Your wedding day is special, and you'll probably want it to be an extravagant celebration. But that doesn't mean it can’t be good to the environment, too. Here, Mike Hardman from catering supplies store Alliance Online gives his top tips for planning a low-waste wedding reception.
As we enter the new decade, we're all more aware of the impact our lives can have on the environment. We're turning everything from our meals to our décor into more sustainable versions and, this year, conscious consumption is entering the world of weddings. In fact, searches for thrifted wedding dresses are rising by 41%, and searches for low-waste weddings are rising by 235% (Pinterest). Being conscious of the environment can seem like a challenge when you've got so much to prepare. Luckily, I'll be giving you my top tips for creating a low-waste wedding reception, so you can spend more time enjoying your big day and less time planning it.
Send out your menu in advance: One of the most important aspects of your wedding reception will be your food. A delicious menu and plenty of drinks is the perfect way to entertain. But, although you'll want to order enough to ensure people aren’t going hungry or thirsty, it can be easy to order too much, which means it'll need to be thrown away if it doesn't get used up. To avoid this happening, it can help to send out a menu in advance. You'll want to give people plenty of choice so you know there's something they'll like but, by asking your guests to RSVP to your invitation and tick off which dinner option they'd prefer, you know how much of each dish you'll need to order. If you have any packaged food left over, you can take it home or donate it to a food bank instead of throwing it away.
Offer a vegetarian or vegan menu The meat production industry is a huge contributor to global warming. Eating beef just once or twice a week can contribute around 604kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions (BBC), which can increase even more if you serve meat at your wedding reception. Vegetables and pulses can have a much lower impact on your annual greenhouse gas emissions, with foods like tomatoes adding just 13kg of carbon emissions, and beans adding a mere 7kg. So, you could consider having a vegetarian or vegan menu at your wedding reception instead of meals based around meat.
Use local suppliers Another way you can reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding menu is by shopping with local suppliers. If you choose ingredients that have been grown in your local area, there's less distance for it to travel to get to you and less emissions as a result. This can apply to your drinks menu too, so look for local wineries and breweries who can supply all your alcohol. You can usually schedule a tasting session beforehand, so you know you're happy with your beverage options. Plus, you can often buy your drinks in kegs, rather than bottles, which can be returned to the brewery once you're done. This will mean there's no plastic or glass waste left over, either. Sometimes, UK florists source some of their flowers from places like Holland, which contributes carbon emissions as they're transported over to Britain. So, try to choose a local florist that grows their own flowers or sources them from here in the UK. Alternatively, you could take a trip to a local flower market to pick out your own blooms for your big day.
Usually, out of season foods are either grown abroad and transported to the UK, or grown under controlled conditions which requires a lot of electricity. Both methods can have a significant impact
on carbon emissions and the environment. To avoid this, it can help to choose seasonal ingredients grown naturally in the UK. No matter what time of the year you've planned your wedding for, Britain has some lovely seasonal produce you can add to your menu. For example, spring is the perfect time for cabbage, carrots, and asparagus. In the summer, you could choose light salads made from cucumber, radishes and tomatoes, and a strawberry- or rhubarb-based dessert. If you've planned an autumn wedding, look out for seasonal vegetables like aubergine, squash, and runner beans, as well as autumnal fruits like blackberries. For winter weddings, a menu based around seasonal foods like Brussel sprouts, turnips and parsnips, as well as fruits like cranberries and apples, can work great.
Hire your dinnerware Most venues will have their own tables, chairs and dinnerware. But, if you’re hosting your own wedding reception or you've opted for a festival-style wedding in a marquee, you might have to provide your own. Bulk tableware made from single-use plastics might seem like the cheaper and easier option but, once you're done, it'll all be sent to landfill or incinerated, which can have drastic effects on the environment. Instead, consider hiring all your dinnerware from a supplier, or sourcing biodegradable alternatives like bamboo plates and cutlery that can be recycled or composted after your big day.
With a little know-how, you can easily plan the perfect low-waste wedding. By following the tips in this guide, you can relax and enjoy your big day knowing it’s beautiful, fun, and good for the environment, too!
For more tips and help planning your zero waste and ethical weddings as well as hireware then get in touch