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Something borrowed, something green
The large-scale weddings of the last decade are falling in popularity; with couples placing more and more importance on close-knit celebrations. Coming into favour are locations, decorations, entertainment and food that value quality over quantity, and mean something to the couple rather than just being picked from the pages of a wedding brochure. In order to get that ideal mix, all things local, handmade and unique are understandably being embraced.
Although personal, simple weddings usually don’t have a sustainable focus, our environment is certainly the silent winner. Inviting a meaningful group of friends and family instead of inviting everyone and their new boyfriend, means less travel miles, less food and less waste. Embracing local and organic food to ensure quality meals for your day promotes local produce and supports good animal welfare. Even having simple, handmade or borrowed decorations to allow for a personal touch, rather than lighting displays to rival the State Theatre, minimizes energy use, and waste.
If you need another reason to pick that small intimate venue over the mammoth hall, here’s a good one: although it’s just one day, weddings, on average, produce 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide – which is just over three times the average YEARLY carbon emission of the average Australian (18.7 tonnes)! And because we’re a loved-bunch, we have approximately 120,000 weddings performed each year in Australia.
So whether you’re planning a wedding right now, or just for ‘one day’, we’ve done the hard* work for you, simultaneously rounding up some of the cutest and simple wedding ideas, coupled with bonus heart-warming sustainability benefits.
(*may have actually been quite fun)
Our poster child and initial inspiration for this article is recent newlywed Manja. Manja is that kind of girl who is on to a good idea before it’s been written up by a culture blog, but also very no-fuss. She stresses that her wedding choices didn’t have sustainability at their core, even though the final product was very eco-friendly.
Can you tell us about the key aspects of the day – your dress, the venue and the ring?
We got married in Petersham Park, in the rotunda. I wanted to get married in a place that meant something to us, not some expensive venue I hadn’t been in before. We had the reception in the Petersham Bowling Club too, across the road from the park, where we stayed all afternoon. The Club’s caterer is great, she caters for movie sets and things like that and she kept the canapés coming all afternoon. Sustainability didn’t really come into the consideration of the venue, but it just so happened that the venue is very sustainable – it has got its own compost and all the food was served on bio-degradable crockery.
I sourced some amazing vintage shoes on Etsy, but my dress wasn’t a traditional wedding dress; it was more a 60’s style cocktail dress. I planned on buying a vintage dress as well, but I just couldn’t find anything that I loved, so a local seamstress that specialized in vintage made this one for me and it worked perfectly. We also bought a vintage ring from the Sydney Antique Centre, because I like the idea that someone has already worn it and hopefully had a pleasant marriage.
Did your wedding have a theme? How did you choose the invitations, decorations and entertainment?
Our invitations were all themed to go with the park. We did our invitations on a word press site with a little help from a friend. You can do most of that yourself these days. We sent a series of digital updates, for save the date and details of the day but we created thank you cards with pictures from the day and gave them to our guests when we saw them.
We had asked every guest, about a week before, to bring a single flower to the ceremony because we wanted each of our friends attending to bring something into our wedding. Friends chose a selection of the best flowers for my bouquet, and helped bring all the rest over to the reception afterwards for table decorations. Most people brought flowers from gardens, because it’s hard to buy just one.
The other decorations were quite simple. Table cloths at the reception were hand made by the bride’s mother from a previous wedding, and had been donated to venue, as were the fairy lights we used. We just put up some balloons and strings of Mexican wedding flags, which were given to me by a friend.
One of the most memorable things of the day was the entertainment. A lot of our friends are musicians, so we asked them to do a short set, as well as putting together an iTunes playlist. My husband learnt a new song to play to me, and we were serenaded with a performance of INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart, which included a surprise saxophone player popping out for the solo. It was hilarious! A highlight for me was my husband and his dad playing together for the first time. They both play guitar but had never played together – their rendition of Wild Horses was a real tear jerker!
What did you guys decide to do for gifts?
My main mantra was keep it simple and that worked a treat. In terms of wedding gifts, we’ve got everything we need and I’m a bit picky with my gifts. We didn’t want to do a traditional registry either, so we asked guests to donate cash to a trip we’re going on later this year instead.
Our friends contributed a lot to the day too. As well as performing on the night and bringing flowers, a friend made me a message tree, instead of a guest book, for people to write on during the festivities and we’ve had that framed.
Top areas where your simple wedding day choices are also a cause for a sustainable celebration:
Unwanted gifts can go into landfill – why not start a registry to ensure only needed items are bought, and if any unwanted gifts do come your way, skip the bin and recycle it via a collaborative consumption website.
Just like Petersham Bowling Club, unlikely venues sometimes have hidden sustainable benefits so why not ask when you’re researching where to hold the reception? Or, why not engage a company to offset your day if your dream location isn’t so green.
Go for locally sourced and sustainable food where you can a bit of a no-brainer. Who wants their food not to be fresh and from an assembly line?!
Here’s an easy one to combat the biggest impact to wedding environmental footprint – guest travel. Encourage family and friends to take public transport to and from the event, or carpool with a friendly designated driver.
It’s a hard task to ask a bride and groom to choose outfits based on anything more than wanting to look their best on the day. But there are good suggestions for the trimmings – look to Etsy for handmade elements to the outfit, and suggest that guests borrow their outfit instead of buy one especially for your wedding. There are more and more services emerging each year that offer current season Australian designer dresses and handbags at a small percentage of the price to hire for a few nights. By renting you can help decrease the four per cent of landfill that is currently made up of textile waste.
Look for locally grown flowers, or, take a leaf out of Manja’s book and ask people to BYO flowers for personalized decorations! Imported flowers can increase your day’s carbon foot print due to the travel and refrigeration required, plus they have to add nasty chemicals once they enter the country to ensure they don’t pass on diseases once in Australia.
We live in a digital age. Try e-invites, a video or blog, especially to let people know to save the date, or if you have your heart set on paper invitations, use recycled paper.
Reuse or borrow as much as possible, you’re only going to use it once! Ask friends to see what they can bring, what the venue has on offer, and whether you want to split the cost of popular items like tablecloths, lights or vases with other brides celebrating at a similar time.