I’m delighted to welcome Samantha from Willow and Rust this month as a guest writer on the Ellie and Liv blog. An exceptionally talented wedding stylist and planner based in Derbyshire, that specialises in creating beautiful sustainable outdoor weddings and events. I am lucky enough to have worked alongside Samantha on a few occasions. Her eye for detail when creating glamorous vintage styling with sustainable elegance blows me away every time. So grab yourself a drink and enjoy Samantha’s guide to planning an eco-friendly wedding.
Where to start when planning your eco-friendly wedding
So you want to have a sustainable wedding. But where do you start? What does that even mean? It probably feels a little daunting. This quick start guide will get you started on the right track!
The first thing to decide is how far you want to go? Are we talking cut down on plastic waste and throw some biodegradable confetti? Or are you wanting to go full-on Environmental warrior? Chances are you are somewhere in-between.
Let’s start by explaining exactly what we mean by an eco-friendly or sustainable wedding.
Sustainability is about how we reduce what we take from the earth in order to maintain an ecological balance. Whilst reducing our carbon footprint or striving to be carbon neutral is about reducing what we put back into the atmosphere, in the form of harmful gases, to again maintain an ecological balance. The two, whilst very different, do go hand in hand, as naturally if you reduce one, you reduce the other, creating a more environmentally-friendly event.
How eco-friendly can your wedding really be?
This depends on the type of wedding you want, and the kind of venue you are dreaming of. Certain kinds of weddings lend themselves well to the cause, whilst others do not. For example, an outdoor wedding in Tipis or an old barn are already on their way to being more eco-friendly. Whilst a destination wedding for example, where you and all your guests need to take a plane trip to get there, is not an eco-friendly wedding. There are however many options in between and a lot of venues are working hard to market themselves as more sustainable.
What sort of questions should you be asking a potential venue?
Make sure you are asking the right questions when you speak to a venue. What system of waste management do they have for example? Do they have a specific recycling system in place? Do they have a no single-use plastic policy? How do they source their energy, is it from a sustainable supplier, or do they have solar panels? If they are providing the catering, where do they source their food, how do they deal with food waste? All these questions are perfectly valid if they are marketing themselves as a sustainable venue.
If you are opting for an outdoor venue, whilst it is easier to be eco-friendly as you are in control of choosing everything, it is more work and therefore you may want to look into getting some help from a wedding planner who specialises in this type of wedding. However, I know this isn’t in everyone’s budget which is why I have written this quick start guide.
Another thing to consider when deciding on a venue is transport. How will your guests get there? Choose a venue that is close to where most of your family and friends live. If possible, arrange group transport like a bus to avoid lots of separate cars, and consider having your ceremony and reception at the same venue to cut out the need for travel between the two.
Finding the right suppliers.
When you are looking for suppliers, just like with venues, look for ones that specialise in sustainability, there are several online directories out there now to help you with this, for example, Littlegreenbookevents.co.uk. Here, the hard work has been done for you as you already know these suppliers work sustainably, as they must meet certain criteria to be part of the directory. You just need to choose which ones fit more with you and what you want for your day.
With suppliers, the same as with venues, make sure you ask lots of questions. Where does the florist source their flowers? Does the caterer use local produce and fair-trade ingredients? What recycled or biodegradable environmental Policy paper options does the stationer offer? Your supplier choices are crucial to the success of your eco-friendly day.
Finally, recycle, recycle, recycle.
My final point would have to be around recycling, re-claiming, and re-purposing. Second-hand and vintage shops, car boot sales and antique fairs should be your go-to in terms of décor for your sustainable event. The best way to be sustainable is to reuse and repurpose things that already exist. Why buy something new if you can make it yourself out of something someone else doesn’t want anymore? It’s the ultimate in sustainability and it’s also a great way to save money!
At Willow and Rust most of my props are vintage or reclaimed, or items that I have repurposed or upcycled to make them a beautiful addition to any wedding design. I also use natural fabrics for all my linens and hand dye them using eco-friendly dyes. This of course is just a start. There are lots of other helpful tips and guides over on my blog www.willowandrustweddings.com/blog or if you would like some more advice or would like some help with your event contact me here.