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A kinder and more sustainable approach to planning your wedding. (With no ‘should have’s, no expectations and more love)
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Our focus on weddings and the planet aims to help you plan a greener celebration, and one that’s kinder to your mental health
Sustainable wedding planning
Header image by Jaye Peg Photography
Sustainable weddings, to us, means a happy experience and stress free planning. Sticking to a comfortable budget is a huge part of that.
If you haven’t been following our sustainable weddings series, you might want to check back or bookmark our recent months’ features:
- Weddings & Planet – don’t let your day be about ‘stuff’
- Weddings & mental health
- The elephant in the room: weddings’ carbon footprint
- Finding (or being) a sustainable wedding supplier
Let’s talk about wedding budgets
Today we wanted to talk about budgets. The wedding media focus way too much on ‘average wedding budget*’ figures (which we believe are massively distorted) – and this can put pressure on couples to spend more than necessary. This has an impact on mental health, on carbon footprint and on waste at weddings. Why? Because budgets dictate the size of a wedding. If you’re constantly told that a figure of £xxx is normal, you’re likely to be influenced by that in some way.
(In a very subtle way, we all compare ourselves to what’s normal. If you’re a thrifty couple or great at budgeting, perhaps you’ll subconsciously aim to spend about half of the ‘normal’ figure. If you’re both high earners, maybe you’ll think you’d probably spend 30% higher than ‘normal’. But here’s the rub: if someone behind a desk at a wedding magazine is deciding what ‘normal’ is, why should that figure mean anything at all?)
Let’s try something: with your partner, without showing each other, write down what each of you thinks your wedding might cost. Reveal your figures, compare and have a chat.
We’re guessing if one of you has been reading about weddings on websites, blogs or magazines, your figure will be higher.
If you have very different ideas about your wedding budget, there’s a lovely article on Green Union about how to compromise while planning your dream wedding. Working things out together so you’re both on the same page with budgets will help your wedding planning go smoothly. It’s something to do as a team, so agreeing what you can happily afford is really important.
Enough about what you should or shouldn’t spend. Weddings aren’t about money or budgets. Weddings are about celebration and fun – and that’s FREE.
Whatever your budget, high or low, it’s super important that weddings should be
- Common sense spending – the key to keeping things stress-free
- Save first. Give yourselves time and put money in the bank
- Include a buffer ‘just in case’
- Don’t borrow
- Accept any financial gifts with grace (and caution – no strings!)
- Block out pressure to overspend
- Plan as a couple
- Don’t buy wedding stuff just cos it’s wedding stuff! A wedding should be unique and about you
- Full of personality. Make your day about YOU (two)!
As a part of the wedding media in the UK, we want to use our voice to bring a little balance. No one should feel pressure to aim their wedding budget towards a level of spend dictated by the press. Especially with the cost of living crisis we’re in right now, no one should even feel pressure to have a wedding at all. (Elope! Elopements are amazing. Or live together in love – married or not – weddings are optional!)
We want to be a part of a thriving industry which gives couples choice. That feels like a sustainable future for everyone.
And the key to a more sustainable approach to wedding budgets? Focus on personality. Plan and style your day around who you are – not what you see in the wedding media.
It’s all about being YOU. And for most of us, hiring a stately home for a weekend probably isn’t you. (Let alone booking a function / conference room in a hotel for a day.) Right from the start, try not to be swayed by perceptions of what a wedding ‘should’ be. Being yourselves might mean booking out your favourite pub for the afternoon, or having a party at home…
Starting points to help you frame some key wedding decisions around your personalities:
- Think about your venue: where do you like to spend your time? Pubs? Camping? Airbnbs? Abroad? Countryside? With the use of an independent celebrant, could you have your wedding there?
- Photographer: how important are photos to you both? How knowledgeable are you about photography? What style of photos do you love? Perhaps photography isn’t that important to you – and that’s fine. Our recommendation would be to hire a pro if you can afford one, but do shop around, and within your budget always choose based on quality and personality – not price!
- Catering: forget standard wedding food! If formal dining and a sit down meal isn’t your thing, how about a vegan pizza van, picnic baskets, banquet or family style dining?
- Styling: There are so many options from DIY, hire, having all of your family helping, or just using your venue’s own style. Making your wedding ‘you’ could mean splashing out on flowers, or spending on your outfits and keeping decor minimal. Or it could mean a picnic on hay bales at a local farm. Think about your home, and your friends’ homes. Could you grow lavender in little pots for a year and use that for table styling? Plants are super sustainable for wedding decor if they live on after the big day!
- Your outfits: Balance dressing up and wow factor with feeling comfortable. (We’re not just talking about dresses!) A white dress and hire suit are NOT your only options! (Until the 1980s, people just wore their best outfit to get married in. They didn’t buy new, let alone spend £££ on a dress to wear once!) So think about your culture? Charity? Borrow outfits or just be creative. Most of all be You
- Guests: the size of your wedding has a big financial impact. Micro is cool now. Be comfortable rather than showy – smaller weddings generally have more personality!
We’re huge fans of sustainable wedding website Green Union, and we wanted to share some words of wisdom we found on there:
Go through your wedding planning list to see where you could make savings. Eco-friendly favours are a great idea, as is using sustainable decor, including many items you might have around your home like books. Making some changes will help you limit waste, and can help you get better value for your money too.
By making some eco-friendly changes to your wedding, you can enjoy savings that can be put towards other elements, or even your honeymoon. Even making small changes can make a big difference, allowing you to have your dream wedding knowing you’ve done your bit to help the planet too.
Your wedding will be your best day ever.
Remember “Happily ever after” includes the day after your wedding, and the last thing you should be feeling is bogged down in debt as you start married life
A note on those ‘average wedding budget’ figures. I was Googling for something entirely different and came across three separate ‘average’ figures, all quoted by The Guardian, ranging from £7,500 in 2015 to £21k in 2010 and £15k in 2009. It’s not the dates that affect the statistics: it’s the source of the information.
I’ve added these stats to the bottom of this article, because I really, really didn’t want to include numbers at all. Please, take these figures as proof that no one knows what the average wedding budget is. All the research is done by insurance companies and banks, wedding blogs and magazines… they’re all asking VERY different groups of people and that’s how the figures are always so wildly different. ~ Claire
Emmeline Smith explores 5 ways to make greener choices for your big day – without making compromises – which can even save you money!
1. The Dress
Whatever you chose to wear on your big day, wedding attire is a great place to start making more considered choices. With clothes worth £12.5 billion being chucked into landfill in UK each year, buying less is a great way to start helping the environment. A wedding dress costs up to £3000, so it’s also a great place to save money too!
Most wedding dresses are worn for just one day, so look for a suitable vintage option. Anything you find can be repaired and altered by a good dressmaker, to make something really unique. Family and friends may be willing to donate a pre-loved wedding dress or suit too.
Consider separates which can be worn again – bridal separates and jumpsuits are a huge trend and much more easily reworn than the standard bridal shop white dress!
Hiring wedding dresses is growing in popularity in 2022, as couples look for ways to save money and wear something really special. You can hire dresses for as little as £15 per day and some shops rent amazing designer dresses for a fraction of the sales price. Who doesn’t love to save money and help the environment?
If neither of you will be wearing a dress, there are so many more options out there. We love tailored suits with floral or colourful accessories. Or why not opt for a more casual, boho-chic look?
2. The Ring
Forget a diamond engagement ring if you want to ensure you’re making an ethical choice. Some diamonds are mined in warzones and the proceeds are used to fund more fighting and other atrocities. You can’t tell which are ethically sourced by looking at them, so to be 100% sure you’re making an ethical decision, buy a moissanite engagement ring.
Moissanites are incredible gems first discovered in meteorites that fell to earth! They are so similar to diamonds, you’d have to be a professional to know the difference! They’re almost as hard as traditional mined diamonds, will never lose their brilliance and sparkle and can last a lifetime too. Even better, they’re produced in a lab and have no negative environmental impact and are 90% cheaper than mined diamonds! So, you can afford to go-large! There’s a wide range of stunning moissanite ring styles at www.infinitydiamondjewellery.com.
Infinity Diamond Jewellery supports ‘One Tree Planted’ and donates a tree for every purchase made and we love the trees!
3. Wedding Gifts
Traditionally, the wedding gift list was so couples could ask for the essential things they needed to set up their first home together, but with many couples living together before tying the knot, it’s not necessarily needed today.
There may well be things you still need, but if you’re not in desperate need of more ‘things’, why not ask your guests for charitable donations to a cause that’s close to your hearts? It will make your special day even better, knowing your guests are contributing towards a worthy cause that means something to you.
While fresh flowers are undoubtedly beautiful, they aren’t the most eco-friendly option. Make things a bit more sustainable by decorating your venue with displays of dried flowers and grasses, which not only look stunning and are very on-trend and will last for years to come.
Top tip: If you’re buying dried flowers, do check they’re UK grown and not dyed – organic is even better!
Instead of the usual table flowers, arrange tiny potted herbs, lavender, succulents or seasonal flowers on the tables. If you encourage guests to take them home, the decor also double-up as wedding favours! You can place plants on the tables, and stick your name tags in the pots for unique place settings. If you do have your heart set on fresh flowers, always go for flowers that are in season and grown in the UK to lessen the negative environmental impact.
5. The Confetti
As the newlyweds take their first steps into the world as a married couple, the throwing of the confetti is such a fun part of the day – but there’s no need to scatter scraps of dyed paper all over the place.
Opt for natural options, such as dried lavender, rose petals, fresh herbs and fresh or dried flowers. I’ve seen couples use dried leaves, fresh rosemary, gypsophila flowers and even bird seed! If you have time to plan, dry your own petals and you’ll save ££ too! It’s good to note, if you buy dried petal confetti, do check that the petals haven’t been dyed as the dyes can be bad for the environment too. You can even go old-school and use rice – get creative! Just make sure everything you use is biodegradable and your venue allows the throwing of confetti.
Find out more information about how to be more sustainable every day at www.wrap.org.uk
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!
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…”
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!
No one is really talking about the waste generated by big weddings. It almost feels as though you can’t have a big wedding without a huge impact on the environment… as if most of the wedding media are implying it’s just one day: what harm can a wedding really do, and do you even need to think about sustainable wedding planning?
We know there are lots of you out there who would love to reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding. We believe the wedding media should play a much stronger part in normalising sustainable weddings. Right now, it still feels a little as though they’re a niche choice – but that’s wrong.
Let’s TALK about sustainable weddings more.
We have one big fact to share with you today.
The bigger your wedding, the worse your carbon footprint is likely to be.
It’s a bad fact. It makes us sad.
But it means the secret to a more sustainable wedding is dead simple: reduce your numbers.
Here’s a nice fact, for balance:
Smaller weddings tend to have a lower carbon footprint.
Isn’t that lovely?
If you’ve already considered the environmental impact of your wedding, you’ll be familiar with Green Union. In their words, “a happy accident of COVID-19 is that intimate weddings are by their very nature more sustainable: the fewer the guests, the lower the carbon footprint of travel, the less waste… the list goes on.”
We’ve talked so many times about the beauty and warmth of micro weddings. The trend towards smaller and more intimate celebrations was beginning to emerge before the pandemic, but 2020-21 really saw a huge shift in the size of the average wedding.
