1. Combine statement seasonal florals with potted plants and foliage
Flowers are gorgeous, but filling your venue with them is not always an eco-friendly option. Pick a few statement florals for key items – such as your bouquet – and choose locally grown, seasonal varieties. Dried flowers look and smell divine, and will keep forever, so consider incorporating them into buttonholes, decorations and flower crowns. Use potted plants instead of cut flowers for decor, and choose a venue with good gardens to reduce the amount of outdoor decoration you'll need.
Becca says: "We're lucky to have Twigs & Twine Floral Design on our doorstep. As well as being amazing wedding florists, they are big into their plants, as anyone who's visited their new shop and cafe in Crewkerne will know! They were the perfect florists for this shoot, and I – as always when working with them – loved their creativity. They introduced the idea of incorporating on-trend dried flowers into the look, and I am totally sold!"
2. Shop local
Choosing suppliers local to your venue (or your home) will not only reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding, but also your budget, with little or no travel costs involved. All wedding professionals will have worked with those in other fields and should be able to help you get your favourite team together. Becca says to remember to ask around for recommendations if you need them, but don't be drawn into accepting a venue's preferred supplier if examples of their previous work don't suit your style.
Becca says: "I'm lucky to have worked regularly with most of the team involved in the shoot, so knew exactly who to invite for this shoot. I love the style of images that photographer Daniel Weeks captures – he always gets the mood of the theme just right, and manages to capture this, along with the colours and tone of the style accurately with his camera. Likewise, I knew videographers Sam + Megan would beautifully capture the tone of the day in their film. In addition to those I knew from the start I'd like to be involved, I stumbled across a few new (to me) local suppliers, and am thrilled to have found them!"
Also consider local makers for the finishing touches. In organising this shoot, Becca says she found Echo candles, hand-makers of soya candles with divine scents, and a long slow and even burn. "I'd highly recommend having some statement scented candles at your wedding!" Becca says.
3. Choose locally sourced food & drink
When it came to food and drink for the shoot, The Barn at Cott Farm's exclusive caterers at Royal Oak Bespoke devised a seasonal, sumptuous course menu. Becca explains: "We work with Martin and his team to provide couples and their guests with sustainable and delicious food. Being based in south Somerset, there's no excuse to not have a menu bursting with locally-sourced ingredients, from fish and meat to vegetables. Likewise, our licensed bar is stocked with local drinks including, of course, cider!
"The wedding cake by The Silver Cake beautifully compliments the theme, as owner Bea describes: "My ethos is minimal waste and minimal distance, so the cake was perfectly sized for the number of guests, plus Cott Farm is based only 10 minutes from me. I created a simple three-tiered design, dressed with fresh rosemary, touches of wax flower and mimosa to reflect gorgeous styling. Presented on Cott Farm's beautiful recycled stand and table, and framed by a fir-trimmed willow hoop, the cake was a real focal point of the day."
4. Choose an appropriate venue
Your wedding venue is one of the biggest factors in having an eco-friendly wedding. Far from this meaning you need to have compostable loos, or a DIY wedding, it's about reducing the amount of energy and materials used for the day.
Firstly select a venue with an environmental policy in place, and one that's appropriately-sized and located for your wedding. Look for renovated or re-purposed buildings that are permanent and insulated. Using a permanent and fully furnished building helps reduce unnecessary deliveries of equipment, limiting the carbon-footprint and wastage associated with a single wedding. If you are set on a marquee wedding, look for one with good insulation from a company that can also deliver the marquee contents and furnishings.
If you can have your ceremony at the same venue as - or within walking distance of - your reception, you'll avoid having guests make two journeys by car. You can further reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding by encouraging guests to travel together. If the weather – and venue - permits, opt for an outdoor ceremony. You'll be surrounded by nature, meaning less decor is needed, plus you'll be lit by natural sunlight, resulting in gorgeous photos and reduced energy consumption.
5. Reuse and recycle decorations
Look for built in decor to save you – and the earth – resources. Reuse decor throughout the day, for example move your ceremony decor in to your reception space, and use recycled décor.Many venues, including The Barn at Cott Farm, come with neutral decorations and offer a choice of recycled props from candle holders to table plans for couples to use at no additional cost to minimise wastage.
In addition to using your venue's existing decor and props, hiring items for your wedding from local businesses offers an eco-friendly - and budget-friendly - alternative to buying. Apple and Bramble Events, the creative, Somerset-based company who supplied antique brass candle sticks and grey table runner silks for the shoot and also offer wedding planning and styling services, love local and ethically sourced items, often picking up new treasures second-hand or making their own. Additionally the willow hoop cake frame, outdoor ceremony arch and animal sculptures in the shoot were created by free weave willow artist Jo Sadler Forged n Willow, whose sustainable creations are available to hire for weddings.
