Turn your big day green

Weddings are more extravagant and costly then ever and you can end up with a lot of waste – the key is careful planning.

A low carbon-footprint wedding is a great start to married life but it is easy to get carried away as plans progress. If you want to go all out on a green wedding, and feel that you don’t have time to organise things yourself, many wedding planners these days specialise in eco-friendly weddings. However, a wedding planner is by no means essential and, in fact, the simpler you keep your wedding the less waste there’s likely to be.
Planning an eco-friendly wedding is easier if everyone is on board from the outset. Tell family and friends so that they too can focus on making the day as green and ethical as possible. Ask for their ideas – they’re bound to have some good ones, and ones you may not have thought of.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Wedding dress

For many brides a major part of their day is the dress. But why spend a fortune on a dress to only wear it for what is essentially a few hours?
• Buy your wedding dress from a charity (and then donate it back again when you’re married). There are plenty of charities that offer a wide choice of wedding dresses these days. (Oxfam even have wedding dress shops. Visit www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/bridal for more information.)
• Make your dress yourself, or have it made by a design student/your mum/someone you know.
• Adapt/wear a dress you already have in your wardrobe.
• Buy a non-wedding dress from the high street (some bridesmaids dresses are nicer than wedding dresses these days).
• Borrow a dress (something borrowed, something blue etc).
• Copy the groom and hire a dress for the day.

Rings

• Buy an ethical (non conflict) diamond if you can.
• Buy a vintage ring or adapt or re-size a family heirloom.

Invitations

• Send e-invites – either design your own or use one from an e-invite website.
• Use recycled paper and make your own cards.
• Set up a wedding website which your guests can access to reply to your invitation, keep up-to-date with progress, register for your gift list, get directions to your wedding and much more.

Wedding list

• Give to charity instead of receiving gifts.
• Plant a tree or buy a goat or a cow – use an alternative gift list to fund projects in the developing world.
• Don’t register for gifts you don’t need.

Transport

• If you exchange vows and hold your reception in the same place, there’ll be no need for transport to take you and your guests between venues.
• Travel by horse and carriage.
• Hire a minibus or bus – or ask your guests to share the costs of getting to your wedding.

Reception

• Source locally-produced food and drink for your reception.
• Ask friends to bring the food instead of presents – you’ll get a much more personal array of food and it won’t cost you a thing.

Flowers

• Use a local florist who uses local flowers.
• Pick some flowers from your parents’ garden, or that of a friend.
• Ask your friends and family to do the flower arrangements.

Photographs

• Only print out the photos you actually need.
• Create your own wedding album by using an online photo printing company (it’s more fun as you get to decide which photos you like the best).
• Ask a friend or family member to be photographer for the day.

Honeymoon

• Volunteer on a project.
• Fundraise for a charity by joining a trek/cycle programme.
• Relax in an eco resort/lodge.
• Keep it local – there are some stunning places in the UK to discover and explore.