It wasn’t by choice, of course – but for many couples it was a revelation to be able to have a cosy and heartfelt small wedding, with a big party later.
And whether knowingly or not, couples who celebrated with their very closest people had a minimal impact on the environment compared with the average ‘big wedding’ of 2019.
We hope micro weddings are here to stay, we really do.
We appreciate that not every wedding guest list can be culled – we really do! Different cultures and different family traditions will often dictate the size of your wedding. Often it’s out of your control who will come: if your parents are footing the bill for example, or in cultures where the wedding is as much about the family coming together as it is about the couple.
And that’s fine. All we’d ask is that you look at reducing single use items, consider transport and reducing or offsetting your carbon footprint as much as you possibly can.
But if your situation is a little more flexible and you’re in the position of being able to really have “your day, your way” – then you have the option to minimise your guest list and have a sustainable wedding.
Here’s how to keep your guest list planet-friendly!
- Start with parents, close grandparents, and siblings
- Invite your very closest friends – the ones you see every week
- Everyone else is optional 😉
- DON’T feel you need to invite people you don’t see often
- You don’t have to invite everyone whose weddings you’ve been to
- There’s no rule that you have to invite colleagues
Remember, lots of couples choose to have micro weddings now, and people will understand if they’re not invited when you say yours is only a small wedding!
The ultimate in planet-friendly weddings: why not elope?
The sweet spot for a micro wedding is 20 – 30 people. An elopement might be just the two of you, or a couple of witnesses. You can always have a party later, and if this party is more relaxed with none of the traditional… well, traditions!… of a wedding*, there’ll be less waste, fewer single-use items, less chance that people will buy a special outfit they’ll only wear once… and another little win for the planet.
*Think: floral arrangements, table settings, seating plans and signage, favours, food waste, vehicle hire, decorations…
If this intrigues you, read more about planet-friendly elopements
With thanks to lovely Gwenda from Green Union for the inspiration – more coming soon!
So often we hear about “wedding stress” that it’s almost taken as a given: you should expect wedding planning to be stressful. I think this is a dangerous perception, as wedding planning can be difficult, but it shouldn’t have an impact on your mental health.
If you’re suffering from stress as a result of wedding planning, it’s time to take a step back and look for help.
Wedding planning can be hard.
It’s the first test of your marriage, before you’re even married!
Planning a wedding can cause family arguments and plenty of tears.
It can also be a joyful adventure – and it’s all about balance and how you approach your wedding planning journey.
Our approach is to be conscious of the potential impact of planning a wedding, and to focus on your mental health from the very beginning.
We talk about mental health as part of our sustainable wedding series for one reason: weddings shouldn’t break our planet or people.
We don’t hear enough in the wedding media about looking after your mental health. That’s such a shame – we think it’s really important.
- You’re a team – be strong together
- Be there to support each other
- Don’t overburden yourselves
- Balance responsibilities
- Think carefully about what you both want
- Avoid people-pleasing
- Focus on having a personality-filled, joyful celebration
I asked top UK wedding planner Mark Niemierko about wedding planning and managing stress. As wedding planner to the stars, the Niemierko brand is known for huge and extravagant celebrations – and Mark had some wonderful tips to share with us.
So much wedding planning stress comes from peer pressure. This has always been an overall factor, but when you add in the pressures of social media – the likes of instagram, Pinterest and even WhatsApp, peer pressure is huge.
Mark talked about weddings being one of just 3 major life events: the others being the (very private) birth of a child, and funerals. There’s something about weddings which everyone finds so exciting. They’re the one celebration in your lives where everyone will be together: your closest family and friends, as well as work colleagues – most likely you’ll have people from all kinds of different backgrounds together in one space.
I like to remind a couple, as cheesy as it sounds: “You’re in love. You’re committing to one another. Let’s bloody celebrate it! But celebrate it in YOUR way.”
Focusing on having a celebration full of personality is key to managing wedding stress. It’s far easier to plan a day which feels natural and enjoyable to you both, than it is to style a celebration inspired by Pinterest.
And we’re not talking colour palettes here: we mean finding a venue you’ll feel at home in, embracing only the traditions YOU really care about. Perhaps most importantly of all, reducing your guest numbers and having a more intimate celebration will help reduce wedding planning stress on so many levels.
- Stop trying to do everything at once.
- Put things into categories and tick them off one at a time.
- “You’ve got to be practical before you can be pretty” – ie, understand all of the logistics around the venue before any decorative ‘extras’
DON’T SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON WITH YOUR WEDDING, WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Everyone has an opinion. Unless you specifically need someone’s advice or opinion about something, don’t ask for it!
Mark told us it’s amazing for guests to experience your wedding for the very first time on the day, and be surprised and delighted by what they see! – so keep them guessing!
(And in the run up to your big day, who cares about their opinion anyway?!)
How to politely tell family and friends you don’t need their opinion on your wedding plans
It’s not always easy to keep secrets about your wedding, or to avoid a conversation with someone who wants to know all about your plans (and then share their own ideas and opinions about your wedding!) – so how do you politely but firmly avoid their questions?!
I asked lovely Mark, and these were his tips!
Answer with, “Darling, all I need you to do is look fabulous, turn up and enjoy the day!”
Say, “I don’t want to turn into that person who sits with their friends and talks about their wedding.” – and then ask them a question about their life.
You might want a best friend’s opinion on your dress… but don’t take four friends with you when you’re choosing your dress! (You could always take friends to one of your fittings.)
If you have an overbearing parent who wants to be involved, the best thing is to involve them in something specific – for example, you might have narrowed your menu choices down to two options and you don’t really care which is the final choice – get your parent to make the final decision. That way they feel important.
If parents are paying for some or all of your wedding, they do need to have more involvement. It’s just about managing it.
And if you overshare, be prepared to get opinions!
Although the Niemierko brand is known for the most incredible luxury weddings in the UK and beyond, Mark’s background is modest, and he’s a wonderfully down to earth and charming person. When it comes to unique weddings, Mark’s secret is to fill your day with your personalities:
“There’s something unbearably chic about just being yourself!”
Niemierko weddings are famously unique and different. And while they’re extravagant and fabulously decorated, the secret to having an amazing wedding is one that works for any budget: it’s that whole ethos of just stripping it back to create something really personal.
“People getting into debt for their wedding and the need to do that is a really terrible thing. I think it should all be relative.”
Think of your wedding as an opportunity to create NEW traditions. If you don’t fancy a cake or flowers, then don’t have them! If your passion is vegan food, have the most incredible plant based feast you can dream of! None of the ‘standard’ wedding traditions (outfits, transport, classic venues) are must-haves.
Don’t feel pressured to style your wedding a certain way
Wedding stress can come from feeling the need to tick the box or the latest trend on the internet – for example, the whole ‘learning to have a dance’ thing was a big trend a while ago, and it can leave the groom (if he’s not a good dancer) feeling absolutely nervous and not enjoying it. (Mark says, “He should be dancing really badly and being himself! The only time you should do something like that is if you’re a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, in which case the entire wedding should be themed around dancing!”
Look for inspiration but do things your way.
For example – One of Mark’s couples wanted karaoke in the dancing. They knew it was naff but they didn’t care, and the groom was a singer. It worked out brilliantly!
The first time Mark heard of a photo booth was before they were a thing: “it was really different, and look how that took off!”
I agree 100% with Mark at Niemierko that fun is such a big thing – the amazing excitement of being engaged can be followed by all the stress of planning and the feeling changes – but you’ve got to have fun.
Planning fun things can be amazing (for example, Niemierko had a Prince impersonator at a wedding – it’s something that’s really quite weird, but it’s fun! The groom was obsessed with Prince. He knew every single song, even the B-sides. Everyone in the room knows he was obsessed with Prince) – we hear Mark and his team are planning another wedding with an amazing lookalike to appear late in the evening after the main band.)
“It could have been a bit tacky, but it wasn’t – well, it was, but in a good way!”
7 secrets to reducing wedding planning stress
- Have a plan
- Work out what to do when (and allow yourself lots of time)
- Allocate responsibilities: who does what? (Remember you’re a team: don’t split everything down the middle! Divide and conquer doesn’t work in weddings!)
- While you’re planning your wedding include breaks, treats and rewards for yourselves
- Remember real life
- Make sure you schedule in plenty of wedding planning-free days
- Look to the future: plan treats and adventures for after your wedding. Life doesn’t stop once you’re married!
1. Have a plan
Mark shared some fantastic advice to focus on the core components of your wedding first of all. The best way to think of of planning a wedding is like building a house from scratch:
Think of the venue as laying the foundations and think of the florist as the cushions and curtains.
Would you go cushion and curtain shopping before you’ve even laid out your house?
Those 5 core components to decide first are:
- Your guest list
- Your dates (but don’t fixate on a single date until you have…)
- … your location
- Your budget – and be honest, what can you afford without getting into any debt?
- Your ceremony type (religious, civil, celebrant-led etc)
2. Work out what to do when
Perhaps you’d like to get married two years’ from now, or maybe you’d like to be wed before Christmas. Either way, you will need to figure out when stuff needs to be done.
Have a plan – however you two work best as a team (it might be Excel or a kitchen wall planner – something that works for you both). Work out what’s important and when you need to tick it off as ‘done’
(Wedding checklists online aren’t necessarily helpful here – keep things simple at first and don’t listen to anyone who says you NEED to send out invites three months in advance or Save the Dates a year before the big day. There are no rules!)
However, if you’re hiring a venue, buying a traditional wedding dress or booking a photographer, don’t let time slip through your fingers, as they can book up a couple of years in advance. Flexibility is your friend: do you really need all of these?
3. Who does what?
Most of your wedding planning items should be done together (e.g. photographer meetings, venue visits, guest list decisions) – but there will always be little bits you can allocate between you (budget overseer / spreadsheet queen) or to family and friends (chief gardener / maker of signage).
If anything, writing down responsibilities is a reminder that you’re in this together, working as a team!
4. Breaks, treats and rewards
If every weekend has a wedding planning task, it will drain you. Letting your wedding take over your life is a warning sign that your mental health could suffer.
So reward yourselves and make it tons of fun. Have a weekend away after you send out your invitations. Get together with friends for a barbecue when the sun shines. Treat your mum or dad to a lovely day out… and don’t talk about the wedding!
5. Real life
At first you might think you have eighteen months to plan your wedding – and it’s easy to assume that the whole of that time can be used for wedding stuff. But reality check: life carries on.
Allow yourselves to relax and unwind. Expect that you’ll still need time for all the usual stuff: a family member might need your support if something unexpected happens. A friend might need help moving house or you might be faced with a sudden career change. Real life won’t stop for your wedding, and anything at all can happen.
There will be times when your wedding isn’t the most important thing in your life, and that’s absolutely fine. Remember – be kind to yourselves.
If for any reason you need to postpone your wedding, we’ve a useful article from the mental health team at Bupa on how to deal with wedding postponements. This was written when Covid was impacting lots of couples, but it’s equally relevant for postponements due to family illness or other situations.
Take a break. Allocate days in your shared calendar where you’re not doing ANY wedding-related stuff. Taking the pressure off for a while will help keep you sane through the busy times!
