easily transported after the event. Just think how good your backyard or font porch will look a couple of weeks after. Your neighbours will be green with envy!
If you’re on the beach…keep it local! The couple below used palm tree leaves for their ceremony archway and the result was wild, simple and boho-eco-chic.
We also love the idea of a bouquet station, kitted out with brown butcher paper and ribbon with the monogrammed initials of the newly-weds. Instead of chucking them, you can make some beautiful wedding favors; your guests can take them home and the wedding day lives on through their centerpiece on the kitchen island.
Orrrr. Now here’s an idea. You can divvy up the wedding centerpieces…pick n’ mix style. Give each guest a mini vase and they can pick their own selection of flowers straight from the tables.
If you’ve just read all this malarkey about pot plants, small shrubs and herbs and are thinking. Too far. What is she talking about?! Over my dead body will I hold a bunch of rosemary to walk down the aisle. That’s fine! But if you are going with cut flowers, choose local, seasonal blooms…like Caitlin did below.
4. Veer towards vintage
Your earth-loving celebration can start as early as the proposal. Choose an ethical ring. This could be an antique diamond, a family heirloom or choose a dealer who is committed to sourcing stones and metals in ethically responsible ways.
Find companies like Aurate and Mejuri who use recycled or fair trade gold with vintage jewels and diamonds. Or Valerie Madison, who hand-selects unique natural diamonds that align with the Kimberley Process, a safeguard which ensures the stones used have not fueled armed conflict in other countries.
You might be thinking. So much easier said than done…you can’t just pluck a diamond out of thin air!
Welllll. You can, actually. Aether Diamonds in NYC does exactly that.
Crafted by extracting carbon from the atmosphere in a mind boggling process of modern alchemy…a diamond is born.
They really are a cut above the rest! And super sustainable.
5. Green gifting fit for the 21st Century…
But you might be thinking…this is a lot! If you just can’t stand paper straws going mushy in your piña colada and the thought of wearing your grandma’s lacy wedding dress is a little daunting, think on a bigger scale…
The key is to be conscious. Conscious about your actions and where you’re expending energy.
There are plenty of websites and apps nowadays which allow you to calculate the environmental impact of your celebration…Less Stuff More Meaning call this ‘Wedding Activism’ and Offbeat Wed celebrate couples daring to walk off the beaten aisle with their more sustainable wedding planning.
So, now you have a rough estimate for your event’s carbon dioxide emissions. From there, have you thought about purchasing carbon offsets? The money you spend on the offset goes towards a project that eliminates that amount of carbon from the atmosphere, thereby helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make your total carbon footprint ZILTCH.
Sound good? Now here’s an idea…
You could even put the offsets on your gift registry for guests to buy…who wants a collection of silver-wear that will be sure to just sit in a draw gathering dust for the next 20 years, anyway? Websites like MyRegistry.com make it almost too easy for your guests to purchase carbon offsets instead of buying you gifts.
Yeah sure, there are those who would say the practice is a bit of a ‘get out of jail free card’. Carbon offsetting certainly isn’t a licence to splurge mindlessly. You still have to plan consciously and not with the mindset, ‘ah well, we’ll just pay it off at the end.’
But, if the wedding is happening, the wedding is happening. An event on this scale, especially when it’s a destination abroad, will be sure to produce a hefty footprint of some sort. So, better to offset than not…right?
So, there you have it. 5 simple ideas that will make a whopper of a difference.
Do you want an earth-loving celebration? Why not reuse and recycle one or two of these ideas to incorporate or adapt for your wedding day…
Getting married in Mexico in 2023? Our reservations for next year are now open.