How to find – and how to be – a sustainable wedding supplier

Published by Claire Gould on

Weddings with plastic and waste are on the way out. It’s time for the industry to catch up: a mini revolution is on the way, and this time it’s not just about trends.

As redundant as polyester chair covers and barbie tiaras, single-use wedding items are starting to sit uncomfortably with couples and suppliers these days. We’re all looking for planet-friendly alternatives, and there are plenty if you just know where to look!

Image credits: Clare Randell. Stationery by Chloe Ainsley CreativeStyled shoot and full credits here

Did you see our 60 simple tips for a more sustainable wedding? Tap here to discover them all!

Wedding suppliers in every sector are looking to be more environmentally aware in how they work. Visit the right wedding shows and seek out sustainable wedding planners, and you’ll soon discover a network of amazing folks ready to create an incredible – and ethical – wedding for you.

We’d love for the majority of wedding suppliers to take huge steps in minimising their impact on the environment. We need the tables to flip; so most wedding brands are sustainable by default! It hasn’t happened yet… but in the next decade it will, and it can’t come fast enough for us!

Why the shift to sustainable wedding suppliers?

We picked the rather glorious brain of lovely Gwenda at Green Union for her thoughts.

Changes in everyday life are a key thing. The majority of couples I know who have embraced sustainability on their wedding day have done so because they are already doing so in their everyday lives to some degree.”

And of course, with every supplier you choose you’ll want to ‘click’, to have things in common – from your photographer to your florist and cake maker. If you’re all about living minimally, and their showroom is full of plastic and bling, it ain’t gonna work out! If you meet a wedding supplier over a coffee and their lifestyle mirrors yours, you’re onto a winner.

Suppliers know weddings need to catch up!

Wedding professionals are all too aware that we operate in in the realms of luxury and excess, and collate a multitude of industries which are amongst the most polluting and wasteful in the world into just one day

That’s why we’re aiming for change. Leading lights we’ve featured on English Wedding include several of our members: Sarah Hoyle Photography, and vegan wedding planner Sian at Amethyst Weddings for example. We’ve showcased ethical bridal designer Sanyukta Shrestha over the last three years because we LOVE what she stands for. And our members are independent wedding brands, those small businesses whose creativity is huge and whose carbon footprint is tiny when compared with the big names of the wedding industry.

We’re focused on YOU – and you’ll change the world!

Gwenda says, “Representing 30% of the world’s population, Millennials are the target audience of most wedding businesses today and they just happen to be the most concerned generation when it comes to environmental sustainability. Millennials are the first generation to have grown up in a world where climate change became a reality…

Having the internet at our fingertips makes it even easier to find ethical wedding suppliers, via  websites like the Sustainable Wedding Alliance and the Natural Wedding Company blog.

Our top tip for finding ethical suppliers to create your dream wedding is to keep looking until you find just ONE amazing supplier. They could be your photographer, your venue, a wedding planner or vegan cake designer. And then ask them who they know.

The wedding industry in the UK is a wonderful little web of connected businesses. Somewhere between instagram and the whole pandemic thing, folks came together and in every town, city and county there are little networks of likeminded wedding suppliers.

Trust us: the most sustainable wedding businesses in your area know each other. They’ve worked together, they’ve had coffees and chatted about weddings and sustainability, and they’re doing everything they can to find clients just like you, who share their values.

The 2020s made us all stop and think

It cannot be denied that so much of the wedding industry has long been associated with extravagance and excess – which equates to huge amounts of waste and a whopping carbon footprint.

One silver-lining of the pandemic has been the rise, albeit by necessity, of the intimate wedding… the fact is that is most cases, the fewer the guests, the lower the carbon footprint of travel, the less waste etc etc. The job losses and uncertainty about the future have further curbed excess. Combine this with couples becoming more environmentally aware, sustainability, by a combination of accident and design, looks to become a key feature of weddings.”

The pandemic certainly didn’t pass wedding suppliers by unscathed: it had a massive, devastating impact on thousands of wedding businesses. Everything stopped, and we saw a shift in the makeup of weddings. This triggered all kinds of changes for suppliers, not least a new focus on sustainability.

How to begin a sea change in your wedding business

Gwenda writes about wedding businesses, “There are 2 key areas in which you can become more sustainable – the first is in your lifestyle and at home, the second is of course in your professional life – and both intertwine, especially for those of us who work from home.

“But when you do so, just be honest – no one needs any more unethical ‘green washing’. Absolutely states what you are doing, but also what you’re working towards if you’re not there yet, or what you’re unable to do and why. It’s absolutely ok not to be perfect and not to have all the bases covered – progress is better than standing still.”

Let’s start today.

Honestly, until every supplier is making more conscious choices in regards to their products and services, there will always be room for more! But it’s important to celebrate all the little moves in the right direction; Anne-Marie Bonneau’s famous quote about how “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” rings just as true to me if you replace ‘zero waste’ with ‘sustainable weddings’. In that eternal balance between budgets and ethics we must all find our place, vendors and clients alike.”

Gwenda has been part of the wedding industry since 2012. “I started off as a floral designer – and I’ll admit to not always having been the most eco-conscious one (no room to grow myself and limited local resources made for a heavy reliance on imports, however seasonally I chose). As the years went by, it bothered me more and more – the result was that in 2019 I switched to dried flowers which could be sourced predominantly from the UK, or better still, gathered fresh and dried myself from close to home. In a fortunate stroke of serendipity, at this same moment I was offered the opportunity to take over the GREEN UNION wedding directory and blog, which (thanks to both coronavirus and arthritic fingers) is now my full-time wedding industry baby!

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 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.


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