Your Best, Green, Affordable Wedding

A grand, no-expenses-spared, fairy-tale wedding is every couple’s dream. For those who’re well-off, this is a superb way of celebrating your love. This Spring we'll all welcome the Royal Wedding of Prince William and his fiancĂ©e, Kate Middleton. However, as this time of year is well-known for weddings, I dare say we'll see a lot more couples get hitched as well. If you're one of those lucky people, here's a post just for you.

This post first appeared at this relationship blog


As we all know, a costly wedding is not a vital or even necessary ingredient for a perfect marriage - the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

Nowadays, with weddings becoming more and more expensive, couples who just simply want to put a seal on their love together are looking for more affordable, greener ways to get hitched.

There is a brilliant way to give friends and relatives a good time, have a classy, memorable, fairy-tale wedding, put aside enough to get on the property ladder, and save the planet while you’re at it!


Your family and friends

I’ve chosen to discuss this first because in order to have an affordable, green wedding, it is vital that you first inform your family and friends about this decision and rope in all the assistance you can get. Letting them know from the start that you will need their help and involvement (work promises) at every step to make sure that everything runs smoothly, is a crucial way of preparing for the first day of your life as husband and wife.  In order to take some of the stress off the wedding, it makes absolute sense to put different people in charge of various aspects of the event, which I will explain as I go along.

The Venue


The cost for your reception adds up to about half of the average wedding expenses. To be able to cut costs it means that this area has to be seriously considered.  While not compromising the perfection of your wedding, the reception does not have to be at expensive venues to which your guests need to travel. Here are some beautiful, affordable options.
  • Local gardens
If you contact the local authorities in advance you could have your wedding at the local gardens.  You would have no need to buy flowers as you would have the exquisite aroma of blossoms on trees, and flowers still in the ground, waving in the wind.  Fresh air, daisies popping up from the grass, birds chirping, and at certain times of the year, even swans gently gliding by. No matter how much money you forked out, you couldn’t get that backdrop in a rented hall.
  • The Beach
Many couples are now choosing the beach as the place to tie the knot. The liberating feeling of open space, and the peaceful sounds of waves gently splashing the shore are totally therapeutic. The simple idea of being able to run bare foot along with your brand new life partner in the cool water is exhilarating!  You’ll always remember the joy of your wedding day every time you smell or think of the sea. What a cheerful, profound investment.

  • Local castle grounds
Gorgeous, well-kept and affordable castle grounds spell freedom, class and beauty.  You do not need to use the house/castle as this would obviously make your costs soar.  We'll discuss venues to which you can go for the reception as we go along.

  • Sports ground or the Ice rink
If you're fond of sports, why not ask to have the wedding ceremony at your local sports ground?  I am certain that you would be accommodated as long as you’re not interrupting a big match.

The Wedding Reception

  • The Village Hall
The village hall will charge a fraction of the cost of many wedding reception venues, and wouldn’t lessen the fun the guest will have even by one iota. The perfection of your wedding is not marked by how grand your reception hall is, but how total and profound your love for each other has been. If you can, having the reception party in the middle of the week, means that distant relatives who would only otherwise put in an appearance for the free food, won’t think it worth coming.
  • Local Sports/Leisure centre
Here is where the bride and groom could take the plunge literally.  Everyone could be asked to come dressed as their favourite sports personality.  You could put up sheets of paper at the door and have guests vote for the best costume, with the winner getting a prize.

  • Family or friend’s large house 
If you are lucky enough to have family or friends with a large house/gardens, why not ask them to allow you to have the wedding reception there as their wedding present to you.  You could make sure that you get other family members to help clean up after the reception.  Having this in the evening means that you won’t need to have a sit down meal.  You could have organic, posh, stylish finger-foods instead which are easily bought from the super market. Marks and Spencers’ in the UK is the perfect place for wedding catering.  They stock an extensive range of exclusive, first-class finger foods and even do wedding cakes.

