Planning An Autumn Wedding

When planning a sustainable wedding, take your cues from nature and the seasons. We got the low down on planning an Autumn wedding with Wedding Planner, Hannah Mullens of Green Soul Weddings.

With this year completely whizzing by, my thoughts have started to turn to Autumn. It’s my favourite time of year and an increasingly popular wedding season too. Autumn is a time of natural richness and abundance, so it’s a great time of year to make the most of what nature has to offer and sustainably incorporate this into your wedding or celebration plans.

Whether you’ve had to postpone your big day to the Autumn, are finalising your plans for later this year, or are thinking ahead to your future autumnal date, here are some suggestions for how to embrace the richness of the season whilst reducing the negative environmental impact of your day in the process.

Choosing A Weather Appropriate Venue

If you’re already well on your way with your planning journey then this probably won’t be as relevant for you, but if you’re just starting to plan then the venue is a great place to start. When it comes to the Great British weather, Autumn can be as varied as it gets! In recent years we’ve enjoyed barmy ‘Indian Summers’ and scorching October weekends. However these always feel like luxuries compared to the more standard cool, grey days you can expect from this time of year.

As such, when thinking about venues for Autumnal weddings it can be hard to know whether the outdoors is a safe option. From a sustainable perspective there are pros and cons to weigh up. For adventurous couples and guests who will be unphased by a spot of rain and a nip to the air, outdoor autumnal weddings allow you to make the most of nature’s beauty as your natural backdrop. Plus it reduces the need for masses of additional décor and allows the season to really speak for itself.

Outdoor Ceremony Planning an Autumn Wedding

Temporary structures can provide an ideal shelter in case the weather isn’t on your side. Bear in mind that even within these the temperatures will drop significantly as you lose the daylight and weather conditions can add their own complications to the suitability of these structures too. Gale force winds aren’t the friend of marquees or tipis unfortunately. Whilst outdoor heaters are often an optional bolt on when hiring structures, the very nature of temporary structures mean they are much less efficient at maintaining heat. This can unintentionally cause your carbon footprint soar.

In contrast, indoor venues will help you to achieve a consistently comfortable temperature and automatically provide an all-weather solution. However they can feel less ‘seasonal’ and so you may want to ramp up the décor to achieve your desired vibe. Additionally they can lack the closeness to nature that many couples prefer with outdoor weddings.

Therefore, when looking for your Autumn wedding venue, I recommend considering venues that offer the flexibility of indoor and outdoor spaces. As the season begins to dictate more reliance on electricity for warmth and light why not check out venues that are solar powered. Casterley Barn in Wiltshire is an excellent option here or a venue that provides a fully green energy tariff such as South Farm, Cambridgeshire. 

Table Decoration Planning an Autumn Wedding

Autumnal Decor

Autumnal weddings are the ideal time to start to introduce those cosy evening vibes. As the nights gradually draw in earlier, plan this low light into your décor and embrace the atmosphere that eco-friendly candles bring to the event. Choose options made from beeswax, or coconut wax and soy if you prefer a vegan candle. Additionally, check what lighting your chosen venue provides as many have embraced fairy lights. It’s often more cost and environmentally efficient to make the most of everything the venue already owns or provides.

Thick and sumptuous fabrics also help to create a cosy, intimate feeling and are warming too. Hiring a comfy seating area complete with velvet armchairs and woollen blankets as a rest area between all of the dancing will go down a treat with your guests.

Autumn encompasses both Halloween and Thanksgiving festivals, so whilst you might not be interested in a themed wedding these can be interesting ways to give your day a more seasonal nod. Of course it’s up to you how subtle or overt you choose to be. Thanksgiving décor for example can be a brilliant way to spark some autumnal ideas as this typically embraces the classic seasonal produce of this time of year. Think of the acorns, pumpkins, rich flavours and spices associated with this American tradition to get you started. 

Additionally, we can’t discuss Autumn without mentioning all of the naturally rich colours it offers! I’m a big advocate of having your day reflect your own personalities, so I’m not about to suggest that you have to include red, orange and brown in your wedding colours if they don’t speak to you. However, Autumn does lend itself perfectly to more jewel tones and richer shades that can be added to your chosen colour scheme to complement the season. If you don’t fancy embracing the fiery tones of the leaves, then why not add a touch of the other rich shades seen in nature. Burgundy and emerald green are less obvious choices. As too are darker midnight blue tones of the earlier night skies? Small tweaks can be made to any colour palette to incorporate the luxuries of Autumn and pay homage to this gorgeous time of year.

