How sustainable-living queen Tara Button organised the perfect waste-free wedding


When sustainable-living website founder Tara Button got married, she wanted to do it in style, and without wasting a thing. Hence paperless invitations, a preloved dress, recycled wedding rings and much, much more…


Tara and Howard on their wedding day at Brocket Hall
Tara and Howard on their wedding day at Brocket Hall


 The rings 


The couple's wedding bands and Tara's engagement ring were made from her father-in-law's diamond ring and old hat pins


The couple’s wedding bands and Tara’s engagement ring were made from her father-in-law’s diamond ring and old hat pins.


My fiancé Howard Cohen proposed while we were away in New York but he told me that he wanted to make my engagement ring from his late father’s diamond ring. Howard’s dad Geoff died before I met him and I loved the idea that he would be with us this way. We took his ring to ethical and Fairtrade British jeweller Joy Everley (, who collaborated with us on designs.


Joy works directly with a Canadian mine, and only uses recycled or Fairtrade gold. We settled on using the diamond from Geoff’s ring along with two little ones on either side from old hatpins that Joy provided, so they were reused, too. We melted the gold from Geoff’s ring to create Howard’s wedding band, and we used the other diamond from my late father-in-law’s band to make a ring for Howard’s mother.

The invitations

All our save-the-dates and invitations were sent by Paperless Post (, apart from one to my 90-year-old grandmother, who insisted on having it printed for her mantelpiece. On the website you can design gorgeous invitations that create no waste, and it cost just £62 to send out 130.


If you’d rather send paper ones, look for an eco-friendly stationer, such as Paper Tree (, which uses recycled materials. Or you could try Wildflower Favours (, which makes eco invitations with seeds embedded in them, so your guests can plant them in their gardens.


The flowers


The centrepieces were orchid plants gifted to love ones
The centrepieces were orchid plants gifted to love ones


Instead of spending a fortune on floral arrangements that would be thrown away at the end of the day, we used plants that could be gifted to the important people in our lives. We had orchids on the tables which looked elegant and can last for 15 years. In the church a jasmine arch spanned the aisle – from – which my mother planted in her garden afterwards. The bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids were from The Land Gardeners (, two women who specialise in local, organic flowers who were located close to the venue, so the flowers didn’t travel from far afield, such as Holland, as many cut blooms do. My mum, sister-in-law and her mother made the confetti – they were microwaving rose petals from their gardens for months.



The venue and decor


At the wedding breakfast there were no throwaway napkins, seat plans or menus
At the wedding breakfast there were no throwaway napkins, seat plans or menus


Our wedding breakfast took place in Brocket Hall, a Georgian stately home in Welwyn, Hertfordshire. It’s so ornate it needed no embellishments to make it look beautiful. If you have a plainer venue, try not to buy decorations that will be thrown away. Handmade fabric bunting and lanterns are a lovely option because they can be brought out at all your future parties, so that they live on far beyond the wedding.


The wedding breakfast

The biscuit place cards doubled up as wedding favours
The biscuit place cards doubled up as wedding favours


There were no throwaway napkins, seating plans, menus or place cards at our wedding. Our nephews milled around with iPads showing the seating plan and we went without menus.


As for place settings, my superhuman friend iced 130 biscuits with people’s names on them. These doubled as both table name tags and wedding favours and were gobbled up, so we didn’t end up with 130 ribbons and cards going in the bin. If you don’t have such a friend, beautiful biscuits can be bought from The Kitsch Hen (, which uses local, Fairtrade and organic ingredients wherever possible – and avoids excess packaging when sending out biscuits. Our venue had linen napkins, but if yours doesn’t Northfields linen hire ( has made a particular effort to be eco-friendly.


The bridesmaids’ dresses


The bridesmaids' dresses were picked so that they could be worn again
The bridesmaids’ dresses were picked so that they could be worn again


So many bridesmaids wear their dresses only once, which is such a waste. I gave mine a budget of £200 and told them to buy any dress they liked, in white or ivory. The only stipulation was that they like it enough to wear it again in the future. They were delighted and looked beautiful.


The dress


Tara's wedding dress was a sample
Tara’s wedding dress was a sample


I was keen to find a dress that was second-hand but in the end I fell for one that had been worn in photo shoots but was almost pristine. It was by designer Caroline Castigliano and was handmade ethically here in the UK.


There are so many shops selling great vintage wedding dresses. I particularly like Abigail’s Vintage Bridal ( and Open For Vintage ( You can also buy second-hand dresses at Oxfam – or on sites such as Ebay and


But if you’d prefer to buy new, then there are designers who work with eco fabrics and ensure that they are made in ethical factories. Sanyukta Shrestha (, Celia Grace ( and Julie Dutton ( all have beautiful gowns made from eco fabrics, created in fair working conditions. I’m now planning to donate my wedding dress to Angel Gowns (, where it will be made into burial gowns for stillborn babies.


Dresses can be altered or dyed to make them into evening gowns or cocktail dresses (try You can also donate them to Gift of a Wedding (, a charity that helps people with incurable illnesses have a beautiful day.


The shoes


Tara's go-with-anything wedding shoes
Tara’s go-with-anything wedding shoes


I wore my wedding shoes to a party before I even got married – they were a pair of sparkly heels from Jimmy Choo, bought specifically so they would go with anything from a cocktail dress to smart jeans. I can see myself getting decades of wear out of them.


The wedding list


We went to John Lewis but took inspiration from the products on Buy Me Once. Our list featured sturdy Le Creuset pans, Robert Welch cutlery (which has a lifetime guarantee) and a Dualit toaster (which will be virtually indestructible). Howard and I walked around John Lewis imagining ourselves in our 40s and 50s and asking what would still be relevant to us in 20 years.


The wedding confetti was handmade from rose petals
The wedding confetti was handmade from rose petals


The honeymoon


Howard booked a honeymoon in the Seychelles, which is making great strides in conservation and moving towards renewable energy. We are going to offset the carbon emissions from our flights by paying ClimateCare (, which will reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere by the same amount through its renewable projects.


For more information, visit





Tara, 35, was cleaning a Le Creuset pan given to her by her sister, when it struck her that she would have this pan for life and wouldn’t it be great if everything else in her kitchen – and indeed her house – was like that? Tara, whose book A Life Less Throwaway will be published in February, decided to change the way we shop. She left her job in advertising and created, which only sells products that are of such good quality they won’t need replacing for decades. The site’s brands include Eagle Creek luggage, which provides a No Matter What warranty; Denby handcrafted stoneware, which is made from naturally durable Derbyshire clay; Solidteknics frying pans, with its multi-century warranty, and Schott Zwiesel wine glasses made with Tritan crystal to make them practically break resistant.


By Marianne Power