And schedule these planning-free-days in. Because as your wedding planning gains momentum, it’s harder and harder to ‘find’ time for other stuff. If that time’s already set aside, it’s easier to tell people you’ve got other things you need to do on a particular day or weekend.
7. After the wedding
Don’t forget there’ll be a day when you’re all married and don’t have any wedding planning to do. Keep making plans for then – book in time to visit friends and family, for your hobbies, for whatever adventures you love doing in ‘normal life’!
The build up to a wedding can be intense.
The comedown after a wedding can be really hard if you suddenly find your diaries are empty after months of being busy doing exciting things. So make sure you plan good things for this time!
Most importantly, above anything on this list, is to ask for help if you’re struggling.
Mental health issues can’t be fixed by a few tips on the internet.
If wedding planning stress is having an impact on your life, reach out. Look for professional support and therapy. It really is ok not to be ok – and the support is there for you.
Our friends at Bupa shared their top 5 tips for stress free wedding planning
We do love planet-friendly, sustainable weddings! This lovely and super useful article to help you plan your eco-friendly wedding was written for English Wedding by Hampshire wedding photographer Sarah Hoyle
If you are planning your wedding this year, you might be well aware that it can actually have a huge impact on the environment. There are lots of things only used once for the day and at high cost. You may be feeling the pressure to fly guests in from abroad and also to fulfil a more traditional idea of a dress or suit, or flowers.
Remember it is YOUR day done YOUR way, and if caring for the environment is something you do as part of your lifestyle, all your values shouldn’t go out the window, just because it’s your wedding day. Also if you are the kind of couple who wants to help make positive change in the world this should be reflected in your wedding as part of who you are. Celebrate your selves and honour all that is important to you.
So, where on Earth (excuse the pun) do you start?! There’s a lot to think about and juggle anyway with planning a sustainable wedding and trying to make eco choices along the way just adds to the confusion and overwhelm. This is why I’ve put 5 easy tips down as a starter for ten. Small swaps can make BIG differences so shop smart and I’m sure you will have the day of your dreams without compromising your vision and creating a large carbon footprint.
1. Firstly ethical wedding food!
Try to avoid using too much meat and dairy in your wedding menu. The way we farm and produce meat and dairy at the moment contributes to 14.5% of global greenhouse gasses. Vegan food is much more accepted now and plus it’s super tasty! And whatever your food choice, choose caterers who source local produce.
When you book your caterer check their eco policy. Do they recycle, separate and compost the waste food or do they throw it into the same bin afterwards? Also who oversees if this will actually happen? Sometimes caterers have great intentions, only to then hire in agency staff who know nothing of the environmental policy and unknowingly throw everything into black bin bags. A catering manager should keep ALL staff up to speed with what happens to the food afterwards.
2. Your guest list
Consider a smaller guest list. After Covid most people have started liking the idea of small intimate weddings anyway. The more people means more waste at your wedding. So who could you get away with leaving off the list? Aunt Beryl? Also consider how far your guests have to travel to be with you. If any are driving miles, could they take the train or car share? Or if some would need to fly over, would you consider not inviting them? Maybe having a live feed to the ceremony instead? This is an emotional one, rife with family politics and pressure. But remember it’s your day!! But a tough one so just do what you can to reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint here.
3. Sustainable flowers
Flowers are one of the most beautiful things about weddings. But do your research beforehand. Find a florist who works sustainably. This means seasonal, locally grown flowers. Not imported from abroad. Using natural ways to create displays and not floral foam, which is very damaging to the environment. It is made from synthetic, non-recyclable plastic and uses toxic foam.
Dried flowers that haven’t been bleached are also super on trend right now and are more sustainable as they last. I know it’s all very tempting to try and recreate that Pinterest inspired bouquet but if it’s using out of season flowers, the florists would have to import them in and they may well have been grown using pesticides and chemicals. Ask your florist first what is available at the time of your wedding and plan your flowers around what can be sourced ethically.
4. Ethical wedding favours
Try not to give favours just for the sake of it, it’s a tradition that seems to have lost its meaning of late. Most people don’t even use or take home the favour unless it’s edible! So consider whether or not you want to give them. But if thought about more, you could give something that can be reused or has an actual purpose. For example, a seed packet, small plant, homemade jam, homemade lemonade for example. All have small carbon footprints and are super cute sustainable wedding favours!
5. Your wedding outfits
Now of course your dress can be VERY important! However it’s a dress worn for one day, not the most eco friendly item on the list! So to reduce the waste and carbon footprint, source a locally made dress, use a sustainable bridal shop, use recycled fabrics, buy vintage or second hand or you could even rent. All great options and actually probably less of a strain on the old bank balance too!
The same applies to wedding suits – often hired, but there are other options including a local tailor, or buying second hand. Wearing a suit you already own is absolutely fine as well: why not accessorise with a beautifully patterned waistcoat, a bowtie or cute pocket square and tie from a local Etsy seller?
Hopefully you are feeling like you have more of an idea how you can help the planet and still plan the sustainable wedding of your dreams.
Here are some little extra thoughts too, I’ve seen these kinds of items panic bought at the last minute, so as long as you are planning ahead you can avoid buying mass produced tat from China!
- No single use plastic toys for kids
- no single use flip flops
- no pots of bubbles
- Ensure bar suppliers don’t use single use plastic cups
- Thoughtful thank you gifts for Mums and bridesmaids rather than bouquets that won’t last.
- Also you could consider offsetting carbon with planting trees or ask guests to contribute to tree planting initiatives as part of their wedding gift.
- You could use the National Trust to plant trees or sign up to Ecologi to plant trees and fund carbon offsetting initiatives.
Have fun, do your research and don’t be shy to ask for your wedding suppliers’ Eco Policy!
We love weddings! We’re excited for all of you lovely people out there planning your weddings. Enjoy the adventure… and along the way, let’s do our very best to reduce weddings’ impact on the world around us.
A wedding is a happy celebration with origins as old as time: humans have been falling in love since we got here.
Weddings are a thing we invented.
(You don’t have to have a wedding to get married.)
(You don’t have to get married to spend your life with the person you love.)
Weddings don’t have to cost a penny.
And weddings can be anything you want them to be: a celebration of love doesn’t need to follow traditions.
Let’s make some new, planet-loving wedding traditions!
Weddings are an opportunity to consider love for the earth.
Modern day weddings don’t need to lean towards consumerism.
A wedding shouldn’t be all about ‘things’, but about focusing on what’s truly important.
- Weddings generate a huge carbon footprint
- They create waste with single-use purchases – check the facts at 77 Diamonds’ Full Guide to a Sustainable Wedding
- They’re portrayed as high-spending events (and we fall for the hype)
We’d love to see more plastic-free weddings.
There are little choices we can all make around wedding planning. Little swaps like plastic-free favours or choosing ethical suppliers.
There are even ways to offset the carbon footprint of your wedding.
We’re not here to dictate what you ‘should’ do, or to judge you. We’re all doing our best, and reading this is enough. Thank you.
If you can make your wedding more sustainable, we think you’re pretty amazing.
Some quick tips and amazing swaps for a planet-friendly wedding
- instead of a big ‘do’, choose a cosy micro wedding
- instead of long journeys, find a venue close to home
- instead of imported flowers, use a local grower-florist or grow your own
- look for ethical caterers
- have a charity gift list
- give back to your community
If you’d love to have a more sustainable wedding, the best starting point for your eco friendly plans is with a completely blank slate.
- venue hire
- food and drink
- new outfits
We know this is almost revolutionary (at least in the world of the wedding media) – but it’s true. There is NOTHING you have to have, to have a wedding.
A brief history: weddings and consumerism
Weddings haven’t always been this expensive.
Oh, and by the way: this is an alternative history which you won’t find on Wikipedia.
Modern western society has changed astonishingly fast in the last century. People have changed: we own a LOT of stuff.
Imagine just before the First World War. People worked hard, on farms and in factories, and earned little. They had houses, but they didn’t have TVs or phones or department stores. They grew their own food, made their own clothes, made just enough money to get by and often went hungry.
It really wasn’t so long ago.
Now, we all have Netflix and laptops and iPhones. We buy new clothes all the time. We spend our money on scented candles and flavoured gin. We fly abroad. We visit restaurants. We have savings and spa days, and cars and more than two pairs of shoes each.
Many of us live a very privileged life, and our weddings have changed with the times to reflect that.
Brides in the early 20th century didn’t go to a boutique and choose a £1,000 dress. They’d make their own from what they could afford, or they’d borrow, or wear their Sunday best.
Grooms wouldn’t hire a suit for the day. They’d wear their best one, and that was fine.
No one spent hundreds of pounds on flowers or cakes. Driving out to a grand old country house was beyond aspirational for most people. They’d have a church ceremony and a couple of group photos outside, and a modest reception if they had one at all.
Ask yourself a question: was there anything ‘wrong’ with the way your great grandparents got married?
It actually all sounds really lovely, doesn’t it.
And the impact on the planet of the wedding I’ve just described? Tiny, beautiful – and so much better than the harm we create with weddings in the 2020s.
Take a step back from the wedding media today.
Ask yourself what your wedding needs to be, and why. Talk about it between the two of you.
Your wedding can be anything you want it to be, and you can choose to spend as much or as little as you can afford.
Focus on what’s important to you both.
Create something beautiful.
And think of all the big and little things you can do, to make the world a better place.
Making weddings sustainable is important to us at English Wedding.
We’ll be sharing a whole bunch of articles to help you make your wedding better for the planet.
Follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!
There’s more to this article than meets the eye. Lovely Sarah speaks from the heart about her custom made wedding rings with vintage and family heirloom gems. And she won me over the first time I read this piece – what could be more romantic than giving new life to a treasured diamond or gemstone? The loveliness of Heulwen Lewis Bespoke also lies in its creator. There are plenty of ethical diamonds businesses, and bigger brands making bespoke rings. But having spoken to this lovely lady, I’d choose her if I was looking for a wedding or engagement ring. Because a special ring should have heart and soul, and Sarah’s shines through in everything she creates. Please read this – it’s wonderful.
Last month I had the pleasure of delivering a vintage style cluster ring made from preloved jewellery to a lovely client who wanted a remodelled piece. We used diamonds from three preloved rings and combined her 18ct yellow gold with some recycled platinum for added white sparkle! It was definitely one of my favourite designs to date: when the client called to say thank you, I found myself tearing up!
Hearing how happy she was was great feedback. Even after sixteen years in the jewellery business, I’ve never grown tired of breathing new life into preloved items and remodelling them to reflect the wearer’s personal style – and this feels even more relevant now.
Life has turned on its head over the last few years, and many people are rethinking how they want to live their lives. Shopping feels more meaningful these days: customers are telling me they’re vowing to support ethical local businesses from now on or that they’re avoiding fast disposable fashion.
This attitude applies to jewellery too. More couples than ever are asking us to create engagement and wedding rings that incorporate old stones. Others are bringing vintage gold or platinum they’d like to meltdown and remodel. Or sentimental items that have been gathering dust because they don’t suit modern tastes — the ring from a lost loved one, the vintage earrings from a grandparent, the pendant handed down from generation to generation. We love transforming these keepsakes to suit the current owner, so they can be worn with pride and treasured for years to come.
