жених и невеста идут по снегу на фоне гор

A sustainable wedding, EcoWolf style

This blog post accom­pa­nies a Radio EcoWolf pod­cast episode [in Russ­ian]. In the pod­cast we talk in detail about our zero-waste wed­ding and share our expe­ri­ence of organ­is­ing such a cel­e­bra­tion for 90 peo­ple. 

Pod­cast audio record­ing [in Russ­ian]:

If you would like to lis­ten to oth­er pod­cast episodes from Radio EcoWolf, you can do so using the play­er on this site or through your favourite app for pod­casts. 

Let’s get mar­ried!

The location

горы

We chose the French Alps for our wed­ding because we both love moun­tains and we want­ed to share one of our favourite places with friends and rel­a­tives. All three parts of the cel­e­bra­tion took place in Cha­monix – a moun­tain town just an hour from Gene­va (Switzer­land) and close to our hearts. It’s also a well-know island of British­ness, with Eng­lish speak­ers around every cor­ner and behind every sec­ond bar – a fact that made life eas­i­er and more com­fort­able for our non-French-speak­ing guests. 

The breath­tak­ing views made for a mag­i­cal atmos­phere and the snow-capped peaks ensured unique­ly dif­fer­ent wed­ding pho­tos. Per­haps even more impor­tant­ly though, the more beau­ti­ful the land­scapes, the less dec­o­ra­tions you need in the indoor spaces! 

Decorations

небольшая церковь в горах

The church was so beau­ti­ful that any addi­tion­al dec­o­ra­tions were sim­ply out of the ques­tion. 

стол украшен еловыми ветками и бутылками с лентами
светящиеся емкости на еловых ветвях в темноте
фотография напечатанного рисунка красного поезда
табличка с приветствием на английском языке
сушки на самоваре
бутылка из зеленого стекла с фонариками внутри

We could­n’t get away with no dec­o­ra­tions at all how­ev­er. We dec­o­rat­ed the venue at which din­ner and the evening cel­e­bra­tion took place with things from home, branch­es from a tree that had fall­en not far from where we were stay­ing, and with an eclec­tic selec­tion of glass ves­sels such as wine bot­tles and gar­lands. The red paper ros­es and pota­to sack mate­r­i­al were sourced from a col­league who had mar­ried a few months before us. 

We put out hand-made wel­com­ing sign in a frame that we’d found thrown out on the street some weeks before the wed­ding. We wrote the greet­ing mes­sage on the reverse side of the back­ing paper insert that was inside the frame as the colour of that back­ing paper har­monised well with the wood­en walls of the venue. 

You will sure­ly have noticed that red ele­ments are to be found in most of the pic­tures. Draw­ing inspi­ra­tion from the colour palettes of the places in which we planned to cel­e­brate (the volet shut­ters on the win­dows of the restau­rant at which we lunched, the uphol­stery in the restau­rant, the fon­due pots, the moun­tain train, etc.), we chose red as the colour of the wed­ding. This helped us to avoid buy­ing sin­gle-use cov­er­ings to achieve a colour scheme. 

The only new pur­chas­es we made in order to reen­force the colour choice were the bride’s lip­stick and six metres of silk rib­bon that was used to tie bou­quets and for small dec­o­ra­tions. It’s easy for the bride to fur­ther high­light the colour scheme of the wed­ding by sim­ply going for a coloured rather than a tra­di­tion­al, nat­ur­al man­i­cure. 

The bride and groom’s outfits

невеста на фоне гор
мужчина с бородой в синем пиджаке и красных брюках улыбается

The dress for the church cer­e­mo­ny was rent­ed from La Garde-Robe, a Gene­va-based clothes rental busi­ness spe­cialised in evening wear. 

The groom’s jack­et and trousers were pur­chased from lux­u­ry sec­ond-hand store Uptown Down­town, also in Gene­va. 

четверо пьют из стопок, закрепленных на горной лыже

The bride’s evening out­fit was a cus­tom-design made from used den­im by the inim­itable St-Peters­burg (Russia)-based Jeans Revi­sion. The groom wore an exist­ing out­fit.  

The bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonnière

букет невесты из книжной бумаги и из красной бумаги
Петличка жениха из книжной бумаги с красной лентой
свадебный букет из бумажных цветов
букет из бумажных цветов в стеклянной бутылке с кружевом

Both bou­quet and bou­ton­nière were made from the pages of an Eng­lish-Russ­ian dic­tio­nary found in a waste paper con­tain­er. The bride’s bou­quet and the bou­quet caught by one of the guests also con­tained red paper ros­es. They were used as dec­o­ra­tions at the wed­ding of the same col­league who donat­ed some of her oth­er used dec­o­ra­tive pieces. This meant that we were able to both upcy­cle and reuse. 

