2019’s most wasteful wedding trends, and how to avoid them

sustainable wedding 

Yep, that’s right, I’m a blogger who is getting married later this year, writing about weddings. Such a cliche.

But, in all seriousness, as soon as you start planning a wedding celebration, you realise how absolutely bat-shit it all is. From the average cost (an eye-watering £30k), to the estimated 400-600 lbs. of waste that’s generated by a guest list of roughly 100-120 people, it’s all a bit much really, isn’t it?

Whilst a certain amount of waste and impact is going to be unavoidable on any wedding day, I’ve noticed that there are some recent wedding trends which are only adding to the problem. Here I’ve rounded up some of the worst culprits, along with eco-friendly alternatives for a more sustainable wedding.

Destination Weddings

Nearly 20 percent of weddings involve airline and car rental travel for a third of the guests. Make it a ‘destination’ wedding on a hot beach somewhere, and this figure goes up dramatically. That’s one helluva carbon footprint for one special day.

The eco alternative:

Try to pick a venue close to where the majority of your guests live, be that your hometown or current city of residence. I kind of love the whole ‘showing people where I grew up‘ vibe of a hometown wedding, and it saves money and air miles too.


Whether used to create dramatic arches, to dress the wedding breakfast tables, or add some character to a photoshoot, balloons have become a big wedding trend. But balloons are essentially a single use item; meaning when your party is over, they’re just going to landfill.

But by far the most upsetting balloon-themed trend is the ‘balloon release’. Often tens or even hundreds of helium balloons are released into the sky, as part of the day’s celebrations or in memory of someone special.

Newsflash: what comes up must come down, and it ain’t pretty.

The eco alternative:

Don’t let endangering wildlife and littering the streets, countryside, and seas, play any part in your wedding plans.

Instead, opt for a tree-planting ceremony (they offer this at Coed Hills where I’m getting married later this year). This also gives you a place to visit year on year, to watch it grow. Imagine being 60 years old having a picnic under the tree you planted on your wedding day? Sounds much more romantic than tacky rubber balloons.

Alternatively, you could ask your guests to all light a candle or a sparkler as a symbol of their support for you, or in memory of a loved one.

Perspex / Acryllic Signs

Perspex (which is a brand name for acrylic sheet) is a clear, colorless transparent plastic with a higher melting point, better impact strength, and better weather resistance than polystyrene. Pinterest is awash with ideas for using clear acrylic for wedding signage; from table numbers and menus, to welcome signs and quotes. And, I’ve got to be honest, these look absolutely boss. I love the chic simplicity of the white font against a clear background, especially for weddings with a green / natural aesthetic.

However, scrap acrylic is an industrial waste, not only having a significant impact on the environment but also on the cost of production of Acrylic Sheets. Acrylic plastics are not easily biodegradable, and some acrylic plastics could be highly flammable. And when your wedding is done and dusted, who is going to want a load of plastic sheets with your wedding breakfast menu printed on them? No – one. So off to landfill they’ll go.

The eco alternative:

South Wales based wedding hire company The Roaming Caravan Co are the creators of the most beautiful, mobile caravan-bar called Margot, but they also offer a sign-writing service. Lettering everything from wooden pallets to real leaves, the possibilities for more sustainable signage solutions are endless. And if you really like the look of a clear background with the white writing, why not hire some of their hand-painted glass frames for £5 each? I’m totally getting some of these.


Glitter, Plastic Confetti etc

In 18th-century Italian, confetti meant “little sweets” and so it’s likely that in the early days it was made up of handfuls of boiled sweets and other special treats. It’s thought that it was around 1875 that confetti became the handfuls of colourful ribbon now thrown around during parades.

These days, the confetti thrown outside the church / after the ceremony at a wedding is usually made of paper or dried flowers, but plastic variants can often be included in other elements of the day; think confetti cannons stuffed with foil paper strips, metallic, plastic confetti strewn decoratively on tables, and all manner of sequins and sparkles added onto wedding stationary.

Well, you guessed it; it’s just more single-use plastic. Designed to be enjoyed once, and thrown away – either ending up in landfill or breaking down into itty-bitty microplastics that pollute our waterways and poison our wildlife.

The eco alternative:

Stick to natural materials. Provide dried flowers, petals and leaves to make confetti, and you can even hole punch them into a pretty shape if you want to. Ask your guests not to bring their own, and shun the confetti cannons and sequinned tables.

