As if planning a wedding wasn’t challenging enough, Chloe Joyeux decided to add sustainability to the mix. These are her tips for using the ten One Planet Principles to have a sustainable, enjoyable and – as far as possible – stress-free wedding
Planning a wedding is never easy. There are always conflicting ideas and expectations, or budget constraints you hadn’t considered.
Sustainability therefore often comes at the bottom of the worry list in wedding organisation – if at all.
But while planning my own wedding, I found that with a bit of extra thinking it’s not that hard to show your love for the planet, as well as your partner. Using the ten principles of One Planet Living to guide my thinking, here’s how I went about creating a sustainable (and happy) wedding.
Take a deep breath (Health and happiness)
Weddings are generally happy affairs, but cortisone levels do tend to spike in the months running up to the event. Each person deals with stress differently, but once wedding planning stops being fun, you should take action.
Mindfulness and meditation did wonders for my (and everyone else’s) sanity. And of course, don’t forget to communicate about it all with your partner (after all, they’re in it too).
Say yes to local (Equity and local economy)
Involve local shops where you can. We ordered all the food for our Sunday wedding brunch from the local bakery, supporting the local economy.
Plus all our guests slept in accommodation within 500 metres of the wedding venue – supporting another local business, and cutting down on travel.
Get people talking (Culture and community)
The fun part of a wedding is bringing people from all walks of your life together. Make the most of it and think about ways you can get people talking, mingling and getting to know one another – especially your two families.
Natural beauty (Land use and wildlife)
We decorated our tables with local pine cones (found on one of our strolls) and candles, having decided against having flowers at the wedding – they have a very high environmental cost. “But what about the bride’s bouquet?” I hear some of you shout. Well, there wasn’t one, but if that is something important to you, you can opt for wild or seasonal flowers or better yet, grow them yourself.
Don’t bottle it (Sustainable water)
Keep unnecessary costs to a minimum with tap water on tables rather than bottled (no-one will notice). Honestly though, it rained on the morning of our wedding, so sustainable water was far from our thoughts…
Go veggie (Local and sustainable food)
We made the controversial choice to have a vegetarian wedding, which was condemned (firmly) by both sides of the family, but then eventually accepted as inevitable. Finding a caterer in meat-loving France proved tricky, but we finally found one open-minded enough to try it out. The consensus was that the food was delicious.
The moral here is that it’s your wedding and you should do what you want to do, like this couple who served the UK’s first ‘food waste’ wedding feast!
Ring the changes (Sustainable materials)
One way to go sustainable for your wedding rings is to reuse a family heirloom. This wasn’t possible in our case so we opted for ones made from recycled platinum.
Travel together (Travel and transport)
My now husband is from Germany, I’m from France and we live in London. In the end, we went with the country where most of our guests would travel from: France. We made sure the venue was close to a large city, accessible by train and we provided a mini-bus from the train station to the venue. In the end, 35% of our guests came by public transport and most of the rest shared car journeys.
Ease your waste guilt (Zero waste)
If you are self-catering, or don’t want to pay extra for fancy plates, a disposable option is great…but environmentally costly. As mentioned by my bin-obsessed colleague, Emily, we ordered some compostable disposable plates, cups and cutlery. This is a great way to cut down on the washing up, the waste guilt and the carbon.
Something borrowed… (Zero carbon energy)
It’s just one day – don’t feel like you have to buy everything you need (or everything you’re told you need…) Avoid adding to your carbon footprint (and budget) by ditching superfluous items at your wedding and reusing other items. Where we could, we borrowed things from friends and family and where we couldn’t, we bought them second-hand.
Lastly, once the party is over and everyone’s gone home, think about offsetting unavoidable plane journeys.
Senior Sustainability Officer