You may not realize that one wedding can produce more CO2 emissions than five people can produce in one year! There has been a heavy focus on sustainability in recent years and it’s now become easier than ever to throw an eco-friendly wedding. In this guide, we are listing over 20 ways for you to plan a beautiful, sustainable gay wedding!
Why Choose Sustainability?
There is so much that goes into planning a wedding that the economical footprint is usually overlooked. But there are a few concerning statistics that have shone a light on the negative impact weddings can have. Plastic and food waste are the main culprits, with one wedding producing around 20kg+ of plastic waste and nearly £500 in wasted food! When you compare that to the amount an average family wastes in one year (roughly £700) you can see that one wedding that only lasts a couple of hours can have a huge amount of waste.
Attire for a Sustainable Gay Wedding
Ethical Designers & Suppliers
There are plenty of wedding attire suppliers out there that source their clothing ethically. This means fair working conditions and recycled materials for example.
There are so many beautiful gowns and suits that have been bought and donated to charity shops and vintage boutiques. Buying a used dress is not only a great sustainable fashion choice but also a much cheaper option.
A common option for wedding attire is to hire bridesmaids’ gowns and groomsmen’s suits. This means you rent the clothing then once finished it is sent back to the outfitters.
Another option that allows you to get the outfit of your dreams while also being sustainable. Commission a bespoke design and ask the designer to use locally-sourced or recycled materials.
Decorations for a Sustainable Gay Wedding
Paper is typically used for invitations but there are so many options to replace this. For example, you can send your invitations electronically! Or use recycled paper, or even seeded paper which disperses seeds while it decomposes.
Flowers are a huge part of a wedding but the transportation, harsh chemicals and amount of water used can make flowers a very unsustainable addition. There are alternative options such as using locally grown, organic flower suppliers, potted plants that can be reused at home or you can simply ask the supplier to donate the leftover flowers to a local hospital or organization. (Also remember to avoid floral foam! It breaks down into tiny micro-plastics that can harm our oceans and wildlife)
Everyone knows that throwing confetti or on the newlyweds is a right-of-passage that every couple deserves but all those little pieces of rice and paper isn’t very eco-conscious especially for the wildlife surrounding the venue. Opt for biodegradable glitter, flower petals or even fresh herbs.
Place cards can be replaced by an edible item that has the guest name on it, for example, cake pops & cookies. Renting out stemware and china instead of single-use plastic and paper. You can also rent linens which sorts out the table cloths, runners and napkins. Bamboo or biodegradable straws can be swapped for plastic ones also. A good rule to stick by with decor is to keep it neutral so that any additional decor items can either be kept for other celebrations or donated to someone else.
Location for a Sustainable Gay Wedding
If you’re not set on a dream location and more flexible with where you have your wedding, then choosing a location that is closer to home and easy to travel to for your guests will limit the emissions produced on travel.
Using an outdoor venue will mean you can make full use of the sunlight which saves energy and money on lighting, the natural air around you which means no need for air conditioning and you won’t need as many decorations as you have the natural beauty around you.
There are plenty of venues that pride themselves on being eco-friendly and reducing their carbon footprint. Speak to the venue about their policies, recycling options and whether they have biodegradable products or use local suppliers.
Hosting a wedding at a national park provides funding for the community, its conservation and it’s a great place to hold an outdoor wedding. Usually a cheaper option than a remote woodland or beach.
Food for a Sustainable Gay Wedding
Organic & Local
Use caterers that use seasonal and organic, locally sourced ingredients, food is a big part of why a wedding is so unsustainable! The same goes for alcohol by checking out locally brewed beers & distilled spirits, also organic wineries.
Opting for a sit-down meal instead of a buffet can drastically reduce the amount of food that is wasted after the wedding as all the food cooked will be set to the number of people attending.
If regulations allow for it, ask your caterer if you can donate any leftovers and excess food to the local homeless shelter, food bank or charity. Make sure you ask about this way ahead of time, so the best plan can be made.
Vegetarian or Vegan
Choosing to go meat-free is always a sustainable option when it comes to food. Some of your guests may not be too keen on vegetarian food but it’s your day and they will be able to try something new! Plus there are many delicious cuisines out there that are heavily vegetarian-based; Indian, South-East Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines can influence your menu.
Choose a bakery that sources its ingredients locally and uses fair-trade items. If you want a fruit cake then ask them to use seasonal fruits, and for an extra economical bonus ask them to make the cake dairy-free!
Travel for a Sustainable Gay Wedding
A lot of guests drive to weddings as the locations are usually a bit out the way of main transport links but hiring a coach to meet guests near a central transport link and shuttling them to the venue is a great way to limit the amount of pollution produced by your guests. Make it fun by hiring a decorated vintage bus and encourage guests to use this form of transport instead, let them know they now don’t need a designated sober driver so everyone can join in on the fun without any limitations (because what’s a gay wedding without a little bit of partying involved!)
Set up carpooling by asking your guests to let you know if they have space in their car so that you can match them with another local guest. This will save your guests some money which is definitely an incentive and allow them to make some friends on the journey!
Walk or Cycle
If you and your guests are up for it then consider a hiking/cycling route that leads from the main transport link to the venue (with a shuttle back). You can ask the venue if you can reserve a room to set up as a refreshment area where guests can change, freshen up and use eco-friendly toiletries! This is a brilliant, unique idea that adds an extra activity for guests to partake in.
The items your guests leave with are another thing to consider, are your guests going to throw away an embroidered handkerchief with your wedding date on it? Probably. So opting for something like seed packets which guests can then scatter in their garden or somewhere local is a much better option and provides a fun experience for your guests. Edible favours are also a big hit. Homemade jams or deconstructed cake mix jars are unique wedding favour options that you know your guests are going to good use of.
Instead of your guests providing gifts, you can ask them to donate towards a charity, your honeymoon or you can ask them to provide eco-conscious gifts.
Makeup & Accessories
If you are hiring a hairstylist or makeup artist for your wedding then ask them to use cruelty-free, ethical, zero-waste makeup for extra peace of mind!
You do not have to create an economical utopia but you can implement ways of lowering your carbon footprint when planning your gay wedding. It’s much easier than it sounds and when you make just a few small changes, our planet benefits in massive ways. From the little things like confetti to the huge things like transport and venue, there are ways that you can make a difference and create a more sustainable LGBTQ+ wedding! For more information and a planning checklist, check out our other editorials.