28/07/2018 07:01 BST | Updated 30/07/2018 08:46 BST

How To Throw An Eco-Friendly Wedding (And Save Money On Food, Flowers And Invites)

Nearly two fifths of couples consider sustainability when planning their big day.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re planning a wedding. The venue, who to invite, the flowers, the outfits and... how all of this is going to impact on the environment.

It might not sound like the most romantic consideration at first, but more and more people are thinking about the future of the planet when making plans to commence their own future as a married couple. Nearly two fifths (39%) of couples considered sustainability when planning their wedding, according to recent figures from app Bridebook.

Here are a few ways you can make your wedding day more eco-friendly:

simonkr via Getty Images
Stock image.

Be seasonal with your flower choices. 

In order to avoid the environmental impact of shipping your floral arrangements from abroad, pick flowers that will be in season locally on your wedding day. If you’re set on having sunflowers, you need to be getting married between July and August. If a riot of burnt oranges is what you’re imagining, it has got to be autumn. 

“You’re also bound to save money on importation costs if you buy flowers that are in season here in the UK,” Charlie Burton, founder of The Natural Wedding Company, told HuffPost UK. “Be brave and don’t go with the standard ideas of wedding flowers.”

Want to save even more money? Have a go at growing your own stems for the bouquets. 

Give your floral arrangements a second life.

Jess Trudy from florist and plant shop Grace & Thorn suggests using plants as centre pieces rather than cut flowers, and then gifting them as wedding favours.

For their wedding, Caroline, 30, and Matt Millin-Brawn, 33, from London, chose to decorate the church with potted plants instead of fresh flowers. “We wanted to give people who helped us some plants so we bought lavender trees. They are more sustainable than cut flowers and also smell amazing,” Caroline said.

You could also look to donate your wedding flowers after the big day. For example, organisations like Floral Angels organise for leftover arrangements to be recycled and donated to women’s refuges across London. 

Cut down on your food waste.

Check out your local area to see what organisations could help you out with minimising food waste. Miranda Knox, 29, and Sam Oxley, 30, from London, got married earlier this year, and asked their local surplus food charity Peckham Foodcycle to make their wedding canapés.

“They were fresh. The devilled eggs were delicious and everyone loved them – very seventies but very fun,” Miranda says. “No one would have known the food was made from surplus, and it didn’t matter they weren’t traditional caterers at all.

“There’s so much excess and waste when it comes to weddings already, we just wanted to try and keep that to a minimum if possible.”  

They chose to donate £200 to the project, whereas the equivalent spread from a wedding caterer would’ve been roughly £850.

Miranda Knox
Miranda Knox, 29, and Sam Oxley, 30, from London, got married earlier this year.

Make your confetti au natural. 

Sure it’s fun to throw and looks beautiful in the pictures, but plastic confetti can be super wasteful and harmful for the environment. A more sustainable (but equally beautiful) option is making it from dried flowers. 

You can easily make your own, just include time for drying out the blooms in your planning schedule. Alternatively the Real Flower Petal Confetti Company in Worcestershire, harvests completely natural and biodegradable floral confetti, with prices from £2 a bag. Or alternatively, invest in an eco-friendly bubble blowing pack, from Dr Zigs, £59.99.

Be mindful about the venue. 

“If possible, organise your wedding and reception to take place all in one space,” Charlie said. That way, you cut down on the environmental (and financial) impact of travel from one venue to another, as well as the build up of two lots of waste from both ceremony and reception. “If you’re having a religious or town hall ceremony, arrange communal transport to stop everyone piling in individual cars and try to make sure it isn’t too far away.” 

Or, you could even make the ultimate commitment and find a plastic-free venue. Jane Cook, 32, and her partner Pete Gee, 31, are getting married in August 2019 at Coed Hills in Cardiff, a humanist outdoor wedding venue that has implemented a ban on plastics. “We wanted our day to reflect our values,” she said. “When we visited and they told us more about their eco-friendly credentials, that was the icing on the cake.”

Jane Cook
Jane Cook and her partner Pete Gee are getting married in August 2019 at a wedding venue that has implemented a ban on plastics.

When it comes to invites, stay green.

There is an array of wedding invitations made from recyclable (and previously recycled) card to choose from. Check out Etsy for options. Or you could go paperless and send out email wedding invites (saving money on postage). 

Smash the sustainable style.

Choosing a wedding look is completely down to each individual, but if you want to be sustainable about it, there are tons of things you can do.

Opt for makeup with plastic-free packaging (such as Lush’s vegan foundation eggs) and check out H&M’s Conscious Bridal Collection. Or, you could look into renting your wedding dress, to cut down on the amount of items produced that are unlikely to be used again once the day is over.

Alternatively, you could go retro: Caroline wore a 1970s second-hand white wedding dress with hand painted silk flowers, after finding it at a vintage fair in California for $100. “Even though the dress didn’t cost that much, I preferred having something that was going to be totally unique to me, which made it more special,” she said.

Caroline Millin
Caroline Millin-Brawn wore a 1970s second-hand white dress with hand painted silk flowers to her wedding.

Reuse or recycle as much decor as possible

Whether you’re ‘10 massive disco balls’ or ‘ceiling full of fairy lights’ people, remember that decorations shouldn’t be for one day.

“Try and buy paper decorations made from recycled materials, or ones that are easy to recycle or ones that you’ll use in your home afterwards,” Charlie advised.

Opt for an ethical honeymoon.

When planning your romantic getaway, check in with sustainable tourism companies, such as Earth Changers, to ensure that you are doing all you can to travel in the most eco-friendly way. 

You can even offset the carbon emissions your flights and other travel might generate by planting forests with organisations such as Carbon Clear. Check out our comprehensive guide to sustainable tourism here.