Weddings have changed. Doing things in a couple's own way – from vows in dilapidated warehouses to tiered cheesecakes in place of sponge – are the new normal. As well as the rise of the brunch wedding, DIY taco feasts and natural hair, more couples are bringing eco credentials to their day. Given that the average wedding produces approximately 14.5 tonnes of CO2 (more than the 12 tonnes that the average person creates in a year). H&M's debut bridal collection was created out of sustainable materials, while craft is taking over, from home built gin bars to hand painted signs. If you're going down the aisle and want to make it greener, we've asked Charlie Burton, 33, founded The Natural Wedding Company, for her ideas. "When I first started out, it was so hard to find any kind of business remotely tailored to planning a wedding in an ethical way," she says.
Think long term with decorations
Whether you're 'ten massive disco balls' or 'ceiling full of fairy lights' people, remember that decorations shouldn't be for one day. Try and buy paper decorations made from recycled materials, are easy to recycle or that you'll use in your home afterwards, advises Charlie.
How to deal with food
The biggest thing to think about here, says Charlie, is going local. Go for a caterer who sources ingredients seasonally and within the area as much as possible – it's worth asking if the people you use will try and use FairTrade or directly traded items for things like chocolate and coffee. You could choose English Sparkling wine rather than Champagne or Prosecco and think about biodynamic or organic options, too. "For my wedding, we found a local caterer who used ingredients from her own farm," Charlie adds. "We tailored a menu that was reflective of the season, with fresh strawberries and asparagus as it was summer."
Waste-wise, ask whoever's looking after your food how they plan to deal with the issue. If they give you a blank look, take matters into your own hands. "I've seen brides and grooms bring in their own compost bin so food scraps can be put straight in, instead of being lugged off in a black bin liner."
Rejecting your classic gown doesn't necessitate discovering the perfect vintage gem. "There's a lot more shops selling dresses made from organic, sustainable materials, as well as pre-loved stuff," says Charlie. "Minna, based in London, create handmade dresses and are committed to running their business in an ethical and eco way. It's much easier to find a wedding dress that you love that's affordable and has ethical credentials behind it than it was a few years ago."
One wedding, one venue
Try and locate your reception as close to your ceremony venue as possible. If you can do the whole event in one space, all the better, but, if you're having a religious or town hall ceremony, arrange communal transport to stop everyone piling in individual cars and try and make sure it isn't too far away."
Flowers are seasonal, too
If you're set on having pink peonies, you need to be getting married between mid May and July. If a riot of burnt oranges is what you're imagining, it's got to be Autumn. Like food, flowers are seasonal and, by picking British, you'll get the most beautiful and most eco friendly blooms. Winter wedding? "I encourage people to reflect on the season they get married when making choices – be brave and not go with the standard ideas of wedding flowers. A florist will be able to make you something stunning from foliage in the cold months."