How to Plan your Plastic Free Wedding

When it comes to planning your wedding and/or celebration there is already so much to consider, but have you given any thought to the amount of plastic involved and whether you could go plastic free? It is surprising just how often and where plastic can crop up in the process, but with a little forward planning and research, it’s possible for each of us to make a difference one event at a time.

We’ve all seen the shocking images of just how much plastic is in our oceans and how devastating this is to our marine life (or if you haven’t, where have you been hiding?!). However, our plastic waste is also harmful to wildlife before it has even found its way to our streams, rivers and oceans, meaning your wedding waste could impact your immediate surroundings as well as further afield!

A completely zero-waste wedding would be the ultimate aim, and it is definitely achievable with dedication and commitment. Nevertheless, even if you simply incorporate one or two of the below plastic free suggestions into your celebration then it can help to make a difference, be a step forwards, and contribute to the fight against plastic. So, which of the below will you incorporate into your eco-friendly celebration?

Newlyweds are showered in natural petal confetti after their outdoor laid-back ceremony
Photo: Bubear Photography | Natural Petal Confetti: Shropshire Petals

Have a plastic free confetti shower!

To get started lets think about one of the more obvious swaps, plastic free confetti. As someone who loves nature I can think of nothing worse than being showered in a cloud of plastic, especially those little plastic sequin style confetti or fake plastic petals, and I would imagine you feel the same way too! Plastic confetti is quite simply littering, but there’s lots of natural and biodegradable confetti options out there to swap it for. For an added plastic free win, why not make your own confetti from flowers in your garden and gifted bouquets from across your engagement, as not only will this be full of so much more meaning, it’ll also avoid any plastic packaging involved when buying confetti. (P.s. to ensure your plastic-free wedding plans aren’t thwarted, it can be worth letting your guests know you will be supplying the confetti. Whilst this is the norm for most modern weddings, some of your older relatives might be used to bringing their own sachet of confetti along with them)

Free the favour (from its plastic wrapping)!

If ditching favours altogether isn’t something you’re comfortable with, then the best waste-free and plastic-free favours are those that are meaningful, useful and require no, or minimal, packaging. Edible treats placed directly onto each place setting, small glass jars/bottles of favourite liquors or local produce, paper seed packets, handmade birdseed hangers, small potted plants, recycled glass jar soy candles … the options are plentiful and it’s worth thinking out of the box here to come up with a unique, plastic-free and personal favour that will actually be treasured and used by your guests.

Ditch the disposables!

Most applicable to informal style wedding breakfasts, evening bars and evening food, the best option for avoiding plastic disposables and minimising wedding waste is to opt for reusable glassware, crockery and cutlery wherever possible. Talk to your caterers and bar provider to see if this option is available, but also check with your venue too as occasionally venues will ask for no glasses to be used in the evening and around the dancefloor due to the risk from breakages. If glassware and proper crockery isn’t an option for you, then plastic can still be avoided by using compostable card, paper or bamboo plates and cutlery, and biodegradable plastic-like cups. If you’re planning a festival or outdoor wedding, why not really embrace an adventurous vibe and opt for enamel plates and mugs, which could even double up as the perfect keepsake favour and are pretty much unbreakable too!

Avoid all that glitters!

Okay, some people love glitter and everything sparkly and no offense if that’s you, but glitter and sequins aren’t loved by our planet. A bit less obvious than the plastics already discussed, but glitter and other similar substances are microplastics that cause a lot of damage to our marine life. For your stationery, avoid glitter or any materials that make your paper goods non-recyclable. Did you know that some types of gold foiling and vellum also aren’t recyclable? By investing in a conscious stationer such as Ellie and Liv or Clare Gray Designs you can be sure they’ve done their research and aren’t creating your stationery with harmful plastic derived materials.

Wear your plastic-free values!

We don’t tend to think of plastic when we look at a beautiful dress, jumpsuit, tuxedo or tie, but to really rid your wedding of plastic it is worth considering the fabrics you will wear. Synthetic fabrics are made from plastic, but natural fibres such as silk, bamboo, wool and cotton produce stunning wedding wear alternatives for you to enjoy whilst still looking your best (and maybe you might even like to extend the suggestion to your guests too!). Natural fibres don’t release microplastics each time they are cleaned, making them a much more planet friendly option (although if you’re also conscious of water usage then some natural fibres are very thirsty in their production process, so as with all things eco-friendly it’s about finding the option that works best for you and your value priorities)

The plastic prop problem!

Décor for your celebration as well as any pre-wedding get-togethers with your wedding party needn’t be full of single use plastics (yes, I’m thinking of you, novelty sunglasses, phallic straws, synthetic sashes and foil banners)! Balloon arches have become such a popular décor element in recent years for weddings and a wide variety of events. Whilst they do look great there’s no avoiding the single use nature of a balloon, paired with the fact that even biodegradable balloons can take up to 4 years to degrade during which time they’ve posed a risk to all sorts of wildlife. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, and that décor trends can’t be embraced, but for a truly plastic free wedding extra thought is needed as to how your favourite looks can be recreated. Conscious stylists will help you to come up with so many possibilities, but as a start how about considering using reusable elements such as paper lanterns, natural elements such as flowers and natural fabrics, or second-hand elements so you’re making the most of pre-existing materials.

Flowers without the foam!

Fresh flowers are a very common and natural element of a wedding or celebration, but many people don’t realise the blocks of green stuff (often known as Oasis) in which they are typically assembled is actually a block of plastic! Not only are these blocks single use, but they break down in our water ways to form harmful microplastics and toxic chemicals. Plastic free floristry is thankfully a very rapidly growing approach, and everything from small centrepieces to large floral structures can be created foam and plastic free if you find the right florist who is up for the task. To take it a step further, some eco-conscious florists avoid all single use plastics within their work, including only using natural ribbons or paper packaging.

Concrete troughs are placed int he centre of a wooden wedding table, filled with foam free florals of whites, creams, oranges and yellows. The surrounding are darka nd they are accented by dark crockery and cutlery.
Photo: Thyme Lane Photography | Florals: Root

Find your plastic free wedding pals

Building your wedding supplier team is like pulling together a collection of pals, everything is easier when you share the same values! So, just as finding the right florist that’s up for the foam free task is important, discussing your plastic free mission with all of your suppliers can be a great way of discovering new or existing ways you can work together to cut back on the waste. Events such as the Ethical Wedding Show, of which there are multiple gradually spreading across the UK, are a great way to meet suppliers who understand and share your plastic free mission.

Reaching out to an eco-friendly wedding planner in your area can also go a long way to helping with ideas, contacts and lessening your research load by sharing their professional insight and experience. (p.s. did you know I offer a video call support service across the UK? If you don’t have an eco-conscious planner near you or just want some quick words of advice personalised to you then check out my Wedding Wisdom 1:1)

I hope that has helped to get the ideas firing and make a plastic free wedding and/or celebration feel achievable! Lets all do our bit towards the war on plastic!

- Hannah -

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