In part one of this wedding planning blog we’re checking out the world of wedding venues and wedding catering.
To make this a little easier to follow, we’ve split the eco wedding top tips into the two wedding categories for your browsing pleasure. You’re welcome!
Finding an eco wedding venue - What to look for...
Let’s not get too technical here, but it’s fair to say that all buildings and structures have a carbon footprint of some form - one venue will have a much higher footprint than another, but it’s hard to spot the differences. So, here’s some things to look out for or ask about…
Where do they get their energy from? For an easy way to answer that question, have a look for solar panels! Mythe Barn for example has an entire warehouse roof of solar panels, which powers the venue, the farm and even puts green energy back into the network. Venue websites might help too, but you could always ask if they have a renewable energy supplier - all responsible venues should.
Many countryside venues are situated on a large amount of land, whether it’s a farm or a country estate. Do they have plenty of trees growing and / or patches of woodland? Trees are amazing for capturing carbon and therefore off-setting the other activity on the land, as well as being fantastic for encouraging biodiversity. Going one step further, you could get hitched at a venue that directly contributes to habitats like Brockholes in Lancashire - it’s a Wildlife Trusts wetland nature reserve! We’d love to shoot a wedding here by the way… hint hint.
For another type of venue, look at temporary structures like tipis or fancy marquees. They have a tiny impact on the environment in comparison to a building. Do you know how much carbon goes into concrete? Nor do we, but it’s a lot! Plus, after you’ve had your amazing tipi wedding, the land can return to grass - much better for the local environment than an empty brick building! The Hill Farm House, The Hidden Hive and Carlicious have some lovely structures for your countryside, low carbon wedding.
The last word on venues goes to conversions and restorations. Why? Because the resources embedded into converting an existing building into a wedding venue is generally much lower than building from scratch. Think barn conversion wedding venues for example, like Norton Fields.
Oh, and you could always get married outside...
Selecting your wedding catering...
The second section of our eco wedding planning blog is focused on the tasty topic of wedding catering. Unfortunately, this one isn’t straightforward either, sorry! The science behind what is environmentally friendly and what isn’t is a complex beast, but we’re going to try to simplify things.
Huge amounts of wedding caterers, whether mobile or based at venues, say that they use locally sourced ingredients. Great. That’s good. To an extent. If you’re choosing a menu that serves a fillet steak to each guest, it doesn’t really matter if it’s local - it’s still not a very environmentally friendly option due to the energy and water required to feed a cow and the gases they give off in the process.
Having said that, local beef is generally better than beef from the other side of the country or indeed imported due to the lack of ‘food miles’ involved - all of which adds to carbon emissions and therefore climate change and air pollution.
But, it’s worth noting that a tomato grown out of season in a heated greenhouse in the UK is likely to have more carbon attached to it than an imported tomato. Sorry - we said we’d keep it simple didn’t we… To get an idea of the impacts of different foods, check out this handy BBC calculator (clearly useful beyond your wedding food choices).
An environmentally friendly wedding breakfast menu choice is key here. We all know that veggie food is better for the environment - you can’t really argue with that. So that’s the first option - a vegetarian wedding. But, we’re aware that this is a rarity. So why not ensure that your starter is vegetarian to show willing?
Here’s a more simple top tip: Confirm with the caterer what the vegetarian option for each course is - and make them tasty. Then, detail them on your wedding invites - you’ll be surprised how many non-veggie guests select the veggie options because it sounds delicious!
Another simple top tip: If you don’t mind the admin, ask your guests to contact you if they have any dietary requirements - you can then pass this onto the catering team. Why you? Because they are more likely to contact you. They won’t want to ‘bother’ the caterer with their disgust at the sight of an aubergine. Why is this good for the environment? Food waste. Or trying to remove food waste to be specific.
Two final, rather quick top tips for an environmentally friendly wedding:
Don’t order food for all of your evening guests - it won’t get eaten. Go for something between 50 - 75% depending on how late your wedding breakfast was and how many evening guests are joining you.
Do not accept any disposable cups, cutlery or any other form of serving equipment. Ask your caterer if they’ll be using any. If they do - loudly tut. Please.
So there we have it. Eco wedding planning top tips brought to you by two environmentally conscious wedding photographers trying to do our little bit to help this lovely blue and green blob that we call home. This isn’t an easy topic by a long stretch, particularly with science that goes into it. We’re not experts, but we know a thing or two about it.
To find out more about why we care so much, check out our eco page.
Wishing you all the very best with your wedding planning.
Phil & Al x
Oh, here's some more wedding food photographs taken by your favourite Leicester Wedding Photographers, because... everyone loves food!