A lot of the feel-good factor comes from knowing these pieces are sustainable. Of course, I love the buzz of shiny brand-new things. But for the planet’s sake, I prefer to reuse what customers already own to create what they want instead.
Sometimes that means melting down customers’ metal and redesigning something fabulous. When this isn’t possible, we source recycled metals from other sustainable sources. Customers are sometimes surprised to hear that all loose diamonds and gemstones can also be reused, from the tiniest to the largest. Should there be any wear and tear, such as chips/scuffs from the old mount, these can be polished out until the stones look as good as new. Again, we source stones from sustainable and fairtrade sources when vintage stones aren’t available.
After all, precious gemstones and metals have been around for billions of years! And they’ll likely be around for many more. By their very nature, these materials lend themselves to being recycled and reused over and over. In this way, even as fashions and tastes change, it is possible to stay up-to-date in a sustainable way.
Looking for inspiration for your wedding? Take this redesign of a much-loved claw set ring, combined with two diamonds from a pair of unworn studs. I loved remodelling them into a stunning contemporary five stone engagement ring.
Or perhaps you’re looking for an alternative wedding ring for the groom? I created this signet ring from a preloved ring that we cleaned, resized and fitted with a specially cut stone.
So why not dust off your forgotten gems and get in touch? We’d love to transform your vintage jewellery into a future heirloom that’s sustainable for generations to come.
Get in touch here: https://www.heulwenlewisbespoke.com
The average wedding emits the same amount of CO2 as 4-5 people would in an entire year. If you add to that the hundreds of pounds of waste produced, to say that most weddings are not eco-friendly is an understatement.
Luckily, there are ways to keep the carbon emissions and waste from your wedding at a bare minimum. If you follow these tips for an (almost) zero-waste wedding, you can get married in style without harming the planet.
Keep It Local
Destination weddings were once all the rage, but flying all your friends and family across the world to see you tie the knot is simply not feasible if you want your wedding to have a low ecological impact.
Instead, keep your wedding local – though exotic climes may be tempting, there are so many magical wedding venues right on your doorstep. You can even extend this idea to your honeymoon too.
Keep It Small
With more and more people embracing the micro wedding, you might just be waiting for an excuse to keep the guest list limited to your nearest and dearest.
Limiting attendees to only those who are really important to you can minimize stress and make the day into a really special one.
The fashion industry accounts for approximately 10% of global carbon emissions. Instead of spending a fortune on a dress or outfit you will only wear once, why not go vintage? There is no better way to keep it sustainable while at the same time honoring the past and embracing the timeless elegance of “granny chic”. And you can always have outfits altered to be a better fit, both size and style-wise.
Embracing vintage chic can go beyond just your outfits and your bridesmaids’ dresses. The current trend for vintage-style maximalism is a great opportunity to go hunting in junk shops and antique stores for décor inspiration. Repurposing second-hand items in new ways will give your wedding the elegance of the past combined with a quirky edge. So bring out your grandmother’s old doilies for place settings and teacups for champagne.
Wherever you can, hire instead of buy. Often, things like tables, chairs and crockery come with a venue, but if not, there are lots of places where you can hire beautiful wedding goods. Note that hiring from many different places means more CO2 emissions in the form of transport vehicles, so the more you can get from the venue or from one place, the better.
These days, there are even lots of options for hiring beautiful wedding gowns and stylish suits. If you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense to buy something you will only wear once. Another more sustainable option when it comes to wardrobe is to go a more casual route and buy a cute and funky outfit you will easily wear again.
Paperless Wedding Invitations
In all likelihood, you were planning to get in contact with guests via email or other digital communication anyway, which renders paper invitations not strictly necessary. But you can still make your invites beautiful and special by using an E-invitations service.
If you are set on paper invites, go for recyclable/compostable paper or something more sustainable like bamboo. One way to make your invitations extra-special is to use seeded paper that will grow into flowers if planted! Just make sure your guests know what they are supposed to do with their invites.
Look Into Zero-Waste Beauty Products
These days, more and more cosmetic companies are committed to being zero waste. Researching which brands are legitimately sustainable will take some time, but voting with your wallet is an important way to let brands know that consumers care about sustainability.
If you are hiring a professional makeup artist or hairstylist, contact them beforehand and let them know you’d like to eliminate as much waste from the process as possible and only want to use sustainable brands. If they say it is impossible, they may not be the right fit for you.
But there are certainly lots of professionals out there who will take up the zero-waste challenge. Who knows, you may even change their practices long term.
Find A Venue That Shares Your Values
When looking into venues, make a commitment to sustainability one of your top priorities. Find a place with its recycling and composting system, and one that already has its own wedding goods and décor. Ask them about how they keep their energy use low and minimize waste.
You should be able to tell by how they respond whether they are truly committed to sustainability or just paying lip service. When it comes to venues, it is important to feel that the place you choose reflects your values and takes your concerns seriously.
Choose Reusable Or Compostable Goods
There are many little things at weddings that can add up to a mountain of rubbish. From programs to menus to serviettes to drinks bottles, it’s easy to see how those kilograms of waste add up.
Wherever you can, choose options that are recyclable or compostable, and make sure you have clearly marked bins, so your guests know what goes where. Also, skip the bottled water for jugs of filtered water at your hydration station.
Stay Local & In-Season
When designing your menu, go for ingredients that are grown locally and are in season. This way, you can minimize carbon emissions while supporting local farmers. In-season produce is always the most delicious anyway.
If you really want to keep emissions low, consider a plant-based or meat-free menu.
If you are using a caterer, try to find one committed to sustainability, or talk to them beforehand to get them on board. It’s also a good idea to do research into sustainable wines or talk to your drinks supplier to make sure you are supporting brands that share your zero-waste ambitions.
That Goes For Flowers Too
There is a wealth of gorgeous flora that grows naturally right here in the UK. Talk to your florist to make sure all your flowers are grown locally and sustainably. You could even go for dried flowers for an autumnal, cottage-core aesthetic.
Attempting a zero-waste wedding does take a little more effort, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Your guests will admire your commitment and you may even inspire others to pursue a zero-waste wedding and lifestyle!
Wearing a dress for your wedding that has been in your family for generations can be a great experience. Donning the dress worn by your mother or grandmother can make your big day extra meaningful and bring you closer to your roots.
Sometimes brides wear hand-me-down dresses for other reasons, such as sustainability or a tight budget, and in these situations the following tips and tricks are just as useful. Preparing for a wedding is a huge undertaking for the bride and groom and choosing your dress is often one of the most important aspects.
Some brides aren’t keen to use a hand-me-down dress, but for those open to the idea, there are many ways of making it your own without destroying the existing style.
Big Wedding Dress Decisions
Before making any final decisions about your dress, it’s important to do some soul-searching and weigh up pros and cons.
Wearing an heirloom dress can make the day more meaningful, but that doesn’t mean you’re obliged to accept something you find unattractive. There is no point in going ahead with a hand-me-down dress if you simply do not like it.
1. Be Realistic – Do You Really Like It?
A dress that’s been passed down through a family comes with a lot of expectations. A mother who has dreamt of their daughter walking down the aisle in her old gown might not even realise the pressure the bride feels to live up to that hope.
Weddings are already fraught with stress, so it’s important to decide within yourself whether wearing a hand-me-down dress is truly what you want. If you’re doing it for someone else you’ll have to accept the fact that you may not feel totally happy with your outfit.
2. Heirloom Dresses
Some hand-me-down dresses are more meaningful than others, in the sense that they have been passed down through multiple generations rather than belonging only to the mother of the bride. These are usually known as heirloom dresses (as opposed to hand-me-downs) and can be extremely old.
Styles can range from ornately decorated gowns in a range of colours, to dresses with sweetheart necklines or scoop necks.
3. Necessary Alterations
It’s highly likely that any hand-me-down dress will need a few alterations in terms of size and shape. It’s important that the original owner of the dress is open to such adjustments. If they aren’t, wearing the dress could easily become a major stressor rather than a meaningful action.
Hand-me-down Dress Basics: Tips And Tricks
1. Where To Start?
Hand-me-down and heirloom dresses by their very nature are old-fashioned. However, some characteristics of vintage wedding gowns are luckily timeless.
If there are elements of your hand-me-down dress that are decidedly not for you, getting some advice from a dressmaker is a good first step before throwing out the idea entirely. This of course also depends on the expectations of the dress’s original owner. If the assumption is that you’ll pass it on to your own daughter, making drastic alterations to the style might be frowned upon.
2. Size, Shape And Fit
You’d be incredibly lucky to land a hand-me-down dress that fits you perfectly. When it comes to the size of a dress, a professional dressmaker will be more than capable of adjusting seams and darts to make it the right fit for your body. Making a dress larger is more complicated than shrinking it, but is still achievable.
Some style elements of older dresses are making a comeback. From the flowing styles of the early 1900s to Princess Diana’s elaborate taffeta and lace gown, it is obvious even to the untrained eye that fashions have undergone a drastic alteration.
Fashion styles change constantly and a dress from 1961 could be entirely different to one made in 1968 or ’69. With the evolution of wedding dresses, the ideal fit has also changed, along with standard sizing categories.
The shape of a dress is just as important as its size. Although some vintage styles have made a comeback, the way they accentuate different parts of the body still feels out of date. The trend of mini dresses in the 1960s seems to be becoming popular once again, but many 2021 brides prefer more modern styles and shapes.
These days, backless gowns, off-the-shoulder sleeves and “maximalist” details are all the rage. Taking a look at styles through the years, it’s clear that many older dresses could easily be altered to reflect current trends – while retaining their vintage feel.
3. General Condition
If a hand-me-down dress has been well-preserved with the intention of being worn again, there should be no issues with the quality and condition of the material and needlework. Sometimes, however, a vintage or heirloom dress will not have been stored correctly.
Fortunately, cleaning a dress isn’t a complicated affair. Vintage gowns can become discoloured easily, but soaking the dress in cold or lukewarm water with detergent can help to restore its brightness.
4. Making the Dress Your Own
Getting married is a big thing, and finding the perfect dress for the occasion is very important for the vast majority of brides. What a “perfect” dress is depends entirely on individual taste. Some brides have a clear idea of the gown they’re looking for while others arrive at their final choice through a process of trial and error.
If you already know what you want, then work with someone like a dressmaker or seamstress to see how a hand-me-down dress can be altered to fit your preferences. Bodices can be tightened or loosened and sleeves can be adjusted to be either longer or shorter. Bouncing ideas off someone you consider stylish can help if you are less certain about your desired ensemble.
Something Old, Something New…
While mum’s wedding dress is a very special gift for any woman, your wedding will also be one of the most memorable events in your life, so don’t settle for a style that you don’t truly like.
Fortunately, it is always possible to adapt even the most old-fashioned gown to reflect your taste – tap into your inner dressmaker and enjoy the process.
If there was one blog feature I could hold up to the world and say, “here: this is why I’ve been blogging for ten years”, it’s this. I’m in love with the beauty of this seaside elopement which reminds me of my own wild beach. The images are out of this world. But it’s the words from Suffolk wedding photographer Beth Beresford which really grab onto my heart and stay there. As we head into 2022 with sustainability a real focus for our wedding blogging future, I only wish I could articulate, anywhere near as beautifully as she does, what Beth has captured here. Words and images by the fabulously talented Beth Beresford Photography. Full supplier list (and these guys are all SO amazingly good at what they do) below.
