7 Steps to a more Sustainable & Eco-friendly Wedding
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Check out our top tips to having a sustainable wedding in the mountains and beyond.
Here in the mountains we live IN the nature, right next to it; it surrounds us. We enjoy fresh air, almost litter free streets, fresh rivers and sparkling lakes. Morzine, Montriond and the surrounding region of the Haute Savoie is thought to be a haven of paradise, but it’s facing its own challenges too and we need to work together to ensure we can continue enjoying this setting for years to come.
Being so close to nature makes us appreciate it so much more and as our generation, and other generations before us become increasingly aware of our ever looming climate crisis, many of us are beginning to adjust our behaviours accordingly, and that must too apply to our celebrations.
Weddings can be, if not well managed, wasteful and excessive affairs. But we’re here to make sure that isn't the case with your day.
As the owner of a wedding & events business I must also share with you my other experience and fields of work. As a marketing manager by trade, last year I transitioned to work for a sustainability business, one that looks at the environmental and social impacts of businesses. Every day we talk about the global issues facing us; we talk about the dwindling rainforests, the C02 levels, loss of bio diversity, micro plastics in the ocean, and fast fashion. So it’s befitting that our wedding business is built on and about, the very thing we are fighting to preserve: the wilderness.
Are weddings all that bad?
In answer to that question, did you know that weddings can produce as much C02 as 4/5 people can in a year, yes you read that correctly, a year, that is equivalent to 63 tons of C02 in a day. Gulp!
In the US it is also estimated a wedding can produce 181kgs of rubbish so yes, weddings are wasteful and impactful on the planet and we need to consider this and examine how they work and how we can have our hand in improving these figures.
With every wedding, we always ensure we propose the most sustainable solutions available to us. It is not always easy but is reassuring to know that we consider and participate in preserving the natural surrounds we’ve come to hold so dear. Reducing our environmental impact, and that of our clients is all part of our values as a business.
We created this guide to be as practical as possible, to give anyone actionable steps they can take before, during and after their wedding day to have a more eco friendly day. It’s not specific to weddings in Morzine, but can be applied to anyone getting married, from small elopements or larger affairs (when we’re able to get them going again). Use this as a guide and template, and try your best to tick as many boxes as possible, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
So whether a wedding in the French alps is on the cards, or your local pub for a reception, take into account some of our top tips for a sustainable wedding.
1. Travel & Transport
Let’s get the big one out of the way and address the elephant in the room. Destination weddings have a larger impact on the environment due to the travel that guests undertake to get there!
Did you know that tourism accounts for 8% of global emissions?
So in reality, the most environmental option is to stick to local weddings - but this is about you and your dreams too, whether it’s by the beach, up in the mountains or at your local church.
So for destination weddings it’s going to be about carbon offsetting and fortunately there are so many fantastic solutions to off-set your travel. You can even encourage this and have your guests off-set their emissions as a wedding gift. We recommend sites like Sustainable Travel.org or My Climate.org. We particularly like the way My Climate offer a selection of projects that really make tangible impact on our progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. You can learn more about what your off-setting will do here.
When it comes to getting to and from locations, you can reduce your impact by helping provide transport for guests in one go. This reduces the need for multiple vehicles on the road, reduces emissions and is more efficient. A passenger car carrying one person emits 89 pounds of C02 per 100 passenger miles, but a full bus emits only 14 pounds. So helping provide timed shared transport between locations makes a big difference.
We’d also recommend setting up a Facebook or WhatsApp group for guests, so they can discuss carpooling or sharing of cabs home if you are not able to provide transport for them.
And why not consider having your ceremony and reception in locations near to each other to save travelling between the two venues? In Morzine we work with local transport providers to offer lower impact travel options for your guests.
The amount of paper products used at weddings really adds up. We’re talking name tags, menus, welcome signage and even your invites. To avoid waste, ensure you use recyclable paper or even better, get things printed on recycled materials.
Could you have one menu card per table rather than one per person? Could you send invites by email and just send a small 'save the date' physically, or the reverse?
Thinking about reducing your waste is key to reducing your environmental impact.
When it comes to signage, Wilder Weddings can provide local natural slates that can be used again and again for hand written calligraphy signs. And when it comes to stationary we only work with printers using 99% recycled materials, closed loop recycling approaches and who are C02 neutral.
3. Wedding Favours
Wedding favours are a beautiful way to thank guests for making the trip to your wedding but they can become a 'big old mess of left behind tat', if not thought out carefully enough.
There are so many incredible ways you can give sustainable and eco-friendly favours. One of our favourites are these seed bombs, allowing your guests to spread wild flowers in their own garden, and better still you can match them to your décor theme. WIN!
Or what about these soap bars, encouraging everyone to use more soap and less single use plastic (aka shower gels and shampoos), educating your guests a little more on how they can play a part when they get home. You can even personalise them with your names. Cute!
