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10 easy green wedding hacks

By Rachel England Wednesday 09 July 2014

Tying the knot? Congratulations! But before you dive head first into a pile of fabric swatches and catering brochures, take a few minutes to consider putting a few green twists on your wedding. A few eco-friendly additions will make your special day really unique, and your budget – and the environment – will thank you for it!

Location, location, location

People will have to travel to attend your wedding, that’s inevitable. But you can keep the transport impact down by choosing ceremony and reception venues close together, or ideally, in the same place. Environment aside, the day will go much more smoothly without added logistical stress, and guests will appreciate the easy saunter to the bar.

Downsize invites

Maps, programmes, accommodation information, ‘things to do’ guides, not to mention the invite itself – wedding invitations are getting thicker and thicker every year! Go for recycled paper as standard, but give the trees a little extra consideration by minimising the number of inserts you include in each mailing. Direct guests to a single website that consolidates information about the big day, and use online invitations for related events such as stag and hen parties. Ask attendees to include their email address on their RSVP so you can keep them up-to-date with any changes.

Make the most of friends and family

Now, we’re not saying take advantage of your loved ones’ good natures, but if they’ve got a skill that could be useful to your wedding, make the most of it! Cake makers, seamstresses, DJs, photographers, crafty types... you won’t get more locally-sourced goods and services than those of your nearest and dearest, and chances are they’d love to play a key role in your special day.

Something borrowed

It’s all very well declaring the virtues of buying a second-hand wedding dress, but the reality is most brides want their gown to be as clean and new as their marriage. So if you really can’t get on board with a vintage or pre-owned dress, consider at least donating yours after the big day – after all, you’re probably not going to wear it again, are you?. Alternatively, choose a style that can be altered at a later date to create an outfit you will wear again.

When it comes to other bridal party outfits, you can be a little more flexible. Most fellas are happy to hire or rent a suit, while bridesmaids dresses come in all manner of styles and colours, so if you purchase them, make sure they’re versatile enough (and the bridesmaids like them enough!) to see future outings.

Use seasonal flowers

Source flowers from local producers and opt for blooms that are in season – out-of-season flowers are usually shipped in from abroad. Wildflowers are an increasingly popular wedding choice as they’re both beautiful and plentiful. Alternatively, ditch the flowers altogether and use other materials – brides are using everything from buttons to brooches for their bouquets! Check out these Pinterest boards for some inspiration.

If you do use flowers, make the most of them by using them at both your ceremony and reception venue (ask someone to move them and set them up while you’re having post-ceremony photographs taken). Your flowers should still be in good condition after your big day, so think about ways to put them to good use instead of turfing them in the bin. Could another wedding party make use of them, or would a nursing home or children’s centre appreciate them?

Rethink the favours

Favours – little tabletop gifts designed to thank guests for attending – often take the form of disposable novelties, and while bubbles in a miniature plastic champagne bottle might be fun for a while, they’ll just end up in the rubbish. Instead, give your guests something they’ll actually use. Local jam or chutney in a cute, reusable jar, for example, or a little pot of seedlings adds a bit more elegance to proceedings and gives the environment a favour, too. Don’t give your guests something plastic simply because you’re supposed to give them something.

Go digital 

When was the last time you got a roll of film developed? Ages ago, probably, so why should your wedding photographs be any different? Choose a photographer that specialises in digital photography – not only will be pictures be better quality, you can view them online first before committing to printing them. And less paper and fewer chemicals means it’s cheaper, too!

Think outside the traditional wedding box

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with wedding planning, and after you’ve looked at picture after picture of conventional white weddings, glitzy place settings and lavishly-decorated reception rooms, it can be hard to break away from the traditional wedding mould. But think outside the box and you’ll not only create something truly unique that your guests will remember for many years to come, but you’ll be reducing your environmental footprint, too. Who says place settings need to be printed on card? Why not use pebbles stamped with the guest’s initials? You don’t have to print up scores of programmes – why not commission a local artist to paint up some programme chalkboards to hang around the venues?  You could even repurpose ‘found’ items as table centrepieces (such as antique lanterns) – the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Offset the impact

The average wedding is responsible for nearly 14.5 extra tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere – that’s nearly a third more than the average person creates in a year – so reduce the footprint of your big day by offsetting some of the impact. Make a donation to a carbon offsetting scheme, or ask your guests to do so in lieu of gifts. Take into account any flights you might take for your honeymoon, too. Nowadays couples often ask for financial contributions towards that instead of home wares, so build some offsets into your holiday budget.

Plant a tree

Once the big day is over and you’re busy enjoying newly-wed life, take an afternoon out to plant a tree together. It could be in your garden, at the wedding venue, or just somewhere that’s special to the both of you. It makes a great wedding favour to the planet, and will serve as the ultimate symbol of your growing love over the coming years. Aww!

Here are some easy and practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint