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London wedding planner reveals 3 wasteful things always thrown away after weddings

Weddings are expensive, often wasteful events. One London wedding planner reveals the things that always end up in the bin.

By Rachel Davis @ My London News

Maria Neves, founder of Sustainable Wedding Workshops (Image: Sustainable Wedding Workshops)

The last year has brought a lot of heartbreak for couples planning to tie the knot. There have been severe restrictions on gatherings, including weddings, which have led many to cancel or postpone their nuptials rather than adhere to tough limitations on guest numbers. It's also been a difficult year for events and wedding planners, like Maria Neves from Hackney, who have lost their jobs to the pandemic and had to pivot their careers to suit a changing market. Maria, 37, has a passion for sustainability, and her near-decade tenure in the wedding industry has shown her that weddings can be very wasteful events. She decided to set up Sustainable Wedding Workshops, a business which helps couples plan weddings which are better for the environment without sacrificing luxury.

"I was always really shocked by the amount of waste that was produced at weddings," she said.

"It's always over-catered, people pay more than they need to for food that's not going to be eaten.

"But I think the worst was with production, where you'd see fabric, wood, plastic, polyester carpeting - things that don't get reused, they go straight into a skip at the end of the evening

"I always had a feeling that I could do something different. I had enough experience to create beautiful weddings that can be sustainable, that don't need to end up in the skip."

You don't have to sacrifice style for sustainability

Maria has nearly 10 years experience of planning high-end, luxury weddings, and uses that knowledge to find more environmentally conscious ways of achieving the end result.

She said that sustainable weddings don't have to cost more, or take more effort, than a 'regular' wedding: in fact they are often more financially efficient than those which tolerate wastefulness.

Maria said: "Are sustainable weddings more expensive than a normal wedding? Absolutely not, you don't need to spend more.

"Will you have exactly the same thing? No, because the offer is different.

"If your values are with sustainability, then there are a lot of things that you won't have, or things that you wouldn't have at a normal wedding that you will choose to have: for example digital invitations, or all the stationery being recyclable or recycled.

"But it doesn't have to compromise on style. A sustainable wedding doesn't necessarily have to be a rustic, eco boho wedding.

"You can have a very luxurious-looking wedding with all the bells and whistles. You can rent everything, rent all the cutlery, all the glassware, all the linens."

Most wasteful wedding items

Maria says that wedding favours, generally, are some of the most wasteful items.

They're often relatively expensive per head, there's a gift for every guest, and more often than not they get left behind at the end of the night and put in the bin.

Wedding favours that double as decor are a great option, as are simple treats like boxing up wedding cake for guests to take home.

Maria said: "If you centre your table decorations and all the floristry and greenery of your wedding around live plants, potted plants, you can then tell guests that they can take them home with them at the end of the night as a gift.

"I think that's a beautiful thing, because then it makes them even more valued. They'll get to the table and say: 'Oh, these are so beautiful,' and then they can take them and nurture them at home.

"Some people just do the wedding cake to take home. They'll serve a dessert during the wedding, they'll cut the cake, but they won't actually give it out that night - they'll just box it for guests to take home."

Giving away things like sugared almonds is futile, says Maria, because no-one takes them home and they end up getting thrown away at the end of the night.

Sadly, the same goes for things like picture frames that cost £10-15 for each guest.

"Some people aren't interested in it and won't take it home," she said.

"It just gets thrown in the bin: it's not like someone collects it and takes it to a charity shop, it gets thrown in the bin."

Would you like to have a sustainable wedding? Share your thoughts in the comments here.

Easy ways to make weddings more sustainable

Maria says that the easiest ways to make weddings more sustainable are to stick to your values, think outside the box and communicate your values to your guests.

She said: "One of the biggest things is to work with a caterer that has the same values as you, and is able to give you what you want and reassure you that things won't be wasted.

"Seasonal produce, how the food is served whether that's plated or as a buffet, things like this should be considered."

Thinking outside the box when it comes to floristry, for example using candles or potted plants instead of flowers, helps minimise the carbon footprint on your tables.

Finally, clear communication with guests to show your values in non-judgemental way can go a long way towards achieving a sustainable wedding.

Maria said: "Usually with weddings, you feel a pressure to wear something new, having to buy something new.

"But a big problem we have with sustainability is fast fashion, so I think sending out a note to say that instead of finding something new, we'd love you to wear one of your favourite outfits is becoming more and more trendy.

"So, too, is for brides and grooms to do the same. They might rather buy something they can use in the future, or get a fitting for an old family wedding dress, for example.

"There's a lot of really interesting options, you can go as far as you want with sustainability."

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