How to make a wedding more eco-friendly.

Marguerite MacRobert

As people become more aware of the environmental impact of their actions, many couples like to know that their wedding celebration will be eco-friendly. Namibia Planners has some tips on how you can enjoy your big day with a happy conscience.

For the couple more interested in reducing waste than their waists before a wedding, here are our green ideas!

  1. Go natural: Compost is not a topic usually associated with weddings, but the waste produced by everything from shiny plastic party favours to paper confetti can really add up. Try looking for decor items that are made of natural materials that are compostable or recyclable. Think dried flowers or leaves for confetti, and paper lanterns instead of balloons. Wood, bamboo, glass and metal items are preferable to plastic, and naturally bleached paper that does not have shiny finishes makes wedding stationery like menus fully compostable.
  2. Find an off-grid or energy-conscious venue:  Solar- and wind-powered venues are surprisingly common in nature reserves, farms and safari destination wedding venues in Namibia and other African countries, as venues try to keep independent and off-grid and look after their lovely natural surroundings. With so much sunshine year-round, it just makes sense. Find out what powers the venue you choose, so all the cooking and lighting that go into your big day doesn’t come at a high fossil fuel cost.
  3. Choose what can be reused:  Many wedding decor suppliers hire out beautiful candles which have an outer layer of harder wax, and an inner layer of soft wax that can be refilled. Hired items such as fairy lights and photo booth decor can stretch your budget and ensure items are reused. A hire company has a vested interest in stocking quality items made to last much more than one wedding or event, and you’ll get more value this way than trying to buy many cheap light strings or other decor items which you are unlikely to reuse often, once your wedding day is over. Chalk boards or glass sheets can also be beautifully hand-lettered to make unique and on-trend table seating plans and menus that don’t have to be thrown away once your big day is over.
  4. Vintage style for the win! Consider hiring a wedding dress over having a new one made, or if you must have custom design, consider selling it afterwards. Vintage second-hand dresses are all the rage right now. It may not be quite the same as Princess Beatrice wearing Queen Elizabeth II’s old wedding gown, but actually most wedding dresses are very special and were, let’s face it, only worn once.  Men can of course hire a suit. If you are having special outfits for bridesmaids or groomsmen, also consider whether the outfits are ones they can reuse after the wedding, or if they will be sitting with a lump of not-so-trendy-anymore lilac fabric to dispose of in a month’s time. If you are asking them to buy or make something it is both eco-friendly and kind to friends to consider an outfit that is timeless rather than simply trendy. For more of Namibia Planners’ great tips on how to choose a wedding dress that truly suits you, see our previous post here.
  5. Get in the zone and choose local: If you want to lessen your impact on the environment, then consider the carbon footprint of everything from flowers to food miles. Any good venue chef or catering company these days should be aware of what ingredients can be locally sourced in season, so ask for their advice before you order prawn and avocado entrees in the Namibian desert. There are often excellent local wineries or distilleries you can support in preference to insisting on European or American labels, and so on. This also keeps your wedding really special and unique as you respect the spirit of the place. Floral arrangements from nearby farms are environmentally preferable to the most organic materials brought in a cooler truck from further afield, and flying anything in from somewhere else increases your carbon footprint drastically, so ask for local suppliers before you assume you need to ship anything to your wedding destination. You may be wonderfully surprised at the lovely local options!
  6. Consider the community: Beyond your food miles, there is the contribution your wedding budget makes to the local economy. At a bare minimum, a venue like a game preserve in Namibia will provide many jobs for local people. Quite a few venues in developing nations take care of their staff in other ways as well, and will gladly tell you all about the feeding schemes they run in the community at large, or the farm school they have founded for their staff. They can also point out talented local artisans who can produce unique party favours and table decor, etc, or provide special cultural entertainment. Many local farms will give a portion of their profits to health or childcare in the community, and your choice of these suppliers over others will encourage more to do so. This social agenda is important in creating a sustainable environment. If the surrounding community see a nature preserve as a place that benefits the well-being of the entire community, they are more likely to support the preservation of natural habitat for wild animals. You can even ask your guests to consider donating something to a local community project as a really special feel-good part of your wedding.
  7. Fewer feet make a smaller carbon footprint -see previous blog – the more people are travelling and eating, the more waste there is, and the smaller your wedding the more likely you can afford better quality, more eco-friendly options like organic catering, so many people are going smaller on their big day. Check out our previous post for other reasons couples sometimes choose to go small on their big day.
  8. Choose organic and ethically sourced food and wine: Even asking for these options makes venues more likely to stock them in future as part of a healthy business strategy. If your budget is very tight, consider if there is even one item you can go organic on, and that will make a difference towards supporting a more eco friendly and sustainable catering industry. Some venues even have organic linens for their tables, so there are many other ways you can go organic and help keep our planet happy while you celebrate.

We hope you have enjoyed Namibia Planners’ tips for how to go green even if you’re dressed all in white. Please feel free to add your own ideas or experiences of environmentally friendly weddings in the comments!

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Marguerite MacRobert

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