Planning a Sustainable Wedding
Many people these days are concerned for the welfare of our planet and striving to live as eco-conscious as possible, and “green” weddings are definitely growing in popularity due to the importance of this. Many wedding traditions are unfortunately detrimental to the environment such as throwing confetti (especially the plastic variety) and rice, releasing balloons and butterflies into the air, and of course using plasticware for meals and drinks. These are perhaps the easiest things to avoid on first consideration, but there are so many more ways to help make a difference when celebrating your big day that are actually quite simple! Eco-friendly wedding businesses like Maison M’Elise are very much in demand these days, and they along with some tips listed below can help guide you to creating a truly glamorous sustainable wedding celebration.
Having a custom-made, ethically-sourced, sustainable wedding gown can seem daunting to think about, but that’s exactly what Maison M’Elise does best! In their Truly Love Me sustainable haute couture bridal line, Maaike and her team use fabrics that are made in Europe and whatever bridal aesthetic you choose, the lace and beaded embellishments are all meticulously done by hand by local and talented craftspeople using traditional methods. In this way, you know exactly where the sustainable haute couture dress of your dreams has come from, start to finish.
Digital wedding invitations are easy, very popular, and most certainly eco-friendly, so that is one modern way to go when informing your guests of when to “save the date”. Another way of course is traditional paper invitations sent via the post. Yes, we know that the use of too much paper is not particularly “green”, but nowadays there are many small businesses that specialize in creating bespoke invites from recycled paper and even from “seeded” paper. Flowers, herbs, or vegetable seeds are embedded into the recycled paper and they can be planted after use. Some companies even make seeded confetti to throw! How cool is that?
pentopaper.nl is a local stationary business working with Maison M’Elise that creates elegant custom stationery with hand-drawn calligraphy on recycled papers. Having your invitations hand-written and illustrated with such care gives you something you’ll treasure forever and is also eco-friendly as it helps cut down on the energy and harmful dyes that would be used in a commercial printing process.
If your location and weather permits, you might want to consider having an outdoor (or partially outdoor) ceremony and reception. What’s great about an outdoor celebration is that you are already halfway there with decor as nature is your backdrop! This helps curb waste that can accumulate when using indoor wedding decorations that in many cases are thrown away after one use.
The natural surroundings lessen the amount of energy that would normally be used to keep things running in a completely indoor venue, but of course this all depends on the weather on the day. Most couples do choose to have a half-indoor/half-outdoor option as well to ensure everyone is comfortable and truly having a wonderful time in case of inclement weather or otherwise.
Create Warmth and Intimacy with Vintage Finds
No matter what style and ambiance you are drawn to, you will want your guests to enter your wedding location and feel an enchanting and welcoming atmosphere. When thinking of what to do for table decor for an ethical wedding, one idea is to try looking for vintage glassware and textiles to embellish each table. I love scouring vintage markets and second-hand shops for colorful glasses and ceramic vases that can be used to create beautiful and unique centerpieces and a warm, inviting “story” to the guest tables. Finding gorgeous sets of vintage wine and cordial glasses in an array of colors is quite easy and affordable, and depending on your style and preferred color palette, there is usually anything from etched jewel-toned glass, to pale ethereal pastels, to gilded sparkling crystal. These look very glamorous when used as delicate bud vases for flowers and greenery, or as candle holders and you will not have bought “new”! The effect is equally as stunning if you plan on having long, banquet-style tables. Using unscented soy or beeswax candles is best as they burn cleaner and produce less soot and toxins into the air.
Vintage ribbons, trims, tulle, scarves, upholstery fabrics, and even antique rugs or carpets create a romantic bohemian vibe along with the colored glasses for your seating and dining areas. Antique market finds like brass figurines and candlesticks are also nice ideas when creating unique table settings and centerpieces, intertwined with fresh herbs, vines, and greenery.
Or if a true rustic wedding is more your style, barn and farm weddings go hand-in-hand with natural linen or burlap covered bales of hay used as seating for guests paired with small, wooden second-hand tables to make cozy conversation corners. These can be topped with local wildflower arrangements, luscious potted plants, or old apothecary bottles used as bud vases. Or make flower boxes from reclaimed wood (my dad is great at this and he’s still making these in his 70’s!) as they are perfect for holding terra-cotta pots filled with succulents and other types of potted plants. Candle arrangements surrounded by sprigs of fresh herbs, flower petals, pebbles, or even small planted trees can also be housed in these small wooden boxes and displayed on tables for a beachy, coastal location. The plants and boxes can be given to guests when the evening is over, they can be donated, or you can use them for your own garden or balcony, making your fête a truly ethical affair.
Use table runners and napkins made from natural fibers such as organic, free-trade cotton, linen, or bamboo. You can clean and reuse all of these, and the runners can be sewn together after your wedding to create a large, beautiful tablecloth for future use full of wonderful memories.
When choosing a sustainable florist, ask if they can source their flowers locally, organically, and use only what’s in season for your wedding pieces and bouquet. This cuts back immensely on the carbon footprint left by choosing flowers that are not grown nearby or not in season where you are and therefore would need to be flown in from abroad. It also ensures, if you go organically, that the buds and blooms haven’t been treated with harmful pesticides, which is definitely something to feel good about. Using dried flowers and herbs as decoration is becoming increasingly more in vogue, especially if the wedding is held in the autumn or winter, and they can be reused as well. Tables adorned with these combined with local seasonal fruits and vegetables make sumptuous looking centerpieces. If you don’t want your lovely flowers going to waste, they can be donated to local hospitals and shelters after your reception, or you can arrange to have them reused at another event nearby happening the next day.
You will undoubtedly want a delicious meal served and plenty of drinks available, so naturally selecting a caterer for your big day is of utmost importance when it comes to planning it all. Excess food waste has become something many are consciously making an effort to minimize, and hosting an eco-friendly wedding means that a lot of the focus should go on your choice of food and how it’s handled, presented, and disposed of. This is actually a lot easier than you might think and there are many event caterers who specialize in this very thing. Things to ask of your potential caterer when deciding which company to choose are: do they support local farmers and use seasonal produce, if they recycle and/or compost, and to make sure they do not use single-use plastics. A seated three-course dinner tends to leave less waste than a buffet-style meal, but many caterers will donate leftover food to organizations for people in need so nothing goes to waste.
It can be easy to get caught up in doing your utmost best at being environmentally aware, but just making small efforts like these when planning a sustainable wedding can certainly make a difference in your contribution to helping heal the planet while still creating a magical experience for everyone.
– Valerie Torres