Conscious Couples Blog

What are the challenges when planning a sustainable wedding

Jul 11, 2023

A wedding is a joyous occasion that brings friends and family together to celebrate love. However, amidst all the excitement, it is easy to overlook the impact that a wedding can have on the environment. In today’s world, where sustainability is becoming increasingly important, it is crucial to consider the environmental footprint of your wedding.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to plan a sustainable, zero-waste, and ethical wedding. In this article, we will explore the damage caused by traditional weddings and provide alternatives for hosting an eco-friendly celebration.


What is the environmental impact of weddings?

To fully understand the impact of weddings on the environment, let’s take a look at some shocking statistics…

Plastic Waste: Plastic is a major contributor to environmental pollution. In the UK alone, 4,910 tonnes of un-recyclable plastic were used and left behind at weddings, that’s equivalent weight of 47 blue whales. Individually, one wedding can produce as much as 20kg of plastic waste, and the black bags used to collect the rubbish can take up to 90 years to decompose underground.

Food Waste: Food wastage is also a significant issue at weddings. On average, £488 is wasted on food at every wedding, and 15% of people only eat one or two of their three-course meals. Additionally, 15% of newlyweds throw away the remains of their cake, and 37% of guests don’t eat edible wedding favours. The food wastage at a single wedding can be the equivalent of 65% of a home’s annual food wastage.

Carbon Footprint: UK weddings contribute significantly to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. An average wedding day in the UK generates 14.5 tonnes of CO2, whereas the annual per capita carbon emission in the UK is only 9.1 tonnes. With approximately 250,000 weddings taking place each year, this results in a total of 3,625,000 tonnes of CO2 being emitted.


What are the things to avoid when planning a sustainable wedding?

There are lots of on trend wedding decorations that are harmful to the environment, a few examples include:

Balloons: Balloons are made of non-biodegradable materials, contributing to overflowing landfill sites. They also pose a serious choking hazard to wildlife, both on land and in the sea.
What’s the more sustainable option? Instead of balloons, opt for paper based or re-useable decorations. There are lots of great options available to hire and buy, and stocked by many venue stylists.

Confetti: Traditional confetti doesn’t degrade naturally and can be consumed by animals, causing harm.
What’s the more sustainable option? Most couples love that confetti moment, and we understand why. So instead of traditional confetti, instead opt for dried real flower confetti.

Exotic Flowers: Transporting flowers that are not in season requires long-distance travel, leading to increased CO2 emissions and the use of potentially harmful chemical fertilisers.
What’s the more sustainable option? We are so lucky to have such an amazing array of flower farms in Britain providing locally grown, pesticide free flowers and foliage to florists country wide, all year round.


Is it positive to plan an ethical, sustainable and zero waste wedding

Yes! Absolutely.  Let’s explore how to plan an ethical and sustainable zero-waste wedding…

Eco-friendly Wedding Venues: Consider hosting your wedding outdoors to make use of natural sunlight and minimise the impact on the environment. Choose venues that are central for both the ceremony and reception to reduce guest travel. Look for green hotels with strong recycling policies and energy-efficient appliances.

Conscious Catering: Select a caterer who sources locally, uses organic produce, offers sustainable tableware, and has a food waste policy in place. By choosing sustainable catering options, you can support local communities and reduce food wastage.

Sustainable Sourced Clothing: Choose wedding outfits made from sustainably sourced materials such as sustainable satins, hemp-based silks, organic cotton, knitted lace, or fair-trade cloths. You could also consider renting rather than buying.

Ethical Conflict-Free Rings: Ensure that the precious stones used in your engagement or wedding rings are sourced ethically. Research jewellers, ask direct questions about the origin of their gems, and avoid areas of conflict.

Conscious Consumer Wedding Gift List: Create a wedding registry that includes earth-friendly gifts, fairtrade products, and small, local gifts to support local communities and reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint.

Organic, Low-Impact Flowers: Choose locally sourced, seasonal flowers. Look for certifications from organisations like LEAF, the Soil Association, or the Rainforest Alliance to ensure ethical flower sourcing. In addition, look for a florist that uses sustainable floristry techniques.

Eco-friendly Décor: Opt for sustainable lighting options such as beeswax candles. Use bamboo or recycled materials for place cards and consider electronic save-the-dates to minimise paper waste. Use biodegradable, dried petals as an alternative to traditional confetti, and choose natural materials like hessian, hemp, or pure linen, dyed with natural botanicals, for tableware and decorations.


Getting help with planning your sustainable wedding

Planning an eco-friendly wedding can be challenging, but there is support available. There is a network of sustainable venues and suppliers in the UK that can help you bring your vision to life. Ask about their sustainability strategy, policies and accreditations.


How can you minimise your wedding’s impact on the environment?

Planning a sustainable wedding in 2023 is not without its challenges, but by following the advice outlined in this article, you can minimise your wedding’s impact on the environment. From eco-conscious attire and conflict-free rings to conscious consumer registries and sustainable venues, there are numerous ways to create a zero-waste, ethical wedding celebration. By making sustainable choices, you can ensure that your wedding aligns with your values and contributes positively to the world.


Featured image: The Wainhouse, Dewsall Court. Photo by

More Conscious Couples Blog Posts

What are the challenges when planning a sustainable wedding
What are the challenges when planning a sustainable wedding

Planning a sustainable wedding in 2023 is not without its challenges, but by following the advice outlined in this article, you can minimise your wedding's impact on the environment. Read more

Couples’ Choice: Why the SWA Accreditation Matters for Today’s Wedding Planning
Couples’ Choice: Why the SWA Accreditation Matters for Today’s Wedding Planning

The Sustainable Wedding Alliance accreditation promotes sustainability in weddings, offering couples eco-friendly wedding businesses for a meaningful and conscious wedding experience. Read more

5 sustainable wedding gifts for conscious couples
5 sustainable wedding gifts for conscious couples

If you want to give a wedding gift that will mean more than just ticking something off of a list, then these 5 sustainable wedding gifts for conscious couples will give you some great inspiration. Read more