What is Sustainability ?
Sustainability to me is doing your best to make a positive impact on the world with each and every choice you make and by making conscientious decisions no matter how small, it will help preserve the world for generations to come for all living things.
Re-use, Re-Purpose, Re-home, Rent and Recycle.
The UN World Commission on Environment and Development state that “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
In the world of weddings we can make an impact through sustainable practices, even small ones, so let’s start !!!!
Where can you start ?
If you’re already thinking of sustainability that’s a great start. It begins by just being conscious of one little decision you make, then another and another. I feel people think if they are not all green and clean as soon as possible it’s not worth it, but everyone even the die hard conscientious and zero waste had to start some where. It could start with a very small decision such as what will I do with my potato peels. I now feed them to the birds, they adore cooked potatoes. Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a water filter such as a Brita. Swap a patch of your manicured lawn out for a native wild flower patch. The bees and the local ecosystem will love you. It could be that you have one evening a week that is free from meat and use local in season vegetables instead.
In the sustainable bride’s case, think about renting or buying pre-loved and vintage dresses. I love the idea that someone had a wonderful day in a dress I own or wore and can now do the same for another bride. You could try buy clothing you know will live in your wardrobe for years and you will wear many times over fast fashion or very on trend pieces. I have pieces in my wardrobe for 20 years and still wear them!
How can I as a Bride be Sustainable?
Firstly, don’t start worrying about it. As a bride you already have a lot going on and I know it sounds daunting but let’s break it down and have fun while we are at it. You can do many small things throughout your wedding day and in the lead up, to incorporate Sustainability.
Lets start with the morning of your wedding. Your wedding day has an early morning start so go get your self some locally produced fruit, yoghurt and baked goods to start the day well. Buying local is sustainable.
Invitation and thank you cards
This is one area we could have done better on but we didn’t do too badly either. We used a local printer and had the smallest size card with an envelope and the same for the thank you cards.
However, there are some lovely ways to keep it sustainable. Using recycled paper, using paper with wild flowers seeds that can be planted once received. Sending the invitations and thank you cards virtually via email and other social and virtual platforms has become increasingly popular. Keeping it local is always a good start if you are going to use printed cards and invitations. Give them the business instead of faceless, nameless online brands.
Wedding day getting ready outfits
I was conscious of the clothes we would wear as they are normally items we don’t wear again, so I went and sourced 4 vintage silk and embroidered night gowns for my bridesmaids and mom. It was their gift from me instead of jewellery they might not wear or like etc. They were so beautiful and I was so delighted I could give them a second life and a new home. I had one already that my uncle gave my mom about 40 years earlier in white. She gifted it to me many years ago and I wear it regularly.
Buy vintage, pre-loved, borrowed, locally sold or made pre-wedding pajamas and night gowns. If they are not to your liking, try and source sustainably made, good quality items that they and you, will wear again and have for many years.
Wedding dress, shoes and groom and groomsmen men
Vintage, pre-loved , borrowed, rental and locally made are all great ways to keep your wedding as sustainable as possible. My husband even rented his and his groomsmen shoes as he knew he’d never wear such shoes again. I bought a pair of flat shoes I knew I would definitely wear again and have done many time since. If you are looking to buy a suit or shoes etc as a groom be mindful of buying something you will wear again many times over. Buy local and invest in a good quality one that will stand the test of time.
Use ethical, cruilty free and vegan options. I got my friend and makeup artist to use my own Bare minerals make up and Eco makeup brushes. Not an air brush in sight!
This is a whole other blog post of it own. It really is a very tricky side to wedding sustainability and emotionally charged with blood diamond and slave labor mining involved in the past and still going on now.
Do your due diligence, research, ask lots of questions and buy local from reputable suppliers and Jewellers.
Confetti and Balloons
Don’t Use them !
It’s just that simple.
Even if you were to make you own confetti from native leaves and wild flower petals, no bride or groom wants stuff stuck to them or fall down inside their wedding outfits. I worked in hotels and restaurants for years and many places band confetti due to the mess and waste they produce and I’ve also seen brides have rice and all sorts stuck in all sorts of places….. uncomfortable and very unnecessary. The last thing you want ruining your wedding photos are pieces of not descript what nots.
Balloons are plastic and plastic pollutes everything!
Rent, Borrow, Buy pre-loved and if they fail, buy local. The hotel or venue will nearly always have many of the items you need due many others leaving items behind. You’d be surprised who has what when you start asking around.
Food choices for wedding guests.
As I have a background in hospitality I know the food pitfalls of sustainability and waste.
The waste produced by an average wedding can produce over 14 tonnes of carbon dioxide and a third of a tonne of solid waste. Crazy yes !!!
I was very conscious of it actually looking back. We made the decision early on that all or most of the produce should be locally sourced and also have a vegan option available to everyone in the room. The hotel staff and kitchen were marvelous and were delighted to show case the local produce and suppliers.
We cut out the starter, middle and dessert course choices, so they had no options which cut out waste for the hotel but then gave the guests a main course choice including a vegan option for all. We specifically wanted all producers mentioned on the menus also to give them exposure.
Flowers and Foliage
This is an easy one….. Buy local, go wild flower and don’t use a lot if you can’t do the first two. We have so many superb local growers and producer here in Ireland it would be a missed opportunity to use their skill and knowledge. If you are using a lot please stop and think about what will happen to it after and the amount of waste it will produce.
For example to keep it as sustainable as I could for our center pieces I used recycling clear wine bottles ( thanks mom for taking the labels off all 117 of them ), with a wild flower or foliage inside from local hedge rows and my own and families garden’s. I topped it with a soya wax candle, they were simple, rustic and beautiful, especially at night. The bottles where then recycled afterwards.
Dried flowers and jewellery bouquets are also very sustainable and can be kept as keepsakes.
Wine and drinks.
This is so much easier now with so much wonderful locally made spirits and beers, We had such fun doing this part. We chose Dingle Gin products as we are from Kerry for the drinks reception and a Cava from a local supplier.
Wine is obviously not produced in Ireland but we have many great suppliers. We chose an Organic white wine from a local supplier and a delicious red and cava.
We decided we would not give out favors to guests. I’ve been to and managed many weddings over the years so I have seen the waste involved. The amount of favors left behind and thrown way at the end of the night is frightening and disappointing.
If you do decide to give out favours, try and keep it simple and something men can put in their pockets and ladies in their tiny bags and purses. For example locally produced wild seeds packets are always a lovely gift. And if they are left behind surely staff would take them home and sow them themselves. I’d like to think they would anyway !
If you do decide on favors ask the hotel manager to get staff to collect and keep the left behind items, so you to give to charity or use in some other way. Keep it local when buying them also.
Music, band and DJ
You guessed it…. Use local bands, musicians and djs. I was lucky all my music was done by family members and friends who were at the wedding anyway… such a special touch having some of your favourite people play at your wedding and then that was their wedding gifts to us. Easy !!!
Sustainability naturally lends its self to a simple style esthetic but if you want to go large please think local, reusable , pre-loved, borrowed and rental.
Supporting local businesses and buying locally made and sold products when possible, is being sustainable.