A Zero Waste, Low Footprint Wedding (Part One)

A Zero Waste, Low Footprint Wedding (Part One)

One of the main reasons I was absent from the blog for so long last year was that my family came over from the UK to visit, and the reason they came all this way was because they were coming to a wedding – mine! Long-time readers of the blog may remember that I got engaged last August, but blog posts about wedding preparations or wedding talk in general have been pretty non-existent. Actually, scratch that. They’ve been completely non-existent. That’s not because I’ve been busying away behind the scenes for months but decided to spare you the boring details, it’s because I actually find other things far more exciting/important than wedding planning…like plotting for a zero waste week and talking about the perils of plastic!

But there was a wedding, and it did involve some planning, so now it’s all done and dusted (is it appropriate to use that expression when talking about your wedding?!) I’d like to share it with you. Because it was important to us that we had a wedding that reflected our values and beliefs, meaning simple and meaningful and low waste, and yes, of course there was compromise!

I’m going to share in two parts. Here I’m going to talk about our ideas for a simple wedding, and what that meant for us in real life! In part two I’m going to talk in more detail about the things we did to try to keep within our simple / low waste / sustainable living philosophy.

Simple Weddings Aren’t That Simple

Our criteria was simple: somewhere with indoor and outdoor space, where we could provide our own food. Simple, no?! (Early on we thought about just doing a registry office wedding and going out for a meal for a few people straight after, but once my family said they were willing to fly to Australia to spend the day with us, we thought we should honour that and do something a little… grander.

Plus we wanted to invite our friends as well as family, and then numbers start to go up…)

The thing is, you can’t start planning a wedding until you have somewhere to hold the wedding! Everyone we knew told us about a really simple/cheap/meaningful wedding their cousin/neighbour/Auntie Susan had that was oh so perfect! Because so-and-so owned a farm with a lake and a rustic barn on the grounds, and whatstheirname is an award-winning chef, and suchandsuch is a professional florist with a background in photography and a side business in prop hire.

Great for them, but not very helpful for us.

Glen and I don’t know any farmers/professional chefs/photographers, so that ruled that out. We would have loved our wedding at a private house with a garden, but we don’t know anyone with such a place, and you can’t hire private properties like that here for weddings, it turns out.

Plus there just aren’t quaint old barns or rustic buildings available for hire, because Perth isn’t that old! Of the few halls for hire, many don’t have liquor licensing, and a dry wedding wasn’t what we were after!

After a few months we accepted that we wouldn’t be able to find a venue where we could do everything ourselves, and looked for venues which could accommodate our needs. We had a couple of misses with venues that seemed to fit the bill, until they heard it was a wedding and quadrupled the price. For exactly the same thing. Because, apparently, weddings are more demanding.

It was pretty disheartening, and we were about ready to give up when our friend suggested a local bowling club. It fitted the criteria. It still had availability. There was a park right next door where we could hold the ceremony. We booked it.

View From Edge of Mosman Park Bowling Club
This is the view from our wedding reception venue in Mosman Park…

 Our Wedding Philosophy / Making it a Simple (ish) Wedding

The first lesson was that simple doesn’t mean simple, but we also came to realise that simple doesn’t mean cheap. Actually, it would be far simpler to throw tens of thousands of dollars at a professional wedding organiser and get them to do the whole thing for you! But we didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw, and even if we had, it’s not our style. No party is worth spending that much money on!

All over the internet you’ll find accounts of how people kept their wedding “simple” by devoting every Saturday for the preceding two years working on wedding stuff, or by using pebbles/rustic fabric/piles of vintage suitcases. However, I’m a great believer in the philosophy “we don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives“.

If I wasn’t willing to spend the money, I also wasn’t willing to spend all that time hand-crafting napkins or growing succulents in order to give cute eco favours. For me, simple means no fuss – and devoting whole weekends to projects was out.

