Eco-friendly receptions: Our top three tips

You don't have to sacrifice style to throw a party with conscience. Celebrate with kindness, generosity and smart thinking - it's a testament to your future.

  • Story by Photo Eva Kozub & Words Rebekah White

You don't have to sacrifice style to throw a party with conscience. Celebrate with kindness, generosity and smart thinking - it's a testament to your future.

The venue

Rose gardens, vineyards, clifftops overlooking the ocean or one of New Zealand’s many national parks are all venues that require little embellishment. Without the need for extensive décor, you’ll be able to reserve your budget for other items. But if an indoor location is a must, choose one with a look you love, such as a boutique hotel, art gallery, heritage building or restaurant laden with character. Minimise power usage by throwing open windows for cool breezes. Use large tubs of ice rather than fridges to keep drinks cold and create ambiance with natural soy candles instead of fairylights. In winter, get a roaring fire going for warmth. At Lani and Tony’s Wellsford celebration, there wasn’t a rubbish bin or piece of disposable tableware in sight. Guests dined on biodegradable starch plates and recycled or composted their waste.

The decorations

To minimise waste and extra expense, banish single-use items from your big day in favour of borrowed, repurposed or rented decorations. ‘Old jars make fantastic vases down the centre of any table,’ says Claudia. ‘Collect them from the Salvation Army or junk stores, and save all your used jars from the kitchen. It’s a fantastic way to involve family and friends – encourage them to collect items and save their jars for you as well.’
Second-hand or vintage tablecloths, handkerchiefs, fabric remnants, mirrors, baskets, ceramics and even old-fashioned suitcases can all be transformed into chic wedding décor. Hiring items is another way of acquiring unique bits and pieces for your day. Auckland’s The Vintage Table rents gorgeous china and vases, as does The China Cabinet in Christchurch, while local community groups such as Grey Lynn 2030 offer decorations such as bunting.

The feast

Whether you host a brunch, lunch or dinner reception, guests will be talking about your menu long after your big day. For an eco-friendly meal, choose ingredients grown by the guy down the road. Blair Jagusch of Urban Gourmet suggests looking for a caterer who’s willing to design a menu around locally sourced and organic ingredients. ‘Where possible, we buy from New Zealand markets to ensure we serve a meal that’s seasonal and fresh,’ says Blair. If you’re planning to cater your own reception, contact a network of local growers, such as Ooooby for produce that’s cultivated in your area.
If fish is on the menu, ensure it’s not derived from threatened stocks – download a free guide to sustainable fish from Forest and Bird. Opt for freerange pork and chickens – they taste better and you can rest assured that they were treated humanely. Choose Fairtrade coffee or chocolate and in summer, take advantage of local farmers’ delicious organic fruit.

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