Confetti

женская рука опускается в ведерко с семенами
на жениха и невесту сыплется конфетти

We used bird­seed from a pet store as con­fet­ti. Our guests loved it but we spent the next cou­ple of days pick­ing it out of our hair. Still, it was both a fun and sus­tain­able choice!

Food and drinks

Котелок с фондю

Most guests ate fon­due made from local cheese at lunch. This is a typ­i­cal Haute-Savoie/Swiss dish.

закуски с солеными огурцами
закуски фиолетового цвета

Our chef liked the idea of going with a veg­e­tar­i­an take on tra­di­tion­al Russ­ian fin­ger food. After all a Russ­ian wed­ding isn’t a wed­ding at all with­out gherkins and beet­root!  

Тарелка с горячим блюдом из овощей

The main course at din­ner, fol­low­ing pump­kin soup, con­sist­ed of Asian-style pas­try parcels filled with tofu and mush­rooms and com­ple­ment­ed by a sweet and sour sauce.

What about the leftovers?

Ферма со скотом на фоне гор

The lit­tle that remained on the plates of our guests was sent to one of the near­by farms as food for the pigs.

Transport

Dur­ing the day, guests moved from place to place on the pub­lic bus we rent­ed and one of the local trains, which was depict­ed on the orig­i­nal art­work we ordered for the wed­ding. 

фотография напечатанного рисунка красного поезда

We asked local guests who came by car to car pool as far as pos­si­ble. 

Wedding favours

небольшой конверт на тарелке

Two years pri­or to our wed­ding, we were at the wed­ding of friends of ours at which the cou­ple gave out to guests tulip bulbs and lit­tle pack­ets with sun­flower seeds (the event was in the Nether­lands). One year on from that wed­ding, we plant­ed the sun­flow­ers and end­ed up with a huge har­vest of seeds, which we then passed on to our own guests. Many peo­ple have plant­ed them already and are keep­ing us updat­ed on their progress. 

приборы и салфетка с именем

Zero-waste cloth bags ful­filled a dual role as both presents and place name cards. 

The names were writ­ten using van­ish­ing ink; all you have to do is pass the iron over the area with the name and all traces of the ink dis­ap­pear.

Games and entertainment

люди рассматривают фотогирлянду

Many peo­ple enjoyed look­ing at pho­tos (includ­ing child­hood pho­tos) of the bride and groom and tried to find some of the answers to ques­tions in the quiz in those very pic­tures.

лист бумаги с вопросами

The quiz was a col­lec­tion of humor­ous state­ments about the bride and groom. Guests had to guess which ones were true and which false. 

игра на свадьбе жених держат в руках обувь

None of the games (with the excep­tion of the quiz and the rhyming game) required addi­tion­al mate­ri­als. The pho­to above shows one of those games: here our mas­ters of cer­e­mo­ny (MCs) sat us with our backs to one anoth­er and asked us to take our shoes off and swap one, leav­ing us each with one of our own shoes and one of our part­ner’s. They then start­ed ask­ing each of us in turn ques­tions like “Who in your rela­tion­ship is the bet­ter cook?” and we had to indi­cate the answer by rais­ing the cor­re­spond­ing shoe. We sur­prised every­one by being on exact­ly the same wave­length!

In the breaks between danc­ing and the games, we took part in a game much-loved by ski­ing enthu­si­asts: you have to drink a shot in one, with­out drop­ping the shot glass affixed to a ski, and with­out spilling a sin­gle drop. Four peo­ple play, with one at each end of the ski “steer­ing” the move­ment of the ski with a sin­gle hand. The two peo­ple in the cen­tre should not touch the ski at all. No skis were hurt in the mak­ing of this game as the shot glass­es were secured by way of mag­nets stuck to the ski and the glass­es them­selves. 

In place of a conclusion

If you’re prepar­ing your wed­ding and don’t know how to go about mak­ing the event more sus­tain­able, drop us a line. We have a lot of unused ideas still stored up as it’s nev­er pos­si­ble to squeeze every­thing into one day and we’re more than hap­py to share them with you.

Pho­tog­ra­phy was tak­en care of by the won­der­ful Eight Bells. They speak Eng­lish, Russ­ian, and Hebrew (and pos­si­bly some oth­ers too) and are based in the French Alps.

Wed­ding plan­ning and coor­di­na­tion was entrust­ed to our organ­i­sa­tion­al “rock”: Mont Blanc Wed­dings (they speak Eng­lish and French).

Our MCs were the rip-roar­ing­ly fun­ny Viki and Daire from the improv group the Rene­gade Saints.

The cre­ative and end­less­ly flex­i­ble food pro­gramme was tak­en care of by head chef Emma from Cham­chef (a tal­ent­ed British chef based in the French Alps). 

Music: Swing­ing acoustic hits were pro­vid­ed by local band Tin­ta­marre