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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