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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Planning an eco-friendly wedding

Rarely are weddings known for their eco credentials. A bit like Christmas, there can be a hideous amount of money involved, not to mention the inevitable waste ranging from food to decor and plastic packaging, and of course a significant carbon footprint in sourcing everything you need, as well as getting your nearest and dearest in place - all for one single (albeit special) day.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be this way. Regular readers might remember a blog of mine from September, sharing the very special wedding ceremony of Kathy and Jake. With their kind permission, they’ve allowed me to share a few more details of some of the steps they took to ensuring their wedding was as sustainable as possible.

Jake and Kathy decided to hold their wedding ceremony and celebration at Cotna Eco Retreat, on the south coast of Cornwall, not far from Mevagissey. Hidden away in a secret valley of 12 acres, it has the most spectacular views overlooking orchards, woodlands and organic veggie gardens. Without a doubt, it’s a truly magical spot.

Cotna is home to Jake’s dad Dave and step-Mum Sara. They have worked tirelessly to reduce their impact on the environment - the retreat produces green solar and wind energy, the water supply is from a natural spring supplying pure Cornish spring-water, they use their own wood, and recycle as much as possible through compost bins and eco compost loos.

So luckily for Jake and Kathy – they had the perfect starting point!

When it came to dressing the venue, Jake and Kathy tried to use everything from the resources on hand at Cotna. Using wood felled from the forest, they built their own drinks bar and created all the venue signage. Making the most of all the local foliage and flowers, everyone pitched in to create a beautiful archway under which to hold the wedding ceremony. Kathy’s simple but stunning bouquet was also sourced from the land at Cotna. Not having any hay bales of their own, our resourceful couple secured these from a neighbour and used them for rustic seating during the ceremony - and later recycled them via the compost toilets!

For the wedding breakfast, the couple opted to use plates and cups from Vegware, fully plant-based and compostable. Cutlery was begged and borrowed, and only the glasses were hired in. All the table dressings were either bought secondhand from antiques fairs or handmade - predominantly by clever Kathy! And the candles were made from soya, a kinder choice than beeswax, and looked simply beautiful. The attention to detail throughout was huge and thoughtful – and the impact just amazing.

Opting for a Keralan banquet of vegan dishes, cooked by a family friend, Jake and Kathy managed to source 95% of the produce locally, with a generous proportion of it grown on site. Even as I arrived to prepare for their ceremony, family and friends were putting the finishing touches to their home-made cider - made from Cotna apples of course!

Keeping their celebration small and personal helped reduce their carbon footprint further. Guests travelled together where possible, with many staying overnight in yurts and tents at Cotna, reducing the need to travel to hotels or guesthouses in the area.

Finally, thoughtful Kathy donated her wedding dress to Wish For A Wedding, a wonderful charity which provides one last wish of a wedding for couples dealing with a terminal illness, through a combination of donations and subsidised wedding services. Kathy’s dress will have been donated to a bride in need, and just in the case her dress wasn’t used or needed, it will be turned into burial gowns for babies that are no longer with us.

Hopefully this is all food for thought. While not all of us will be able to put into place the many carefully considered choices that Jake and Kathy made, we can all do our bit to tread a little more gently on this planet of ours.

(Thank you Mandy Donneky for your photos!)

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