What IS a sustainable or eco-friendly wedding?

So, I’m an eco wedding planner, but what IS a sustainable or eco-friendly wedding? Well, it’s a big question, but really it has quite a simple answer! A sustainable or eco-friendly wedding or celebration is whatever you want it to be … there is no one template, one component, one style, one ‘thing’ that makes or IS an eco or sustainable wedding. An eco-conscious wedding or civil partnership looks like any other, but the consistent aspect across them all is that an extra layer of thought has been applied throughout their creation. Simple, right? Let’s expand upon it all a bit further.

In the broad sense

To start with, let’s get broader for a moment… what is sustainability? What does eco-friendly even mean?

Well, according to the Collins English Dictionary ….

Sustainability:

In relation to Economics – The ability to be sustained, without causing problems such as inflation

In relation to Ecology – (of economic development, energy sources, etc) The ability to be maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage

Eco-Friendly:

Eco-friendly products or services are less harmful to the environment than other similar products or services

I think it’s fair to say these definitions demonstrate how much flexibility there is when deciding what sustainability and eco-friendly can look like in general, let alone in the wedding world! Sustainability has two different lenses, economic sustainability and ecological sustainability, both of which can be relevant to your wedding and focus upon lasting impacts and maintenance for the future.

As for eco-friendly, this definition suggests that it is more about a process of evaluation and weighing up rather than one overall ‘thing’, highlighting that there isn’t just one eco-friendly answer. Indeed, when it comes to establishing the harm that each individual aspect of our daily lives has on the environment we find conflicting research and evidence that we have to weigh up, each arriving at our own opinion on which is the most eco-friendly option (take petrol v.s. electric cars for example and the debate regarding the CO2 emissions from battery production, I mean I still haven’t decided which I feel is the better option!).

With so much to consider and all of this mention of weighing up evidence, you’d be forgiven for finding it overwhelming and feeling like it’s too much hassle to even bother trying to be sustainable or eco-friendly in your day to day lives let alone in the planning of your wedding or celebration! BUT, please think again, our planet needs us to safeguard its future! When it comes to wedding planning, this is where I come in (although I’ll happily chat sustainable living tips with you too)! I do much of the research for you and help to demystify the decision making, enabling an eco-conscious and sustainable wedding day to be as convenient and obtainable as any other.

Eco-friendly reusable wooden wedding sign

So, where should I start?

If the consistent aspect across all eco-friendly and sustainable weddings is the application of an extra layer of thought, then it’s natural that the best place to start is taking time to think. It sounds crazy I know, you already have tonnes of thoughts flying around your head and now I’m asking you to take time out of your busy schedules and use precious minutes that could be spent planning to just stop and think instead… but trust me, taking the time to think at the beginning of your planning journey will help everything else fall into place.

Think about your values, your ethos, and what matters most to you and your soulmate, both in terms of the celebrations but also broader and more globally. You might feel you already know what yours are, but talk things through, this can be a great and enlightening pre wedding conversation that teaches you a lot about yourself and your future spouse! Are you both vegans? Maybe this is founded from a desire to prevent animal cruelty, an effort to reduce your carbon footprint, or both? Maybe you’re both crazy about the natural world and want nothing more than to ensure future generations get to marvel at it too? Is it your top priority to ensure everyone who’s contributed to your day, right from the seamstresses to the individual cake ingredient farmers, have fair working conditions and a fair wage?

Let yourself get deep with these thoughts because they really do shape what eco-conscious and sustainable looks like for you and your day. With there being no ‘one’ way of achieving this type of wedding, it is so important that the approach taken is true to you. At Green Soul Weddings I place a huge importance on understanding your personal values and ethos, and this is one of the key questions I ask at the beginning of our planning journey together. I love learning what really makes you tick and believe it’s vital that you and your values are kept at the heart of everything I do.

Married couple in a wheat field romantically cuddling with the veil wrapped around them

Take the right sustainable or eco-conscious approach for you

I always champion your day your way and it’s just as applicable whether you are taking an eco-approach or not … your eco wedding should be your way!! Having taken the time to think, you now have a framework from which to plan that combines your ethos and what matters most to you, both collectively and individually. This enables you, or me as your planner, to research, consider and align each element of your day to these core values throughout your planning journey (and hopefully continuing into your married life too!). Due to the very nature of aligning your decisions to your personal values, no two eco-conscious weddings will look the same, and that’s the beauty of it! There’s definitely no rule book to follow here!

Taking the right sustainable or eco-conscious approach for you is also relevant when it comes to your wedding budget. Whilst weddings are notoriously expensive, they don’t need to be! Your wedding is just one day (maybe you’ll opt for a weekend long celebration or longer depending on your cultural traditions) and it marks the start of your next chapter together. Don’t start that next chapter with a debt looming over you! Thinking about your values and what matters most to you both will help you focus on the areas of your day that deserve the most investment. It’s important to make sure the total investment for your celebrations is an amount you’re comfortable with, a sustainable amount. Spend what you can and spend it in the best way you can, as consumers we can say a lot with our purchasing power!

Sustainable and eco-friendly options, both wedding and lifestyle related, are often considered more expensive, and in some cases I agree they are. However, with the thrifty aspects of reusing and recycling as a core way of reducing your environmental impact, there are definitely cost-cutting benefits to a sustainable and eco-friendly wedding too! Taking the right sustainable and eco-conscious approach for you must also include working within a sustainable budget, and as your wedding planner I always work to ensure we sit comfortably within your means, constantly aligning your desires, values and budgets.

Basket of biodegradable confetti in small personalised brown paper envelopes

How much is ‘enough’ to make it sustainable or eco-friendly?

It’s all enough! Every single one of us are at different places along an eco-conscious continuum, we each place the importance of our impact on our planet and its inhabitants at a slightly different place in our personal priorities list, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking the right sustainable and eco-friendly approach for you might mean a swap from international flowers to British or the simple swap to biodegradable confetti, or it might mean an overhaul of every last detail and a completely zero waste affair; either way it is still a more sustainable approach to your day.

As an eco wedding planner, I teach rather than preach and my services are built around you. I don’t judge, and I don’t override your decisions. I believe that each and every swap, alternative or omission, big or tiny, is a great move in the right direction. It all adds up, and together we are, and will continue to, make a difference. Each planet-friendly choice does count. With each of my services, all I ask is that you are open to considering the impacts of your decisions. Whatever the right amount of eco-conscious, sustainable and ethical choices are for you, they are enough.

So, what IS a sustainable or eco-friendly wedding?

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve established it is any wedding you wish it to be, as long as you take the time to consciously consider the impact(s) the day will have. It’s a wedding where you actively chose to make a move(s), however tiny, towards reducing its harmful impact. It’s a wedding I’m very excited to help you plan!

So, will you be having a sustainable, eco-friendly, and ethical wedding or celebration?

What is a sustainable or eco-friendly wedding? Pinterest graphic for this blog post
Found this explanation useful? Pin it for your future reference!

- Hannah -

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