Make a decision together and tell people. Never underestimate the power of a decision and accountability. My (now) husband and I made the decision together that we wanted an awesome day, yet also have the lowest environmental impact we could. Decide from the start what you’re ok to compromise and not. Tell others your decision - we had awesome wedding planners from the Ark Project who specialise in ethical events, we told them our ethical criteria and they helped us achieve that.

Weddings on Female First

Weddings on Female First

Invitations / Order of Service. The obvious option is to go paperless. But for us, we decided that something printed was important. We found Eco Print who would print on recycled paper, use inks made from vegetable oil and you could also opt for a Carbon Zero Delivery.

Food and drink.

1. Home-made cakes: We asked friends and family to bake for us, brought in zero waste containers for the afternoon of our reception, avoiding all commercial packaging

2. Waste food canapes: Our wedding planners found us Elysia, a company that suited our taste and budget, who use food that otherwise would have gone to landfill to make our canapes. They looked and tasted incredible!

3. Locally sourced: The venue we used source all their food within a 25 mile radius, so it was easy to get low carbon, unpackaged food.

Dress. Often the big one for most brides. I obviously wanted to look amazing for the big day, but couldn’t wrap my head around the cost of wedding dresses and the many resources used to make a garment for a few hours wear. I found a second hand dress that was perfect for me.

Child friendly. We had over 25 children at our Easter wedding, so we did an Easter Egg hunt. I searched for Fairtrade Easter Eggs that came in only cardboard and foil, so that they could all be recycled. We also had an ice cream van and gave everyone tokens to redeem for an ice cream cone - the ultimate zero waste food, you eat the packaging in comes in!

Tableware. We didn’t want to compromise on fantastic looking tables vs ethics. So we hired in everything to ensure we only used stuff that would be used again. Our table centerpieces were recycled jam-jars with flowers that we had used during the ceremony and doubled up for the tables later in the day.

Flowers. Our planners found us local growers who would supply us flowers of our choice, all in buckets and completely unwrapped. As we got closer, they informed us that the daffodil season had ended three weeks early due to such a mild winter so there was none left for our wedding - unless we wanted to fly some in from a different part of the UK. This is where point No. 1 kicked in. We stuck to our original decision and just had some replacement yellow flowers that were still locally grown. Our flowers were not more important than living out our values.


Jo Herbert-James leads on Environmental and Economic Sustainability for Christian relief and development agency Tearfund and is the Director of The Justice Conference UK. She lives in London with her husband and is working towards a zero waste lifestyle.

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