Also, just because things are vintage, rustic, or made of natural fibres, it doesn’t make a wedding simple (or keep the budget down). Scouring eBay or the vintage shops looking for finds was out (who has the time or patience? Who would set things up, style them nicely and pack them down? What do I do with it afterwards?)

Buying anything with the intention of only using it once was out. We decided if it was truly going to be a simple wedding, we needed to scrap the extra frivolities and focus on what mattered – that the people who came were comfortable, well fed and entertained, and were able to enjoy celebrating with us. No retro typewriter was going to change that, so why bother with it?!

Retro typewriters at weddings - not something we chose to do for our own!
Retro typewriters at other people’s weddings – not something we chose to do for our own!

Making it a Low Waste Wedding

Making our wedding as low-waste as possible was really important to both of us. After all, if we’re so dedicated to zero waste the rest of the time, it doesn’t make sense on the most important day of our lives to chuck our morals…in the bin, so to speak!

Firstly, we made use of what we had, and borrowed what we could to avoid buying anything new (or even second hand) – we didn’t want to be let with a heap of stuff to get rid of afterwards. If we didn’t have it, we had to decide if we actually needed it, or if we should go without. Not having something in the first place is the best way to avoid waste!

Making it a Low Footprint Wedding

It was also important to make our wedding as sustainable as possible. It needed to be a party we were comfortable with hosting! With one half of our family living in the UK and the other half in Australia, there was always going to be some flying, but we wanted to keep our wedding as local as possible for as many people as possible. Once we settled on Australia, that meant choosing somewhere in Perth rather than the countryside.

We didn’t want anyone driving long distances. We also chose to have the ceremony next to the reception so people could simply walk between them. We also wanted to use local suppliers and businesses. No drinking French champagne at a West Australian wedding, when the sparkling is just as good down under!

When It All Comes Together

In Part Two I’m going to talk about some of the things we did to make our wedding low footprint, low waste and simple. But for now I just wanted to share a few pictures and give you a snapshot of our day!

Wedding Ceremony Jabe Dodd Mosman Park Wedding Reception at Mosman Park Bowling Club Bowls at Mosman Park Wedding Reception View from Mosman Park Bowling ClubPlaying Bowls Wedding Reception at Mosman Park Bowling Club Bowling Club nighttime

31 Responses to A Zero Waste, Low Footprint Wedding (Part One)

  1. Congratulations on your wedding (and for getting to the other side!) I hear you on the typewriters and hours spent finding pretty things just to dress the venue! I couldn’t believe the amount of time and effort people went to. In the end my own four month wedding timeframe meant I had to ask a friend to dress our venue with the decorations that had been lent to us but in retrospect I’m really glad I avoided the stress, plus she did a gorgeous job :)

    Like you I struggled with finding a balance between having enough things to ensure people were comfortable against creating too much waste or transport (let alone cost). I’m so glad your friend suggested the bowling club, it looks like a fun place for a gathering :)

    • Thank you! Yes – people can get so wrapped up in it all and I think maybe they lose sight of what a wedding is actually about. Sure, have a party but remember why you’re doing it!

      Bowling clubs are a fairly popular choice here in Australia – it’s nice to be outside, and there’s something fun and sociable for guests to do. The thing I was worried about was if it had rained, because we were relying so much on things being outside. I think coming from the UK I expect rain at all times! As it was, we had the most absolutely perfect weather that day : )

      • True! We considered a bowling club too – I’m attracted to the idea of people having to walk around bare foot :) We were lucky that friends offered us their garden, so we got the bare foot option anyway but like you I was nervous about weather as we chose only to have a very small marquee!

        • Yes, that’s something I liked about it too : ) Glad you were able to have a barefoot wedding, there’s something very grounding about connecting to the earth I think.

  2. Congratulations!
    Looks like it all came together fantastically! Beautiful pics – looks like you lucked out with the weather :)
    I’m getting married in summer next year, am also hoping not to fall into the ‘wasting time / wasting money’ trap, but it’s so easy. I’m hoping to be able to use lots of local suppliers where I can, but I may end up spending hours making decorations and favors – but that’s because I love anything crafty like that, so it’s fun for me really, although I’ll be avoiding silly add-ons like typewriters!

