Happily ever after for you and the environment: Easy tips to organise beautiful, eco-friendly wedding

Think of this: your wedding has just taken place and has been as magical as you imagined it to be — a stunning venue with aesthetic decor, your family and friends enjoyed the food and drinks.

But when it s time to pack up and go home, the venue is littered with plastic cutlery, large amounts of leftover food and your custom-made decor lying there to be thrown away.

The amount of decorative material used for weddings most often leads to huge amounts of waste. This may soon change as a larger number of people are becoming more environmentally-conscious. People are adopting eco-friendly practices in their everyday lives, and this is now extending to weddings too, says Tina Tharwani, co-founder, Shaadi Squad.

Couples around the world are re-inventing their wedding planning to choose a more sustainable approach from the invites to the actual event without compromising on the look and feel of things. Here s your one-stop guide to some of the ways in which this can be achieved:

Ditch the regular paper invites
Instead of the traditionally used paper invites which leads to immense wastage, couples are now using other innovative alternatives for their wedding invites, programs, and menus. With the world going through a digital revolution, it s no surprise that several people are opting for digital alternatives. Not only does this reduce waste, but it gives you more options to design, add, remove and even re-link to other pages. For instance, you may want your guests to have a look at your wedding website or an online album for your pre-wedding photo-shoot, both of which you can easily hyperlink into the invite or the save the date .

Several stationers are now also offering options with recycled paper products, vegetable-based ink, leather and wood. Taking this the extra mile are seed paper invites, which are embedded with seeds and can, therefore, be planted into their garden to grow into flowers or plants instead of being discarded!

Limit or eliminate the use of plastic cutlery and crockery
Any wedding is incomplete without lip-smacking food, snacks and beverages. However, on most occasions, the food is served in plastic or styrofoam cutlery and crockery — all of which eventually end up in a landfill. Now, however, there are several recyclable and compostable alternatives such as those made out of steel, bamboo, leaves, and other reusable materials that can be bought and/or recycled.

Additionally, to do away with these altogether, an often cheaper yet better looking option is that of renting glassware, cutlery and china plates, as well as cloth napkins instead of paper ones. They will add a classy touch while reducing the overall waste from the wedding. You just have to ensure it s from a good vendor that takes the right measures for hygiene.

Up-cycled, recycled or reusable decor
Instead of you or the vendor throwing away the leftover decorations, try planning it in such a way that the venue has some of its own charm to begin with, such as a pretty outdoor botanical garden. To this, you can add either items which are already in your house, or those that you are likely to be able to put in your new house after the wedding. This could include things like mirrors, lanterns, and wooden furniture (such as a table for gifts or a photo-booth area). If any of these happen to be leftover and don t fit your future house plans, you can do some research and donate them to an orphanage, shelter home that is in need of additional resources. Additionally, some up-cycled options include using cut glass beer/wine bottles as shades for pretty lights hung from strings, signage made by decorating an old chalkboard which can be reused later, or using rope to write on colourful cloth pinned onto a canvas.

Go green with the wedding favours, too!

If you plan to go the sustainable way, give your guests something memorable that they can take home and, perhaps, will make them hop on the bandwagon as well! Consider giving potted plants or saplings as giveaways to your guests, or you can give them the seeds which they can choose to plant themselves. Layered bamboo plants are a great option, but there are others that start small too, such as Peace Lilies, which are good for reducing indoor air pollution. If you d rather give them something consumable to celebrate the good times, consider sourcing locally made products such as handmade soaps, organic candles or homemade chocolates/baked goods. A lot of couples are also choosing to do away with gifting completely (for themselves and guests alike), and are donating to charity in their names instead.

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