When the confetti has been cleared and your feet have recovered from dancing the night away, there are lots of ways to cut down on post-wedding waste and preserve the magic of your special day.
As the height of wedding season comes to an end, many newlyweds are no doubt finding that their fridge is filled with leftover cake and vases of wilting bouquets are dominating every available surface. Despite having planned as plastic-free a celebration as possible and hiring as much as is available, there’s a certain amount of waste that is tricky to avoid when planning your special day.
Luckily, there are lots of innovative businesses and DIY tutorials to help your preserve leftover items so that you can continue to enjoy the decor, details and even the dress for years to come.
Preserving your wedding flowers is one of the most popular and well-known options for brides, and there are several different methods of going about it. If you’re a fan of pressed flowers, simply dry and press each bud as you would do usually and use them for a creative project at a later date – thoughtful homemade cards are a pretty option, or put them in a rustic frame.
Alternatively, hang flowers upside down in a warm spot somewhere at home. This can take a few weeks but is simple and particularly easy to do with buttonholes and smaller bridesmaid bouquets.
Although several blogs will recommend a DIY hairspray freeze-drying technique, we’d recommend steering clear and speaking to specialists if you want your whole bouquet professionally preserved. You can then keep it as a centrepiece for your table or dressing counter, or put it in a memory box for yourself or your children to enjoy in the future.
If you can’t salvage the whole bouquet, dry as many petals as you can to make homemade pot pourri.
It’s the dress of your dreams, the outfit you’ve had your heart set on for months – so what do you do once you’ve said ‘I do?’. Having your wedding dress framed or put into a display box is one option (just be sure to dry clean it first) – or you can of course have it made into a christening gown, as per tradition.
Boho brides can follow Alice Temperley’s example and dye it naturally to create a one-of-a-kind occasion dress to sashay around at holiday parties or summer soireées.
There are several online marketplaces for selling on wedding dresses, or you can donate it to a wedding charity that will be able to use it for good.
The groom’s suit may be trickier, depending on the style chosen; ideally, you will have picked a design that easily be worn to future weddings as a guest or as separates mixed and matched with other items in your wardrobe. Otherwise, book an appointment with a tailor and see if they can suggest other ways to revamp it for future wear.
Saving the top tier of your wedding cake for the christening of your first child is a well-established tradition; just be sure to wrap it in two to three layers of tin foil, and put it in an air-tight container before freezing. To reduce the amount of cake leftover, make sure to slice the cake as early as possible in the evening and encourage guests to take a slice or two home with them at the end of the day.
When it comes to deciding on your wedding menu, speak to your caterers about minimising food waste. It’s easy to be talked into unnecessary snacks and nibbles that will go uneaten, so prioritise appropriate portions over extravagant feasting. Have cardboard boxes for guests to fill up and take home leftover goodies – and if you are turning the wedding into a two or three day celebration, ask your caterer to box up food for everyone to enjoy the following day.
If you overestimated your guests’ capacity to get merry and overbought on the gin and vodka, rebottle and infuse to give away as Christmas gifts. Whether you opt for sloes, elderflower or spice it up with ginger and citrus flavours, get inventive sampling your newly-brewed tipples. Invite friends over after the honeymoon for a taste-test, or give them out as thank you gifts.
Paper is the traditional gift to be given on a couple’s first wedding anniversary. Take the opportunity to turn leftover save the date cards, menus or invitations into a thoughtful present for your partner. You can stick them into a wedding scrap book or display in a frame.
If you have lots leftover, mulch from scraps of cards by adding water and turn them into repurposed paper that can be used for a variety of craft projects. This process involves a few steps, so leave good time and experiment with different tutorials.
Recycling is obviously the first go-to option when it comes to wine, champagne and beer bottles, but if you want to get creative then consider turning them into candle holders or even glass tumblers (just be sure to be clear-headed before getting out the saw…) Speak to local artist’s studios to see if they can recommend a glass blower who would love to give your old bottles a new lease of life.
If you’ve bought napkins, chair covers or tablecloths for your decor, give them a colourful update. Try making your own natural dye and go for a block colour, or use tie dye techniques to create fun patterns. You can use them around the home as normal, or speak to a local seamstress about turning them into cushion covers or quilts. Make rags from unused pieces, perfect for dusting and cleaning surfaces.
Find out how to plan a plastic-free wedding.
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Take a fresh look at sustainable wedding guest dressing for both men and women.