Home Wedding Planning 7 tips for planning an eco-friendly wedding

7 tips for planning an eco-friendly wedding

by Rosie Hurwitz
vintage floral sofa with pendant light hanging over and plants around

We asked Sheridan Roberts at HeadBox, the fastest growing venue finding platform in the UK and Ireland, to give us a rundown of the top 7 tips for planning an eco-friendly wedding. Read on for Sheridan’s simple, practical and sustainable ideas in this guest posted article.


In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to be unaware of your carbon footprint. That’s why more and more couples are seeking out new ways to be more socially responsible when it comes to planning a wedding.

Research from EventMB and MeetGreen shows that the average attendee at a typical event can discard up to 1.89kg of waste, of which 1.16kg goes into landfill. For a wedding with a large number of guests, this amount of waste adds up and can have a severe impact on the environment.

In 2018, there were over 220,000 weddings in England and Wales alone (according to the Office of National Statistics) and with the average guest list hovering at just over 100 it’s fair to say that couples are in need of inspiration to ensure they are planning an eco-friendly event.

These tips on how to plan a more eco-friendly wedding will not only tick all the right boxes when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint but will ensure you don’t miss out on all the special details you’ve dreamed of. As an added bonus, they may even help you keep your costs down!

Close up of bride and grooms feet wearing shoes

Start with your venue

Without a doubt, the most important part of planning a wedding is finding the perfect venue, a venue that will provide a sensational backdrop for your special day, that will wow your guests and provide them all with special memories.

The venue is understandably something you won’t want to compromise on and luckily, in most cases, you won’t have to. But there are certainly ways to reduce your impact starting with travel.

The travel your guests undertake to attend your wedding is by far the biggest contributor when it comes to carbon emissions. If possible, opt for a venue that is close by or if travel is unavoidable, why not offer guests the opportunity to offset their travel as part of your invite? Companies such as myclimate.com offer the opportunity to offset emissions for air travel and car travel and could be a fun and unique alternative to a gift list.

The venue itself will have a significant impact on your carbon footprint. Contrary to popular belief, marquees, tents and any other temporary structures are likely to be worse for the environment.

Steer towards renowned wedding venues which are home to reusable technology, recycling facilities and are far less reliant on unsustainable resources. Many eco-wedding venues will have literature about their sustainable practices ready for you to read should you request them.

Woman handing a loaf of uneaten bread to another woman
Image courtesy of Olio

Food for thought

The next major factor to address is catering. Over the past 3 years, HeadBox has been involved in organising some truly amazing events and so you don’t need to tell us that the success of any event can be defined by the food and drink on offer.

But where there is food, there is going to be surplus food, and where there is surplus food there is waste. This is not only a waste of food but also a waste of energy and money. The risk of trying to get the exact right amount of food for your guests is high – no one wants guests going unfed – but there are options to reduce food waste.

At HeadBox, we partner with OLIO, a mobile app for food-sharing that aims to reduce food waste by connecting people so surplus food can be shared and not thrown away. This is a no brainer! It ensures you don’t need to worry about running out of food for your guests but also takes away the guilt of throwing so much food away at the end of the day.

recycled wedding invites by Deabill and Quince
Invites by Deabill & Quince

Digitize on the day

Invites = paper, menus = paper, order of service = paper…paper, paper, PAPER. Weddings involve a lot of paper so why not consider e-Invites or using screens at the venue to display the order of service? If you don’t want to cut down on paper, make sure you recycle as much as you can. You can even include a gentle nudge to ‘recycle’ on your invite.

There are plenty of ways that your venue can help you to cut down on the vast amount of paper you use, but it’s all about asking the right questions. Do they have screens available to display the order of service or seating plans? Can lights be used to point people in the right direction? You could even use a digital guestbook, allowing your loved ones to take a picture and sign the image rather than writing in a book.

But, if you are dead-set on using paper for these elements, there are still a couple of things you can do for the environment. Using recycled paper is an obvious solution and even include a gentle reminder on the invitation to recycle your invite. After all, every little helps!

Image featuring design by @miasylviaa

Less light

Tying in with the idea of digitizing your event as much as possible is the idea of reducing your energy output completely. Of course, your theme determines the lighting at your wedding and will really set the mood of the event. But, too much lighting can be a large drain in terms of electricity usage.

The most obvious way of ensuring your lighting conforms to your eco-friendly wedding objectives is to have a daytime wedding or even go one step further and host your big day outdoors when you will be free of lighting altogether. Natural daylight can be fantastic in bringing out colours and really make the occasion bright and vibrant. Of course, this isn’t always possible so if you do choose to stay indoors then make the most of energy-saving lightbulbs, you can even throw light around the room by using mirrors, the options are endless!

Fun with florals

When it comes to flowers, go seasonal, go fresh, go local! Some couples can end up spending thousands on floristry and perhaps that’s understandable. After all, what is a wedding without flowers? But, inevitably the flowers will get thrown away.

You can take the sustainable route and save money by avoiding out-of-season flowers and opting instead for organic floristry. Choose potted plants over Oasis, speak to your florist about what flowers are in season and therefore easier to get hold of, and even think about where you can source your flowers locally, the further your florist has to travel to source what you need the better for the environment.

flat deposit wedding gift fund patchwork

The Wishlist

As generous as it is for your guests to lavish you with items that fill up your gift table and provide you with wonderful momentums of your special day, inevitably some of those gifts will be unwanted gifts which can be a waste for you and detrimental for the environment.

But, the good news is this is easily remedied by using an alternative gift registry such as Patchwork. This innovative and stylish platform allows you to show friends and family the things you really want, and all funds go direct to you to spend when and how you like. Whether it’s contributions towards a honeymoon, a future home or project, or a year of date nights – with Patchwork the only limit is your imagination! Check out their gorgeous templates for eco-friendly wedding gift inspiration with zero waste.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

Recycling has been a common theme throughout this article and seems a pretty obvious way to finish, but it’s worth stressing once more the importance of recycling. Perhaps even more important is stressing that you shouldn’t compromise on any elements of your eco-friendly wedding. This is the biggest day of your life so if you want to use out-of-season flowers do so, and if you want to send paper invites do so, but whatever you do there is an opportunity to recycle.

Flowers don’t need to be discarded, there are organisations who will pick them up and donate them to great causes or you could even gift them to your service staff. Of course, if you’re using potted plants the obvious next step is to re-pot them!


Sheridan Roberts is a Senior Event Manager at HeadBox, the fastest growing Event Tech brand in the UK and Ireland. Our purpose is to bring people and spaces together to make brilliant things happen, everywhere.

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