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How To Plan A Sustainable Wedding

  |  By Alison McGill

The Pronovias #wedoeco collection features 15 dresses that are sustainable in every way. Photography courtesy of Pronovias Group.

You are eco-conscious, and it is a huge consideration for your wedding day. But what exactly does planning a sustainable wedding look like and where do you begin? We spoke to Holly Barraclough, principal event planner with Perrier Planning about this and she shares a wealth of advice—she should know, she recently planned her own sustainable wedding!

What does it mean to plan a sustainable wedding? "Sustainable weddings, or green weddings, are celebrations planned where the couple’s goal is to try and lower their ecological footprint. There is no right way to plan an event that is 100% green, because it would be impossible. The goal is to try and lower the events impact on the environment in whichever way you can. For example, one couple may book a local caterer in Toronto that uses 80% Ontario ingredients, while another couple may book a caterer from Hamilton that only uses organic products. Both these options are green, the key is to ask the right questions at the beginning so that the companies are aware of your sustainability goals. If you let vendors know your goals, then you can both come up with options to make their service to you eco-friendlier, such as eliminating any plastic products at the dinner service or having napkins made from recycled paper at the cocktail hour."

How has the concept of sustainable weddings changed over the past five years? Why is it a focus for so many couples?
“Over the few years the idea of sustainable weddings has changed in two major ways. The first reason is due to climate change.  Since climate change has developed into a more pressing issue, there is an even greater need for couples to start thinking more about their impact on the planet.  The second reason is due to the invention of some great new eco-friendly products. In the past, if you went to a green wedding you could easily tell that you were at a green wedding.  Now you can have a green wedding with any theme of style and guests wouldn't even notice it was a green event unless they were told. Eco-couture products are starting to emerge like crazy. Bridal stores carry lines of dresses made from recycled materials and stationery artists can make beautiful invitations out of banana leaves.”

What are three of your favourite ideas for a sustainable wedding?
“I love recycled cotton invitations. I think they provide a timeless elegance and they are so soft to touch. Another idea I am very into is pressing  your floral bouquet after your wedding, instead of throwing it to one of your guests. The Little Flower Press in Toronto makes pressed bouquets into beautiful works of framed art that you can hang on your wall. Then the flowers are not thrown away after one day. It is a brilliant idea. Lastly, I love the idea of working with a wedding planner who will create an eco-experience for you. This is something I do in my business. We offer three different eco-friendly packages to help couples save time and money during the planning process.  The packages are a set price and they are specifically designed for each couple. For example, our Green Stationery Package includes table numbers, table number holders, place cards, menus, a welcome sign and every other piece of paper or signage a wedding would need.”

Does it cost more to make your wedding sustainable?
“Now this is a question I am asked often! Some specific parts of an eco-friendly wedding could be more expensive for couples, such as buying compostable plastic cups instead of normal plastic cups. In general, I would say that having an eco-friendly wedding actually saves the couple money. Flowers are always cheaper because you are buying in season and local. The couple usually saves a lot of money on their dress or suit, since it can be bought second hand or rented. If you do your research right or work with an eco-friendly planner, there is absolutely no reason a green wedding should cost more than a regular wedding.

Can you speak to your own green wedding and some of the features of it?
“My wedding was plastic-free, we had a handmade arch made with local lavender, and around 90% of our decorations were second-hand and all in amazing condition. My favourite green aspect about the wedding was my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses. I had mine locally made and designed in Toronto by the fabulous team at Whyte Couture. My bridesmaids all picked out their own dresses so that they could all wear them again.  My centerpieces were pretty neat as well; I had vintage secondhand teapots holding all my flowers.  My big learning curve happened regarding our stationery. I sent out my invitations electronically, but then had all of my paper products and thank you card printed on recycled linen paper. I afterwards found out that it wasn't post-consumer recycled paper. Companies can label paper products as ‘recycled’ if they just use the paper scraps from the paper mill to make their products.  This means it hasn't actually been used by a human and then recycled - so make sure to always use post-consumer recycled paper!”


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