Talking Point: Can white weddings go green?

How can hotel weddings be more sustainable?

How can hotel weddings be more sustainable?

Hotels and hospitality venues hoping to gain a larger slice of the £10 billion UK wedding market should be going “green” – as more and more couples, increasingly aware of environmental challenges impacting the planet, move away from a traditional white wedding day. Wedding consultant Kelly Chandler explains how.

Whether hoteliers are in New York, Nottingham or Nagasaki – or indeed, anywhere else – they should recognise that sustainability is an issue which could well have an effect on their bottom line.

There is now a growing trend amongst the modern wedding customer to demand that venues should be more sustainable and eco-responsible. That’s good because it means that the client will lead and drive the way forward.

And, just as the lyrics of a well-known song wax on about “forty shades of green,” then there’s also more than one way for hoteliers to go green and step up their eco-credentials.

For example, they could reduce their energy consumption by using more energy efficient technology, such as water heat recovery devices. And what better way to save energy, than if the bride and groom opt for a summer outdoor ceremony in a venue’s picturesque grounds? No air conditioning units toiling away – and wonderful landscaped settings for the photographs!

Significantly, following public awareness of the damage that plastics can have on the environment, many establishments are now reducing their wastage through measures such as by not using plastic straws and not selling water in plastic bottles.

It’s sometimes shocking at wedding receptions how much one-time use of plastic (or glass) bottles continues to be used for the supply of mineral water. Branded filtered water should be the first option – supporting the use of tap water, which is perfectly acceptable and drinkable in the UK.

I founded The Bespoke Wedding Company in 2003, and believe that wedding venues should now be putting long-term sustainability at the top of their business agenda, however I am encouraged by moves to engage more with local suppliers.

There is a far greater awareness among younger wedding couples of the benefits of ‘local’ and I am pleased to say that the demand for locally-sourced flowers and farm-grown flowers appears to be at an all-time high. Don’t forget flowers can be recycled at the end of the day’s celebrations by either giving them to your guests or donating to a local home. There are even companies that will collect your floral arrangements and re-use them.

Another eco-tip is to use potted plants as table centerpieces – they can always be taken home afterwards.

Of course, “local” extends to far more than just supplying colourful wedding bouquets. Hotels and wedding venues can enlist in the eco-friendly battalions by making more conscious efforts to invest in “local.”  Especially when it comes to strengthening relationships with suppliers of food and drink, working in partnership with local farms and even vineyards. This way, food is coming from a shorter distance, so less fuel is needed to transport it.  Another “green” plus for the venue! 

Many hotels are now creating their own herb and vegetable gardens in order to supply their own kitchens. But what’s to stop them going further and producing honey from their own bees?

And as far as recycling goes, hotels playing host to weddings and other functions should operate far slicker systems for recycling all types of waste. I still see a lot of events where endless black sacks are used instead of proper recycling. I appreciate that larger properties tend to be better at this – such as Hilton, which plans to reduce the food waste it sends to landfill by 50 per cent as part of its sustainability vision. But smaller businesses need more support to implement better recycling facilities.

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