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Sustainable Wedding Planning: Getting rid of the unnecessaries

Mar 6, 2022

Wedding planning can be a minefield, and with so many decisions to make, how do you make sure you make the right choices for you, your guests and the planet?  In Spring 2021 we surveyed couples planning their wedding, and a whopping 95% told us sustainability was a consideration for them. But, if you’re in that 95% do you know where to start?

There are many ways to plan a more sustainable wedding, and we cover the basics in our Sustainable Wedding Planning Guide for Conscious Couples e-book, but what if you’ve planned the majority of your day and are working on the final touches? What can you do at this point? If there is no other way to reduce your environmental impact, then the biggest single thing you can do, is to do away with the unnecessaries.

What do we mean by unnecessaries?

When we say unnecessaries, we’re talking about all those little things, all the elements that are nice to have, but when you look at the waste and cost (both financially and to the planet) aren’t truly necessary.  We’re talking about the flip flops, the bathroom baskets, the glow sticks and all the other single use items that are purchased with all good intentions but are rarely used. Over the last two decades we’ve seen the number of wedding unnecessaries gradually increasing, and although we’d started to see a decline in popularity in 2019, it seems that post pandemic they are returning.

What’s the worst offender when it comes to wedding unnecessaries?

Without a doubt it’s baskets of wedding flip flops. I’m sure you’ve seen them at a wedding, or may even be planning to provide them for your own. We see tens of pairs, in a variety of sizes appearing in a beautifully labelled baskets at the side of the dance floor … but, let’s be honest, flip flops are neither comfortable or good for dancing, the majority aren’t worn, and are left behind for the venue to deal with the following day.

In 2021, one of our member venues had a total of 92 weddings, 36 of those had ‘wedding flip flops’ baskets with around 20 pairs on average. They calculated that the average flip flop is 23.5cm long, which would make a combined length of 345m, which is 19 lengths of their Orangery. That is the equivalent length of 13 blue whales! And that is just one venue in the UK. Currently in the UK there is no recycling system for flip flops as they are made from a combination of rubber and polyurethane, so if venues aren’t able to find a new home for them, they are forced to add them to their general waste.

Instead, why not encourage your guests to bring their own comfortable shoes to the wedding to change into later in the day. You can add it into your invitation that you’d love for guests to join you in celebrating all night and if that means they need to bring their flats, then they’re very welcome to.

Ban flip flops at weddings

#banflipflops #nomoreflipflops #noweddingflipflops

Do you really need to provide your guests with bathroom baskets?

Another unnecessary trend we have seen in recent years are bathroom baskets. Boxes or baskets filled with ’emergency’ toiletries. For weddings where you are hiring in toilets, or have a dry hire venue that has limited facilities, it’s a good idea to discuss with the venue or supplier what is included in the hire. Of course, all toilets should have hand soap, sanitiser and a way to dry your hands. For female toilets it’s advisable to include a sanitary bin too.

Is it really necessary though to provide a basket full of deodorant, dry shampoo, hairspray, hair grips, plasters, lip balm, eye lash glue, mouthwash etc etc.  We understand the intention behind the basket, you want to make your guests feel comfortable and ensure they have everything they could ever possibly need whilst they are at your wedding. But maybe there is another way? You could tell your guests more about your wedding day and the itinerary to allow them to come prepared. If there is lots of walking or people are likely to be wearing new shoes, suggest they bring plasters with them. If the weather forecast is windy, suggest they pop a couple of extra hair grips in their bag.

The products that are generally provided in bathroom baskets are single use, travel or miniature sized. They might be used at a wedding by a few people but then, on most occasions, left behind at the venue at the end of the night. The venue is left with the dilemma of what to do with the baskets and more often than not, if the venue isn’t environmentally aware, those products, the packaging and the contents will end up in landfill. By choosing not to provide bathroom baskets, and instead asking your guests to bring what they need to your wedding, would mean that you are reducing the amount of unnecessary waste sent to landfill.

What about favours?

As with so many elements of a wedding, favours stem from a long tradition.  The tradition originates from the European aristocracy and upper classes, who would give gifts of bonbonnieres – a box made of porcelain, crystal, precious stones or metal with sugar delicacies inside. It was from these boxed confections that today’s wedding favours are derived… and although that was the tradition, giving an edible, after dinner gift with an element that guests could take home and treasure isn’t what is happening at weddings today.  Typically at a wedding the majority of wedding favours are left behind, meaning more waste.

The question you should really be asking is… do our guests really want favours? Even if a favour is edible, plantable or homemade, is it something that your guests will want, use or treasure? If not, then you should really consider whether or not it’s worth putting the time, money and effort into it.

Removing the unnecessaries from your wedding will save you both money and time, and ensure that you aren’t adding to the already unsustainable level of waste being sent to landfill every year.

#banflipflops #nomoreunnecessaries #banbathroombaskets

Featured image photo taken by Mark Lord Photography. Styling by The Luxe Design Company with living florals by Willow Green Flower Farm and plantable place card by Laura Likes.

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