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How To Plan A Somewhat Eco-Friendly Big Fat Indian Wedding

Written by Prachi Gangwani


As I sit down to write this article, the silence in the room is disrupted by the drumbeat of a baraat outside. How fortuitous! Especially when you consider that having a ghodi in the baraat is one of the ways we cause harm to the environment in the name of weddings. So, while I was going to begin this piece by talking about the wastefulness of Indian weddings, let me begin by a PSA about animal cruelty: Having a harnessed horse carry the load of a grown man, amid the loud noise is not exactly an act of kindness. Rent a car instead, or a motor-carriage. One friend hired an auto rickshaw for his entrance, which he got decorated with strings of flowers. That was kind. 

Now, moving on. Let’s get real about one thing - it is not possible to have a wedding that is 100% eco-friendly. If you are going to have a party for a number of people, there will be waste that would not come into existence were you to simply go to a court and sign some papers to get your marriage registered. That is the only eco-friendly way to have a wedding. But, we understand that wedding ceremonies have their place in society, and for some people, are important markers of a new journey. So, we are not going to tell you to f*&% the whole idea of the big, fat Indian wedding. We are, instead, going to help you find ways to minimise the harm caused to the environment, and other living beings, and also, your own self. In this spirit, 

Avoid paper invitations

We live in a digital age. If something has happened online, it is legit. Wedding invitations are tossed out the minute the wedding is done, adding to the garbage pile. Some ornate invitations also use plastic for paper, gold foiling and other elements that are not easily rid of. Instead of handing out paper invites, you can send an e-invite, and distribute sweets as you ordinarily would. This way, there is still a tangible element to your invitation, which is a little less burdensome on the environment. You can even make a wedsite (that is, a wedding website), which you can share with all your guests who can then RSVP on the website itself. 

Upcycle decor items 

how to plan eco-friendly wedding

Instead of getting custom-made frames and flower arrangements, get decor items that your decor vendor already has and reuses, or at least, can reuse. Think glass bottles with fresh flowers for centrepiece, a standard photo booth frame with flowers of your choice, so on and so forth. You can customise anything with accessories and fresh flowers if you so wish. Pro Tip: You can even use potted plants instead of plucked flowers that are going to wilt by the time the party is over. 

Gift plants for wedding favours

Do away with boxes, chunnis, or showpieces that are never going to be used. Potted indoor plants make for a great gift for your guests! Pick one that is low maintenance. Succulents are a great option. Alternatively, you can also gift potted herb or seeds to your guests that they can plant as and how they please. 

Use recyclable serve-ware 

how to plan eco-friendly wedding

Although at most Indian weddings, cutlery and other serve-ware is reusable (that is, steel spoon and forks, and melamine plates), this is still something worth talking about. Plastic spoons, forks, and plates do sometimes make an appearance, especially at the dessert counter. No matter who your vendor may be, do check with them about this. Another place you want to check is the bar - plastic cups are safer and more convenient for serving drinks. But, come on, if an adult can’t handle their alcohol to the point that they’ll end up smashing the glass that holds their drink, then they don’t deserve to drink. Stick to the classic, plain tall glasses, that are made out of glass. 


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Pick outfits and jewellery that can be used again

If not as if, then at least after some modifications. With my own wedding coming up soon, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot! My bridal lehenga, though as is, can’t be worn for another occasion, it can be reused once I get the cancan removed. The blouse can be used as a standalone piece with a saree, or a plain skirt. So can the chunni. The same goes for my mehendi outfit. And the same for my fiancé’s outfits. Neither of us saw the point in spending money on outfits we would wear only for a few hours. Each of my outfits was picked on the basis of its reusability.

Tell your guests what you want for wedding present 

how to plan eco-friendly wedding

People are going to give you gifts. You can’t stop it. But instead of surrendering to receiving things you don’t want, tell your guests what you’d like. Don’t be shy about it. It’s practical, and better not just for the environment, but also your sanity! Also, consider that the point of wedding gifts is to help the couple set up their home together. So, by telling your guests what you’d like, you are helping them help you.

Stick to organic, cruelty-free makeup brands

Environmentally friends beauty products are now readily available. There are many makeup brands that don't do animal testing, and use organic products. When stocking up your makeup kit, keep this in mind. Also ask your makeup artist to use organic and cruelty-free brands. If he or she doesn't want to invest just for you, consider buying the products yourself. 


Also Read: Ruby’s Organics Lipstick Survived The Day Like A Bawse. Can’t Say The Same For Myself, Though!

Be pragmatic about your trousseau

eco-friendly indian wedding

This has been a personal fight for me, and after close to 30 Indian outfits, as someone who doesn’t wear Indian outfits often or willingly, I honestly don’t know if I’ve won this battle or lost it. I think it’s somewhere in the middle - with only three saris instead of 11, a number of everyday wearable jewellery pieces instead of the customary big set that will forever stay in the locker, a suitcase full of work clothes, I think the scale might be tipped toward me winning. As I’ve realised, much like wedding gifts, your trousseau is another thing that you can’t completely say no to. Mothers are stubborn. They will buy you gifts. Thankfully, both my mom and my mom-in-law have been understanding enough to meet me in the middle, and buy me things that I will readily and happily use. For the most part, at least, and as weddings go, “for the most part” is good enough. 


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