The Wedding Dress
Remember that you don’t have to have a traditional wedding dress.  If you’re getting married at the gardens you could have one made by the local dressmaker, which means work for local people.  In the spring/summer one could have a beautiful, stylish, cotton summer frock, radiating the beauty of the summer’s day itself.
If you must have a traditional dress the following are options you should consider not only for their affordability, but for their neutral cost on the environment.
Dressing however, is not only for the bride. A fine, original idea is to have a themed wedding so that no one thinks that they have to compete with everyone else for best-dressed prize, something which happens at a lot of weddings. You could suggest the following:
  • Fancy dress
  • In the spirit of the old wedding poem – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - have the men dress in something old (they could wear an old suit) and the women dress in something borrowed.  If you’re getting married in the castle grounds or at the gardens, the flower girls could all come in their little summer dresses with daisy-chain hair bands.
  • If you’ve chosen the beach, the guests could be encouraged to come bare footed, and couples could be invited to come dressed in each other’s favourite summer clothes, (single people could be asked to borrow something blue – a good way to get people spotting and meeting each other).
Here again family help impacts greatly on making your wedding affordable and green.
It is important these days that you make sure you’re not contributing to the blood-diamonds and gold which we know people are losing their lives in order to mine.  It is not important to set our minds on massive rocks because we would be wearing the evidence of our indifference to murder for all our lives, this is definitely not the tone we want to set for our married lives.

Local jewellers should be able to tell you where the gold and diamond came from.  Support local tradesmen, but rings do not always have to be bought.  Ask your parents and grandparents for family heirlooms They may be willing to pass them on to you but were waiting for you to ask.  It’s always worth first asking the family for heirlooms such as jewellery, gloves or veils before you spend money to buy a perfectly new one, only to use it just once.

It's very cheap to get a wedding invitation kit like the one on the left. On the other hand, here was another important reason for talking to family and friends.  Too many paper pass through our hands and into the bin these days.  Do not add to this madness.  Your family and friends would've already been made aware of your 'green' decision. They won’t be surprised if they get your wedding invitation in an e-mail.  Get a friend or family member who’s good at computers (if not, they would certainly know someone who is a master at power-point).  Give him/her the information and ask them to create an invitation for you, send it to you for approval, and then send them off.

You could either print them off on recycled paper or e-mail them straight to your guests’ inboxes.  Encourage RSVPs by email or include a small plain postcard in your invitation.  You’d be surprised at how many people would be copying this from you.

Remember you don’t have to invite every last person you know.  The wider and more remote your list gets, the more danger there is that it will grow.  By this I mean that if you think that you simply must invite the cousin you haven’t seen in three years, then you will also have to invite her boyfriend and so on.  Invite the people who’re close to you right now, the people with whom you have personal contact, not those whom you should invite because of one obscure reason or another. Remember if you invite lots of people who live far away, they'll have to use more petrol to get there, hence more pollution to our planet. Save the foreign trip for your honeymoon rather then require all your guests to make overseas trips to your expensive wedding.


The only things I will say about photographs is that unless you know someone in your family who is a professional snapper, you should spend the money to get a professional photographer.  Don’t go for the most expensive. Not because he/she is costly it means that they’re any good. Go by recommendations instead.
Scan photos when you get them and send loads of photos into friends' inboxes instead of posting.

Wedding Food
Don’t waste food. Source your food from good local organic grocers who would deliver.  Ideally, you don’t want to cook too much. If you’re having an evening wedding, finger foods would be perfect and these can be bought from the supermarket’s organic (ready prepared) range and cooked by your aunt/uncle sister etc. whose job it was to do the catering. This type of 'cooking' will basically involve getting the food (their wedding gift to you) and sticking it in the oven at appropriate times. 
If you got married in the local gardens, a picnic would be ideal.  With children playing, the wind blowing through your hair, friends chatting and laughter filling the air, no one is going to be yearning for a five course meal.  The atmosphere is one they would never ever forget.



