Creating the wedding of your dreams; the party of a lifetime and memories to treasure forever is high on the list of priorities for most couples when it comes to planning their wedding. But a growing trend is emerging with more and more couples considering hosting an ethical wedding and I for one could not be more happy about it. Thinking about how your wedding impacts the wider community and even the planet is something that can only be a good thing. Your wedding could not just be non harmful to the world, but could help to improve it too, isn’t that just the most amazing concept? Beginning your marriage by actually improving the way we all live and the community around us?
Ethical Wedding Ideas
With all of this in mind I have rounded up some options to consider, whether you are thinking of going all out ethical and sustainable or are looking to pick and choose elements to incorporate into your wedding, hopefully you will be left feeling inspired and motivated by the end of this article.
Local Small Wedding Suppliers
Choosing to work with small and local businesses can help to boost your local community. Think about working with wedding suppliers that are social enterprises or charities. Picking wedding venues such as museums and properties owned by charities are a great way of ensuring they last for generations to come. Think about ordering your cake from a local small business or contacting a local flower farm to provide your flower arrangements. Not only reducing pollution produced but it means you are supporting small, hard-working and independent businesses too.
Also ask your suppliers what their sustainable and ethical policies are. Some wedding suppliers not only try to avoid things such as using single use plastic or producing a high amount of waste, but actually try and do things to neutralise their business carbon footprint too.
Thoughtful Wedding Food & Drink
When it comes to wedding food and drink, it’s easy to think budget and taste first. But why not also think about the source of your food? Is it from a local farmer or is it being shipped from around the world with high air miles and non ethical farming. Is palm oil (responsible for a vast amount of deforestation globally) being used as an ingredient or are other more sustainable thoughtful ingredients used? Is the food organic and less harmful on the environment or are pesticides used which is damaging to our climate and wildlife?
If you are using a caterer or hiring a food truck choose a supplier that has sustainability and ethics at their heart, who source their food locally and with seasonality in mind. Ask your caterer if they recycle their waste or if they could donate leftovers to a food bank, homeless shelter or food rescue charity post wedding. There are even caterers that use food that is past it’s best before date out there, you just have to search for them. Be sure to freeze your leftover cake too if you can, you’ll be pleased to enjoy it in the future weeks and months post wedding.
For your drink options you can have a lot of fun looking for local brewers, vineyards or spirit manufacturers. You may be surprised by what you find and it also means you are again supporting your local community. Cider producers and gin distilleries are both great options in the UK for sustainable and ethical wedding drinks. Tasty too, cheers!
Ethical Wedding & Engagement Rings
When it comes to wedding planning it often starts with that super special engagement ring and why not begin your wedding planning in the most ethical way possible? But where to begin? Lab grown diamonds are an incredible way to ensure your wedding starts with the right mindset. There is no destructive mining involved and they are also conflict free diamonds. This means you can feel safe in the knowledge that your diamond has not been harmful to the planet and you can wear it with pride.
It’s also much easier today to find engagement rings made out of recycled metal. Couple this with your lab-grown diamond and you get sustainability and ethics without any sacrifice on style or on your bank balance. In fact, lab diamonds can be up to 40% less than mined diamonds! It’s not often that you find a ‘green’ product that is actually less expensive than its ‘non-green’ counterpart.
Weddings can mean a lot of new supplies needing to be purchased, depending of course on how much decoration and detail you are looking to incorporate. Try to hire where you can rather than purchase for single use. There are some brilliant companies offering prop and décor hire, not to mention cutlery, tableware and furniture too. Think about using sustainable materials such as wood, metal, glass and bamboo rather than plastic too. They are all materials which are more likely to be able to be reused or re-purposed.
Talk to your wedding stationery supplier about whether they use recycled and sustainable materials and if they offset any environmental impact. Some designers also offer digital packages and downloads if you are looking to go totally paper free. Going digital can mean a low carbon footprint and is budget friendly too.
Reuse & Recycle Pre & Post Wedding
With your wedding décor think about using items you already have in your home. That way your wedding décor reflects you and your personalities plus it saves a lot of money. Bring that beautiful print from your wall to your welcome table, use those vases in your cupboard for your flowers or your macramé hanging behind your bed as décor. Alternatively before making a purchase consider how you will use it afterwards, could you gift it, donate it or reuse and enjoy it for years to come?
Up-cycling is always a popular option, wooden pallets have been a huge hit in weddings to be reused and re-purposed as wedding signs, bars, seating and backdrops, there really are no limits if you are creative with your thinking. Search for things that are due to be binned and turn it into something beautiful.
Before you head to the shops to choose your dresses and suits, consider researching ethical and sustainable designers and brands. This way you don’t fall for a dress or suit that doesn’t fit with your principles. There are so many ways that the clothing industry is considering ethics and the environment. They consider many elements such as waste, pollution, fair working conditions and trade, environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing to name a few.
Cruelty Free Beauty & Grooming
The beauty industry has seen more and more brands producing ethical and green beauty products, which is great news. When looking for a hair stylist, barber, beauty therapist or make up artist ask their policy on ethics and sustainability. Do they choose to use products that are vegan or cruelty free? Do they choose products that are kind to the environment and use recyclable/refillable packaging? If you are going it alone with your beauty and grooming choose brands that are doing all of these things and more.
Small Carbon Footprint
You carbon footprint can start with your venue; are they using green energy and running things sustainably? Is it in a location which is local to as many of your guests as possible? Post wedding for your honeymoon you could have a stay-cation in the UK or travel by train which is a greener mode of transport.
Then options like growing your own wedding flowers can not only reduce your carbon footprint but will enhance the wildlife in your garden and local community. Choose eco-friendly transport; hop on a boat or the tube to your wedding, or even better go on foot or by bicycle/skateboard/scooter.
Sustainable Gifts & Favours
It’s always so lovely to give gifts to your wedding party and favours to all of your guests. It’s important though to think about how they will be used post wedding, it would be wasteful if it they were discarded or never used. Why not make a donation to a charity close to your heart on behalf of your guests or loved one, it not only means helping others and but it’s waste free.
Some great ideas that are actually beneficial to the environment include wild flower seeds, plants, air plants, cacti or succulents, which can all be planted and used by guests for years to come rather than say cut flowers which sadly wilt and die unless dried and kept. Edible favours such as home-made locally sourced honey, sloe gin or foraged blackberry jam de-cantered into glass jars and bottles, which can also then be recycled are always popular. Reusable items like custom made tea towels or blankets are a great option to ensure gifts are used time and time again. We have so many ideas for favours on our Pinterest board here too. Reuse your décor and give your guests your wedding flower arrangements or donate them to a local care home or hospice so they can continue to be enjoyed rather than throwing them away.
Non Eco-Friendly Options To Avoid
I have mentioned some of these things above but in case you weren’t aware already here is a list of things to try and avoid when planing an ethical wedding:
- Sky lanterns
- Single use plastic (straws, bottles, plates etc)
- Fuel heavy transport
- Long haul honeymoons via plane
- Palm oil
- Non biodegradable glitter
- Non biodegradable balloons
- Non biodegradable confetti
- Naturally mined diamonds
- Products sourced from far away
- Disposable cameras
I cannot thank Clean Origin enough for making this article possible today. I really admire their ethics, principles and dedication to rethinking and revolutionising the jewellery and diamond industry. Ethical weddings really are becoming possible thanks to business models such as theirs. Hooray! xo Lou