Planning a sustainable wedding 

More and more couples are asking how to make their special day as ‘sustainable’ as possible.  The good news is you don’t need to ditch your heels for wellington boots and get married in the middle of a field to do this!

Statistics suggest that the average 120-person wedding produces 400-600 lbs of waste and around 60 tonnes of CO2, but there are some very easy ways to reduce this.

Look Local
Why ask a florist, caterer or wedding photographer to travel miles to your venue when you could find someone similar much more locally? Eco-friendly weddings come into their own when created by a team of local suppliers – there’ll be less travel involved and often more locally sourced materials, too.

When planning your eco-friendly wedding, shortlist venues in a set area and visit as many as you can across one long weekend. This will reduce your carbon footprint from time on the road and avoid you repeating the same journeys.

Many venues have an approved supplier list, and these are often small local businesses that are well worth considering.

Stay put!
Any wedding venue that can cater for your ceremony and reception will immediately reduce your impact on the environment because not only are you not printing map inserts to direct your guests from A to B, you’re also not making as many journeys on your wedding day. That means fewer cars on the road and lower emissions as a result.

Rings
Pick a jeweller that uses diamonds that come from conflict free zones and certified fair-trade gold and silver.  Or, alternatively consider a vintage ring, if you are lucky enough to have a family heirloom ring that can be redesigned to work for you this is the most sustainable approach of all.  For something really different there is a company called Eco Wood Rings who create wonderful wooden ring sets with sand, shells, rose petals and gold! Check out their website here.

Food
This is where we come in as a local catering company that serves local and seasonal produce. This cuts back massively on your wedding foods carbon footprint! We serve sensible portions to avoid creating excessive waste, and any leftovers are collected and turned into industrial fertiliser.

Suzanne James decided to follow a plant-based diet in November 2019 and consequently we are proud to offer a more comprehensive vegan and vegetarian menu than many other caterers. We are often asked to cater for entirely vegetarian weddings these days and are very happy to do so.

If you aren’t using us, ask your caterer or venue whether they use local suppliers. Local growers will provide you with exciting, seasonal ingredients. This instantly reduces the food miles involved and gives you fresher, more exciting flavours to boot.

Drinks
We are proud to offer Meopham Valley Wines on our beverage list – the vineyard is just 25 miles away from the SJHQ and produces fantastic English Sparkling, White and Red Wines.

We also stock a selection of local beers which are always popular.

When required we provide fully biodegradable straws made from seashells, and hired glassware which is washed and reused.

Go Paper Free
Before you know it you can find yourself buried under a pile of paper when you are wedding planning.

Of course, you can send out save the date cards to everyone, printed invitations, inserts, hotel lists and more, but do you really need to?

Save the dates can easily be sent by email, reducing your paper usage and therefore protecting trees. Likewise, you could set up a wedding website to provide all necessary information and on the day, your printed menus can be reduced to one or two per table rather than one per person….. or even exchanged for one huge chalkboard.

If you do want to use some paper stationery, look for suppliers who source materials sustainably or use recycled paper. You can even find stationery with seeds bound into the paper, which can be planted later. All of these things can help you achieve a more eco-friendly wedding.

Flowers
Flowers can be a big expense with up to 10% of the overall budget being spent on floral arrangements, bouquets, petals and posies.

Choose British-grown blooms to reduce your carbon footprint. Anything else will have been flown in, often from Holland but sometimes as far as Alaska!

Seasonal, British flowers can still create a dreamy bouquet. Think peonies in June, dahlias in September, hellebores in December and roses for most of the year.

To reduce waste, make sure your flowers don’t end up being thrown away straight after the big day. If possible ensure they are kept in water throughout the day (your bouquet can be popped into a vase during the reception to keep it fresh) and gift arrangements to close friends and family at the end of the night.  If this isn’t practical ask your florist if they can collect and donate the flowers to a local hospice or old people’s home – some offer this service as standard.

Another option is to use potted plants on the tables, or even dried flowers instead of fresh!

Confetti
Local UK grown biodegradable confetti is the only way to go! Long gone are the days of paper or even worse, plastic confetti – yuck! Rice, although it was once used, is also best avoided as it is harmful to birds.

Outfits for the Bride & Groom
The dress can be a contentious issue and not the place that most of us would want to cut corners or compromise on style but there are options to consider.

Oxfam have an online bridal shop, along with physical shops in towns across the UK and Still Whiteand Nearly Newly Wed are two more places where you can source eco-friendly dresses that are also stunning!

For the groom, best man and ushers, why not rent their suits or buy a smart suit they will wear many more times in the future? This can help cut cost and help the environment! Some good places to rent the suits are Moss BroshireYoungshirewear and Vintagesuithire to name a few.

Bridesmaids dresses
If you are on a budget, don’t be shy about asking people to wear their own or buy their own dresses. This sometimes can be better as it will allow your bridesmaids to pick something that they love (as long as it keeps in with your theme).

Wedding Cake
For the wedding cake consider serving it as your dessert to avoid it going uneaten (we are always happy to provide seasonal fruit and cream alongside cake).  Or, if there are other puddings available for guests do you really need wedding cake too?

Repurposing your cake is a really good way of cutting down on cost.

Another way to do this is to have a cheese wedding cake – cheeses are stacked and can be decorated with flowers or fruit, you get to have a photo ‘cutting the cake’ and then it is taken away and turned into a wonderful cheese stall in the evening – this tends to be much more popular than a sweet wedding cake at that point in the day!

Décor
We reduce waste by hiring cutlery, crockery and linen that will be washed and reused.

For room decorations see if you can borrow items from your friends and family which can create a lovely vintage feel, or upcycle what you already own.

Another tip is to use double duty décor, can place cards double as favours? Or can your favours also double up as table décor! This can also help cut down on cost and scratch something else off that to-do list!

Guests
B e strategic with your guest list! Choose those who you love and want there on your big day and plan the list strategically.

Wedding registry
If you are already living together you might not need a traditional gift list, but why not ask people to donate to a charity or cause that you are passionate about? This is a brill way to help your wedding make a positive impact in the world!

If this idea isn’t for you, why not compile a list of things you really need or ask for money towards your honeymoon?

Favours
Wedding favours have long been a conundrum for couples.

Do you really need them? We see so many left behind, discarded on tables. If you want to give people a little something, chose a useful item that they will use every day or something that people NEED. Personalise it with their name instead of yours and you can also use it as a table setting!

Honeymoon
After the big day is over, the honeymoon can begin! Choosing an ethical or eco-friendly trip can be a great way to spend all or some of your time on your honeymoon. Consider staying in the UK or Europe, to avoid racking up air miles, but if you have your heart is set on getting some sun there are a few options for making your honeymoon eco-friendlier.

Multiple travel companies now offer eco-friendly options with stays in eco retreats in more environmentally friendly venues.

Why not also spend some time volunteering while your away? This can be an amazing way to spend part of your holiday helping others and giving back to the country you are visiting supporting amazing causes.

If sustainability is something you are interested in then we hope this post has given you some good ideas! The most important thing is not to stress and remember that you can only do your best.

Try hard not to overdo it on the food and drink, the flowers or the decorations – it is so easy to get carried away but channel the ethos that just enough is just right.

Achieving a zero-waste wedding is a challenge, but reducing the elements of your wedding that are leftover is a step in the right direction. It could save you money, too!

Hopefully there are some ideas here that will inspire you, and every little helps.