Photographer – Beth Beresford Photography https://www.bethberesfordphotography.co.uk/
Stylist & Planner – @make_our_day_
Dress designer – Maggie Sottero https://www.maggiesottero.com/
Textile Designer – Mia Sylvia https://www.miasylvia.co.uk/
Make up Artist – Emily Chantal https://www.emilychantalmakeup.com/
Florist – Suffolk Flower Garden https://www.suffolkflowergarden.co.uk
Stationery – Lovely Letters https://www.etsy.com/shop/lovelylettersuk1/
Hair – Glow Occasion Hair https://www.glowoccasionhairspecialist.com/
Furniture – Anthology Vintage Hire https://www.anthologyvintagehire.com/
Jewellery – The Vamoose https://www.thevamoose.com/
Decorated Shells – Brandyoak Cottage https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BrandyoakCottage
Ribbon – Penelope’s Child https://www.penelopeschild.co.uk/
Napkins – Myrrh & Honey https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MyrrhAndHoney
Cake – @whiskandwonderful
Table Runner – Magpie Linens https://www.etsy.com/people/MagpieDecorLinens
“Waste not want not” as my Nana would say as I begrudgingly shuffle my unwanted veg around my plate with my fork. Whilst I hate to admit it, she was right. She was born in an era that survived the second world war, that included rationing, repurposing fashion, reduced workforce and a number of other challenges. I do have a love of shiny things but as is becoming clear, the world will not survive the level of consumption at its current rate.
As we come out the other side of an extraordinary experience, there is a laser focus on what is most important, a lightbulb moment if you will. Family, friends and love. Weddings have picked back up in a rapid fashion, but with more meaning and appreciation, rather than it being an excuse for a party. That was where the idea of an all eco elopement was born.
We titled the shoot “Rewilding”, reintroducing nature, reacquainting wild happy hearts and nurturing the sentiment of the wedding. Everything sourced for this wedding inspiration was economically kind, recycled (or upcycled) and reused.
I would love to know how many wedding dresses sit in ornate boxes, folded carefully away in tissue paper, sat quietly in attics around the UK. The dress in this shoot was second hand, bought off ebay for £100, the original owner had paid £1500 for the first wear of this exquisite Maggie Sottero dress. So we sent it to Mia Sylvia, who using carefully selected natural materials hand dyed the dress to give it an ombre dip dye effect.
As we know, a large proportion of the cut flower industry creates a serious carbon footprint. Flowers are grown in humid controlled greenhouses, then refrigerated and transported thousands of miles. There is of course the impact of water consumption and pollution from the various pesticides. I have heard the words slow business banded about often, the implication of time and patience, love and nurturing an entity. This was what we wanted for the cut flowers. Mel, of Suffolk Flower garden, is one of a number of florists bringing back home grown flowers. Grown on her own land, she fosters and nurtures these flowers in an economical way.
Glass is one the few materials that can be recycled with little to no diminishing returns. Over and over again. Name places and plates were made from recycled glass, their attributes allowing them to lend themselves to any style and colour scheme imaginable.
Furniture absolutely made this shoot, Amy from Anthology Vintage hire lent a few of her incredible pieces. She has scoured charity shops, auctions and fairs to find the furniture she hires out. Tables hand made in house from recycled wood. Her items see hundreds of wedding in their lifetime, oh if they only had mouths, the stories they could tell.
An elopement that puts love back where it belongs, in nature, reacquainting with the wild.
Beth Beresford Photography is an English Wedding member. Discover more & get in touch!
A guest article by English Wedding member Little Green Wedding
Did you know that your special day can be a source of amazing waste? No one wants to cut corners on their big day, but recent research shows that on average each wedding is responsible for over 20kg of single use plastic waste and over £500 of food is thrown away after each reception.
For an Eco-conscious bride or couple, they should be looking to reduce waste before the wedding even starts. Many couples now are opting for sustainable wedding rings, however the next stage of wedding planning offers a considerable opportunity to showcase your green credentials.
Pre-day wedding stationery such as Invitations, RSVPs and Save the dates are traditionally made from virgin paper stock, adorned with glitter and metallic foils to give them a luxury look – none of which is recyclable.
Even those papers made from Kraft brown ‘recycled’ paper can be environmentally damaging.
The alternative of digital stationery is workable, but often does not convey the sincerity that a paper based product allows.
To create a special effect, Little Green Wedding has invested in a range of Tree Free alternative papers to make beautiful, luxury wedding stationery to entice a range of sustainably minded customers.
Their best selling products are made from Tree Free paper which is actually reclaimed cotton from the textiles industries embedded with a range of beautiful flower and vegetable seeds.
They have a growing stock of pre-made designs in complimentary themes and work on custom items too. Not only are these products eco-friendly, they allow the recipient to grow a little memento for your big day, and happy couples can have fun growing a flower garden with RSVPs after the event.
They even have wedding stationery made on a range of other paper stock including sugar cane, Elephant Poo and Eco Cotton.
On your special day itself, waste can again rear its ugly head, but you can keep your whole stationery line in range with matching place cards, Order of Service, Menus and other stationery ideas.
Discover more & get in touch!
Steering a wedding blog along the right path is a fun part of everything we do… and we’re always looking to be better.
After covid (is it too soon to say that? Probably but…) we’ve learned a few things: family and human connection are massively important.
At the beginning of 2020 we were all about sustainability in weddings – and at that time, sustainability meant carbon footprint and reducing plastic, reusing and recycling and so on.
It kinda feels like the world changed in the last two years, and we want to keep changing too. That whole Be Kind thing? That stuck. We want to be the nice, ethical wedding blog.
The wedding media – magazines especially – is so often about the things you NEED TO BUY for your wedding. (And oh it’s so beautifully subtle isn’t it?) But the truth is that you don’t actually need to buy anything for your big day. Has any wedding blog ever told you that?
Weddings can be very, very affordable.
We’d like to. And to be honest, we’re probably going to keep saying it, rather a lot.
So over the coming months we’re going to focus harder than ever on sustainable weddings – but not just green stuff.
We’ll start with affordable weddings: how much should you spend? (Oh, and a little word about ‘average wedding budgets’… a pet hate of ours! Expect a rant…)
In a nutshell, you should spend what you can happily afford. No more. And no loans. Weddings will be different for every couple, but we promise a £200 wedding can be as beautiful as a £200,000 one.
We’ll have things to say about balancing affordability with personality (because that’s where the beauty comes from).
Sustainability in weddings should mean more: it should mean ethical and affordable weddings, and celebrations which do no harm.
But what harm can a wedding possibly do?
Okay, so – mental health. Waste. Debt. Plastic.
When you dig down into the details, there’s so much to think about – from your outfits to favours to where the eggs in your wedding cake came from.
We’ll be talking most of all about how to do good when you’re planning your wedding though.
There is so much we’re excited to tell you about –
Simpler budgeting. Looking after your mental health. Charity (in a hundred ways!). Supporting independent businesses. Recycling. Community. Offsetting. Vegan weddings. Not to mention the joy of gathering family and loved ones together for the celebration of a lifetime.
We’ll be publishing a whole bunch of articles about having a sustainable wedding over the next few months.
If you’d like to have your say – especially if you’re planning a sustainable wedding, or maybe send us in a little quote or a guest article we’d love to hear from you! email@example.com
In the meantime, did you see Boo & Charlie’s sustainable micro wedding on the blog? She wore a Raimon Bundo designer wedding dress… from a local hospice charity shop. His suit was from Oxfam online. Need we even SAY more?!
Have your cake and bin it: do UK couples really waste £1.6 million worth of wedding cake every year?
Header image by Linus Moran Photography
Creators of high-quality, made-to-order diamond jewellery Austen & Blake have conducted some research to find out just how much waste is created by UK weddings every year and the results are pretty shocking.
It’s way past time for us to ALL focus on sustainable weddings, and Austen & Blake have created an infographic full of information to help you choose more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to some of your wedding day must haves. From upcycling your decor, switching plastics for biodegradable substitutes, opting for native flowers from local florists and selecting caterers that use locally sourced produce, there are numerous ways to make your big day that little bit greener.
Wrapped up in the excitement of wedding planning, it’s easy to get carried away with decorations, flowers, food and everything in between when planning your special day, but have you thought about how much of that will end up in the bin at the end of the day?
According to Grazia, 10% of wedding food is thrown away, and 15% of couples throw away the top tier of their cake. (The reasoning behind this statistic appears to be that traditionally, the top tier was kept for the first child’s christening, and that 15% of couples don’t stick to this tradition.)
Cakes aren’t the only thing that ends up in the bin though, there is a magnitude of solid waste that no longer serves a purpose when the big day comes to an end with the average wedding producing one third of a metric tonne of solid waste**.
If that wasn’t enough of a blow for the environment, the amount of carbon dioxide created by weddings is potentially more shocking. With a single UK wedding producing 14.5 tonnes**, all 113,537 of them are collectively emitting a ghastly 1,646,286.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Anthony French, diamond expert at Austen & Blake says, “We came across a number of shocking statistics around the waste created at weddings, but we wanted to uncover the real magnitude of the problem by looking at how much waste is created each year in the UK alone, and well the results are pretty scary.
“Weddings are the biggest day in many people’s lives and it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement and planning, and with that we can get a little bit greedy, ordering more food than we actually need, extra decor ‘just in case’ and the most exotic show stopping flowers possible – but it is about time we start thinking about the impacts this might have.
“The environment is something we have the power to protect and whilst we have the chance it is certainly worth taking into consideration when planning your wedding day. As our infographic shows, there are so many ways to plan a greener wedding, such as opting for natural or biodegradable wedding favours, asking for guests to use recyclable wrapping paper and even selecting responsibly sourced wedding jewellery to really seal the deal!”
You can view the full infographic here: https://www.austenblake.com/blog/how-to-plan-a-green-wedding
Sustainability is always a big thing for us here at English Wedding HQ, and so when a shoot like this BEAUTY comes along I get so excited to share it with you! Lovely Gwenda from Green Union designed, styled and coordinated this stunning shoot, which will inspire those of you looking to create a minimally styled wedding (but with wonderfully indulgent foliage) with organic, vegan, biodegradable and ethical styling touches. I’ll leave you in Gwenda’s very talented hands to learn how this fabulous wedding styling editorial came about!
In my capacity as a sustainable weddings advocate, I was invited by the very lovely Hayne House team to design, style and coordinate one of their open days, which doubles as an opportunity to capture a fully-fledged styled shoot all in one.
The concept began with an interpretation of the classic glasshouse/conservatory (as befits the main wedding reception structure), with mid-century accents and some boho touches (my self-indulgent favourites!). Overall, I was going for a minimalist aesthetic (clean lines and a restrained colour palette), with maximalist leanings through the densely planted décor and their textural/tonal variations. There was to be a dominant palette of whites, greens and browns, with black, light-mustard and gold accents (and an occasional bee motif, for good measure).
