7 practical and achievable tips for planning an eco-friendly wedding

Published by Claire Gould on

A guest article from HeadBox
Header image by Becky Harley Photography – full feature here

With human damage to the environment increasingly under the microscope, more and more couples are planning eco-friendly weddings in a bid to cut down their carbon footprint, and it’s not hard to see why.

According to the Green Bride Guide, the average wedding can rack up a massive 400lbs of waste and a frightening 63 tonnes of CO2 – the same amount that five people would produce in an entire year!

Additionally, research from EventMB and MeetGreen suggests that wedding guests can throw away up to 1.16kg of waste that goes into landfill. As you begin to do the maths on the number of guests you want to celebrate your special day with you, the amount of waste really begins to add up. This all has a severe impact on the environment.

Before we explore the 7 ways you can make your wedding more eco-friendly, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a 100% sustainable wedding. A certain amount of waste is to be expected and there are plenty of areas that you wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – compromise on. But, there are some ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and that’s where we can help!

1. Food for thought

At HeadBox, we have planned and organised some truly amazing events of all sizes and so we know through experience how the food and drink you serve to your guests can make or break your wedding.

This is certainly an area where you shouldn’t be compromising. There could be nothing more disastrous than guests going unfed because of any efforts to reduce food wastage..

While we have no doubt you will find organic, ethically-produced food that is delicious, our advice is simply to ensure you let nothing go to waste! For the events we plan, we use OLIO. OLIO is a mobile app for food-sharing that reduces food waste by connecting people, so surplus food can be shared and not thrown away.

It’s simple, it’s eco-friendly and it means you have less to worry about when it comes to running out of food or feeling guilty about throwing so much away.

2. Ask the right questions

The decision you make about your wedding venue is one of the most important you’ll make throughout the planning process. We know from experience that not many venues market themselves as sustainable, and that’s because the most important thing is you love the venue for its styling and its facilities.

But, there are plenty of venues out there that have solid sustainability policies – you just need to ask. There are plenty of questions you can ask hosts when you are searching for a venue that will help you understand how committed they are to sustainable practices.

What is your plastic policy? How do you recycle materials? How do you dispose of food waste? What sustainable or green initiatives do you encourage? It may seem like a lot but if you are serious about being eco-friendly this will give you an indication of what effect your wedding will have on the environment.

It will also show the venue that you are serious about being green and will encourage them to do all they can to help you, especially if you ask these questions before you have made a final decision on whether it’s the right venue for you.

When focusing on the venue you may also want to consider whether everything can be done on the same site, reducing the amount of travel between the ceremony and the reception will be a huge plus and if accommodation is also on-site you won’t have to rely on taxis to ferry people away at the end of the day.

3. Carbon offsetting

Travel can be a tricky business to deal with when it comes to a wedding and is often something that is way out of your control. If your heart is set on a wedding abroad then the obvious issue is plane travel for you and your guests, which is by far the biggest contributor when it comes to carbon emissions.

Even if you keep it local the chances are some of your guests will travel a fair way by car. If it’s possible to keep things local then that is a no-brainer. If it’s possible to offer buses that transport guests to and from your venue then that’s even better still.

If you’re really committed to reducing your carbon footprint, why not offer guests the opportunity to offset their travel as part of your invite? A company such as myclimate.com allows you to offset travel by air and by car. Whilst being a huge plus for the environment, it’s also a unique and fun alternative to a gift list.

4. Get digital

From the invites to the menus, and from the order of service to the thank you cards, a lot of paper is involved. So what can you do? First off, you have a few opportunities to go digital. E-invites are a solid first step. Digital invites also cut down the cost of sending out paper invites as an added bonus.

Your venue can also help in going digital. Another question you may want to ask on your venue visit is whether they have screens available to display the order of service or seating plans.

If you are dead-set on using paper for these elements, there are still a couple of things you can do for the environment. Why not use recycled paper and include a gentle reminder on the invite for your guests to recycle your invite? Remember, every little helps!

5. Enjoy local blooms

With some couples spending thousands on floristry at their wedding it’s a real shame that they simply get thrown away at the end of the day.

If you opt for seasonal flowers (think tulips, hyacinths and daffodils in spring, peonies, hydrangeas and roses in summer, poppies, gerbera and gladioli in autumn and hyacinth, pussy willow and berried ivy in winter) you will be able to find living plants that your florist can source.

You should also consider choosing potted plants over Oasis which is more organic and will keep your costs much lower.

6. The guest list

We don’t mean to be blunt but… Can you reduce your guest list? As we’ve already mentioned, one wedding guest alone can contribute to 1.16kg of waste that goes into landfill, so it is worth thinking about who you really want to attend your special day.

It might seem brutal but fewer people means less impact on everything we’ve already mentioned. Less-fuel used to travel, less food waste, less paper, less single-use plastic, less everything! The other major plus point to cutting down on guests, of course, is it cuts down on costs as well.

7. Lastly, inspire others

This may not help make your big day more eco-friendly but we think it is so crucial that everyone with intentions to become more environmentally aware shares and inspires others to do the same.

Any items from your wedding that can be passed on to other couples currently planning theirs should be passed on and reused. Any advice, ideas and tips that you picked up on your ethical journey should also be shared.

The more we keep sustainability at the forefront of everyone’s mind the more people we can inspire to join us in doing more for the environment. Good luck and keep the green ball rolling!

Sheridan Roberts is a Senior Event Manager at HeadBox, the fastest growing Event Tech brand in the UK and Ireland. Our purpose is to bring people and spaces together to make brilliant things happen, everywhere.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


Elizabeth Kimber · February 19, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Really good piece, some great ideas!

Top 12 Wedding Trends for 2020 - HeadBox · February 25, 2020 at 4:23 pm

[…] Sustainable weddings promise to be naturally beautiful. Gone are cheap plastic trinkets (table diamonds and glitter confetti are OUT!) and they’ll be replaced by flickering soy candles, recycled paper place names and growing plants along natural wood tables – all with a soft, organic colour palette. […]

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