Nowadays there are wedding cakes available to buy at posh supermarkets (such as Marks and Spencers’ in the UK).  If you do not want to buy a cake (again, here comes the usefulness of family and friends) ask around. You never know who may have skills in making cakes (for instance the mother of one of your friends).  I do not have a large circle of friends (just a select few very close ones) but I alone know three people who are master cake makers – one a trained chef, another a qualified/trained baker (neither of whom practices these professions any more) and the third, a very talented cook.  I’m sure you know that person who could make you a classy, professional cake, you probably just don’t know who he/she is yet because they may not have told you.

Drinks

Supermarkets in the UK stock a wide range of fair-trade wine and champagne.  This could be the job of a person in your family or your circle of choice friends who knows where to go for the best deals.  You could also have them sent to you by ordering directly from wine merchants in your area who'll drop them off at your house for free. I buy wine this way because these outlets are a lot cheaper and stock a larger, better variety of wines.  The person in charge of the drinks will research just where to get a good deal. Tell him that he'll be given the credit for this job in the wedding speeches. This way you will be certain that he would get the best price for the classiest wines he can source locally. 

Wedding favours and centre pieces

Buying your wedding favours online will massively cut down on cost. There are several places like, Amazon where you can get fantastic quality favours at cut cost prices. 
I’ve been to modern weddings which didn’t bother at all with centre pieces and wedding favours.  They are not important. Think of all the weddings you’ve been to. Now think of the one that was your most memorable. I’m certain that it wasn’t the one with the best party favours you remembered.  Where are those favours now and for how long did you keep them?
Weddings are remembered for the fun atmosphere, the fairy-tale simplicity, charm, speeches, and story-book style romance of the bride and groom.

If you choose a garden, beach, or castle grounds wedding, you won’t be needing these anyway.  If you’re having the evening get-together at your friend’s house, you won’t either.  Nevertheless, if you must have these, your maid of honour could be in charge of this.  Local garden centres would have terrific ideas of what to make and they would charge a fraction of the cost of a wedding planner.  Candles work fabulously as centre pieces as well.  Or you could source from your own circle of wedding helpers, a green fingered someone who would pot up lovely, sweet-smelling flowers from their own garden way in advance.


I hate having to buy from a specified gift list.  I wonder sometimes why the bride and groom just don’t ask for money instead so that they could buy exactly what they wanted.  How can one couple use up all that crockery?  I’m only joking here as I know that weddings wouldn’t be romantic if the bride and groom were given just money. 

However, be sensible about what your guests are bringing to the start of your new life.  Parents, siblings and very close friends (the ones whose work promise presents you haven’t already used up, and even those you have, but who still want to contribute more) would understand if you ask them to give you travel vouchers to use up on your honeymoon as wedding gifts.  Parents - who usually play a major part in your big day - would realise that the affordable wedding you’re having is also very kind on their bank balance.

They would be willing to come together to give you a fabulous gift of a memorable honeymoon.
Remember that if you live in Europe, you don’t have to fly, you could hop on the Eurostar and arrive almost anywhere the next morning. Cruises are also a great way to lessen our air miles.

Whatever kind of wedding you have, please do not plan it with the thought in mind that you simply must spend all you have because that would be the most important day of your lives together, because this is not true. It is a fabulous day, and one of loving memory. However, by the time you have beaten the odds and have lived together as man and wife for ten years, you would be able to name a dozen other days that would be more poignant, for example: The day you sit hand in hand watching your baby graduate from University.  And the day you sit together sipping champagne on your Ruby anniversary smiling knowingly as your son desperately try to explain to his weeping toddler, why she can’t wash her baby brother’s hair with her leftover ice-cream.

Have a fabulous wedding day!
Here are some more royal wedding articles you'll enjoy
Royal wedding cake
Royal wedding dress
Royal wedding invitations
All-time best love songs for your wedding