Follow These 5 Steps to Plan the Perfect Sustainable Wedding

Locksmith Photography

We’re more aware than ever before about how important it is to be kind to our environment. And while you may be across sustainable fashion and practises in your daily life, such as eco-friendly period products and the importance of using a keep cup — what about when it comes to grand and expensive events, such as your wedding? Is it possible to make these life-changing events low impact on the environment?

Tessa Carroll and Ben Heenan are here to say “yes!”. And to show us how it’s done.

The pair, who own and run The Common Good Company — a B Corp certified ethical and sustainable fashion basics brand — got married over the weekend, in a sustainable and vegan ceremony that looked simply divine. Held at Tessa’s parents’ place in Yallingup in WA, the wedding was semi off-grid, with everything down to the rings being sustainably-made and sourced.

If more of us were to consider the environment when throwing big events, the positive impact would be huge. An event as big as a wedding, has the ability to produce heaps of excessive waste, as well as huge amounts of water and electricity consumption. Not only are these core factors at play, but an event is a great opportunity to leverage sustainable brands and showcase alternative ways of doing things — with a more sustainable outcome. Plus, according to Tessa and Ben, you don’t need to compromise on quality. If anything, it’s the opposite.

“We live and breathe these values so when it came to planning our wedding, it was just a continuation of ourselves,” Tessa Carroll tells POPSUGAR Australia. “Plus, I had joined a number of Facebook wedding groups and was aghast at the attitude or lack of consideration towards waste. I think when it comes to planning a wedding, most people get carried away with their “Dream Day” and forget there is no such thing as ‘away’. Everything has to go somewhere so we did everything we could to avoid contributing to landfill.”

Carroll hopes that sustainable, low impact and vegan weddings aren’t just a future trend, but a way of life.

“It didn’t cost us any more or any less to hold a low-impact wedding,” she says.

So, from planting a tree for every guest that travelled and donating a meal to someone in need for every meal served, to finding vintage finds at op shops and supporting other sustainable brands, here’s how Tessa and Ben planned the perfect low impact wedding — and how you can, too.

Go Paperless

Printing out paper invites and sending them in paper envelopes to every single guest… is a lot of paper. Did you know that 500 invites would be almost a quarter of a whole tree!?

Tessa and Ben went paperless with their invitations, sending out cute email invites with a link to RSVP. Not only is it much easier to keep track of who’s coming (or not coming), plus who you’ve invited (or accidentally forgot), it’s super sustainable. And cheaper!

You can make your own really cute invitations on free online design platforms such as Canva or Figma.

In some areas, you can’t avoid using paper, like for menus, name cards and signage for the big day. Tessa and Ben used recycled paper and eco-friendly ink, which can be done through companies that use vegetable-based inks, such as Sustainable Printing Co. Eco-friendly printing companies do charge a tiny bit more, however, if you’ve saved money on invitations, then you can go eco and still stay in budget!

Wear Recycled Clothes / Fabrics

Everyone wants to look and feel special on their wedding day, but buying new clothes isn’t always great for the environment. Tessa wore vintage shoes to her wedding, while Ben’s suit was a vintage find from a local op shop, which he then took to get tailored so it was his perfect fit.

Tessa, being a super creative, talented and resourceful queen, designed and made her own wedding dress from fashion industry deadstock material (excess fabric that was destined for landfill). While you might not be a sewing queen, you can shop for deadstock fabric from big brands and fabric stores (such as The Fabric Store, in Melbourne) for super cheap, and then get it made into something fabulous.

“From the making of my bridal gown and sourcing of Ben’s suit, we both had a shared vision of it being bespoke and tailored to our own personal style,” she says. 

We both had a shared vision of it being bespoke and tailored to our own personal style. For us, this relates to the full life cycle, from the procurement of deadstock material and manufacturing of my gown to the specific styling and final finessing of Ben’s suit. Being a dressmaker by trade, making my own dress was something I was itching to do but when it came to suiting, I was a little out of my depth.

“Ben’s suit was specifically sourced with his personal-styling in mind — a double breasted tuxedo. Being 6.2” and unable to try on anything off the rack, we focused on finding vintage pieces from when this style was most en vogue. We then worked with the team at P. Johnson to rework it from a vintage classic and into a modern masterpiece.”

A good way to thrift shop, is to be really clear on your vision, Tessa says. Keep in mind that “op shops” is an abbreviated term for Opportunity Shops, which is kind of the key — see each garment as an opportunity to become something that speaks to you and your style. Getting things tailored can be super affordable, if you know what you want. You can turn a floor length gown into a mini, change up the amount of buttons on a tux, or even just use the material to build a new structure. It can be a super creative and fun way to finesse a look, while also being kind to the environment.

Repurpose Foliage

Flowers are one of the biggest wedding expenses, but what if you made foliage bouquets out of repurposed waste? Tessa and Ben used pruning from local Magnolia orchads, which are always discarded pre-flower season, to ensure their trees flower.

Photo:  Locksmith Photography

Depending on what type of look you’re going for, this might take a little research — but it will be well worth it.

Some ideas to get you started could be: contact olive groves around picking time and ask for any discarded branches, suss out vineyards during pruning season and grab some vine leaves that you could make wreaths out of, or even contact your local florist or flower market and ask to utilise any waste they may have.

Making your own bouquets could be a super fun activity too; grab your girlfriends and some mimosas and get creative!

Tip: focus on plants and flowers that can dry nicely, so that you don’t have to worry about them looking drab on the day — and you can prep them ahead of time.

Re-Imagine the Menu

“One of the biggest impacts you can have on the environment is through your food choices,” says Tessa, “which is why we had a vegan wedding and all the food was locally sourced.”

Working with catering company, Margaret River Event Co, on their first-ever vegan wedding, Tessa and Ben created an entirely vegan menu, with locally sourced ingredients at the forefront of their mind.

Photo:  Locksmith Photography

And, while you might not be vegan, going local with produce is an amazing way to celebrate sustainability. Especially in Australia, with endless fantastic produce at our literal fingertips, why not celebrate the region you’re getting married in with local wines, fresh produce and even smallgoods, like cheese and meats!?

“We opted for local wines (lowering carbon miles) and tinned beers (aluminium is easier to recycle than glass!). We made sure there was absolutely no plastic in sight.”

Find a catering company that is happy to adapt to your needs, or that specialises in local produce. Thankfully, seasonal eating is very in right now, which means that there should be a local catering company in your area that can help you achieve your dream menu.

Support Sustainable Brands

From wedding bands and an engagement ring, handmade from recycled gold and ethical diamonds in collaboration with Lott Studio, to bridesmaids decked out in Shona Joy’s conscious ‘Ecovero Lenzing’ collection (all made from wood pulp), Tessa and Ben went above and beyond with supporting local and sustainable brands.

“We chose from Australian brands and businesses who share our vision,” says Tessa.

With so many incredible sustainable Australian formal fashion brands, such as Shona Joy, Arnsdorf and Manning Cartell, and jewellery brands like Natalie Marie and Saint Valentine, there’s really no excuse.

Tessa Carroll also has her own plant-based handbag label, A_C Official, which you should check out if you’re into gorge leather alternatives.

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