St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Zero(ish) Waste Wedding


This blog was written by our Projects Assistant Esther Smith.

The average UK wedding produces a third of a metric tonne of solid waste and 14.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s a whole extra UK resident’s average carbon footprint for a year and a half, in one day.

Probably the most environmentally conscious way to have a wedding is to elope, just the two of you, preferably on bikes. However, sharing our wedding in July this year with family and friends was very important to us. The challenge was to plan the wedding in line with our values. In doing so, while not perfectly green, we did try to be as sustainable as possible and create an event that everybody could really enjoy. As a bonus, environmentally conscious is often cost effective. The average wedding costs over £35K, but there’s nothing romantic about starting married life in debt. So whether it’s a Big Fat White Wedding or a more laid back affair, how can you green up your big day?


Top tips


What we did

Here is our list of considerations and how we tackled them.

The Hens and Stags dos were held in same town the day before the wedding to cut down on travel. A slightly high risk strategy if your hens and stags are especially boozy but it worked for us. After the wedding, we cycled off from the register office to the reception using yarn-bombed Brompton Bicycles. For the honeymoon we took the Coastliner bus – most scenic in the UK apparently – to Whitby. At the hotel they told us that everyone who had arrived using public transport was chilled and cheerful while all those who had driven were stressed out – the joys of public transport.

The environmental impact of clothes is huge and well worth considering when planning your wedding. In the main we used second hand clothes or things we already had. I found a handmade dress upcycled from sari material in a charity shop and topped it off with a sequined bolero I already owned. The groom wore a suit he already owned. The wedding dress and suit were handwashed and steamed rather than dry cleaned. Guests were encouraged to wear whatever they felt comfortable in — no need to buy special wedding clothes and no insisting on posh bridemaids outfits that were only used once.

Wedding ringsRings
It was important that these reflected our values. We found an artisan ring maker on Etsy who met with us and helped us design unique rings. When we explained that we wanted one made from sustainable British Oak and one from recycled aluminium and quartz, he both specially sourced the wood for us and changed his working practices as a result of our conversation. The wooden ring also has a stripe of nichrome made from some old vaping equipment, a great example of upcycling. The engagement ring was a white gold and diamond vintage one passed on to me from my grandmother.

We had a pizza buffet which was largely made up of veggie with vegan options, with just a little meat to keep omnivores happy. This cut down on food waste as the venue stopped making pizzas when the guests stopped eating them. The venue used real plates, real cutlery and real glasses.

Wedding decorationsDecorations and party favours
We made crocheted sunflowers broaches for party favours that also made guest’s outfits look wedding-y without them needing to buy special clothes. We also had crocheted decorations that are already being reused. We didn’t have place settings or programmes, so this saved on waste.

This was ordered from a company that sources fair trade, sustainable flowers and also gives away 10% of profits to charitable development projects. It was composted once it had faded.

We asked a relative to bring fresh fairtrade rose petals. They made origami containers out of newspaper to hold the petals and we composted the stems.

We used a venue that we knew had excellent recycling credentials – because they are a St Nicks business waste recycling customer! The reception took place in a garden full of beautiful flowers and this meant we didn’t need additional table flowers.

We asked for money to be donated to charities of our choosing, so no superfluous wedding presents.

Invitations and thank yous
These were all done by email and by setting up a website, so again saving on waste.

Esther is happy to share her contacts with those interested – just get in touch and share your own tips with us!

26 July 2019 | Categories: One Planet Living, Waste and recycling | Tags: carbon footprint, eco, one planet living, ring, upcycling, waste, wedding, York