In keeping with the eco-credentials of the venue, I wanted to harness the talents of as many local wedding industry professionals as possible, to bring this vision to life with their shared eco-friendly and sustainable interests and working practices. The main sustainable considerations were:
• Hiring not buying and the beg/borrow approach for decor items from the homes of friends and family.
• Use of organic/Fair Trade/vegan products and ingredients
• Use of biodegradable materials
• Inclusion of reusable elements
• Favouring local and seasonal
• Ethical sourcing
We were lucky enough to get this one in just a couple of weeks before lockdown, but were unlucky enough to catch some rather terribly wet and windy weather; it didn’t seem to put off the visitors that day, however; there was a fantastic turnout, which is encouraging to see that interest in more sustainable celebrations is clearly increasing!
Venue: Hayne House
Coordination: Green Union
Photographer: Clare Randell
Videographer: Luke Batchelor Productions
Hair: Hero Hairstylist
Make-Up: Helen Lee Make-Up Artist
Wedding Dress: The Bridal Boutique of Jules
Bridesmaid’s Dress: Only Way via The Dornellie Bridal Studio
Painted Jacket: Berry and the Bee
Macrame Earrings: Beau Beau Art
Mobile Phone Case: Pela Case
Groom’s Suit: Model’s own
Groom’s Socks: Thought
Shoes: eBay and model’s own
Styling, Dried Flowers, Small Décor Items: Bohotanical
Fresh Plants and Ceremony Set Up: Mimi Fleur
Celebrant: The Storyteller Celebrant
Catering: Scott Anderson Event Caterers
Wooden Furniture & Chillout Area Set Up: Locate to Create
Signage, Bottle and Leaf Place Names: Boards by Jess
Stationery: Chloe Ainsley Creative
Beeswax Candles: Gold & Black
Glitter Bar: Queen Mab Glitter Bar
Cake: The Organic Cakery
Ribbons and Napkins: The Natural Dye Works
Engagement ring: Slade Fine Jewellery
Reusable Straws: Bare Kind
‘Bride’: Cathy Wilson, ‘Groom’: William South, ‘Bridesmaid’: Nadia Wojcik
An article by lovely Sian from Amethyst Weddings
Everyone’s been talking about eco-friendly and sustainable weddings recently. So is it a “trend” or are green weddings here to stay?
What makes a wedding eco friendly or sustainable?
By definition a wedding or event is eco friendly if there has been no harm or negative impact made to the environment. In reality it means to use services and suppliers that are conscious of the impact any product they use can have on the environment. They will have taken steps to eradicate these or have a plan in place to offset any negative effects. This can be done for example by donating to tree planting schemes or helping with local environmental projects if you have needed to use fuel for a car journey or similar.
Planning an eco friendly wedding isn’t as daunting or difficult as you probably thought.
What are the best ways to have an eco-friendly wedding or event? How do you find suppliers?
My top tip would be to choose local suppliers and those who are able to offer eco friendly alternatives. Check out local wedding supplier groups and #tags on social media such as #ecofriendlywedding #ecoweddings #zerowastewedding #sustainablewedding
Find one eco conscious supplier and they are bound to be able to provide recommendations. We’re a really friendly bunch.
Things to consider and ask your suppliers
How far will they travel for your event? How will they offset their carbon footprint due to fuel usage?
Can a disposable single use product be swapped with a reusable or 100% recyclable product?
Can they supply reusable cutlery, crockery and glassware as well as table linen and napkins that can be laundered and reused.
Will they recycle any single use plastic bottles locally?
Is food locally sourced?
Is a seasonal vegan menu an option? Vegan food is a great option to reduce the carbon footprint of your event.
Things to avoid
Anything that is designed to go in the bin after one use.
Any venue or supplier who won’t address your environmental concerns.
Any supplier who will travel all over the area and/or country.
A caterer that isn’t prepared to use quality locally sourced or seasonal produce.
So with the venue and main suppliers chosen how else can you make eco friendly choices?
You can apply the notes above to other aspects of your event like the decorations and flowers quite simply.
- What goes in the bin?
- Can the decor be rehired and reused?
- Can any of the decor be gifted to guests? For example, potted plants make great centrepieces and can be gifted to key guests as they leave.
- Are the favours useful? Will the recipient use them? Can you eat them? Can you plant them?
Don’t think that for one minute you HAVE to make your whole wedding or event totally eco friendly or sustainable. In my opinion any change is a step forward, one change or improvement will always be a better choice for the environment. We are living in a more eco conscious world now and every time you make an informed choice you are doing your bit for planet earth.
If you have any further questions about how to make your wedding or event eco friendly then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
This beautiful eco wedding was held at Coed Hills in South Wales, a zero waste events space set over 180 acres of unspoilt ancient woodland. Laura & Ollie chose this unique wedding venue because of its rustic charm and flexibility to have the day they wanted.
Laura & Ollie run their own catering company and are well used to running events and the organisation and detailed planning that had gone into this wedding was amazing. They designed the menu and catered their own wedding breakfast, with Ollie doing much of the food prep in the days before the wedding. Laura and her Mum were very creative making the flower arrangements and the table details.
Laura & her girls stayed over in the rustic cottage on site which was great for bridal prep photographs and many of the guests stayed in the glamping pods on site. Coed has its very own stone circle which was perfect for couples portraits. This was a very relaxed wedding in a cosy space complete with roaring log fire, and many guests commented on the homely nature of the venue.
Coed Hills has long been a leading centre for low impact living and brings this approach to hosting weddings. They even grow their own certified organic vegetables on site and this can be incorporated into the wedding feast. Their ethos is that weddings shouldn’t cost the earth and the vibe of the place is more like a chilled out festival than a wedding venue! ~ Words & images by Hannah Time Photography
Wedding photographer’s website:
How did you choose your photographer?
We met Hannah at our chosen wedding venue – Coed Hills – during an evening for upcoming Brides & Grooms. They host an evening every year, ahead of wedding season, and it’s a chance for everyone getting married there that year to meet each other, exchange ideas, and meet potential suppliers.
Hannah had a big smile and some beautiful images on display, she also seemed as excited by Coed as we were so we got in touch not long after that evening and booked her! I (Laura) am an Event Manager by trade and have seen my fair share of weddings, so it wasn’t hard to make our decisions and stick to them!
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
Absolutely! Hannah went over and above in the lead up to the day, and of course on the most special day of our lives. We weren’t the most natural on our engagement shoot, very awkward & nervous, but Hannah climbed the hills of Cwmcarn Forest Drive with us at sunset and captured some beautiful shots.
On the wedding day, our families and guests commented on how Hannah was everywhere without seeming rushed or stressed and granted we had a small party of 70, but she got pics of everyone and all the important parts of the day. I’m pretty sure she was still there after our allotted time had run out, but the day went so fast I can’t remember!
Tell us about the moment you saw your wedding photos for the first time?
There were loads! But of the 1000+ pictures, I only disliked one – and that was a close up of my face! They were stunning, they captured Coed in all it’s ethereal beauty and we had lucked out with a 2 hour break in the stormy Autumn weather – so the couple’s pics of us exploring the grounds are great. A nice mix of posed and special moments captured – like when I couldn’t get my wellies off!
Can you describe your wedding in fewer than 10 words?
An epic day spent making memories for life
Your wedding style or theme:
Rustic, relaxed – with a pop of gold glitter and baby pink. Quite a strong nod to Gin too!
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
Mostly locally using the internet. Again, Oliver & I run our own business in the events industry – as Wedding Caterers – Two Simmering Pans. So we were aware of a lot of suppliers, and really didn’t need that many as we could do a lot ourselves
What’s your top tip for saving money?
Get the Mother of the Bride to be your florist! Mine did an incredible job dressing the venue, but honestly if you are willing to go ‘DIY’ on some aspects of your wedding or have family/friends with creative skills – don’t be afraid to ask for help
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
We spent the most on the venue and it was definitely the right call. It was a whole weekend of celebrations, with close family and the bridal party s staying on-site with us over the weekend, meaning when the bar closed at 2am that wasn’t the last we saw of everyone. They were back for breakfast the next day, reminiscing (and helping us clear up!).
But Coed’s flexibility is it’s selling point – no corkage, no £15 per extra tablecloth, it takes a lot of the stress out of the wedding planning and makes it feel much more personal
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
I made everything for the wedding day myself, using Canva (table names, menus, orders of service). It didn’t take long and I created a website to hold all of the pre-event information, with emails sent as invitations. It’s not traditional but it’s kinder on the environment and more efficient for RSVPs!
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
Immediately! I had tried on about 10 and was about to give up, when Mum passed one more through the curtain and I cried when I saw it in the mirror! It fit perfectly, I didn’t need one alteration and I felt incredible in it
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
It was a Charlotte Balbier dress from her Willa Rose collection and I got it from One Bridal in Cardiff
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
I wore shoes from the Rainbow Club at John Lewis, so that I could die them and use them again. They were like slippers! Then just a pearl bracelet borrowed from Mum and a beautiful hair piece that I got at the bridal shop with my dress. Nice and simple
And what did the groom wear?
A three piece suit from Next – he looked very dapper!
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
I had them mix and match, so two wore full length gold glittery gowns and one (plus the flower girl) in Grecian style baby pink dresses.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
We hired the incredible Jodie from Minxies. They are magicians with a make up brush and also the friendliest team,
Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)
The majority I bought from a flower market and had them delivered, then my Mum arranged them for the table decorations and to dress the venue. The bouquets were from Nicola Downies florists in Caerphilly and were the exact boho feel and beautiful colours I had asked for
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
It did, it had quirky sculptures, art and a million fairy lights already there but we did everything else. Which I really enjoyed as I’m a huge control freak and luckily have very creative friends and family
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
I did enjoy it as I took my time, probably over about 6 months we slowly made bits and bobs and stored them in the attic until the big day. I’m a very organised individual, so it didn’t phase me and when it all came together on the day, it was so rewarding to hear everyone’s appreciation
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
A friend made our wedding cake, and like everything else it was relaxed. A naked cake, with caramel frosting and some gold leaf to match the colour theme! It was delicious
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
Brohemian were our band of choice, they are like Mumford & Sons and absolutely smashed it! The dance floor was full all night, they were brilliant. The rest of the day, we made a playlist for and it was a great experience spending an evening with my then fiancé putting songs together (you don’t always agree but it’s fun!)
Words of wisdom: share your best piece of advice for other couples:
Don’t stress. Take your time, be decisive and stick to it! It’s the most incredible day, honestly the best of my life so far, so don’t ruin it by worrying. And take your time to lap up every moment of the day, it disappears in a second
What’s the best thing about being married?
Saying husband – or hearing wife! Cheesy. Nothing much has changed to be honest, but it feels somehow more ‘together’ or ‘connected’. Like a unit, ready to take on the world!
