I was pottering about on the last Friday of my holiday, sorting the last few things from our wedding and getting prints of photos made. One idea I had was to create a shadow box filled with a photo and some keepsakes from the I realised we didn’t have much ‘stuff’ leftover from the day, and so I couldn’t fill the shadow box with much other than some scraps of paper, my heart good luck charm that held my little purse to my bouquet, and some scrabble letters – and together, they didn’t quite work. My dream for a waste-free wedding came true!
I hate wasting stuff. I hate throwing food and flowers out and buying unnecessary stuff. Ok, so my wardrobes wouldn’t tell you that, but clothes aren’t unnecessary, right?! It’s so easy to buy a heap of things for a wedding, and then not use them, or chuck them out later. If you could be bothered, you could sell wedding paraphernalia in buy swap sell groups on Facebook, but I just don’t have the time. And weddings are expensive, so I wanted to get as much bang for our buck as possible. The only things that weren’t a necessity at our wedding were the initial and heart shaped helium balloons – but they were great for photos and as venue decorations, and the heart is still alive and decorating our kitchen.
Here are four things Adam and I did to create a waste-free wedding. I don’t want this to be peachy at all – I just want to share some ideas that worked for us.
Donate wedding flowers after the wedding.
The amazingly creative Pip Lincolne did our flowers. I saved up bottles and jars for a year – all shapes and sizes, and Pip bought loose flowers from the market and arranged them beautifully. There were jars of flowers on each table, and scattered around the room. Some flowers were used as pretend microphones, as a few of us belted out Aussie rock songs on the dance floor!
The day after the wedding, Adam and I went to the venue to collect the leftover stuff (so much cake – we froze it!), and the staff bagged and boxed up the flowers for us to take home. I spent $300 on flowers plus paid Pip, and the flowers were all so beautiful – so I did not want to waste them.
That afternoon, I delivered them a hospital and aged care home in my suburb. The staff were delighted – I hope the residents enjoy them as much as we did.
I kept a few of the pretty jars with flowers in to declare the house. I can use these as vases, and have dried a little posy of flowers for my own keeping.
I posted about the flower donation on social media, and a few lovely followers said they/their bridesmaids gave their bouquets to their elderly grandmothers who couldn’t attend the wedding, or placed the bouquets on the graves of loved ones after their wedding. What lovely gestures.
Charities like Second Bite might also take leftover food.
Still on the theme of flowers – as well as waste-free, I wanted a low allergy, handmade wedding (all themed around THAT amazing blue floral jacket!). Not too much to ask, right?!
There was no way I was paying for real flowers in my bouquet when I could spend the same amount and get something unique and beautiful to keep, and wouldn’t make me sneeze.
Nic’s Button Buds – Button Bouquets & Brooch Bouquets made the most stunning bouquet that I can keep forever and didn’t make me sneeze! And the colours matched my wedding theme perfectly. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were white with crystal embellishments – simple and perfect with the ladies’ colourful dresses. Our groomsman wore a button buttoniere.
Donate to charity in lieu of table favours.
One day when doing media monitoring for my day job, I came across and article about couples donating to charity instead of buying their guests table favours (bonbonniere). They can quickly amount to an enormous expense, even for a small amount of guests. I’m not a fan of sugared almonds or glass coasters, and unless the table favour is quirky and personalised, I think it can be a bit of a waste – for both the couple and the guests.
So I talked to Adam about donating to a charities we both support, and we did. Each of us supported the community – he donated to his Cub Scouts group and I donated to my hospital. And we put a little note on the bottom of the menus that we’d done this instead of giving out table favours.
Create or buy things for the wedding and use them after the wedding.
I can’t recall where I got the idea to make a photo frame for the table place listings, but when I saw it, I knew I wanted to do it for our wedding.
I found a large conjoined photo frame set that comprised eight frames, and Camille printed out some of our floral themed stationery and we cut it to fit each frame. Cam then printed the table listings in the same font as the invitations, and stuck them over the printed paper. There were seven tables so she put a photo of Adam and I in the spare frame. It rested on an easel (that Cam lent us) at the venue.
After the wedding, I printed some of our favourite candid photos that our guests took, and put five in the frames, leaving three floral prints in. It looks so great!
I also plan to wear my second wedding dress, my jewellery – including headpiece, shoes, and jackets many times after the wedding. I was lazy and feeling very tired the day after the wedding so I wore my headpiece then! Pity my big curls didn’t stay in!
Set up a travel or experience registry, or ask guests to donate to charity instead of giving tangible gifts.
Adam and I had been living together for almost two years prior to the wedding and have all the stuff we need. We live in a small flat, and there’s not much room for more stuff. We want to travel and so we set up a travel registry so if guests wanted to give us a gift, they could do so this way.
I think a travel or experience registry (like restaurant vouchers or Red Balloon experiences) is great because guests can give what they can afford, and don’t have to spend well above their budget on a set of luxury sheets or a flatscreen TV.
A few friends gave us lovely, meaningful gifts which we will treasure. One friend gave us a light box which we used at the wedding! But we haven’t been inundated with things we don’t need or can’t fit in our home, and we look forward to sending guests postcards from our travels.
If you’d rather not receive wedding gifts, perhaps you can ask your guests to donate to charity in your name. Visit the Australian Charity and not-for-profits Commission charity register for a list of registered charities you can consider.
Also, Black Sheep Bride has some great ideas for ethical, sustainable weddings. Do check out the website and Facebook. Danielle, Black Sheep Bride founder, had a great chat with Aleisha from Save the Date podcast which you can hear here.
Weddings can be extravagant and costly, but you can do a few simple things to make yours more ethical and create less waste. Have you got any tips on how to do this?