    • Hi Nat, thanks for your comment! Yes it did, and we were lucky with the weather. Coming from the UK I always expect rain but actually this summer was slow to arrive. The day before was 10 degrees cooler and the day after we had thunderstorms!

      I made a few decorations (I say made – I wrapped some tins I fished out of the recycling in hessian and tied them with string to put flowers in) and my friend lent me her amazing lace bunting (upcycled from op-shop tablecloths) but I decided really that too many decorations weren’t necessary. The venue has such a beautiful view and that was far better than anything I would have made!

      I’m not a fan of favours. Whilst they look cute in the photos, my general experience is that most people leave them behind, or throw them away afterwards and they generally aren’t appreciated. They are time consuming, and expensive (even if you hand-make them) because of the quantity and I’d rather spend that money on things like extra cake!

      I’m going to talk a bit more about the specific things we did in my next blog post, so stay tuned if you’re still looking for ideas and inspiration!

      • Agree with you on avoiding wedding favors. Our backdrop was the forest next to the beach, which we thought was decoration enough, and we didn’t really understand the concept of giving people gifts (favors) just for attending our special day. And yep, I haven’t kept a single monogrammed item from a wedding, ever. :)

  3. I know what you mean with families in two countries! We decided since my husband was immigrating from there that we’d just do an engagement party in Oz rather than expect people to travel halfway across the globe, and kept everything super simple. (I did a blog series myself on our own green wedding.) Looking forward to reading your next post!

    • We thought about having a party in the UK but in the end it was just another thing to organize! I have a very small family and we caught up with friends when we went back, so that was enough. Having two parties isn’t simple!

      I read your blog posts last year – I love your forest setting! Plus I love the purple dress. I actually originally didn’t think I’d wear white, but white dresses were obviously “in” last year as there were loads in the shops – so I went with it!

      Thanks!

  4. Such a great idea to have your wedding at a bowling club! It looks like a fun venue and it’s nice to have something active to do so that you’re not only talking and eating all day long. It is also a good way to connect with people you don’t know yet. Although weddings with home-made food, local, seasonal flowers and other (eco) details can be really nice, we too decided it wasn’t for us. I would get a headache of all the planning involved and we did not want to spend a lot of money on it. So we got married in Sweden, in the midst of the winter. It was an outdoor wedding with only two guests and a person from the municipality (who married us). We reused clothes that we already owned. The pictures look great (snow landscape!) and we still are very happy with our day. We celebrated afterwards with my family in the Netherlands.

    • Thanks – yes it was very fun, and very sociable, plus it’s nice to be outdoors when there’s such glorious weather! Ooooh your wedding sounds fun! We did think about just the two of us – but my mother insisted she wanted to come regardless of what we did (and I didn’t want to start a family feud!) and when I asked my brother if he’d be offended if we did a ceremony with just my parents, he said yes. So then we figured, if we were inviting family we’d have friends too and have a party : )

      It’s all about balance, I think! We were never set on one way or another and we’d have been happy a number of options…as long as you focus on what’s important, it’s all good!

  5. Congratulations! That sure was a lot of stuff to think about! I’ll be interested to hear what final choices you made! But as you said, it’s really the ‘afterwards’ that counts, doesn’t it?!!

    • Thanks Sheila! We did spend a good amount of time NOT thinking about it actually, because everyone seemed to be making assumptions about what we’d do and it all got too stressful! I’ll be posting Part Two shortly.

      Yes, it’s the afterwards that’s the important bit : )

  6. had not heard of using a vintage typewriter at a wedding before, I think it’s a wonderful idea for guest messages, if you happened to have one. Congratulations on your wedding I look forward to hearing more about your day :)

    • Helena, I hadn’t actually thought about it being functional and serving a purpose! We didn’t have any kind of guest book – in fact until you wrote this the idea had never crossed my mind! – but I guess we don’t really like keepsakes like that. Everyone’s different of course!

