Who says weddings have to cost the earth?

Jess, R4GM’s very own Education Officer and now Mrs Mahoney, tied the knot in Australia in April last year.  Here, she shares how she made her dream green wedding come true on a budget.

I had a dream… a dream of a wedding which was stress-free, waste-free and didn’t damage my bank account.

I didn’t fancy spending the next 6 months of my life trawling Pinterest and discovering my “inner” Martha Stewart. At the same time, I didn’t want it to look cheap and tacky or like I had just emptied the contents of my recycling bin on the table and let the kids have a craft day. I dreamt of it being pretty, magical …all that unicorn, princess fairy tale stuff, without creating unnecessary rubbish.

Not possible you say? You are living in bride cloud cuckoo land you say? It was possible to have a green wedding and I am sane. Now, I will share with you all my magical secrets on how I managed to achieve this in just 6 months and 10,000 miles away from the wedding venue!


To save on all the paper, printing and posting, I sent e-invites. I used a website called E-vite which was free.

The dress

Jess pre loved wedding dress

The pre-loved wedding dress

We all know it is more environmentally-friendly to either hire a dress or buy a second-hand one. I have to admit I did dabble in some wedding outlets and bridal shops which had sample sales. But the ones that took my fancy were way too overpriced or the quality was not up to standard.

This is the dress that truly won my heart, it was a pre-loved beautiful designer dress by Willowby which I found on Bride2Bride (there were some lovely pre-loved dresses on Sell My Wedding Dress and Still White too). I bought it from a lovely lady who had only worn it for 2 hours!

What’s even better is that I am going to pass my dress on for someone else to enjoy. Therefore my dress, in the end, will have cost me around £50 (at most) rather than over £1,000 if I had bought it new.


I bought my veil (£3) and hair pieces (£5) second hand from eBay.

My bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquet were from a place called Trinity Bridal Boutique. They makes bouquets out of old pieces of ribbon, brooches and bits from old dresses.

My wedding ring was a sustainably sourced white and rose gold ring and my husband’s was a second hand carbon fibre ring from eBay.


I went for a minimal and zero waste theme. This meant that I didn’t buy anything that would be thrown away the next day.

My lovely husband (then fiancé) collected wine bottles (and had fun emptying the contents). He painted half pink and half blue and wrapped them in ribbon. For the flowers, I didn’t want flowers that would just die so I bought silk ones that could be used again and again.

We gave the homemade wine vases and flowers to one of our friends and they are now nicely decorating their house.  As for wedding favours, I didn’t want to give my guests something they didn’t need or would just throw in the bin.

In place of wedding favours, I made a donation to the Dog’s Trust (all of the guests were dog-lovers).

We didn’t have a guest book, as we knew it would probably spend the rest of its life in a dark cupboard. Instead, I’m going to be making a collage of the wedding cards so I remember the guests beautiful words (I found this idea here on Pinterest).

Food and drink

I made sure to specify to the venue that we didn’t want anything disposable or single-use, so we had reusable cutlery, glasses, napkins and plates.

To reduce food waste, the cake-maker (my husband’s sister) made sure that the middle layer of our wedding cake was the only real layer and the other two layers were foam (which she reuses for other cakes). This also saved me and my husband from having to live off cake for the next month!


Our honeymoon was the most glamourous part! We went all out by going off into the Australian Outback in a converted camper/transit van, fully equipped with all the luxurious amenities: outside camp shower, portable camp stove, fold-away bed and the great outdoors as our own personal en-suite. On our Outback adventure, we climbed big rocks and gave shelter to spiders bigger than my head – the perfect fairytale ending!

Do you have any more green wedding ideas? We’d love to hear them! Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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