Favourite supplier web links for other brides and grooms:
Food is such an important part of your day, all guests do is talk about it – Two Simmering Pans know how to cater weddings – https://www.twosimmeringpans.co.uk/weddingcatering
Minxies will make you feel beautiful – http://www.minxiesbeauty.com/
Coed is the most magical of venues – https://www.coedweddings.co.uk/
Photographer – https://www.hannahtimmphotography.co.uk/
Bridal boutique – https://www.one1bridal.com/
Dress designer – https://www.charlottebalbier.com
Florist – https://www.nicoladownie.co.uk/
Cake – friend – Rachael Moverley
Band – https://www.brohemianband.co.uk/
When I first began English Wedding I remember writing a little ‘about’ piece. The blog was for every bride and groom, and to showcase every side of English style from classic elegance through punk and folk, via city chic and our artisan heritage. I stand by that today: we’ve shared amazing inspiration and real weddings for every kind of couple. I’m proud of that.
And in these unsettling times I’m determined to keep supporting independent wedding businesses as much as I possibly, possibly can. Today I’d like to share sustainable British bridalwear brand Lee Klabin. Lee has just unveiled her AW 20/21 collection of statement bridalwear, fusing high fashion with incredible ethics and a look I just LOVE!
We’re right behind London designer Lee Klabin when she says the woman should wear the dress; not the dress wear the woman. Lee’s bridalwear is designed to be worn again and again, evolving into a beautiful part of your wardrobe: a treasured piece to re-style countless times.
The cornerstone values of Lee Klabin bridalwear are enduring, disruptive & dynamic femininity. All pieces are made in Britain, with luxuriously soft and 100% sustainable materials: UK bred Alpaca and cruelty-free silk, cactus leather, milk protein jerseys and Seacell /Merino yarns. All feathers (which are used in Lee’s jewellery collection) and leathers are reclaimed and ethically sourced. This is design with a conscience and without compromise.
Lee Klabin bridalwear stands out a mile from the rest, with gloriously flowing knitwear, 1920s inspired decadence and fashion forward styling. It’s a beautiful reflection of the values of the brand: Enduring, Disruptive & Dynamic Femininity with a big commitment to celebrating the evolving beauty of women, by creating exceptionally made sustainably chic pieces that emphasize their varied styles on all occasions.
Lee’s mission is to change perceptions of sustainable clothing and disrupt the codes of traditional fashion. She is passionate about designing pieces that exude responsible fashion or “Ethi-chic”, helping serve society and the preservation of our planet.
To further decrease the brand’s carbon footprint, Lee has meticulously selected only UK based production companies to make her collection, to help both our local economy and the environment. This coupled with the brands enduring support of its chosen four charities enables its customers to regularly give back through the brand.
We should all be planning a sustainable wedding in the 2020s. Our responsibility to the planet doesn’t stop on our wedding days! So is your wedding goal to be plastic-free, zero waste or just to not have a bad impact on the world around you? Wherever you are on the sustainability scale – and let’s be realistic, we’re not all ready for composting toilets and vegan banquets – we have 60 simple, easy and sustainable wedding ideas which will work for YOU today.
Grab a cuppa, find your wedding planning journal and get ready to plan your little-bit-greener wedding!
1. Keep it intimate!
Sustainable weddings start with a small guest list. Having fewer people travel to your day will cut down on your wedding’s carbon footprint and wastage. And hey, intimate weddings are less stressful to plan and wonderfully relaxed and laid back! What’s not to love?
For the brave, thrifty or adventurous free spirits out there, an elopement has to be the most sustainable way to say ‘I do’. With only two on your guest list, you’ll save money, reduce waste and have a ball. Just don’t fly to Iceland – there are amazing places to elope right here in the UK.
3. Minimise your guest list
If an elopement’s not for you, how about a micro wedding? Micro weddings include just a couple of your fave humans: parents, siblings and besties only. Your carbon footprint won’t be much more than a normal weekend away! Win!
4. Choose an eco venue
There are a handful of exceptional wedding venues around the UK whose whole ethos is sustainability. Consider the Matara Centre, River Cottage, or one of the many barn wedding venues which focus on green weddings.
Venues have a surprising amount of control over many aspects of your wedding, from catering to preferred suppliers. Your venue could be the one thing that dictates how sustainable you can make your wedding – so choose wisely! Ask about their sustainability practices: how do they reduce waste, recycle, minimise their carbon footprint etc.?
5. Plan for an outdoor wedding
An outdoor wedding in fields or forests can have minimal impact on the environment. Think posh picnic with solar fairy lights and soy candles, and let nature be your backdrop!
6. Have your ceremony & reception in the same place!
As gorgeous as they are to look at, vintage cars and buses guzzle fuel like nobody’s business. So avoid unnecessary transport by having your ceremony and reception in the same location, whether that’s a country house, barn or castle.
7. Walk to your ceremony and reception
If you’re marrying in church, you’ll need to find somewhere for your reception! So check what’s in walking distance. Village hall? Gastropub? Just let your guests know their shoes will need to cope with a 5 minute walk!
8. Get wed close to home
Remember the impact of travelling from home to your wedding location. Choose somewhere local for most of your guests so they don’t have to drive for hours to get to you.
9. Offset some carbon!
If your guests do have to travel, donate to compensate for it – Offset Earth is one way we love!
10. Or get wed AT home!
If you’re sold on the micro wedding thing, why not get hitched at home? Do the registry office thing then head back to yours for a celebration – or borrow your folks’ house, or your gran’s garden!
11. Choose an ethical wedding dress
Sooo many ways to do this – but the key message is to ask your bridal boutique all the right questions. Where are their dresses made? Who is employed to make them? Are the fabrics sustainable? Do they have an environmental policy? (For example, using sustainable energy providers, recycling and minimising waste) Of course, you can do more by avoiding high street boutiques and making bolder wedding dress choices…
12. Find a sustainable wedding designer
We’ve featured Sanyukta Shrestha on the blog before. Her gowns are made from peace silk and vegan fabrics, and handcrafted by skilled craftswomen from marginalised communities in Nepal. We’re huge fans of her designs, and in awe of Sanyukta’s ethics and philosophy.
13. Or choose a preloved, vintage wedding dress
Whether it’s a family heirloom or a timeless dress, vintage is the ultimate in sustainable wedding fashion! It’s also pretty amazing if you’re on a budget. Find your dream dress and then have your vintage gown altered to fit you like a glove by an amazing seamstress like Caroline Arthur.
14. How about a modern preloved wedding dress from Bridal Reloved?
If vintage isn’t your thing, search Bridal Reloved for your dream dress. Their gowns are second hand, modern designer dresses just waiting for you to give them a new lease of life!
15. Shop Oxfam wedding dresses
Did you know Oxfam have bridal boutiques in 12 UK towns and cities? With profits going to an amazing cause, and dresses at affordable prices, this is a huge win for your sustainable wedding points!
16. Have your dress handmade – and ask the designer to help with your green dress dreams!
Perhaps we’ve not quite made it to actual green dresses… but a local wedding dress designer will work with you to create your dream dress – and if vegan fabrics are important to you, just ask!
17. Guys – choose your sustainable suit option!
By far my favourite choice for guys is to have a bespoke suit made by a local tailor. Do ask about ethical fabrics, including local cloth and tweed from UK shores – and support your local economy by doing so!
18. There are benefits to hiring suits…
The ultimate in recycling is to hire your wedding suit, as we’ve been doing for years! If you’re comfortable in clothes twenty guys have worn before, you’re certainly getting eco-points! The only downside is the dry cleaning process: not exactly good for the environment – but perhaps the benefits outweigh the negatives?
19. No suit!
Wedding trends and traditions are just that: and they’re there to be challenged! Guys – you don’t have to buy or hire a new suit for your wedding! Suits just don’t look right at a festival style wedding or boho, woodland affair – so treat yourself to some ethical fashion from your favourite brands.
20. Sustainable bridesmaids
Gone are the days of bridesmaids wearing matching outfits for one night only! 2020 sees your best girls in outfits they love – not matching, not necessarily even brand new, but special, and definitely something they’ll wear over and over again!
21. Shop local for your accessories
Choose a local designer for your bridal accessories. Hair crowns, belts, jewellery and shoes can all be found close to home, from independent labels and all the more beautiful for it.
22. Upcycle or heirloom accessories
That special brooch of your gran’s… or your mum’s favourite necklace – having a ‘something borrowed’ with you on your day is saving cost, waste and keeping a favourite tradition going! Designers will often work a favourite item into your wedding accessories – a special brooch pinned to your bouquet or a favourite gem as part of your hair crown.
23. Plastic free bridal accessories
By having something handmade you’re most likely to avoid any plastic in your accessories. Ask the designer, explain your priorities and make sure your bridal accessories are from ethical and sustainable materials.
24. Style tables with growing plants
The trend for clay pots of houseplants on wedding tables is one we LOVE here at English Wedding! All that greenery makes tables look amazing, and you can double up your plants as favours for guests to take home! Try succulents and herbs for a chic modern look and fabulous scent!
25. Can you avoid cut flowers?
It’s hard to know which is the best way to do your wedding flowers sustainably. Some things to avoid if at all possible are imported blooms, pesticides and floral foam. If you want to avoid cut flowers altogether you could choose a brooch bouquet, paper flowers or faux blooms – but try to avoid plastics with the latter.
26. Grower florists are the brave bride’s choice!
The dream – and my personal favourite – is a local, organic grower florist who can create the bouquet of your dreams on your wedding day. Not an option if you’re set on specific flowers or colours, but absolutely thrilling and guaranteed to be beautiful if you’re prepared to trust in a designer whose insta you’ve fallen in love with!
27. Organic flowers
Pesticides are so harmful to the environment, and just as you’d shop for organic fruit and veg, you can choose organically grown flowers for your wedding tables or bouquet. Ask around to find a suitable florist near you – and be prepared to travel a little for the right blooms.
28. Grow your own flowers
Mums and Dads with green fingers can be brilliant at this! Not only can you have that personal touch to your wedding blooms, but parent-gardeners will be able to tell you what’s in season in the month of your wedding, and you can choose your flowers together, then watch them grow!
29. Dried flowers
Dried flowers and grasses have been huge trends in recent wedding seasons. There’s definitely something special about a bouquet you can keep forever, and the look is absolutely beautiful.
30. Faux flowers
Faux blooms have always been great for hayfever sufferers, and again if you would rather avoid cutting flowers which will die within days, faux is a great option. Choose quality blooms and avoid plastic if you can!
Create a wonderful ambiance with potted trees which you can take home and grow – olive trees with fairy lights look magical at a wedding reception!
32. Seed favours
On the subject of growing, why not share the love and give all of your guests a packet of seeds to take home and grow! We love sunflower seeds, cosmos or sweet peas which are firm favourites and easy to grow – and wildflower seeds for a spot of guerrilla gardening! (Find neglected land, throw seeds, watch nature bring it to life!). Check out Friends of the Earth‘s wildflower seed wedding favours or buy from an Etsy seller.
33. Plantable place names
Seed paper is a lovely idea – combine place names with favours with seed paper hearts from Etsy, which can be planted after the big day! I love mine from London-based Ruby and Bo.
34. Confetti – bio or bubbles!
There are so many wonderful confetti options, from real petals to recycled paper shapes or even bubbles! Avoid plastics – and provide your own confetti so guests don’t bring the bad kind!
35. Stationery – paperless wins!
For maximum eco points, go paperless and send invites by email or even by inviting people in person! Easier for micro weddings and intimate celebrations, this is a big save for the environment – and for your pockets!
