7 Achievable Ways to Have an Eco-Wedding
Updated: May 24
Being conscious of the environment doesn't mean you can't have an epic wedding! You can be mindful in how you plan your wedding to minimise your impact without compromising on throwing a damn-good shindig on your day! And in the Time of Covid/Coronavirus when there are restrictions anyway, there has NEVER been a better time to do this.
1. Use Local Vendors
New Zealand has an abundance of talent in all fields and in the time of Covid-19 supporting local has never been more important. Chances are you'll use local photographers, venues, musicians, florists and caterers but what about the attire, jewellery, stationery, rentals and favours (if using)? I know it's easy to get sucked-in to the "cheapness" of what's available online with the likes of Alibaba but look at what's local too. Let's take a look at wedding dresses for example. There has been a proliferation of cheap wedding dresses on the international market for a fraction of the price of local designers. I've even seen some that have blatantly stolen the images from designers' websites of the original dresses and marketed them as their own. There are a plethora of "horror" stories on the internet of what was sold and what actually arrived on the doorstep. (For example, see this story at the Huffington Post). Of course there are always some happy stories of a "bargain" too but it is a risk and there is often a hidden cost. We all inherently know that cheap and fast fashion all too often has a dark underbelly (for example underpaid and/or overworked staff, hazardous textiles and waste - see Business Insider for some or some gruelling statistics).
Supporting a local, ethical fashion designer will cost more than those available online or imported from countries like China but they won't necessarily cost as much as you think. Many local designers are very conscious of the impacts of fashion. Take Wellington designer Sophie Voon for example who supports ethical fashion design and production and donates from her profits toward education programmes in Myanmar.
It is also very possible to find beautiful, designer wedding dresses that fit the budget and of course, you can find second-hand wedding dresses readily on websites such as Still White, various Facebook forums and Trade Me.
There are loads of other New Zealand vendors you can consider in all areas of your wedding. For example, our friends at Good Gold in Nelson have recently launched and are making "the world's most ethical wedding bands" from New Zealand alluvial gold.
2. The Power of Hiring, Vintage and Thrift!
Yes, yes we are a hire business so we would think hire is a great idea! But really it is. Part of the reason we started this business in the first place was the frustration of the throw-away industry with crappy products for weddings. Things just ain't made like they use to be - in design or function. We believe in re-using and re-purposing items so that we tread lightly on the Earth and hiring does this perfectly.
But there are other ways - borrow things or find second-hand quality items to incorporate in your wedding from thrift shops, auctions or from couple's selling them after their own wedding has been and gone. Vintage items don't need to look tatty or outdated - there are many great ways you can include them in your wedding. For example, at a wedding we did in summer, the bride used her late Grandmother's china set for the tea and coffee service. It meant so much to many of her guests and to her that Grandma played a special part in the day.
3. Use Seasonal Items - Florals and Food
Come with a flexible mindset when it comes to your florals and food and the season in which you are planning your celebration.
International food transport has a big environmental footprint. When talking to your caterers ask them about whether they include seasonal produce in their food. I have had couples who have deliberately had vegan or vegetarian food (even when they're not themselves!) which has been gentler on the Earth and on the catering budget.
Flowers also come in seasons so talk to your florist about what flowers they work with and ask where they come from and how they are put together. One Poppy Flowers, a sustainable florist, has some great tips here when considering sustainable and ethical flowers. You can also use a local flower garden or a florist who grows his/her own seasonal, spray-free flowers like Bee & Bloom. Another way is to include the new wave of dried flowers that many florists now incorporate into their work. This can bring colour and texture to your flowers, even when not in season. For example, the gorgeous Floriade in Wellington has a to-die-for drying room with the most beautiful colours that last well beyond the wedding day. Another idea is to incorporate potplants or herbs into your wedding instead of flowers so you can use these after the wedding. You can also have friends and family handpick from their gardens for you.
4. Minimise your Waste
Firstly think about how you can minimise your waste from your wedding. Then consider what you can do with any waste produced after the wedding. For example, talk to your venue about what they do with your waste - do they recycle and compost the waste from your event? If you're having a DIY wedding, consider who can do a run to the local recycling station to recycle your glass bottles after the wedding day and if your local community garden might want your organic waste to compost.
If there is any leftover food, feed yourselves or your guests for your day-after gathering if you have one or give some to your neighbours. I have even been lucky enough to have had wonderful clients drop me in cakes and all sorts of treats after their wedding! If you're like me and love fresh flowers, then think about what you can do with them the next day. You'll likely have far too many to keep. You may want to gift some to family and friends as a thank you. I have bundled them up for the couple to gift in bouquets for some special guests as parting gifts after the day-after gathering. You could even pass them forward to strangers in a hospital or rest homes - there's something so empowering about spreading the love to people you don't know!
Location can play a big role in the sustainability of your wedding. Think about how far people have to travel, whether they stay close by for example in local accommodation, if there is public transport or can you hire a bus for guests to limit the number of cars coming to your wedding?
Now with international travel limited, you may need to consider creative ways to include overseas would-be guests at your wedding. Luckily we live in the Age of Tech and can include people via video-link or have videographers to capture the day to share. With honeymoon travels currently restricted to domestic travel, think about the amazing places we have in New Zealand to chillax with your significant other after the wedding and how you can support local businesses and destinations.
6. Use Online Instead of Post/Paper
When you are considering getting your invitations out (which is no longer as cheap as you might think!) look to using recycled paper for your invitations or even better (cheaper, quicker and greener!) using online means instead. It may not be as pretty as paper invites but let's face it, aside from you and maybe Grandma, who really keeps those pretty invites after the big day? Another option to the free wedding websites is to do something quirky for your invite, like what I did (lol) and make a video. We made a "silent movie" video invite that cost us a total of $10 to make and send. This meant I could send it out to our family and friends who are spread all over the world (including those we knew couldn't make it to the wedding but we wanted to invite anyway) and they could have a laugh at our expense at the same time! Win-win.
7. Get Charitable
More couples are considering how to pass it forward when they count their blessings by getting married. This can come in the form of signing up to a registry that makes it easy for guests to contribute to your favourite charity in lieu of gifts (see for example The Good Registry) or by using a venue that is linked to a charity. For example in Wellington, New Zealand an old fever hospital nestled in the town belt has been turned into an events venue where all the proceeds from hiring the facilities directly support animals in need (SPCA Venue).
We have been involved with weddings that have included local refugee organisations to supply delicious food cooked by former refugees and one where a local sports club organised volunteers to help with the clean up on the day and the day after for a donation to their club.
That's just seven ways you can turn your mind to have a more ethical, sustainable, conscious wedding. There are many more! However, in a time when New Zealand and the world is gripped with coronavirus, there has NEVER been a more apt time to reflect on what is around us and how we can best support those local, ethical businesses and to have less of an impact on the Earth while you gather and celebrate. Holler if we can help you implement or guide any of these on your day or into your planning. We LOVE sustainable love.