My Green Wedding

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When my boyfriend proposed to me after many years together, there was no question of an elopement. We knew that we wanted to make our vows in front of all our friends and family and celebrate our commitment with a party.

We also knew that we wanted the wedding to reflect our values. Sure, I wanted to wear a beautiful dress and we were keen to treat our guests to a good time. But we didn’t want our wedding to cost the earth – either literally or figuratively. With some of our friends and family out of work as a result of the recession, it didn’t seem in keeping with the times to spend too much money.

Getting married is an expression of hope for the future. So what would it say about us and our relationship if we planned our wedding without any regard for the future of our planet?

That said, our wedding was not deep green. We didn’t take our guests camping like this bride and there were certainly compromises along the way. (I wish I’d had these nine eco wedding tips or  20 online resources for an eco-wedding at my fingertips!) I just used my own creativity and common sense to lighten the load. I hope that my experiences and ideas might inspire and inform other brides (and grooms).

My Green Wedding

We are from Australia but we have been living in Europe for the past five years. Sydney is almost exactly half a world from London so realistically this means air travel. It made no sense to expect our friends and family to come to us – we would have to go to them. So at least we were talking about flights for two people, not dozens. To further cut down on flying, we timed the wedding to coincide with my grandmother’s 80th birthday and my cousin’s wedding, both occasions that I wanted to be home for. We also decided to honeymoon in Australia. No hardship there – we spent two glorious weeks on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

Since we were on the other side of the world we did most of our research on venues and caterers online. Google and email were invaluable tools, though we did have family on hand to check things out in person when needed. We wanted our money to help support the local community so we avoided big hotels and wedding venues from the outset.

We were married in a church  and for me one advantage with this was that the hire fee went to upkeep of a beautiful old building (St. Mary’s in East Balmain) as well as community charity work. If we had decided on a civil ceremony, we probably would have hired a celebrant to marry us in a garden ceremony and paid hire fees to a public park instead.

Our reception was in a sailing club, which meant our hire fees helped to fund community sport. It also meant we had the benefit of a hall right on Sydney Harbour for a modest sum and had the freedom to call in our own decorators, caterers and entertainers.

We chose the caterer partly on the proposed menu and prices but also because they were easy to deal with via email. We investigated organic food for the reception but it still carries quite a premium in Australia – the cost is up to 50% higher –  and we couldn’t afford it for 110 people. Instead we asked the caterers to serve local, seasonal food. The menu was planned with this in mind and we gave the caterers license to change it in the last few days depending on what was available. Reducing food miles has an obvious environmental benefit but local seasonal food also tends to be better and cheaper.

We served two vegetarian side dishes and a choice of a vegetarian or meat main course. Although the meat and eggs were not organic, they were at least free range. The wine and beer were from Australia and we served jugs of tap water with lime and mint rather than bottled water. My mother made the wedding cake and knowing her, it was probably mostly organic. I’m not sure about that – what I do know is that it was delicious.

One of my cousins is a florist and she did a wonderful job with the flowers. This part of the wedding probably had quite a large environmental footprint but we made sure they weren’t wasted – we reused the flowers from the church at the reception and we made sure that all the table flowers went home with guests at the end of the night.

The club didn’t have recycling facilities but we made sure that relatives and the caterers between them took away empty bottles for recycling rather than putting them in the bin.

We had a live band (a wonderful group called Blue Trip) rather than a DJ or an iPod playlist. We made that choice obviously because we like live music and thought our guests would enjoy it – but also because we want to support the arts and to help people to make a living from art and music.

In the sequel I’ll talk about finding the dress and men’s wear, the rings and invitations and gifts. Stay tuned for next week!

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4 thoughts on “My Green Wedding

  1. Pingback: The Niltiac Files » Blog Archive » London Still - but Orkney, Glasgow, Cardiff, Dublin, Amsterdam and San Francisco await

  2. I hear you about the venue. And what bride can’t carry flowers? Mine were very heavy cause my mother insisted on the biggest bouquet known to man. Of course, that was a while back.

    I did, however, have them dried to last as long as possible. Dried flowers aren’t as popular now as they once were, but that is one idea for the after life.

  3. Thank you, Luanne. Those ideas are lovely – I especially love the sound of the recycled glass lanterns.

    I can’t imagine foregoing wedding flowers altogether – I love them so much and they were a very special part of the day. I don’t think we went too overboard with them. I should probably have mentioned in the post that they were all Australian-grown, not imported (though some were from interstate).

    Another thing to consider is that the more upmarket, or naturally beautiful, the venue, the less you need to decorate. We went for a sailing club, which although it had a beautiful setting, also had quite basic decor. We really needed a few trimmings to take the attention off the club carpets and trophy cabinets and make it look special for a wedding.

  4. Thanks for sharing your beautiful day and creative ideas for not going over the top on wedding consumption. As you say, it can be hard to go 100% green, but at least you gave it some thought and effort and headed in the right direction. Perhaps some day it will be less costly to serve organic. Many people I know are forgoing the flowers, all together, at events and doing food baskets you can give to food pantries or centerpieces for guests that last a long time (recycled glass lanterns, etc.) I hope you have a long, happy life together!


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