Brides in Cornwall and Devon

Eco Weddings Cornwall

The Eco Bride Guide

From sustainable styling to plastic-free favours, here’s how to plan an eco-conscious wedding that doesn’t cost the earth


From sustainable styling to plastic-free favours, here’s how to plan an eco-conscious wedding that doesn’t cost the earth

When the last song has ended and the final guests have departed the dance floor and headed home, you’re left with beautiful photos and everlasting memories of a once-in-a-lifetime day. But, sadly, the effect of your wedding day on the planet isn’t always so happy. Research shows that the average wedding creates around 272kg of waste and around 63 tonnes of CO2 emissions! To put this into context, a return flight from London to New York produces around 2.5 tonnes per passenger. Luckily, the wedding industry worldwide is working hard to change this, putting thought and effort into helping couples plan a more environmentally friendly wedding – there’s even a state in India, Kerala, that has introduced a law banning all non-biodegradable items at weddings! So if you want to follow suit and be as eco-friendly as possible on your big day, without compromising on the wedding of your dreams, read on to find out how. Whether it’s by using locally sourced food and flowers, encouraging car-sharing, or – and this is a big one for weddings – cutting down on single-use plastics, we’ve asked those in the know to shed some light on going green.

“Avoiding single-use plastics as much as you can on your wedding day actually leads to a much nicer experience for people to have quality, 'proper’ items,” says Rachel Yates, who is spearheading the Plastic-Free Penzance campaign (facebook.com/plasticfreepenzance). “You can still have the day you dream of, in the style you want.”

South Weds Wedding Photography

Venue
Choosing where to utter your vows is a big decision. Your venue sets the scene for everything else on your wedding day: your catering, who you can invite, the entire atmosphere of your celebration. And we are so lucky in the south-west to have a plethora of beautiful venues on our doorstep, with many of them taking major steps towards becoming sustainably run.

Cornish Tipi Weddings (cornishtipiweddings.co.uk), for example, combines woodland and lakes to bring you a fairytale venue, while the pledge of no electricity on-site (except in the timber-decked marquee), and restricted car means guests are using minimal resources.

A country venue with sustainability at its core, Devon’s Middle Coombe Farm (coombefarmwoods.co.uk) has full organic status, uses renewable energy and has the environmental credentials to prove that weddings held at their venue produce 78 per cent less CO2 emissions per guest – saving in total about the same as a return flight to Sydney!

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River Cottage (rivercottage.net), set in 65 acres of organic farmland, is another venue striving to have a minimal impact on the environment. Growing much of their produce on-site, it’s an idyllic rural setting that focuses on low carbon, low energy and maximum sustainability.

What’s more, plenty of venues have signed up to the Final Straw campaign, championed by Pat Smith at Bosinver Farm Cottages (bosinver.co.uk), which aims to rid Cornwall of plastic straws and raise awareness of the damage single-use plastics do to our environment. Visit finalstrawcornwall.co.uk to see the hundreds of businesses joining the movement, including venues such as Lower Barns, Lusty Glaze, Headland Hotel, Hotel Tresanton and Ever After at Lower Grenofen.

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Catering
One scary wedding statistic is it takes an average of 1,500 miles for food to get from farm to table. So when it comes to your food, the most eco-friendly thing to do is source food locally.

“All of the food at our wedding was vegetarian and we chose a company, H & A Catering, who use only locally sourced food where possible,” says Emma, who recently got married in Devon and ensured her wedding to Brodie was as eco-friendly as possible. “We also bought local ale and recycled all bottles properly afterwards.” Take advantage of the many award-winning wineries and breweries in the region, so you know that you’re quaffing only local drinks.

Zennor Wild (Caitlin Mogridge)

Table settings
When it comes to plates, cutlery and cups, the big one here is to avoid single-use. “Buy cheap mismatched plates from a charity shop,” suggests Rachel. “If that's not your style, you can hire plates, or your venue or caterer can provide them.”

For evening food, takeaway boxes can be replaced with bagasse boxes or cardboard boxes, depending on what food is going in them – your caterer should be able to advise on the best choice.

Don't use straws or plastic cutlery, full stop. Perhaps get a few paper straws for people who really want one, and use wooden cutlery that’s later collected up and put on someone's compost heap.

And what about an alternative to single-use cups? “Hire glasses or trawl the charity shops for a wonderful array of glasses that you can donate back or sell on,” says Rachel. “I've been to weddings where gin and tonics were served in teacups and saucers! Use paper cups if you can't, but check credentials and make sure they are correctly disposed of.”