      Thanks : )

  7. Fantastic photos :) I’m looking forward to reading post two, the money and waste that goes along with the word wedding freak me out. I’d much rather spend money on the honeymoon after than on frills for one day!

    • Thanks! We were in two minds about whether to get a photographer – I have friends who say it was a must for them and friends who didn’t bother at all and were happy with that decision. Also the prices vary wildly! Glen was adamant we shouldn’t spend more than we spend on the food. It’s the processing / developing time that is the cost, so we didn’t bother with any pics before the ceremony, we avoiding pics of props and went for pics of people, and there’s no pics of me on my own gazing into the sunset. We wanted to remember the day and the people : )

  8. It sounds wonderful. We did simple too, and cheap, and it helped that I wasn’t aware of all the bits and pieces that you’re “supposed” to do, so I didn’t worry about them. We just did want we wanted and had a good time. I’m looking fwd to part two!

    • Haha, that’s true actually! I’m pleased to say I didn’t read a single magazine or look at a single wedding website : ) We just focused on what we wanted for a party – bowls (and being outdoors), good food (amazing cake and a pizza oven) and our friends and family.

  9. Congratulations on planning a lovely, and sustainable, celebration! I was mystified by the vintage typewriters until I read the comment about messages — but, now that I know, maybe I can find homes for those 3 vintage typewriters in my basement.

    • We have a vintage typewriter that belonged to my 64-year-old husband’s grandfather, so it is quite old. Recently I took it to our grandson’s first grade class, read them the book “Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type”, and allowed each student to type on the keys. Children today have no concept of the sounds from a typewriter; computer keyboards are just not the same sound. Several teachers stopped me in the hallway as I walked to the classroom and were asking “WHAT is that??” So Hoarder Comes Clean, maybe you could donate a typewriter to the local school or college.

    • Me too Sandy! I’m glad to know there is a point to them after all, although it’s still not something I’d personally bother with. Yes, perfect solution. List on Gumtree / eBay under vintage wedding – they will be snapped up!

  10. Oh, great idea. That’s one I hadn’t thought of (but, I guess I need to make sure they work… hmmm, I think at least one of them does but the others probably need cleaning and new ribbons. Remember ribbons?)

  11. Seriously, old typewriters are the new thing at weddings? I expected no less from you, Lindsay, in putting the perfect wedding together that met your values, I hear all the time about these super expensive weddings but I haven’t known anyone personally who went that route. From your pictures it looks like everyone had a great time.

    • That’s what the internet told me! I don’t know if my wedding was perfect – is anything perfect?! Flaws are what make things interesting!

      I’ve been to plenty of weddings that cost more than mine…Thinking about it, I’ve probably been to a couple over the years that would have been pretty expensive. You see the statistics of how much an average wedding is supposed to cost, but I wonder if it’s just all the really rich people skewing the figures with their million dollar celebrations? These two might have hit the average, but I’m not sure…I doubt they would have gone over.

      It was very fun, yes!

  12. I am in the middle of venue hunting for our wedding next year and am in exactly the same situation and getting very frustrated! It seems to be too much to ask for to find a venue that has enough outdoor and indoor space (as you know you can’t rely on the British weather…) for guests, lets you do your own catering and drinks and doesn’t cost the earth :-(

    Of course there *are* these amazing places that friends have used, or I’ve found on the Internet, but they are all ain’t completely different parts of the country from the one fixed point – the church where we’re getting married! Last night I dreamt we’d found a perfect, large field only for it to weirdly shrink so it would only just fit a 12x18m marquee…I think I am probably starting to go a teensy bit mad ;-)

    I also had a half hour conversation with my OH the other night about if we really did have to go with a marquee, what we could reuse/recycle the carpet for, so it doesn’t get thrown away – oh the tracks your mind goes down trying to reduce waste!

  13. Hi – I’m putting together a newsletter for the Mosman Park Bowling Club; would it be okay if we used some of your (gorgeous) photos in our newsletter or website?

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