Better still, look for gifts locally. Here in Morzine there are many small artisanal shops that need your support. One of our favourites is our local honey maker Le Comptoir du Miel, a small pot of local honey is enough to sweeten up your guests.
4. Food & Drink
Food waste and food sourcing should be high on your priority list when it comes to making decisions about your wedding day. Did you know that in the UK, households waste 4.5 million tonnes of food. Ensuring you work with caterers that know how to portion correctly and have a strategy for food waste and composting is very important, hence opting for caterers that have catered weddings before is a must.
Second to that is going for in-season and locally sourced ingredients. Why? Because some produce travels great distances (in the US it is estimated produce travels and average of 1,500 miles!) before it reaches your plate and this travel is all part of your emissions count. Opting for food with local origins is the aim. Luckily enough, where we are in the Haute Savoie we have an abundance of local farms and beautiful produce. We also work with caterers who hand pick their own produce – often from their own gardens and allotments.
This goes hand in hand with selecting local wines and beers. Living in France means we have the 'cream of the crop' choice when it come to wine and we are spoilt with fantastic local breweries. When it comes to running a bar, avoid all disposable plastics like the plague, no straws and no disposable cups, should really go without saying.
Finally you should also consider choosing a menu that celebrates vegetarian and vegan foods. This will help reduce your impact further as it is nearly always better to pick a vegetarian meal, than one from sustainable meat sources.
Did you know that registries where created back in the 50’s? This was to help young couples get on their feet in their first home together.
I am certain we have come a long long way since then. Most couples we work with are already living together (obvs!) and have been gathering their homewares and trinkets for some time. So before you go jumping at the chance to get more ‘stuff’, ask yourself, do you really need it?
Perhaps you decide not to ask for material things, which require resources to manufacture and emissions to reach you, but you opt for a contribution toward a honeymoon instead. Why not ask your guests to make a donation to a charity close to your heart? During the pandemic many charities have struggled so there couldn’t be a better time to start giving.
If you do decide to go for a registry, choose eco-friendly items from suppliers and brands with strong sustainable values. We love the UnWedding Directory, a beautifully curated list of local sustainable suppliers. Also the thankfullregistry which combines traditional gifts, charity donations and experiences in one place.
When it comes to choosing your rings and wedding bands why not look at vintage options or family heirlooms - sometimes even more beautiful and meaningful than something new.
If you are going to buy a new engagement ring, be sure to check that its diamond has come from a sustainable source using a website like this one: https://www.kimberleyprocess.com/.
Better still, lab created diamonds are up and coming and are not physically any different to naturally found diamonds. They have a lower impact on the environment as there is no mining involved, plus, they cost much less, so good for your wallet too. We are huge fans of Rustic & Main who are dedicated to creating sustainable wedding rings that are inspired by nature.
7. Flowers & Confetti
Flowers are beautiful, and they really finish the styling of your day. However, having cut flowers at your wedding is not particularly environmentally friendly, as sometimes they are imported making their environmental impact quite high.
You can have flowers on your wedding day that are sustainably sourced, but you need to ask the right questions of your florist.
Check with your florist if the flowers are locally grown or imported and check what sort of farm they have come from and whether pesticides have been used. Much in the same way as you should with your food supply.
Using artificial flowers might seem like a cheaper and more eco friendly option. In reality these flowers are made mostly with plastics, chemicals and dyes that are not recyclable, so often end up in landfill.
When it comes to confetti, go natural. You could use dried petals, lavender or leaves, avoiding anything plastic or doused in glitter. The advantage here is that petals tend to be lighter and thus stay in the air longer -aka 'gorgeous confetti throw pics'.
After the wedding day, why not find a way to get the most from your flowers. You could dry them, or re-use them after the event by looking into donating them to local hospitals or care homes.
Overwhelmed? Don't be.
I think it’s important to say, it is very hard to have a 100% perfectly eco-friendly wedding as there will always be things you struggle to avoid. And by no means is this list exhaustive, there are many other things to consider such as where you buy your dress and suits from, the numbers of guests you invite- but we think we have given you enough to get started on for now, so we'll save them for a rainy day.
What is important is that you don’t let this paralyse your creativity, but instead let it guide your choices. Even if you select half of the list and work on those, that’s progress. If we all make these small changes, they add up to big things.
Get in touch if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback.
We’re 'open ears', we’re 'all learning', we’re all on our own journey of sustainability.
The more we talk about it, the more it gains momentum.
Thanks for reading.
Ian & Faye
The Wilder Weddings Team
You can read our pledge to reduce our environmental impact in partnership with Montagne Vert here.
Montagne Verte is local charity organisation with a mission to develop solutions for the region of Morzine to reduce its environmental impact. They work closely with local stakeholders and businesses to enable our community to make greener decisions and become a more sustainable tourism destination.