We wanted to look at the sustainable side of the wonderful world of weddings so we asked Wedding Planner extroirdinaire Melanie Helen of Cranberry Blue to write our hot topic blog this month and this is what she had to say…
Reducing climate change and managing our own impact to the environment is a hot topic at present. We’re all getting better at changing our daily habits to make positive steps, however when it comes to planning your wedding or special event, you may be wondering how you can make this more sustainable, whilst still maintaining a luxury feel. I’m not going to lie, it’s challenging – especially when a lot of what we do is bespoke to each client and a lot of things are made from scratch. That said, it’s something we’re looking at carefully and seeing what changes we can implement to be kinder to the planet, whilst maintaining our high standards.
When people think of having an eco-friendly wedding or party, it often conjures up images of perhaps a more DIY affair and not a luxurious one. While it may not be possible to have a completely green affair, there certainly are lots of things that we can all do, and to help with your wedding ideas and party ideas I’ve put together some points to consider which show that it is possible to have a more sustainable but luxurious event…
We all know that we need to eat less meat, not only be healthier but to also help reduce the impact on the environment and veganism is in full swing.
When thinking about what food to serve, ensure you choose an in-season menu and work with a caterer who can provide locally grown products wherever possible. Having spoken to one of our preferred Caterers – Caper & Berry, they told us – “When bought directly from growers, food needs less time in the fridge and less packaging to stay fresh, so you’re being especially kind to Mother Earth. And since the food is coming from a shorter distance, less fuel is needed to transport it”.
Meat has long been the preferred choice at an event, but as there are so many incredible veggie or vegan options available now then why not consider having this instead? As a UK party planner, we love seeing new trends coming through and this is one that we feel is growing. If that’s a step too far for you however then consider serving chicken or fish instead as this has a much lower impact on the environment
CHOICE OF SUPPLIER
When deciding which supplier to choose, ask them what their green values are within the business. Caper & Berry for example have a range of initiatives including having their own vegetable garden, which includes herbs, root vegetables and edible flowers and they use these ingredients to inspire new dishes. This is further nourished by compost made by their own food waste, thus completing the circle.
You could consider using a beer which has locally produced barley and hops which not only cuts down on food miles but also supports local farmers. Hepworth Brewery in West Sussex for example does just that and any waste or bi-products are used as cattle feed.
While a luxury brand of Champagne is still the preferred choice of drink for our clients, you could consider serving an English sparkling wine instead, which would mean a lower carbon footprint. The company Fitz Wine is also based in West Sussex and is both sustainable and Vegan – utilising fruit grown only in a sustainable manner from family owned vineyards.
For tea and coffee, it can be as simple as using ethical brands such as Fair trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified Teas. These companies ensure good working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
Cocktails – if you’re planning to have signature cocktails and they require a straw then make sure these are compostable rather than plastic.
As wedding decorators and event stylists – the décor is one of the most exciting aspects of designing and planning a special event. As with your choice of menu, try to choose flowers that are in-season. You may also want to consider using some British-grown flowers, to reduce air miles and energy consumption for storage.
A trend we’re seeing coming through this year is to use fabulous potted plants and foliage en-masse as part of the décor, often used alongside floral arrangements and props. These can then be taken home after the event and either given to family and friends, or even planted in your garden.
You could also mix high quality silk flowers amongst real flowers. When the two are combined, it’s very hard to see the difference and certainly not to an un-trained eye.
Having spoken to one of our preferred luxury florists – Wildabout Flowers to see what they’re doing to help be more sustainable, Leanne said – “We’re all working towards being floral foam free – this is a testing challenge in the luxury wedding and events market when you’re building large arrangements and installations that are prepared the day before. We need to make sure the flowers are at their optimum on the event day, and as they are out of water we still need to provide moisture. We’re therefore now substituting moist green moss in chicken wire as below (which is not a single use product as we recycle and use time and time again) and this allows the flowers to still have moisture and keep them as fresh as possible for the big day.”
You can also consider using a mix of grasses and dried flowers, with small potted plants/rose bushes nestled in as Leanne and the team did in the incredible set up below – look how grand and luxurious, ‘eco’ can look!
Where we can, after the event we also re-purpose the flowers to designated charities which are then sent on to hospices”. As Planners, we also encourage clients to give posies of your flowers and/or plants to your guests as they leave which is always well received.
While we work with some incredible production companies and set designers it’s worth bearing in mind that rather than having everything built entirely from scratch – certain items can be customised instead, or even hired in to save on waste. Having spoken to one of our preferred suppliers – Tom from Lighting Events, he said they’re looking at several initiatives, including using real glass for mirrored table tops rather than Perspex, so they can be re-used. They’re also considering introducing an environmental charge should a client want everything to be made entirely bespoke which would go into carbon offsetting.
It can also be a better option to buy smaller items such as accessories to either keep after the event or pass on to someone else to re-use, this also avoids fuel/transport to and from a supplier. We’ve also sourced amazing antique mirrors to up-cycle into table plans and other props which look authentic and often far better than a brand new one.
Traditional gift list rules for weddings have well and truly been broken, and one of our preferred gift list providers – Prezola have a wide range of brands which offer sustainable but stylish products to choose from. Having recently read an article on Absolutely Wedding’s newsletter, Lauren Stuckes who is part of the Prezola team said “we have gorgeous textiles made from recycled plastic bottles and striking artworks on recycled card. There are also more expensive items such as House of Marley’s turntables and speaker systems made from sustainable materials including bamboo, recycled bio-plastic and aluminium. It’s also worth noting that we also wrap couples’ gifts in recyclable packaging”. Fabulous!
Welcome packs are a wonderful way to make your guests feel really valued and well, welcomed to the start of your celebrations! They can be as simple as some well received edible gifts alongside a welcome card to make them feel more relaxed and at home, or something more elaborate such as bespoke perfumes as we recently had created for a client which were an amazing keepsake. Whatever your choice of gift, these can even be personalised to make each guest feel even more special. Try to avoid single use plastics but use other methods of packaging instead such as gorgeous gift boxes, tissue paper and fabric gift pouches – and why not consider some local products too?
For parties, we’ve seen glitter bars becoming more popular as a fun addition to the evening – this is where skilled makeup artists can transform or just add a touch of sparkle to your guests using body glitter and gemstones. This is a fabulous option, just make sure you work with a company that uses eco and biodegradable glitters such as In Your Dreams
We LOVE a balloon installation for a wedding or event – they can be used either on their own or combined with florals, tassels or garlands but they can certainly help to create the ‘wow’ factor. One of our preferred suppliers – Bubblegum Balloons use balloons which are biodegradable as they’re made from natural latex (created using the sap of rubber trees). They also work with leading manufacturers who source their latex from sustainable Rainforest Alliance Certified plantations. Their foil balloons can also be used up to 5 times and are fully recyclable.
You can also make a more sustainable choice when it comes to your stationery. Consider the choice of material used and chose a recycled card or even one that has small seeds embedded so it can actually be planted after the event. Wood is also a surprisingly good material to use perhaps for your menus but made to feel more luxurious with the additional of a beautiful laser cut wrap around it. Also look to use more environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks.
Take this a step further and consider making each invitation a personalised keep-sake for your guests as with these divine wooden boxes which were part of the event we attended at The Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk – our friends at Intricate Creations, designed and produced the most divine stationery suite!
I hope that’s given you some great wedding ideas and party ideas to help make your special celebration kinder to the environment whilst still maintaining a high level of luxury…
If you’re thinking about getting some professional planning support to design and plan your party or wedding then do get in touch by dropping me a line on 0044 (0)207 4119 819 or email firstname.lastname@example.org