Did you know that the average carbon emissions for a single wedding day are similar to the carbon footprint of 1 person in a 4-5 year span?!? And that this one day produces and average of 800 kilos of waste!?! That's the amount of household waste an average person creates over two years!
Because of these insanely high numbers, I've written some tips on how to cut down on your wedding waste and carbon emissions.
If you want to organize an eco-wedding, don't go destination. Go as local as can be.
Our wedding was at Kasteel Henkenshage in my hometown, a 5 minute walk from where my mum and dad live.
But still, our wedding's total carbon footprint alone was probably way higher than the average footprint for one wedding, as we had family and friends flying over from New Zealand, the States and the UK. Believe me, we definitely made it worth their while. They got an awesome Europe trip out of it and I organized our Bachelor/Bachelorette the weekend before, a Dutch Games Day and a BBQ day. Oh, and a tour of my hometown and yup, I was absolutely insane for organizing all of this.
Other than that, we hosted our guests for the week with my many local family members and friends, so getting to our wedding venue ended up being within walking and biking distance for most guests.
Biggest tip: find local vendors who use (organic) local produce and talk to those vendors about your wants and needs. Ask them if you're allowed to take any food home (organize a day-after BBQ) or if they can donate it to a homeless shelter. Also, make sure they don't hand out ridiculously big portions.
One of the most important things for us was to keep our food emissions down, and this is why we decided to have a completely vegetarian wedding. And it was AMAZING. I've never had food this good at any other wedding . Even the real meat eaters (read: my dad) didn't miss the meat.
I am still in horrors about the amount of food that was wasted at our wedding last year. Even though I tried to fight the caterer on the amount of nibbles during our evening reception, he wouldn't budge and our attempt to save ourselves money and food waste failed.
Around a third of our (vegetarian) three course meal ended up in the bin and more than half of the evening nibbles. We weren't allowed to take any food home with us and that's not something I'm proud of.
We made sure to serve Dutch and Belgian beer only, and I believe our wine was from France. We did not serve prosecco because we both hate it, so we had our big toast with a choice of a craft beer or a glass of white wine.
Unfortunately venues in the Netherlands don't serve tap water so I believe we ended up paying something like €500 for bottled water... Ouch.
And who knows where that water came from?! This is one of the negative things about the Netherlands - no cafe or restaurant will ever serve tapwater for free (even though the water is healthy to drink and tastes perfectly fine).
But yes, go as local as possible if you want to keep your carbon footprint down.
The Dress, suit and bridal and grooms parties attire
Tip: go secondhand or rent wherever you can.
I did not go cheap or secondhand on my wedding dress (I really tried, but once you've found the one, you've found the one). I tried on dress #1 at a wonderful luxury wedding gown shop in the Netherlands and after trying on 35 more dresses (including on-sale and secondhand shops) I went back to dress #1 because nothing could compare. My dress is by a German designer but I was disappointed when I saw the label (after I bought it had it fitted) which said it was made in China. I've been trying to sell my dress, but haven't had any luck giving it a second life (almost got scammed once).
My husband's suit was new as well but is one he can definitely use for other formal wear parties and it will definitely we worn multiple times!
The bridesmaids dresses were also new and fitted, with the idea that they could be re-worn. My lovely bridesmaids chose their own (blue) color and style because I didn't want to force a dress on them they wouldn't wear at other formal occasions.
We did hire the groomsmen's suits, even though it wasn't cheap, at least they would be worn over and over again!
My husband is from New Zealand, we are living in the UK but our wedding was in my hometown in the Netherlands. We have friends and family all over the world.
We didn't want to send everyone letters by post and decided to go with Paperless Post for our Save the Date, Wedding invite and Thank You Cards. Paperless Post also makes it super easy to track attendance, which is absolutely brilliant.
For some other bits and bobs, I decided to look for sustainable printers and we had a couple of welcome boards printed, as well as the table menus and we printed a few other minor things ourselves to save some costs.
Flowers can have a ridiculously high carbon footprint as most are flown over from Africa. We got our flowers from the local flower shop and choose seasonal flowers for the bridal bouquets and the bridal car (owned by my brother). They were grown locally in the Netherlands and we reused the flowers on our dining tables afterwards.
The day after our wedding we even gave them away as thank you's to the family friends who helped us with preparations.
What is a wedding without cute little gifts for your guests? I decided to make coasters and had my mum and her friends help me with this time-consuming task. It felt so good to give away something that people would use afterwards and it shows your guests that extra bit of love + we were (almost) plastic free! I ordered wooden coasters on Etsy, but found out that the wood came from China when the order arrived. Lesson learnt, even Etsy isn't always local and sustainable.
We didn't have a gift registry as most couples would, as we didn't need anything (other than money, haha). But please, let your guests know what you want, because you don't want to receive gifts you're never gonna use (or already have). We had an envelope box (made by my uncle) and gave our guests the option to choose what to gift towards (our first house, honeymoon, handcrafted D&D table).
Diamonds are no girl's best friend. I'm super picky with my jewelry choices and it took days to find an engagement ring I liked. Unfortunately it wasn't second hand and it has a lot of small diamonds. I was just too excited to be engaged and didn't think of the consequences of buying a diamond ring. For my wedding band I used my mum's old ring and we had a second hand sapphire put it.
It's so easy to get a secondhand ring fitted and added any type of diamond/gem into it, that a lot more people should be doing this!
I also got this ring box made especially so I could use it again. It is now my dice box for our Dungeons and Dragons sessions (and yes, we play about twice a week).