6. Avoid single-use equipment
Avoid single use wherever you can. Check with your venue on their policy or, if you're responsible for sourcing your own equipment, hire reusable crockery, cutlery and glasses from a local supplier. Real china, silverware and glasses not only look so much more elegant than their disposable counterparts, they can be re-used over and over again. Where avoiding single use items is not practical, look for biodegradable, compostable options.
For linens, don't be tempted to use cheap disposable paper cloths. Instead, hire reusable table linens and chair covers if you need them. Or, better yet, choose furniture that doesn't need covering, such as real wood tables.You should also encourage your guests to reuse their glasses for drinks and, rather than giving out straws with every drink, just make available some biodegradable straws - such as those from The Wheat Straw Company seen in the shoot.
7. Choose ethical outfits & beauty products
You don't need to sacrifice style for the environment when choosing your perfect outfits, and hair and make up. You have plenty of beautiful, more sustainable choices for gowns, suits and beauty products! When it comes to your wedding outfits, Becca's main tip is to shop locally. Other factors to consider are second-hand outfits, and deciding whether the groomsmen actually need to be in hired matching outfits or if a new suit that will be re-worn by the groom might be more sustainable and a better investment.
When it came to the bride and groom's outfits for the shoot, Bridal Reloved in Street, who specialise in sample and pre-owned gowns, was Becca's obvious sustainable choice for bride Samantha's ivory Christine Dandogown. Groom Matt's Gaston Sage Tweed three piece suit and champagne-coloured tie not only beautifully saluted the theme's balance of heritage and fresh, it was supplied by local independent menswear shop Suave Owl.
The bride's natural half-up hair in the shoot, Brothers and Sisters salon and barber shop used eco-friendly products from Kevin Murphy, a luxury brand leading the way in reducing the impact the hairdressing industry has on the environment. The bride's make up was also inspired by nature, as Naomi Gilmore Makeup Artist explains: "The natural, earthy look was achieved with a brown and gold colour palette, a matte skin finish and pale plum lips. I used reusable eyelashes to complete the look, and am always looking for ways to cut waste and use environmentally-friendly products."
8. Reduced and recyclable stationery/favours
You may have noticed weddings traditionally involve a lot of paper! From invitations and RSVPs through to co-ordinated stationery on the day. Becca suggests thinking carefully about whether you really need all of this, which items can be replaced with digital versions, and which you can do away with completely. There are several digital alternatives to paper invites and RSVPs online, many of which are free to use. If you must sent invites by post, it's a given you should used recycled paper, but also have a look plantable paper which is embedded with wildflower seeds.
If you've offered your guests a choice of menus at the invitation stage, the chances are you don't need a printed menu on the day. If you haven't given guests a choice of food, or you really can't do without a menu, have one menu in the middle of each table. For the shoot, Flick and Flourish, a local calligrapher and designer, supplied the Simply Luxe stationery on recycled paper.
Becca highly recommends only investing in favours if they'll be taken and used by your guests. If you are providing favours, combine these with place names.
9. Choose ethically sourced and fair-trade rings and jewellery
Jewellery can often be overlooked in the process of planning a more sustainable wedding. Becca stresses the importance of choosing ethically sourced jewellery from a local fair-trade register jeweller. Julia Thompson, who designs and creates sustainable and stunning wedding rings and jewellery, created the jewellery for this shoot. Julia says: "Transparency and sustainability are as important to me as craftsmanship and design. Jewellery should not come from a place of exploitation or adverse environmental impact."
Choosing an independent jeweller also means being able to see and touch their previous designs, and working with them to create your perfect wedding rings, a definite bonus for something you'll be wearing and seeing every day!
10. Use natural confetti
If your venue doesn't permit confetti, and you still want that 'confetti shot' photo, have a look at using bubbles made from an eco-mix, flying ribbons or even (probably winter weddings only) fresh snow! If your wedding venue or church allows confetti, the chances are they'll insist upon it being biodegradable. Choose natural dried petals or leaves for your confetti. It's very easy to dry your own petals (just pop them on a baking tray in a warmish place) – remember to ask your friends to keep back any cut flowers. Or you can ask your local florist.
You can pick your colours and scents to suit your wedding theme, without harming the environment. The colours and scents of the dried eucalyptus leaves and lavender for this shoot were divine!
You can download our June/July issue for free here to see the full shoot: www.yourbristolsomerset.wedding/free-download
And make sure you visit www.cottfarmwedding.co.uk