Nowadays, you can have a green car, home and just about any household appliance you can think of – but what about a green wedding? For many brides and grooms who want a wedding celebration that reflects not only their commitment to each other but their shared values, sustainability and ethical practices are key to the perfect day.
If you’re one of them, the good news is there are now more green options than ever to suit your budget or wedding loan amount. From sourcing an ethical wedding dress or ring to opting for local growers and caterers, Kirsty Lamont, the money saving expert over at comparison site Mozo.com.au has rounded up some ways to ensure your nuptials are ethical and eco-friendly, without breaking the bank.
- Say yes to a green dress
From sweetheart necklines and fishtails, to cap sleeves and spaghetti straps, choosing a wedding dress can be tricky – but finding one that fits your ethical wishlist isn’t always as hard as you might think.
For example, if sustainably sourced fabric and ethical manufacturing is important to you, consider heading online to shops specialising in sustainable wedding dresses. As an added bonus, some of these dresses even come in under $500.
Alternatively, why not take the old adage of something borrowed to the next level and get hitched in a pre loved wedding dress? Whether you head to vintage retailers, the local op shop or your nan’s closet, a vintage wedding dress can be just as beautiful as a new frock, at a fraction of the price.
- Don’t get caught up on diamonds
Diamonds are still the most popular choice of stone for an engagement ring, but not always the most ethical. Instead, keep an open mind towards alternatives stones, like opals, emeralds or for the classic diamond look in a more ethical – and affordable – way, a created white sapphire. These gems are sure to impress even the biggest traditionalists, and you won’t be having to fork out three month’s worth of wages to afford one.
But if you can’t be swayed from diamonds there are a couple of options. First, you could look for a sustainably sourced option, from retailers such as Hume Atelier and Brilliant Earth, who are committed to ethical sourcing. Another strategy, if you’re already taking the leap with a second hand dress, is to consider pairing it with a ring made from a second hand jewel or recycled gold.
- Keep it local
The next big thing to consider is the venue. Make sure you do your research beforehand and find out which of your potential venues take steps like being conscious of their energy usage, reducing waste output or having ethical gear like tablecloths and dinnerware.
It’s also important to consider transport. If your dream venue is a bit out of the way, consider hiring a bus for your guests to avoid them arriving in multiple cars – just keep in mind bus hire rates can be around $200 an hour, so you’ll need to plan for that in your wedding budget. Better yet, a location that’s easily accessible by public transport is eco-friendly and budget-friendly for everyone.
- Opt for homegrown florals and centerpieces
IBISWorld research shows flowers and decorations account for $2,900 in the average Australian wedding budget. However you can more than half this cost by heading to a farmer’s market to pick up some local, seasonal blooms and then arranging yourself or enlisting the help of creative family members or friends.
If you’ve really got the DIY spirit, you may even want to grow your favourite florals at home in the lead up to the big day. At the end of the day, don’t be shy about gifting your guests with any leftover flowers to reduce unnecessary waste.
And if you’re looking for some great table centrepieces but don’t want to spend a fortune, bringing knick knacks like candles, shells, books and jars from home can offer a beautiful personal touch. Plus, you’ll be reusing things you already own, instead of buying new things that will probably wind up in the bin anyway.
- Make your meal meat free
If you really want to limit your wedding’s impact on the environment, try making a conscious decision to ditch chicken or beef from the menu. According to an academic journal in Science, 100 grams of beef generates 105kg of greenhouse gases. Vegetarian and vegan cuisine has come leaps and bounds over the past couple of years in both taste and popularity, and is likely to satisfy the pickiest of your guests.
Remember, going vegan doesn’t just apply to food. There are plenty of Australian winemakers, brewmasters and distillers around specialising in high quality, vegan tipples to keep your guests happy all night long. And remember to encourage your guests to take leftovers home at the end of the night to reduce wastage and keep any food scraps for the compost bin.
- Spice up your invites
Set the tone for your celebration well before your big day by using recycled paper for you invitations. Like any regular invitations, you’ll still have the opportunity to unleash your creative flair, customising the format, font and colours, just in a more environmentally-conscious way.
And if you’re looking for something a little on the quirky side, consider plantable invites. Yes you read that right! These invitations are made of recycled paper pulp and embedded with a seed of your choice, so after your guests RSVP they can then plant the invitation and grow something nice like basil, carrots, lettuce, parsley and rocket to remind them of the occasion long after.
- Ditch disposables
A Mozo data crunch found, that ditching disposables in your everyday life can save you as much as $1,000 a year. And if you’ve already mastered the habit, why not carry it through to your wedding day as well? Avoiding disposables like plastic plates, cups and cutlery should be easy, depending on the venue you’ve picked, but you should also try opting for linen napkins over disposable paper ones and just ditch plastic drinking straws all together.
Another big one that has become popular in recent years is disposable cameras that your guests can use to snap pictures. A more environmentally conscious solution is to hire a photographer, but keep in mind this can carry a price tag in the vicinity of $4,000. For a budget and eco-friendly option, have your guests to take photos on their phones and upload them to social media using a communal hashtag.
- Make your honeymoon matter
Just because the wedding is over, doesn’t mean you can’t keep up your ethical mission. When it comes time to plan the honeymoon, why not consider ‘honeyteering’ – an up and coming trend that sees newlyweds swap white sandy beaches and fruity cocktails for eye-opening volunteering experiences like helping out in an orphanage in Thailand or teaching English in Tanzania.
If honeyteering isn’t your cup of tea, you can still make an ethical decision by choosing to honeymoon locally or opt to stay in sustainable accommodation with your new husband or wife.