10 tips for an eco-friendly wedding 2021

If you’re engaged and hoping to plan a sustainable, ethical wedding then my top 10 tips for an eco wedding is a great place to start! I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings and have definitely noticed that lots of couples are now trying to consider the environment when planning their big day. So, I thought I would share some ideas for green weddings that I’ve seen in recent years. Whether you’re going all out to be an ethical bride or are simply looking to find green alternatives to certain aspects of your day, read on!

Top 10 tips for a sustainable wedding 2021

  1. Pre-loved wedding dress
  2. Seasonal, local wedding flowers
  3. Vegan, cruelty-free mineral wedding make-up
  4. Choosing an eco wedding venue
  5. Wedding reception transport
  6. DIY wedding decorations
  7. Sustainable tableware
  8. Local food & drink suppliers
  9. Vintage charity shop chic
  10. Sustainable wedding guest book

1. Pre-loved wedding dress

pre-loved wedding dress
tips for an eco-friendly wedding

Vintage and retro wedding dresses are always popular so why not make your dress your ‘something old’? As well as recycling and being kind to the environment, you can grab a bargain of a dress that originally cost thousands; a big saving to that wedding budget! There are lots of boutiques around specialising in pre-loved wedding gowns and some help charities too. Lovely Sophie chose her dress from La Boutique in Exeter which donates all profits to The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, who organise weddings for terminally ill people. Sophie was planning on donating her dress back to the shop afterwards too so it can be enjoyed by another bride – what a lovely thing to do!

2. Seasonal, local wedding flowers

eco-friendly wedding flowers 
tips for an eco wedding

Flowers are central to most wedding themes but it can be tricky choosing those without a huge carbon footprint. Chat to a few local florists about what flowers will be in season when you get married and how they can help you create an ethical bouquet and table displays. Local flowers will obviously have a much lower carbon footprint than exotic blooms flown thousands of miles. Hand-tied, rustic bouquets of English wild-flowers are incredibly pretty! If you’re a DIY bride, you could check out local florists who offer bouquet-making classes and maybe even grow your own!

3. Vegan, cruelty-free mineral wedding make-up

vegan cruelty-free wedding make-up
tips for an eco wedding

Your wedding make-up can be eco-friendly too! Choose natural, organic products free from chemicals like parabens and, of course, that are cruelty free. One of my lovely brides, Sarah, really wanted vegan wedding make-up so we went to Aromatika in Totnes on the morning of her wedding. They use high quality make-up by Lily Lilo and Sarah looked absolutely gorgeous for her big day. Choose a wedding make-up artist who has a similar philosophy to your own when selecting products.

4. Choosing an eco wedding venue

eco-friendly wedding venues
tips for a sustainable wedding

An eco wedding venue doesn’t have to mean being out in the middle of a field; lots of hotels and country houses can help you to lessen the environmental impact of your big day. When you’re visiting wedding venues, ask them what they are doing, for example, do they recycle, use renewable energy and support local suppliers? If you prefer to hire a marquee or tipi you might have to organise the lighting and heating yourself. Of course, candles, twinkly lights and fire pits all add to the feel of your eco wedding.

5. Wedding reception transport

eco-friendly wedding transport
tips for a sustainable wedding

Ideally, choose your ceremony venue and reception venue close together or even all under one roof. If guests need to travel from, say, a church to the reception venue why not lay on some transport for them? This saves everyone bringing their own car and will help reduce the carbon footprint of your day. I loved this vintage bus that Hayley and Jake chose to take guests up the road to the hotel. Okay, the emissions might not be great but it’s still better than 50 or so cars making the same journey.

6. DIY wedding decorations

DIY wedding decor
DIY bride
Eco wedding tips

Your eco friendly wedding décor is where you can really showcase your ethical choices and show off your crafting skills! Use natural materials like hessian or hand-make bunting from recycled fabric. Recycled jars and cans look pretty filled with flowers and recycled crates are great for displays. I loved this hand made ribbon and lace backdrop at Lauren and Nathan’s yurt camp wedding; it really suited the feel of their day. Hiring décor items is another great way to make sure that items are re-used. You can read more about DIY wedding ideas here!

7. Sustainable tableware

eco wedding tips
sustainable tableware

There are a few options when looking for sustainable wedding tableware. Collecting or hiring mis-matched vintage plates and cups is a good way to recycle whilst adding some vintage chic to your wedding theme. If you’re in a marquee or barn setting and don’t have the facilities for washing up then look for an eco friendly, disposable option. I loved these palm leaf plates and wooden cutlery at Laura and Dave’s rustic barn wedding. They come from Little Cherry, a company specialising in ‘planet friendly’ biodegradable and compostable partyware.

8. Local food & drink suppliers

eco wedding devon food and drink

If you’re choosing your own caterers, chat to local companies about how they can help you achieve your eco-friendly wedding. Ask them if they use organic products and buy from local suppliers. For products that come from further afield like tea and coffee, ask them if they use fair trade. If your venue offers in-house catering you can still ask them about these options. Check out local vineyards for you wine and find a local company that can supply your soft drinks – supplied in reusable bottles and served with paper straws, of course!

9. Vintage charity shop chic

vintage wedding
charity shop chic
eco wedding top tips

Vintage weddings are very popular and an ideal theme for an eco bride. Charity shop finds can add style and glamour to your wedding décor. I loved these vintage table cloths that bride Anna had collected. You can find craft workshops that can help you turn vintage plates into cakes stands – ideal for serving wedding cake or as a centrepiece on your tables. From the roaring 20s to the swinging 60s, charity shop bargains can help you create your look.

10. Sustainable wedding guest book

top tips for an eco-friendly wedding

There are so many creative alternatives now for your guests to leave you a message; messages in a bottle, fingerprint trees, wooden hearts in a frame to name a few. If you’d like an eco version of a traditional guest book then consider the materials it’s made from. Eco friendly paper is a greener version of traditional paper with a smaller carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. It can be either recycled or FSC certified and incorporating either into your wedding stationery is a great move for the environment.