The green way to a white wedding
14 Jul 2011
The green way to a white wedding
You recycle, walk to work, give to charity shops, compost and have long life light bulbs all over your home – so keep that eco-friendly theme going and make sure your big day is a green day.
Getting married is often a great reason for an extravagant celebration to declare your love and commitment to your partner surrounded by all your family and favourite people.
It’s traditionally the biggest day of your life - and in these increasingly eco-aware days, there are easy ways to look after the planet while you’re looking after your guests.
A green day doesn’t mean a serious knit-your-own-muesli type event either. It can be as lavish as you like, with the added feel-good factor of knowing you are helping to protect everyone’s future.
Whether you incorporate one eco-friendly idea into the day, such as invitations printed on recycled paper, or decide to make every aspect as green as possibly, it all helps.
Consider some of our top tips for an environmentally friendly wedding day:
Beauty and hair
Insist on your make-up and hair products being made by companies which only use environmentally friendly products.
Decorations and flowers
How about decorations made from compostable materials with bouquets tied with twine and paper flowers and arrangements.
Buy your flowers locally, ideally checking with the florist that they’ve been grown without the use of heavy pesticides. Or persuade a green fingered friend to grow the flowers for you.
Before the big day have a thorough sort out at home and pack off everything you don’t need to charity shops and recycling bins. That way you’ll start your married life as you mean to continue, clear, uncluttered, focussed and with a feel good factor!
Organic wines are excellent, or if keeping the food miles down is more important than organic issues, serve local beers, apple juice, cider and wine, some of which are organic as well as local. See www.tastesofanglia.com for more information.
Favours and extras
Rather than traditional wedding favours in fancy – and instantly thrown away – boxes, consider attractive reusable cotton or linen bags.
Give guests a packet of seeds, or a small plant.
Thank you gifts to parents and best men, bridesmaids and other helpers could be a fruit tree or a beautiful plant. If you know they aren’t keen gardeners, buy them a tree in a managed forest or protected rainforest. See organisations such as www.woodland-trust.org.uk or www.worldlandtrust.org
Confetti can be organic paper, real dried flower petals or how about bird seed rather than rice to give our feathered friends a treat. Ask your friends and neighbours to start drying their rose petals now, and have a large basket for everyone to dip into on the day.
Consider the food miles and check that your caterer uses local, in season produce, ideally organic. We have some truly excellent farmers, growers and producers in Norfolk, so there’s no excuse for a considerable amount of the ingredients not to be local. See the farmer’s market section of www.edp24.co.uk for county producers and suppliers.
Ask your cake maker to use fair trade ingredients, and local free range eggs.
Have a finger buffet, hog roast, or canapés to avoid the need for masses of washing up.
Use proper glasses, cutlery, plates and napkins at the reception rather than throwaway plastic and paper versions.
Support Norfolk and have your list at a local shop. Guests like to buy something to mark your day, so do have a list to avoid ending up with yet another picture frame, vase or casserole dish. Lists aren’t just crockery and cutlery either, you can ask for anything from money towards a local vegetable box delivery scheme to compost bins and plants or work by a local artist. Consider asking for donations to your favourite charity rather than gifts if you prefer, and if asking for wooden items, stress it’s important they are made from wood from managed sources.
Consider antique rings or rings made from recycled precious metals. Ask your jeweller if the diamonds are conflict free. This can be tricky, but do ask. It helps if the diamond can be traced from mine to consumer. Conflict diamonds are those minded in a war zone, under unethical conditions such as involving child labour or if the profit from them is used to fund war. See www.conflictfreediamonds.org
Support independent retailers and buy from a local shop.
Bridal outfits and gowns can be bought nearly new, and sold or given away to charity after the event too. The Big C is particularly keen to receive wedding dresses and attendants’ outfits. It’s having a large wedding fayre selling donated wedding items at the Maids Head Hotel in Tombland on October 21 and afterwards will stock wedding outfits and accessories in its city shops. Or have a look in the small ads of the EDP and Evening News, and visit sites such as eBay for nearly new, antique and therefore more eco friendly bargains. Perhaps a friend had a wedding dress you adored and will let you borrow it.
Ask a local dressmaker to make your dream gown, ideally using natural fabrics.
Many photographers now use digital cameras, saving the use of traditional film. Ask for your preview images to be on a CD rather than having them printed or if possible, ask for them to be uploaded to a web page so, with a password, you and your family and friends can all see them when they log on.
Recycle after the day
That wrapping paper from presents can be recycled, as can empty glass bottles, plastic containers and cans. If booking a venue and caterers, check that they will be recycling everything possible.
Stag and hen parties
Rather than heading abroad for a boozy weekend when you may not recall many of the sights, look to local activities and attractions. How about go-kart racing, Go-Ape, laser shooting, clay pigeon shooting, tank driving, paint-balling, beauty sessions, luxury hotels, holiday cottages, beach walks, canoeing, greyhound racing, pole dancing, salsa lessons, rally driving, windsurfing, boating on the Broads, CD making and so on. It’s all available within a few miles of Norwich. So support your local businesses, save on the fuel miles and have a great time.
Invitations and other stationery can be made from recycled paper, or even better, send them as attachments via email. It’s not as traditional as posting beautiful embossed invitations, so explain why you’re doing it and it immediately sets the theme for your wedding.
Thank yous can be emailed, with a picture of your special day attached. Just make sure they are personal and individual, not a mass ‘thanks to everyone’ informal note.
Look for albums and guest books made from recycled paper and card.
Hold the wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue to avoid the need for guests to travel.
If the ceremony is somewhere different, hire a coach so guests can travel from one to the other together, saving the need for masses of cars. Remember the coach will need to return everyone later.
Encourage guests to car share, perhaps by (with their permission) putting them in touch with others coming from their area.
Use a local firm and aim to arrive and leave your wedding in vehicles run on LPG. Or how about a horse and carriage – so long as it hasn’t had to travel miles by horsebox to reach you!
Choose somewhere you love which is local to you and as many of your guests as possible. Check staff understand your wishes for a green wedding and are prepared to co-operate. They may have their own ideas and suppliers to support your planet friendly day, and should definitely take your environmental conscious choices on board.