Festival-Style Catering

Gone are the days when a wedding breakfast meant a three course roast dinner, and that was that. These days, ‘festival weddings’ are big business, with couples choosing mobile caterers, food trucks, and street-food vendors to feed their hungry guests. This brings an altogether more relaxed vibe to the day’s proceedings.

However, with the festival set-up often comes lots of single use, disposable packaging, plastic cutlery and drinks cups. Not very environmentally friendly, and it looks pretty shoddy in photos, too. Even the biodegradable stuff is no good; I’ve written about why, here.

The eco alternative:

Source a sustainable wedding.supplier who will be happy to provide / use glassware for your drinks – you can hire your own from Top Table if you need to. There are also lots of food trucks / wedding caterers who provide cutlery / plates etc for wedding breakfasts, rather than take-away style disposables (like Pembrokeshire’s Paternoster Farm, for instance).

This means your guests will get to enjoy all of the novelty of a street food feast, but none of the associated waste. Plus, it looks a helluva lot nicer.

At my wedding later this year, I’ve got slow-food advocates Dusty Knuckle doing the evening grub. They’ll be cooking up wood fired pizzas that can be eaten by the slice straight off a napkin, before people head back inside to the dance floor.

Exotic Flowers

Gorgeous flower displays are synonymous with most people’s idea of the perfect wedding ceremony. The unseen problem with these luscious blooms is that many popular varieties are grown overseas (meaning lots of air miles), and sprayed with a myriad of chemicals and pesticides.

The eco alternative:

To find more sustainable wedding flowers, source them from a local florist who uses local suppliers and growers; this can be a handy cost-saver too. Leisja Jones in Cardiff makes these incredible floral wreaths using sustainable blooms, and I’m hoping she can make some for my big day.


But what do you do when you’ve finished with your flowers? Cardiff-based Ameow Designs can immortalise them into resin jewellery (think bangles, earrings and pendants) that can be kept and worn as a memento for the rest of your life. Amazing, huh!?


Another cool way to bring eco-friendly flowers into your day is to forage for them. Our venue, Coed Hills, allows guests to explore and pick from their 200 acre estate, filing vases with whatever wild flora and fauna they find and take a fancy to.

If you’re planning to do the same for your wedding, please make sure you have permission from the land owner, and only take the blooms not the roots, so that the plant has a chance to grow back.

Can you think of any other environmentally damaging trends with sustainable wedding alternatives? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 



  1. April 27, 2019 / 12:45 pm

    Love this post! One thing I’ve put a lot of thought into too is wedding dresses – something most of us only wear once, cost a fortune and often with a lot of plastic based material trim etc. There’s a wedding dress charity shop in Whitchurch, Cardiff I believe and also a couple of sustainable local wedding brands such as Rachel Burgess bridal boutique and Revival bridal. I hope to use parts of my mother and grandmother’s dresses in mine too!

    • HungryCityHippy
      April 27, 2019 / 12:54 pm

      That’s such a good shout. I have heard about the place in Whitchurch too. I ended up getting a dress from a ‘normal’ bridal shop but I am hoping to have it altered after the wedding to make it into something I can wear again… if that fails, I think I will sell it on and donate the money to an environmental charity. I am borrowing my friend’s wedding shoes – and as you know, had our rings made out of my Nana’s melted necklace 🙂 xx

      • Zoe Evans
        April 28, 2019 / 6:21 pm

        Totally love this idea! I’ve also thought a lot about the bridal dress. I’ve been pretty specific that if I get a new one it will be remade into a nice formal top (that i will later dye) and use the lace skirt as a lovely decorative piece for the nursery, I’m currently thinking as a drape to go over the crib.

        I’ve also got a list as long as my arm of local vendors and makers I want to support that are more environmentally and sustainability focused.

        • April 29, 2019 / 9:13 am

          Thanks Zoe 🙂 Yeah it’s nice being able to use local suppliers who share the same ethos!

  2. Ally
    April 29, 2019 / 12:50 pm

    I turned my boutique into confetti, placed it a bowl and organza bag with the eucalyptus leaves (I’m from Perth, Australia yet live in South Wales so wanted to incorporate a small part of home, grown locally in the UK instead) I posted it on Instagram, account name is sustainable91.

    My dress was also a display version and afterwards donated it to a University in Cardiff for the Fashion students to use, I asked for a small keepsake as part of my donation, again a post on Instagram.

    I have more ideas of what I did if you want more.

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