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Décor
Borrow or hire whatever you need. Prop and hire companies have so many beautiful styling items, and you won’t need to worry about packing them up and trying to sell them afterwards.

“Almost every decoration for our wedding was borrowed or second hand,” says Emma. “It worked out much cheaper and it was surprising how willing people were to offer things from their own weddings. We are now trying to pay it forward by lending our things on in turn.”

Rachel’s advice about table decorations is to really consider what you’re using. “Glitter, table confetti, place markers, ribbons… Anything you put on the table or decorate with, look at it and think about ways to use natural materials,” she says.

Place names at Emma and Brodie’s wedding were slices of wood with guests’ names carved into them “taken from branches of a sycamore cut down from local hills by the National Trust as part of a land management programme”, explains Emma.

And be aware when it comes to your décor that balloons are one of the worst environmental issues. “I’d suggest refusing balloon releases full stop,” says Rachel.

3acre Blooms (Ross Talling)

Dress
You want to look your very best – and that doesn’t have to change because you’re being eco-conscious. Claire L. Headdon's bridal wear collection uses silk fabrics that are all organic, eco-friendly and fairtrade. Handmade in Cornwall, her beautifully designed gowns are a sure-fire way of doing your bit for the environment, without having to compromise on looking simply stunning!

“I am incredibly passionate about promoting eco-friendly products and processes within the textile industry, choosing natural organic fibres over synthetic ones and sourcing locally wherever I can,” says Claire. For extra eco brownie points, you could opt for a vintage dress, or choose a gown from a sample sale.

Olivia Bossert Photography

Flowers
Try to choose flowers that are in season and locally grown. Also, ask your florist what plastic they use and work with them on ways to avoid it completely or reduce it, perhaps by using raffia, twine and natural materials.

“I just asked for a medley of locally grown, native flowers that were in season at the time, in our colour palette,” reveals Emma. “This meant I didn't know what I was getting until a few days before, which was absolutely fine by me, and it was a wonderful surprise on the morning of the wedding!”

Pippa from Zennor Wild (zennorwild.co.uk) grows her own flowers on the family farm, and encourages her brides to use as much local foliage as possible. “There’s such an abundance of beautiful flowers we can grow here in Cornwall,” she says. “I also like to grow my own to support the bees and our ecosystem – by having flowers growing in Cornwall, we can help the bees who are fast disappearing. I really only now do weddings from spring to autumn to maximise British flowers, and if I don’t have stems myself I will always go to local growers first.”

Zennor Wild (Caitlin Mogridge)

Favours
When it comes to your favours, think about the boxes or packaging you’re presenting them in, as well as the favour itself. “Check out the credentials of favour boxes – many will have plastic lining or plastic in the material used,” says Rachel. “Swap to natural materials and make something really special for your guests.”

Emma and Brodie gave their guests seed packets (of local, native seeds) in recycled paper. “Our guests loved them – and we love the idea that there will be lots of little flowers popping up because of our wedding!” says Emma.

Or how about getting a reusable drinks cup or enamel mug made, and having it branded to celebrate your wedding? “We served mulled wine in personalised enamel mugs at our winter wedding,” says Lucy who got married in Cornwall. “Guests took them as wedding favours, and we’ve had lots of lovely photos of them being used them on camping trips and at festivals since then.”

Planning an eco-friendly wedding doesn’t have to be difficult, and it all starts with finding suppliers who are aware of what you’re aiming for.

“Just having the conversations and working with suppliers to reduce your wedding's impact is a massive step in the right direction and will make a difference to the amount you use,” says Rachel. “It is possible to have a plastic-free and eco-friendly wedding, it just needs a bit of planning… but then, you're used to that!”

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SIMPLE SWAPS
Transport – Although you might like the idea of going abroad, consider the carbon footprint of everyone flying there and back. Staying in the UK means you can also encourage guests to car-share or use trains or buses.
 
E-invites – Opt for emailing your save the dates or invitations out. You can still work with a stationery designer to create a beautiful and personal invitation, but save on postage! Linking it to a website makes RSVPs easy to manage too.

Photography – Most wedding photographers will shoot digitally now. Ask if they offer eco-friendly albums to hold those gorgeous pictures.

Confetti – Go traditional with rice, or use dried petals, which look and smell divine. Put them all in a basket for guests to grab a handful from, rather than using individual cartons or bags. Or why not embrace the fun and get a bubble machine (not single-use plastic bottles of bubbles!). 

3acre Blooms (Ross Talling)


words Lucy Higgins

Copyright Wed magazine 2018