36. Sustainable stationery is the only paper choice
If your wedding stationery in 2020 isn’t sustainable, you really should rethink your choices. Paper is so often wasted – so choose recycled, recyclable and FSC certified papers. Look for manufacturers and suppliers supporting ethical projects. For example, my own wedding invitations are always printed on recycled kraft paper or FSC card, and my sustainable wedding place names use recycled cotton rag supporting ethical projects in India.
37. Set up a wedding website to reduce the amount of paper inserts
There’s so much to say in an invitation! Rather than including accommodation and travel info, gift lists and more, set up an affordable wedding website and share the details your day online!
38. Find caterers who’ll use seasonal and local ingredients
Most quality venues will work with caterers who carefully source their ingredients – and this should mean seasonal and local produce, always. If you’re choosing a venue where you have the option to choose your own caterers, shop around and find the most ethical you can!
39. Vegan dining
Meat production is such a huge threat to our environment, and quite frankly weddings are a lovely opportunity to tempt those carnivores to try more plant based food! Ease them in gently with a vegan pizza food truck, or something other than the boring old meat and 2 veg they might expect!
40. Organic ingredients
Great caterers know exactly where their food comes from. Organic veg, bread made from organic flour, vegan cheese from organic nuts… every little thing counts. (Huge sustainability points if you actually choose vegan cheese from organic nuts on your wedding day, by the way!)
41. Organic wines
There are some fabulous organic wines out there – so reduce your wedding’s impact on the environment by supporting a vineyard which doesn’t use fertiliser or pesticides.
42. UK wines
Buy your wines from a UK vineyard – and enjoy a wine tasting together in the run up to your wedding! You can even get married at a handful of vineyards in the UK… does this sound like a dream or what?!
43. Support your local craft breweries!
Drinking wine all day long has never worked for anyone – so think out of the (wine) box and provide your own bar with the help of a local craft brewery! Independent beer producers are popping up all over the country and plenty have an eye on their carbon footprint. Find a good one, and provide a craft beer treat at your wedding!
44. Vegan wedding cake
We promise, unless you tell your guests, they will never know the wedding cake they’re eating is vegan. Having said that – it’s a wonderful way to show how amazing vegan food can be! Find a vegan wedding cake designer, serve to your guests, and THEN thank them for their plant-based choices!
45. Don’t try to be clever with plates.
Sometimes it feels as though everything ‘wedding’ has to be different. And it doesn’t. I’ve seen websites promoting the use of sustainably produced bamboo plates for weddings, or recyclable paper plates… but really, there’s nothing wrong with normal, platey plates like you have at home! They’re washable, and can be used again and again and again! You might need to provide plates if you’re bringing in a food truck, so check with your caterers first. If you need to hire plates, check out local wedding hire companies. There are some amazing ones all over the UK!
46. Hire your decor!
Save money and waste by hiring everything from your fairy lights to your chairs. Local hire companies will have the latest trends in wedding styling and can make your wedding shine – and everything can be used again for other weddings. A huge win!
47. Minimise food waste
Ask your caterer if they can help you to minimise food waste. Hopefully they’ll already have a policy they can share with you, but if you hit a dead end, look at Olio (food sharing app) or contact a local homeless charity to see if any leftover ingredients or food can be given away to someone who needs it.
48. Choose ethical wedding rings
Just having a diamond with a certificate falls way short of sustainability when it comes to your wedding rings. If you must have a gemstone of any kind, consider where it’s mined, who by, what is their life like? Could that miner afford the wedding you’re having? If not, then perhaps there are more ethical alternatives out there…
49. Moissanite (instead of diamonds)
Diamonds feel a little old fashioned to me now – so if you’re having a new ring made, and if sparkle is important to you, choose a moissanite ring instead. Moissanite is the lab grown alternative to diamonds, and it’s beautiful.
50. Heirloom pieces
Whether it’s your own family heirloom or just a beautiful antique with a story behind it, choosing a preloved wedding ring is a great choice for sustainability and for your pocket!
51. Get tattooed!
Perhaps not for everyone, but a fabulous choice for some – have a subtle tattoo on your ring finger instead of splashing out on wedding rings! This is great for guys who don’t wear rings too!
52. Handmade wedding rings
There are some incredibly talented ethical jewellery designers around the UK whose craftsmanship is second to none. Support your local economy, help an indie business and buy from a real human instead of getting a ring on the high street. Ethical win – and a wonderful experience for the two of you to share!
53. Wooden wedding rings
Wedding rings don’t have to be precious metals. Eco Wood Rings create beautiful wedding rings from the wood of fallen trees. Choose from their predesigned selection, or have a ring custom made.
54. Recycle your decor
If you’ve bought little bits to style your tables and wedding reception room, make absolutely sure they don’t go in the bin the day after. Have everything brought home and then give it to charity or reuse it in your home.
Never. Fireworks are awful.
56. Honeymoon in the UK
Once it’s all over, the planet still needs your help to survive. So forget long-haul destinations and honeymoon closer to home. Take a romantic train ride to Inverness, Windermere, Aberystwyth or St Austell and enjoy the beautiful countryside right here on UK shores.
I’m lucky enough to have been to some of the most romantic glamping sites in the UK – and I know there are more to discover. A few personal recommendations are Ty Donkey in Crickhowell, Yurt Reynolds in the Cotswolds, and Seventh Heaven Glamping in Gwynned.
The last thing environmentally aware couples want is more stuff – and hopefully your friends and family will know that! But there’s no getting away from the fact that people like to give gifts at weddings. The first thing to do is be absolutely clear on your gift wishes, and communicate it strongly. Use your wedding website so everyone knows the plan. Then give sustainable alternatives to toasters and plastic…
59. Charity donations
Why not set up a charity fund for an environmental charity of your choice. Think about local good causes too; or Oxfam’s ‘gift list’ of goats, honeybees and clean water.
60. Leave only footprints
The day after your wedding, nothing should be left but wonderful memories. If you hired a farm or barn venue, or married in woodland or in a festival field, the location should be ready to welcome back the bees and butterflies after you’ve gone. Don’t leave rubbish behind; be kind to the environment you’re in and ask your guests to respect it too.
As a nature lover, I am charmed by the tranquility that surrounds my home. All seasons passed by over the years but I couldn’t stop falling in love with the romanticism of Autumn. I waited until the end of October for leaves to be turning with shades of golden yellow and orange and to naturally fall, to capture the whole beauty of my collection, in which ‘Autumn’ itself is an inspiration. – Sanyukta Shrestha
The passion behind Sanyukta Shrestha’s bridal collections is clear as a drop of autumn dew: the dresses breathtaking and the ethics a shining star to lead us into a new decade. Sustainability has to be the key promise for EVERY wedding brand going forwards – and Sanyukta Shrestha shows us how stunningly beautiful this ethical future will be.
“Entwined with the nostalgia and extraordinary beauty of nature, the campaign is a love letter to autumn and the poetic atmosphere of nature during the designer’s favourite season. The “Autumn Daydream” collection explores the season’s sense of purity, innocence and romanticism and is designed for free spirited brides that believe in living life to the fullest and experiencing as much of it as they can. Smitten at first sight as a nature lover, for her new sustainable bridal 2020 collection, Sanyukta draws inspiration from the peace she finds in her home, a charming 200 years old Georgian Manor surrounded by five acres of enchanting naturesque dreamy surrounds. The warm tones of autumn leaves and pastel skies of the wealthy wildlife of Natural Lincolnshire Wolds (a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) was the backdrop of a fairytale that unfolds at Sanyukta’s own sanctuary, where the peace and serenity that surrounds designer’s own home spurs her creativity and inspiration.
The “Autumn Daydream” collection came to life with the fantasy of creative minds based in Lincolnshire that were handpicked by the designer herself to highlight the Lincolnshire’s best local wedding professionals. The collection shoot set was produced with eco-friendly floral installation, cruelty-free beauty products and vintage furniture that has been beautifully aged keeping its old charm alive for more than 100 years.
Inspired by English Romantic poet John Keats and his poem titled “To Autumn“, Sanyukta embraces the cycle of autumn and compares the changes in the seasons to the connection between the Autumn (personified as a model) and the leaves (as dresses) as she unfolds her beauty featuring 14 fashion forward pieces, from full dramatic voluminous gowns to contemporary see-through lace designs made out of the most luxurious, sustainable fibres whereas the young model in the collection depicts Autumnal seeds, adding hope to the falling leaves with ivory, yellow and peach tones in sustainable designs. The daring yet elegant silhouettes and colours of the collection portray the ‘Sanyukta Shrestha Bride’; A contemporary muse who doesn’t follow fashion, but rather prefers to make her own statement by embracing her own nature and individuality. Sanyukta’s “Zero waste” philosophy was a strong influence for upcycling and incorporating different elements from her strongest creations so far, recreating an eclectic mix of innovation and timeless design while staying true to her ethics and eco-friendly approach that the Nepalese designer is widely known for.
Creative Direction & Styling: Sanyukta Shrestha Team
Photographer: Kev Elkins
Makeup Artist: Tina Brocklebank
Florist: Limewood Flowers
Set design Assistance: Claire Plumb
Props : Ladder from Mrs Anne Brearley, other furniture from designer’s own vintage collection
Location: Designer’s Sanctuary (home)
Models: Julia Kinnear and Ameya Shrestha
Sanyukta Shrestha’s flagship store ‘Behuli by Sanyukta Shrestha’ in Fulham, has become the go-to destination for international brides dreaming of the perfect Eco Friendly Wedding. The creative studio of the brand is located in the wilderness of Lincolnshire Wolds.
We began in 2009 as a top ranked UK wedding blog and have been sharing ideas and planning tips ever since.
Deliberately last on this page, but still a joy to treat our eyes to! We share wedding inspiration as all wedding blogs do, simply to show you ideas for colour palettes and styling tips – but please remember that EVERYTHING is optional and the most important thing is that your wedding feels (and looks) right for you
On our wedding website there are no rules, no ‘should haves’, no hard sells. English Wedding exists to inspire you, to help you plan and to support you in every way we can with advice and ideas from the very best UK wedding experts.
At our core:
- mental health
Sustainability is at the core of English Wedding in 2022. Weddings with as little impact on our planet as possible, with a focus on looking after our mental health.
We know not all weddings have a bride, so our help and advice is written with all couples in mind. We include as many cultures and faiths as we can, and welcome submissions from wedding experts of all backgrounds.
We don’t believe in checklists, because by their very nature they include ‘should haves’ – the suggestion that you should hire a venue, buy a new dress and fill your space with flowers. (All of these are optional, by the way! Yes – even the venue.)
We’re deeply suspicious of ‘average wedding budgets’ published by the wedding media, which can never reflect the wealth and diversity of all wedding types and styles. We don’t believe ‘average budgets’ are true, and at best they’re misleading: at worst they encourage overspending and create pressure to spend.
We believe with all our hearts that your wedding or celebration should be YOU – which could mean a celebration for just the two of you on top of a mountain or a gorgeously fun family day in your favourite pub garden.
And has any ‘wedding blog’ ever mentioned that you don’t have to have a wedding? Because really, being in love and being together is huge. It’s fine to step back and say “we’re happy as we are” if a wedding doesn’t feel right for you.
Because however you choose to celebrate your love, you should enjoy the adventure.