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Planning a Wedding with the Planet in Mind

A blog post by Heather Ashworth

Heather Ashworth, our Projects Officer, recently got married and shares how she incorporated climate action into her wedding planning.

Heather found a preloved wedding dress while Emmett and the groomsmen hired their outfits instead of purchasing them new. Photo by Edinburgh Photographic

Sustainable development goal 13: Climate Action - take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

All of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are essential to building a better world, but for me, SDG 13 – Climate Action, is one of the most important because without the basis of a liveable stable planet none of the other goals can even be fulfilled.

Therefore, I attempt to take into consideration climate action through all aspects of my life, including my role at Keep Scotland Beautiful which helps me to support and encourage learning around climate action. So, when I got engaged last year, I knew I wanted to incorporate climate action into the wedding planning. Weddings can be very carbon intensive and have a significant impact on the planet. So, I made the decision to try and make my wedding as sustainable as I could.

The first thing I had to do is accept that my wedding won’t be emissions free, while I can encourage guests to travel by sustainable methods, using public transport, EVs or car sharing, I can’t make that decision for them. Also, I cannot control all the emission surrounding the venue and other parts of the wedding. However, there are plenty of other things I can have direct control over, so here are some tips from my experience!

Firstly, I asked my venue about their sustainability policy, and I was pleased to see that most of the ingredients in the food they serve are from around Scotland rather than further afield. They also had a good recycling policy.

I decided to send the save the date cards electronically to save paper and emissions around postage. I did however still want to send physical invites. So, I decided to have all the invites made from seed paper which could be planted and would grow into lovely wildflowers!

For my wedding flowers, I decided that I wanted to go with a local grower. I did have to make the compromise that I couldn’t guarantee the exact flowers and colour that I want due to Scottish weather, but I plan on using lots of greenery and bracken and there is always the back up of beautiful, dried flowers. I think it’s a bit exciting to see what I will receive on the day. Although the florist will need to travel across the Central Belt of Scotland, this is nothing compared to the emissions that come from flowers that are generally flown in from Africa or the Netherlands.

A wedding dress is arguably the ultimate type of fast fashion because we buy it to be worn once. I decided I wanted to find a preloved dress but only found one shop in Scotland that sold them. When I went into the store, there must have been hundreds of dresses, and the store owner was fantastic at helping me pick out the right ones to try. I was very lucky that I found my perfect dress in that wedding dress shop, and I can even sell back to them after my wedding. The groom and the groomsmen have decided to hire suits instead of buying new outfits for the day.

Heather's fiancé’s ring was made from recycled materials and hers was made from her grandma and great grandma’s wedding rings. Photo by Edinburgh Photographic

For the wedding rings we went to a small artisan jeweller in Glasgow as she uses recycled metals for her jewellery. My fiancé’s ring was made from recycled white gold, and I had a wedding ring made from my grandma and great grandma’s wedding rings. I loved the sentimental value of being able to wear jewellery passed down from family but also that I am recycling the metal and not using new.

Instead of buying a lot of the decorations for the venue, I am hiring as much as I can from a local event decoration shop. One thing I am doing is making my own centrepieces. For this I am buying jars and vases from charity shops and using reclaimed wood given to us by our friendly local tree surgeon! I’ve also foraged other items for decoration.

Emissions are embedded in the wedding industry and while I can do my bit to be more sustainable there are definitely things that are out of my control! If we as customers show that there is an appetite to make the wedding industry more sustainable then hopefully the sector will do more to reduce their carbon emissions and take climate action to support us all on our journey.

Heather would like to thank McConnell Blooms, Bliss Studios, Ailsa Ritchie Jewellery, Flowers from the Farm and All Dressed Up for helping her realise her dream of having a sustainable wedding.

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