How To: Host An Eco Friendly Wedding

Article Collaborators : Nerida Phelan Photography

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Collaborators Nerida Phelan Photography

Socially responsible and ethical choices are readily available, affordable and can be easily incorporated into your nuptials without any added stress or distraction. Claire Bolge reveals how to reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding


When Caitlin Hill, a student and volunteer worker at youthrun aid and development organisation The Oaktree Foundation, weds fi ancé Navin Ramrakha, the theme will be coral and aqua — and social responsibility. “Every element we can think of that embraces this theme will be included,” says Caitlin. Follow her lead by considering these tips for a wedding with the environment in mind.


FLOWERS
Flowers make a beautiful addition to any wedding celebration and are often considered an important necessity; after all, what would you throw in place of the bouquet? There are simple and effective ways to choose flowers that minimise their impact on the environment.

“My flowers will be mostly organic and local,” says Caitlin. Check out your closest farmers’ markets and follow suit; these beautiful buds don’t need to be transported, saving on costs and environmental impact. Find out what’s in season for your big day. If you have your heart set on a particular bloom you might have to consider when it will be at its best, as importing out-ofseason flowers comes at a huge cost both for your wallet and the environment. When your day is done and you take off on your honeymoon, don’t just let your beautiful bouquets go to waste; donate fl owers to a hospital or nursing home so others can get as much enjoyment out of them as you did.

CATERING
As with flowers, it’s important to consider what’s in season when choosing your wedding menu. Opt for readily available local produce rather than expensive, imported, out-of-season delicacies. The same goes for alcohol; choose Australian-brewed beer and wine from nearby wineries. This supports local workers and companies, too.

Organic food can also be a great choice, though some budgets may not accommodate for the jump in price. Consider buying Fairtrade-branded tea, coffee and even chocolate so you know your money is going back to where it’s needed — plus, these taste great. Serve food on non-disposable plates that can be washed and reused or returned to the venue or, if disposable dinnerware is a necessity, opt for biodegradable or recycled materials. Again, work to minimise waste and leftovers and, if you can, donate leftovers to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

 

INVITATIONS
It’s easy to overlook the impact of sending out invites; it’s essential, after all. If your wedding is due to be an extravagant affair, the paper used for those 300 embossed, stiff, cream card invitations, plus envelopes, should be made of recycled materials, like Caitlin’s quirky invites: boarding passes delivered in passport pockets! This way, you know no more damage has been done to the environment to facilitate their creation — and none of your guests will be able to tell the difference.

To make a real difference, consider e-invites. Angela Marcuccio, from Angela Marcuccio Bridal Couture, chooses this option as a green solution. “It takes much time, money and waste of a tree (or a few) to buy and use cards, which often have a very minimal shelf life,” she says. She finds her recipients enjoy the convenience that e-invites afford; ask them to make the most of this and reply in kind, sending their RSVP electronically.

THE RING
New “green” jewellery design means your engagement and wedding rings can have a social conscience while still being the rings of your dreams. Choose recycled gold or silver to create your base and make sure your diamond or gemstone is sourced ethically. Another option is an heirloom ring.

While not everyone has this option, it can be both a sustainable and incredibly significant option to wear the engagement or wedding ring of a passed family member from either your own family or that of your soon-to-be in-laws. These vintage rings are often just a beautiful as a new purchase, can be polished back to sparkling perfection and come with a ready-made history that you’re adding your own love story to.



THE DRESS
This is the one area where many brides are usually unwilling to compromise. But being green doesn’t mean you have to forgo your dream of looking like a princess as you walk down the aisle. Again, vintage wedding dresses are an option here; perhaps your mother and grandmother’s dress could be altered to suit your style and be worn again, a sure-fire way to honour them as well as give a beautiful antique piece new life and love. If you don’t have a wedding dress in your own family history, perhaps your fi ancé does. Some second-hand shops sell or even specialise in wedding dresses (and not just those you used to buy for fancydress parties). If you’re going the custommade route, opt for natural fibres such as silk, organic cotton and organic lace that only use non-toxic dyes to create the dress of your dreams.

GIFTS
There are many different ways to approach this topic. Rather than having guests bring presents, it’s now socially acceptable to ask for a monetary contribution to your honeymoon or help start your new life, limiting the amount of (sometimes unwanted) gifts received as well as reducing the impact of packaging and gift wrapping. If you’re lucky enough to be in a financial position where you can afford your own luxuries, why not request guests donate to charity instead? You could nominate one with personal signifi cance and direct guests where to donate in your name. Or give small donations to charity in your guests’ names rather than handing out wedding favours; Caitlin’s guests will go home knowing their wedding favour has seen $5 donated to a school in Ghana to which the couple has a personal connection.

For couples with furry friends at home, the RSPCA also offers a gift registry program for present and bomboniere donations. “Instead of spending money on bomboniere and favours that may get left behind, couples are now understanding the value of a charitable donation and how that can add even more meaning to their big day,” says Acting Fundraising Manager Stephanie Moore. Explain where the money is going and why in your wedding program instead of sending people home with a small bag of sugared almonds.


TRAVEL
This covers guests coming to your wedding as well as you leaving it as a married couple. If you choose a location that’s out of the way, say a beautiful beach or rural property, encourage guests to use public transportation or even arrange buses or car pools to get people there. Try to stay nearby so you can minimise the time you spend travelling to the venue, especially if you opt for classic wedding cars for transport.

You could even choose a horse-drawn carriage to deliver you to the church. Not only does this save on petrol but it’s a very quaint and individual way to arrive at your wedding. When heading off on your honeymoon, the best thing you can do for the environment is avoid fl ying. If you do need to use air travel, say for international locations, consider off-setting your carbon emissions. Otherwise, have a look at some of the beautiful honeymoon destinations around Australia or even in your own state and use ground transportation to get there.

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