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Greener weddings

You can make a difference on your wedding day in several ways. For a greener wedding, choose your venue carefully, consider transport options for your guests and opt for locally produced food and drink.

Wedding and engagement rings

Mining gold and gemstones uses a lot of energy and water, and can damage the environment. Your choices can make a difference.

Vintage and recycled rings

Choosing a vintage ring avoids using new materials. Look for local auctions and estate sales, or visit antiques markets, jewellers, pawn shops or online auction sites.

You can also buy rings made from recycled materials. Some companies can even make rings by melting down your unwanted jewellery. Search online for ‘recycled wedding rings’.

Fairtrade and ethical rings

Choosing Fairtrade gold and silver means supporting companies who treat their workers fairly. You can also choose diamonds that haven’t contributed to conflict in the place they were mined.

Wedding invitations

Email invitations

Emailing your invitations saves resources and energy. Some websites send out electronic invitations for free and track the responses. Double-check invitations have been received, in case they end up in recipients’ junk mail.

Postal invitations

You can make postal invitations greener by:

  • using paper that’s recycled or from sustainable forests
  • asking guests to RSVP by email
  • putting event details on a website so guests don’t need to print out information

Greener wedding gifts

There are online gift lists that offer eco-friendly items, or you could choose a list from a company with good environmental credentials.

If you’ve got everything you need, think about cutting down on unwanted presents by:

  • having an ‘ethical’ gift list, with gifts that benefit others, like safe drinking water or mosquito nets
  • asking guests to donate to your favourite charity

There are lots of websites you can research for ethical or environmental gifts. Just search online.

Wedding clothes

A lot of materials and resources go into making wedding clothing, but many outfits are only worn once. There are lots of ways to be greener.

Buy clothes you can wear again

Think about buying your bridesmaids dresses they can wear after the wedding, or invite them to wear their favourite outfits. You could do the same for the bridal outfit too.

Consider a second-hand wedding dress

Second-hand dresses are easy to find and can be altered to fit you. You could try:

  • online auction or specialist sites (search online for ‘second-hand wedding dresses’)
  • vintage or charity shops
  • antique fashion fairs

You could also think about:

  • choosing organic and Fairtrade fabrics for a new dress, and reducing transport emissions by using a local dressmaker
  • hiring wedding outfits
  • selling or donating your dress afterwards so it can be used again

Venues for the ceremony and reception

Choosing a venue that reduces people’s travel can make your wedding greener. Think about:

  • choosing a venue near where most of your guests live
  • keeping the ceremony and reception close together or in the same building
  • finding somewhere that’s accessible by public transport
  • looking at venues that can provide accommodation for all your guests, like campsites or youth hostels

Other things to look for are venues that:

  • have environmental policies – for example, they recycle waste and try to save energy
  • serve food from local, seasonal or sustainable sources
  • support environmental causes, like the National Trust, nature reserves, woodlands or parks

Wedding travel

To reduce emissions from wedding travel, think about:

  • asking guests to car share and organising a coach to go between venues
  • encouraging guests to carbon offset their flights – or offering to pay for it yourself
  • including public transport details in your invitations
  • arriving at the wedding in a horse-drawn carriage, tandem, rickshaw or on foot

Flowers and decorations

Many flowers used at weddings are flown in or grown in energy-intensive greenhouses. You could consider:

  • using seasonal wild flowers - or choosing potted plants and giving them to guests afterwards
  • reusing flowers from the ceremony or rehearsal dinner at the reception
  • using stones or shells to anchor flowers instead of floral foam, which isn’t reusable or recyclable
  • borrowing vases, lights and decorations from the venue – or buying them from charity shops
  • choosing reusable, recycled or second-hand decorations (online auction sites are a good source)

Food and drink

A few simple choices can make a difference:

  • look for locally in season food and drink – you can now find British wines, beers and fruit juices
  • think about organic and Fairtrade options: tea and coffee are easy choices
  • send guests home with remaining food in reusable containers
  • avoid disposable plates and cutlery, and recycle everything you can

Confetti and alternatives

Make your confetti green by steering clear of non-biodegradable foil, or paper confetti containing bleach and artificial colours. Instead, guests could throw biodegradable confetti, petals gathered from friends’ and families’ gardens or even birdseed.

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