Having devoted my career to the wedding industry for a number of years, I genuinely believe it is a wonderful industry to be a part of, in so many way.
However, there is one thing I feel is missing, and not exclusively in the wedding industry, but in many aspects of our day-to-day lives. What I’m talking about here is an appreciation and respect for the planet, our home. Being in the wedding industry, you might not think that there’s any real connection between the two. In fact, weddings can be, and often are a massive source of waste in today’s disposable lifestyle, which never fails to upset me, year in, year out, but as the impact of climate change becomes more and more undeniable, conversations of sustainability are stirring in society.
As someone who runs my own business and wants to help you grow yours, I believe it is our responsibility to do as much as we can to increase the environmental awareness of our clients and play our part in reducing our carbon footprint.
Above everything, my role in business, is to help your business become more profitable and assist in its growth. So, sit tight and I’ll show you how sustainability can be a priceless tool in growing your profitability, appealing to a new audience of clientele and saving the environment, all in one go.
As the world becomes increasingly aware of our responsibility to care for the planet, many venues have taken steps to become greener. Many of these venues however are based around the globe, but I firmly believe that it is high time that these ideas are replicated here in Wales.
We have a luscious country with the vast majority of our countryside soaked in greenery and foliage. Even the cities themselves are becoming greener than they were, bringing little shoots of the countryside into them. With such picturesque views often on our doorstep, it’s time we did more to help preserve them, in as many ways as we can.
Depending on how large an investment you’re willing to make, installing solar panels on your venue is an effective fuss-free way of becoming a more sustainable wedding venue. A typical installation price generally lies around £6,200 but this obviously varies depending upon size, location, available local grants etc. Now, I’m very aware that this is a costly commitment to make, but solar panels do have the capacity to cut hundreds off your energy bill every month and the bigger the venue, the bigger the saving. There are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind when making the decision though, especially in determining whether your business will truly benefit. These can be simple things like ensuring your roof is mainly south facing and that it remains predominantly unshaded from 10am to 4pm (although consulting a professional would definitely be in your best interest here).
If you are looking to make a more permanent change in the way you operate your venue, then solar panels might be the solution you’re looking for!
If you’re not in a position to make such a commitment just yet, consider switching to an renewable energy supplier, or actually utilising your venue itself to become more environmentally friendly; through using some of your garden space to grow your own produce – be it flowers, herbs or other food produce. In doing so you’ll be creating opportunities for yourself, your suppliers and your clientele. Growing your own selection of seasonal flowers and partnering with a local florist to offer them to your clients as part of a package deal is an eco-friendly, business savvy way of promoting sustainability while simultaneously helping local businesses as well as watching your own business literally grow! Equally, you could link up with a local food supplier and grow your own organic produce, making for an ethically sourced catering service, providing organic, fresh, plastic-free seasonal produce all year round. Whichever method you choose, you will absolutely be having a positive impact on those around you.
Consider signing up to the Green Growth Pledge – which provides a practical way for businesses to demonstrate their positive impact on the people and places around them. Or go one step further and consider giving something back, to a range of incredible causes in this country and abroad as your business grows (find out more at B1G1).
Any little change you can make within your venue, be it replacing plastic bottles of water with glass, or even better providing jugs of tap water, changing to eco friendly cleaning products, recycling more, composting kitchen waste – all make incredible differences when you consider the impact over days, weeks, months and years and will really put you on the map!
The Big Day
Through making your venue a little greener, you will have developed a unique selling point that will appeal to an ever-growing market of environmentally aware couples. For those that come to you regardless of your carbon footprint, this is your opportunity to enlighten and encourage them to have a greener wedding day.
Think of ways that you can promote reusable, recycled and natural alternatives to the traditional choices that couples often make for their décor and styling. As mentioned above, weddings have the potential to be some of the most wasteful occasions we see (an average wedding emits 63 tons of CO2! That’s more than a single person emits in a full year!) so show your clients how doing away with all those additional single-use, throwaway items can not only make the big day greener, but also a more beautiful and meaningful experience for all involved.
For example, consider encouraging your clients to go paperless and plastic free for the big day. This could mean emailed invites, seed paper menus and place cards and natural confetti, all perfectly accessible means of becoming more sustainable with the same beautiful, unique and bespoke effect but considerably less waste.
Again, utilise your venue! If you do have a garden, don’t restrict yourself to only using the fresh produce but capitalise on all it has to offer; If your guests are in need of confetti, try wilted flower petals or dried leaves in place of single use, often toxic plastics. This also makes the clean-up that much easier, with most able to be composted and reused. You can plant left over seed paper menus and name plates in the gardens for future couples to reap the benefits.
Instead of permitting couples to bring in an endless stream of throwaway garden games, why not invest in a good quality wooden set and ask your couples for a nominal hire fee to persuade them not to bring their own (the number of broken, cheap plastic sets that are left after each wedding, just to be thrown into landfill is heart-breaking!)
There are infinite ways you can use your space as a wedding venue to help better the planet, you just need to be a bit creative in the process.
The Happy Couple
Now that you’ve done your bit, helping your couples to create the most sustainable wedding day possible is an obvious next step. Wedding dresses and tailoring suits might not be your forte but any small suggestion you could make, might just go a long way. If your couples are truly interested in the sustainability of your venue, they will greatly appreciate any extra guidance you can offer. With the popularity of Depop, charity shop purchases and vintage thrifting, millennial couples are always on the hunt for bespoke and unique pieces. Why not then encourage them to incorporate this on their wedding day? Suggest different means of wedding shopping through up-cycling, using sustainably sourced materials, vintage shopping or even rental?
Why not recommend those suppliers on your books who work hard to provide a sustainable and more eco-friendly product and service? Companies that hire out styling items are reusing their stock again and again. This is a considerably better option than couples buying endless cheap tat, only to throw it away after their wedding or sell it for a fraction of what they paid on Ebay afterwards.
OK, so we know that every couple isn’t going to follow your advice, but any small thing we can do to help each other and our planet is a step in the right direction and just offering suggestions might make them rethink some of their more disposable purchases. We are all learning from one another, so, do your research and see what you can do to help make the planet a safer and better place to live!
If you want to find out more about how to reduce your carbon footprint as a wedding venue, in your dealings with your clients, but also your in-house operation; catering, bar services, housekeeping and cleaning, then please get in touch.