Bride and grooms feet at wedding

This is how to make your wedding less wasteful

Right now, it seems like we’ve all gone crazy for romance. With an estimated 40 per cent of proposals taking places between November and February, and thousands of couples in the US getting engaged on Valentine’s Day, we're just reaching the end of what's known as "the proposal season". As more and more details of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s impending nuptuals gradually slip out, minds start to turn towards the big day: the venues, flowers, invites, cake-tasting, and of course, the dress.

But with the average cost of a US wedding now standing at $35,000, they can take quite the toll on your savings. Even worse, a study by Emory University has shown that couples who spend over $20,000 are 3.5 times more likely to end up divorced. Add in the fact that an average wedding creates 400 to 600 lbs of rubbish, based on 100 to 120 guests, and it all starts to look considerably less romantic. So, how can you make your wedding less wasteful and avoid the trap of waking up with a $30,000 hangover at the same time?

1. Ditch the invites

Yes, it sounds like a big step at first glance. But the truth is, no one looks twice at your invites. No one cares about whether there’s two bows or three, or an extra line of glitter, or the perfect cursive script. You might want them to be fridge-friendly, but let’s be honest, that’s rarely where they go - fridges are for kids' ugly drawings - no, they go in a drawer, and that’s where they get left until a week before the big day. So get around this however you want: set up a website, send them by email, whatever. But maybe send your nan a real one though.

White wedding invitations Credit: Pexels/Mcmike

2. Watch what you eat

Not in a boring way - after all, weddings are all about letting your hair down. But given that an average of 10 per cent of wedding food is left over and thrown away at the end of the day, (much of it because couples admit they over-order to stop anyone going hungry), it is worth keeping an eye on how the food is piling up. You wouldn’t empty all the fresh food out of the fridge and into the bin just because Saturday’s over, would you? That's essentially what your venue are going to do for you. Instead, get in touch with your local food rescue programme so that they can collect the leftovers and use them as they see fit.

A wedding banquet laid out Credit: Pexels

3. Grow your own

Great flowers can make a wedding, but do you really need those dip-dyed, hand-tied roses flown in from rural Ecuador, or would a trip to your local florist do just as good of a job? Think about it, you’ll walk down the aisle with them, then the minute the ceremony is over you’ll toss them over your shoulder once and put them down for the rest of the evening while you boogie the night away. Simple succulents can make for a cute and inexpensive wedding favours too, which last far longer than those personalised love hearts. 

A close up of a wedding bouquet with ivory roses Credit: Pexels/ Leah Kelly

4. Let them eat (your) cake!

How much do you think the average cost of a wedding cake is in the US? Brace yourself... it's a whopping $450! That's most likely more than you're ever going to spend on a whole meal for the two of you, more than a romantic weekend away, maybe even more than you'll even spend on the flights to your honeymoon. On a cake! So rope in that great-great-auntie that you know makes the best lemon drizzle or pecan pie and ask them to help out. Or if you're feeling really brave, take on the challenge and make it yourself.

A cheesecake wedding cake Credit: Pexels/ SplitShire

5. Say yes to the (re-fashioned) dress

Now, the one we’ve all been avoiding - the dress. According to a survey by e-commerce site Lyst, the American woman now spends about $1000 on her dress. But given the fact that millions of brides have walked down the aisle before you (yes, really) there’s a steady supply of beautiful second hand dresses out there that you can have tailored and made your own. And if your heart is set on something never worn before, check out the ever expanding offerings from retailers such as Topshop, ASOS and MissGuided, which start as low as $100.

Wedding dress shop Credit: Pexels/ MichaelGaida

All in all, it's pretty clear that there are savings - both financial and environmental - to be made without cutting corners or making your wedding look cheap and tacky. And if you’re looking for a bit of reassurance, then take a look at your gran and gramp's wedding photos. Do you think she had a $30,000 wedding? Probably not. Do the pictures still make your heart melt? Absolutely.