VENUE More travel means a greater impact on the environment. Choose a venue that is easily accessible. Send out information about public transport with your invites and consider organising a coach or minibus to collect guests from the nearest train station. Penrhos Court is an old manor farm nestled in the countryside between England and Wales. It offers organic and environmentally friendly weddings with services including a green wedding list; seasonal organic food and a hotel run on environmental principles. Ryton Organic Gardens offer a large conservation area with native trees and a wildflower meadow, a bee garden and living willow sculptures. This is a fabulous place to have a wedding if there are a lot of children involved as the 10 acres of land provide plenty of play space.
STATIONERY AND INVITATIONS Create your own invitations using recycled paper. If you don’t have time to do this source a printer with a sound environmental record and ask them to use recycled paper. There are also tree-free alternatives to standard paper made from natural fibres such as hemp and even elephant dung. Guests’ names written on leaves or painted on pebbles make a decorative alternative to place cards. If you are looking for a special place to display all your beautiful photographs, a wedding album made from Lokta paper makes a beautiful keepsake. Lokta paper is made from the bark of a Himalayan bush that naturally regenerates every seven years. It is carefully crafted by local villagers and dried in the Himalayan sunshine.
FLOWERS For your bouquet, why not look at dried or silk flowers, these can also be kept as a memento of your big day. If you do decide to use cut flowers perhaps you could grow your own, or ask a friend to sow some organic seeds to grow flowers for your wedding. Metallic or paper confetti can be replaced with fresh flower petals or if this proves difficult or cost prohibitive, biodegradable confetti is available from Confetti Direct. To decorate tables choose local blooms. Cut flowers have a short shelf life and have often been grown in less than favourable conditions causing harm to the producers in developing countries. Your local florist might be able to help you source locally grown seasonal flowers rather than imported ones.
DECORATIONS Candlelight creates a beautiful magical ambience and candles can be used to light your wedding party at minimal cost to the environment. Floating candles make a beautiful centrepiece or feature decoration around the room. Look for beeswax or soy wax candles. Choose potted plants rather than cut flowers to make centrepieces for the table. A pot of lavender or a small rose works well and these can be given to the guests as gifts when they leave.
CLOTHES You can source suits and dresses made from natural fibres including hemp or organic cotton. Another possibility is to reuse your mum’s wedding dress or try the gorgeous selection at Oxfam for a second-hand outfit. After the wedding you might choose to keep your dress for your own daughter or sell it on eBay or similar online auction. Men’s outfits, suits, ties etc can be hired rather than purchasing items that may not be worn again. Wholly Jo’s has a great approach to wedding dresses. Not only will they help you create a beautiful design from organic hemp, fair-trade cotton or organic silk, they also take wedding dresses and recycle them to create new outfits, perhaps giving your once-in-a-lifetime dress a new lease of life, so that you can enjoy wearing it on more than one occasion. Joanne Mackin, who aims to make her bespoke wedding dress company as family friendly as possible, works from home so that she can be there for her three daughters as they grow up and has been making things with fabric since her own childhood. She made her first bridesmaid dress in her teens.
FOOTWEAR Gorgeous ethical shoes for the bride are available from Beyond Skin www.beyondskin.co.uk whilst men may like to look at the range from Vegetarian Shoes, www.vegetarianshoes.co.uk.
MAKE UP Make sure that you choose animal friendly cosmetics for the bride and bridesmaids. For a comprehensive directory try the Compassionate Shopping Guide from NatureWatch or check out the health and beauty pages of The Green Parent magazine.
FOOD AND DRINK This is one area where it is very simple to choose organic and support the local economy. Speak to your catering company about sourcing fresh local produce rather than flying food halfway around the world to feed guests at your wedding. Request fair-trade and organic tea and coffee and choose organic wine. Organic champagne is also available at very reasonable rates; a bottle of fine organic Carte D’Or Champagne from Vintage Roots costs just £17.99. Or a bottle of sparkling rosé costs just £6.99.
Manna, serving London and the surroundings, provide the most sumptuous sounding buffet menu.
THE CAKE There are companies who can make wedding cakes according to your requirements, cakes free from wheat, dairy, made with all organic ingredients etc. You might choose to shop for the ingredients yourself and make it at home or ask a friend to make it for you. Seasonal flowers such as roses, lavender and elderflowers make a beautiful natural cake decoration.
JEWELS Industrial methods of extracting jewellery, precious metals and gems from the earth damage the land and endanger eco systems. However there are companies such as Green Karat whose mission it is to provide ecologically and socially responsible jewellery. Gold is valuable enough to provide a real incentive to recycle but significant amounts actually sit idle whilst mining continues at a pace of 2,500 tonnes a year. In fact there is enough gold above ground (already mined) to satisfy all demands of the jewellery industry for the next 50 years. Much of it sits in bank vaults and in the form of old and unused jewellery. Choosing recycled gold for the wedding bands is one responsible choice that a bride and groom can make.
“Choosing recycled gold for the wedding bands is one responsible choice that a bride and groom can make.”
GIFTS If you are struggling to find an eco alternative to wedding gifts and lists, why not consider something really unique? You can give the gift of an acre of rainforest through the World Land Trust thus ensuring its survival and that of many plants and animals. A donation of £150 or more enables 15,000 trees in the rainforest to be saved, whilst £25 ensures an acre of rainforest is preserved.
WEDDING LIST If you need to kit out your new marital home and fancy some new green goodies, then a wedding list with The Centre for Alternative Technology is a good idea. Choose from items such as organic bed linen, recycled glasses and natural organic paints. There are also some great gifts for the garden from organic herbs and vegetable seeds to solar powered fountains, with some great fair-trade hammocks to relax and enjoy it from. Our Green Wedding List do exactly what you would expect and have an extensive wedding list service with organic ethical products for the home and garden.
HONEYMOON Choose to keep travel to a minimum and honeymoon in a beautiful location in the UK. Alternatively you might like to consider a working honeymoon, which enables you to contribute to an environmental or social project. This can be a memorable way to start your life journey with your partner.
For more inspiration on having a green wedding read Natural Nuptials or for an article on how to go green and save money on your wedding day see Something Borrowed in Issue 24 of The Green Parent magazine. Or find our complete Guide to Green Weddings in Issue 11.