Monday, 17 December 2012

A Green Engagement

A few weeks ago I had a lovely visit to the RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve. It was a very icy day which meant there was lots more wildlife out in the open looking for food than usual. The bird feeding station was completely covered with birds, my first Water Rail was a particular highlight and there were also Spotted Red Shank on the ice and Marsh Harriers flying overhead. But none of these were the highlight of the day. That particular moment was when, with the view across the lake from Lillian's hide in front of us, my boyfriend proposed and I said yes! I'd never thought of it before but an RSPB reserve was definitely the perfect place, what could be better than being surrounded by beautiful nature.

Image courtesy of Lewis Niven

So the proposal was perfect, and with a bit of a green twist, but what about the wedding? Everyone wants their wedding to reflect them, so obviously I'm already thinking of how to keep green while planning my something blue but it might not be easy.

Whether from personal experience, or from reading this blog, we all know sticking to a green life isn't always simple. There are tempting foods flown in from around the world, short car journey's on rainy days, ethical vs non ethical fashion and lots more choices that can be green, not green or somewhere in the middle. All these concerns (and more!) apply to weddings too so this week's blog looks at all the green and not so green wedding thoughts I've had so far. But don't worry, I wont be going wedding mad and we'll be back to (slightly) less girly blogs on nature and general green living next week, just in time for Christmas!

Save The Dates and Invites
I'm beginning to realise there's a lot of posting things out to friends and family when you're planning a wedding. All that paper adds up and before you know it you need a small forest just to invite everyone. Even the postage can add up and just think of all that transporting of the invites around the country, and world, too! Hand delivering, when passing by or visiting on other trips, is a good way to cut down on both postage costs and travel millage for you invites and don't forget the less paper you use the lighter things are to post. I'll be thinking hard about whether each piece of information needs a separate sheet of paper and if the information needs to be posted in the first place. Wedding websites are very popular now and it's a great way to post all the vital information, some less vital information and some general bride and groom trivia for everyone to enjoy. It also avoids any of those last minute "where did we put the directions" worries. Of course, don't forget that not everyone has a computer, so some printing will probably be needed anyway.

The Dress
An expensive item of clothing bought to wear on just one day? I think not. There are some truly lovely  organic, Fairtrade or alternative material weddings dresses online but I'd much rather have something I can wear, or adapt to wear, on lots of other occasions or just hire a dress for the day (then it can be reused by someone else) or even just buy a very simple cheap dress for the day and then donate it to a charity like Oxfam for someone else to buy next time. There are lots of options that don't break the bank and don't cost the Earth either. It may be the most important day of your life but surly using it to save the world one dress at a time rather than destroy it is best?

It's easy to get carried away with set menus, impressive desserts and delicious wines. But if you spend the rest of your life buying local, Fairtrade and organic why should your wedding be different? There are lots of caterers who are already very keen on green issues and any who aren't yet might be persuaded with a little help from you, after all, you are paying them for it. Another option is the home made route so you know exactly where the foods come from but depending on your party size this could get very stressful, very quickly! This is one of those ethical choices that might mean the bill goes up a bit. But if it's important to you you can save on other things (maybe home make invites) to make up for it. Alternatively you can pick one part of the catering and make that greener, possibly by choosing a local brewery to provide the drinks. As with all green things, every little helps.

It's one of the biggest expenditures you'll make during the wedding process, where is it all going to happen? A quick internet search finds lots of incredible eco-friendly wedding venues (hardly any close to where we want to have ours though!) with solar panels, grey water toilets, compost bins, vegetable gardens and lots lots more. If you're both huge nature lovers another option is to pick a nature reserve as your venue. There are lots of places like this that you can hire out now, even Leighton Moss where we got engaged. I think it's a bit trickier to make this greener, but it's worth asking if they do simple things like recycling and composting, and having a look whether the lights are energy efficient. Even if you pick a venue with no green credentials keen asking about them, the more people get asked the more they'll be thinking about it. And again, you're the ones spending the money and if enough people ask more venues will become greener. One thing to consider is if you chose the same venue for your ceremony and reception then people wont need to be driving around between the two, this will save your loved ones a bit of money and reduce emmisions too.

Travel and the Honeymoon
I'm determined to make it as easy as possible for people to get to our wedding (wherever we chose to have it) by public transport. Driving to a new place, finding somewhere to park and then choosing whose the designated driver is never fun, and weddings really should be for everyone. Give people advance notice so they can book cheap trains or plan car shares. Some people even create a section of their wedding website for people to arrange lifts and journey shares.
The other potentially huge travel decision is where to have your honeymoon. Do you pick somewhere local, but maybe not quite so magical (although it can be), do you spend a small fortune travelling by land rather than air to get to an exotic location or do you just give up and book a perfect cheap flight somewhere you'll remember forever and pay for carbon off setting of the flights? A very personal choice and I feel that since it's probably going to be for a holiday longer than a couple of days if it means a lot to you it's worth spending a bit of money on to get it right both with location and avoiding any eco-guilt that might ruin the stay.

All the other Odds and Ends
There are so many other things to consider, plan, budget for, order and decide upon for even the most basic wedding. Maybe you'll choose biodegradable confetti or maybe you'll have local, in season flowers. Perhaps the wedding favours will be a donation to charity or your gift list will ask for second hand or homemade presents. Whatever you choose it's got to fit your principles and wishes for the day. It's just as bad to spend your wedding day stressing about the ethical dilemmas without enjoying it as it would be to spend it worrying about if your hair will blow in the right direction in the photos.

So those are my green wedding thoughts so far. But for now I'm putting the finishing touches to some pretty green Christmas presents. All will be revealed next week!


  1. Congratulations - have a great day!

    and beforet hat a great Christmas

    But...we'll be back to (slightly) less girly blogs on nature and general green living next week...maybe more 'girly' blogs are needed as my recent experiences in schools suggest that a large proportion of the girls are out of touch with nature and all things green. It's just not as exciting as those must haves X-factor, lipstick and new shoes..and they're just the nine year olds.



    1. Thanks Dave! Good point and I'll keep it in mind when picking blog topics over the next few months (now I've finally got internet back up and running!)

  2. Congratulations - sounds like a beautiful proposal! Nothing wrong with a bit of a "girly" post... I get a thrill out of a new MAC lipstick (almost) as much as I do going bird watching ;) is a really good site/blog, especially if you are wanting nature to be a theme throughout the wedding. I've taken so many ideas from there - v. inspirational!


    1. Thanks for the comment! I had found and it is fantastic! There are just so many ideas out there. Glad you enjoyed the blog.