How to plan an eco-friendly wedding in 5 easy steps

Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it
— Vincent van Gogh

Now more than ever, we are applying an eco friendly lifestyle to our everyday lives by reusing clothes, upcycling & restoring furniture, buying local produce, car sharing -So why should it stop on your wedding day? 

Being in touch with your environment and living sustainably is uplifting for the mind, body and soul so what better way to spend your wedding day than surrounding yourself with positive vibes!

When I initially started up Open the Door, It wasn’t my intention to go down the sustainable business route, but then I started working on my first wedding and I witnessed first hand the amount of waste produced for an event that lasts around twelve hours.  It wasn’t how I lived my life and I knew I wouldn’t be able to work passionately knowing how much harm I was causing in the process.  So, I started looking into ways of how I could apply my eco-conscious lifestyle to my business, without my clients having to pay over the odds. 

Now, with a few years of experience under my belt, I'm dying to share my knowledge with you!  So if you're planning your wedding or just curious, have a read through my tips on how to have an eco-friendly wedding wherever you are in the world in five easy steps - Never forget that small actions make big differences!

Opi kaur eco wedding planner and stylist 

Venue

If choosing an eco friendly venue that runs completely on natural energy isn't an option where you live, the other options to consider are venues like; botanical gardens, vineyards, country houses, art galleries and charming backyards that authentically radiate a natural beauty.  Meaning they won't require excessive amounts of flowers and decoration to bring the space to life, consequently meaning minimal waste. 

| Tips and things to think about |

Are there any wild flowers or foliage in the area that you can forage? (with the landowner's permission of course!)

Does the venue provide any furniture/decor that you can use to style your wedding?

It’s always worth having a good look around and asking the venue which decoration (if any) is available. I went on a venue visit a few months back and saw that the owner had a heap of timber in a skip, I went and had a rumble through and found amazing old doors and other pieces of wood which I used to style this Tim Burton inspired wedding.  One man’s rubbish certainly is another man’s treasure!

Patio wedding venues in Cordoba Andalucia Spain

Catering

Look for local companies that cover your area rather than the whole region, check if they buy local produce and adapt their menus according to the seasonal fruit and vegetables available. Thankfully, more and more catering companies are working with local farms for fresh organic produce so do your research.  

Fortunately, local is still very in in Spain.  Maximo, owner and head chef of Las aguas de Villaharta in Córdoba tells me, ''Our menus consist of both produce grown on our land and from local suppliers.  We cultivate organic fruit and vegetables in the spring and summertime and we are hoping to extend our plot of land and grow even more in the future.''

potted plants in greenhouse Spain

Flowers

Before I started looking into the flower industry it never crossed my mind that they could be harmful to the environment. 

Unfortunately, I was completely wrong.  The Netherlands has been the world's main flower producer and exporter since the mid 1970’s putting many farmers out of business worldwide.  Due to cheaper labour, countries such as; Colombia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and India are becoming the world’s main flower producers alongside The Netherlands. 

What this means is that transporting flowers across the globe while maintaining cool temperatures is anything but eco-friendly, not to mention the immense amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that they have been sprayed with for longevity (so harmful that they are illegal in some countries). Sadly these chemicals are both dangerous to the environment and those handling the flowers.  Most florists also use oasis for floral arrangements, , Oasis is a toxic green floral foam which has formaldehyde in and never breaks down in landfill.

The good news is that more and more people are questioning where their products are coming from and the demand for local organic florists is growing. Sarah from Floribunda Rosa, an eco friendly florist in the UK kindly answered a few questions for me - ‘'Our flowers are usually from farmers who have grown organically but not all of our growers have had their soils tested so can't call themselves organic. Some of the suppliers we use are home grown. We try to use the most local flower growers, on average our flowers travel 40 miles before we sell them, but sometimes just a few miles''.  Sarah hopes to be self sufficient in organic flowers and foliage one day. 

Other alternatives to floral decor are potted plants.  I think plants are so underrated in the wedding industry, I mean there are so many varieties, they endure fluctuating temperatures and not to mention they look amazing when clustered together in different sizes in earthy toned ceramics. The best part about using plants at your wedding, is that they can later be used to decorate your house and equally make great little gifts for your guests to take home. 

decorate a wedding with potted plants and greenery

Wedding Styling

Having a sustainable wedding doesn’t mean sacrificing what you want . It means carefully sourcing suppliers that share the same philosophy and taking your time to choose every detail, making your wedding even more personalised and unique. 

Firstly, go over your wedding design and think about what you need.  Then raid your house (and whoever else’s house) and see if you can use what you already have. You, or somebody you know may own a few things that would make perfect wedding decor, such as; quaint pieces of furniture, candle holders, vases, bottles, picture frames and fabrics... 

Secondly, make a trip to the second hand shop and make a weekend of sanding, stripping and painting. There's nothing more satisfying than restoring an old piece of furniture and personalising it exactly how you want it. 

| Top tips |

Before buying, look at hiring (locally)!

Purchasing decor for your wedding, doesn't mean that you only have to use it on your wedding day. If there are some gorgeous candlesticks you’ve got your eye on, then what better excuse to buy them and show them off.

Wedding stationery - Use 100% recycled paper or go paperless; write your reception menu on a large mirror or a chalkboard and send your guests video invitations and save money on stamps!

Illumination -Use LED lighting, it is MUCH more energy efficient.

second hand vintage market shopping in Andalucia Spain

Dress

Looking drop dead gorgeous on your wedding day is a must and I'm thrilled to say that it is absolutely possible to do this ethically, sustainably and most importantly stylishly. After documentaries like The true cost (which I 100% recommend) shining the spotlight on the disturbing fashion industry, there is a greater demand for slow fashion.

Reformation, which first opened in LA in 2009, source sustainable fabrics and vintage garments and have recently opened their doors to designing stunning wedding and bridesmaids dresses.  Not only is it their strong ethos and affordable prices that are appealing, but also their timeless designs, so if you are thinking about buying a dress you would like to rewear, this could be your place. 

Spain has a selection of independent made-to-measure designers.  A personal favourite of mine is L'arca, a Barcelona based designer that creates bridal gowns, veils and decoration entirely from vintage lace and antique textiles all sourced from Spain.  They exclusively hand make each garment in their workshop and believe that their beautiful designs shouldn't be acheived at anybody else's cost. 

| Tip |

Pre-owned wedding dresses are the most sustainable option and a huge money saver.  Websites Oncewed and Still White offer a selection of bohemian and modern designers.

Do your research and don't feel embarrassed to ask where fabrics come from and where the dresses are made, it is your right as a consumer. 

Spanish patio beautiful wedding venue

Happy planning folks! I really hope this post will come in useful and help you create the wedding you envision whilst being kind to the environment.  If you have any questions or would like my advice on anything related to eco-friendly weddings, please don't hesitate to get in touch.