Place Setting Planning an Autumn Wedding

Halloween is another festival that provides inspiration to create something unique. However it doesn’t have to be about ghosts, ghouls and spiders webs. Instead the colours most associated with Halloween can work subtly together in floral arrangements and décor when you get the shades and tones spot on.

Seasonal Bridal Blooms In Autumn

Seasonality is key to sustainability, and especially when it comes to eco-friendly wedding flowers. Make the most of flowers and foliage that are locally sourced and looking their best in the Autumn. This means that you will be using flowers that haven’t clocked up lots of air miles and haven’t required large amounts of chemicals and electricity to force them into flowering outside of their normal pattern. Dahlias are one of Autumns beauties. They come in so many beautiful shades and styles and make a great focal flower in bouquets and centrepieces. 

Ed note: For more details on the seasonality of flowers and using them to create a unique wedding, head to our Wedding section.

Another key consideration for your eco-conscious autumn wedding (or any time of year for that matter) is whether the florals are foam free. Many people are not aware that floral foam (most commonly known as Oasis) is essentially a single use block of microplastics and chemicals that take forever to degrade and pollute the water systems in the process. Many florists across the world are embracing old traditional floristry techniques and creating ingenious new methods in order to eliminate their use of floral foam. This can not only work for table centrepieces but also for large floral installations and everything in between. Finding a florist that works without foam is a powerful way of reducing the environmental damage and waste from your day, and a consideration I recommend to all of my couples.

Naked Wedding Cake Planning an Autumn Wedding

Eco Friendly Seasonal Catering

As well as choosing seasonal and local florals, the same principles can make a huge difference to the sustainability of your day when applied to your catering too. As the evenings arrive earlier at this time of year, your wedding breakfast is likely to fall during dusk. The temperature will drop and your guests will be in need of a little warming up. Embrace the rich flavours and warming spices associated with this time of year and your guests will be sure to say that’s just what they needed. 

Late Summer and early Autumn sees the ripening of many fruits. Whereas later into the season pumpkins and squash are ready for picking. Wild mushrooms become plentiful, and most nuts are at their very best too. When choosing your caterer, look out for those who pride themselves in getting creative with local and seasonal ingredients, after all these are often the most flavoursome and best quality!

Autumn and the cooler months can often be those that also hold some of the best home cooking memories for people. Don’t be shy to embrace a home cooked classic as your main and/or dessert if it holds a special memory for you. These dishes can often be ideal in terms of requiring simple, local ingredients, and we all know that sometimes simple classics are the best!

Autumnal Bridal Style

Last but not least, whilst style is often foremost in everyone’s minds when it comes to weddings, comfort plays a big part too! It’s polite to indicate to your guests exactly what to expect from your Autumn wedding so they can factor this into their chosen outfits and dress accordingly. Not only does this help to ensure they’re comfortable, which leads to happier guests throughout, but it helps you to plan around environmental elements. You can reduce the need to worry about excessive heater use to warm up any guests that turned up in inappropriate attire.

Consider the temperature for yourselves too, especially if you’re someone who feels the cold easily. For the ladies, there are some gorgeous ethical wedding dresses out there designed with the cooler months in mind. Some feature delicate full-length sleeves, others have complementary jackets or cover ups. Don’t forget thicker, warmer materials can be breathable and attractive. For some inspiration, why not browse through British designer Lee Klabin’s gorgeous Autumn/Winter collection. The dresses are not only ethically made but are also designed to be easy to remodel and re-wear after your celebration. Lee proudly states that “your wedding dress will now get to go on the life journey it helped launch”.

Lee Klabin Sustainable Wedding Dress Planning an Autumn Wedding

Image: Lee Klabin

For the gents, layering up is a bit more common practice, and choices such as tweed and woollen jackets can be fantastic for embracing the richer autumn tones whist ensuring you stay warm too. Long line stylish woollen overcoats can give your suit a whole different vibe for any outdoor couple shots too, layering up is definitely your friend as you head into late Autumn!

With thanks to Hannah Mullens of Green Soul Weddings

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