I’ve been inspired to be more eco-friendly in day to day life more than ever in 2019. What I wish for 2020 is to take this attitude and have a positive influence on people I work with.

You may not have thought about weddings through the prism of the impact they have on the environment. The truth is – the have a huge one. The amount of waste coming out of every single wedding is enormous – from clothes you wear, through packaging for the food and drinks you consume, the gifts, the accessories, the decorations, to the food that’s left over after you and your guests leave the venue.

There are so many simple, cost-effective ways of turning your wedding into a more sustainable one, and I will encourage you to do it. Of course change is not easy and usually comes at a sacrifice, which is why I will be happy to sacrifice 10% of my fee if you can show me THREE ways that you’re being environmentally conscious. It can be as simple as donating your leftover food and flowers. Every little helps!

To inspire you I’ve put together 10 ways you can help the environment by making some changes to the way you’re planning your wedding:

1. Buy ethical wedding rings

It’s no secret that diamonds, gemstones and previous metals are surrounded by the aura of negative history for our planet and labourers. Did you know you can buy lab-grown diamonds instead of mined ones? This way you will not only get diamonds of the same quality as the mined ones (in terms of the C’s) but they will come at a lower price and without ethical stains.

2. Use flower petals or leaves instead of confetti

Most party confetti is made using plastic and stays either in nature or goes straight into landfill. You can sometimes see confetti advertised as eco-friendly but chances are it still has a negative impact on the environment. There is only one way to make sure your confetti does not harm the environment – going 100% natural with flower petals or leaves. For more information on alternatives CLICK HERE.

3. Avoid single use papers and plastics for dishes and utensils

Those can be easily rented out for your wedding or if you prefer to buy your own, they can be then re-sold. There are a number of companies that I work with that offer this and will be more than happy to have a chat with you about all the available options.

4. Donate or compost your flowers and food waste

With plenty of vendors on the market you can check where the food is sourced from and how it’s disposed of after the wedding. You can take this one step further and donate the food to your local homeless shelter. The same goes for your flowers. There are organisations that coordinate donations of flowers and vases to people in health care facilities. You can give your wedding flowers a second life by letting them provide joy for someone else.

5. Choose caterers that support local farmers and a menu that doesn’t involve imported food

Safe to say – if you are having a winter wedding, some foods are not grown in your homeland. The carbon emissions involved with shipping food across the country or across the globe has a very negative impact on our environment. Work with caterers who source their food locally, and be thoughtful of only choosing foods that are actually in season at the time of your wedding.

6. Go paperless

It’s a tradition to send paper invitations. It’s almost a tradition that they end up in landfill. Why not send e-invites that your guests can RSVP to immediately without you having to pay an arm and a leg for return envelopes and stamps?

You can learn more about E-Vites here.

7. Wear a second hand or a vintage wedding dress

One of the things I dislike most about current retail market is fast fashion. Cheaply made clothes that don’t last more than a few washes and quickly end up out of style and right in the landfill. While we associate fast fashion with Boohoo or Pretty Little Thing, we don’t really consider wedding attire to be on the same shelf as them. The truth is, that many one-stop shops offer just that – cheaply made products with a solid margin on top. Why not rent much higher quality attire or buy vintage?

Read more about fast fashion here.

8. Consider your hen/stag do.

A hen/stag do is not quite the wedding which is why many people try to buy the cheapest items possible. Everybody knows those straws, balloons and tiaras won’t end up in a display cabinet. Try avoiding giving your party disposable gifts like “team bride” merchendise.

9. Forego gifts and have your guests donate to a charity instead

It may not be everyone’s favourite option but I have certainly see this live. One of my couples Emma and Richard from Aberdeen decided to ask all their guests to provide donations to a local charity instead of receiving gifts. It was a brand new idea in the area and received a lot of recognition from local papers and what’s most important – from local residents who benefitted from the donations.

10. Give plants as favours

Instead of giving your guests gifts they simply won’t keep after the wedding, consider giving them something like plants that they might keep and see grow. Not only will they stay with your guests reminding them of your wedding but will also produce some O2 that we all need.

Read more about eco-friendly favours here.