The Green Room

I'm working to become a sustainable wedding planner. AMA

Hi,

I am Danni and I run a boutique events agency in the south of France, working on everything from intimate elopements to large scale events for global corporations.

A lot of our work is focused on organising beautiful destination weddings for predominately anglophone couples from around the world.

I’m currently working on my own sustainability charter to encourage my private and corporate clients to make more planet friendly decisions and trying to set up a network of sustainable suppliers here in the South of France.

My main challenges are that sustainable options can often be more expensive, which is hard for budget conscious clients. I’ve also found as mentioned above that by the time sustainability is thought of, most suppliers are already on board!

We love being able to incorporate our love for our local area, passion for food and joy of making things look pretty and call it our job!

Many of our couples book their wedding venue and then find it difficult to know where to start with the planning process. Often there are communication issues due to the language barrier and it can be difficult to find suppliers you know you can trust. We take all of these stresses away from our couples and do the all leg work for them, from finding suppliers, comparing quotes and designing mood boards to wedding rehearsals and full on the day co-ordination.

I have lived in France for 9 years now and love nothing more than spending lazy Sunday mornings at the local market, returning home to cook and enjoy a typically long French lunch washed down with a glass of Rosé.

I’ll be here to answer your questions about living in France, getting married abroad and sustainable destination weddings live on 2020-05-19T15:00:00Z2020-05-19T16:00:00Z

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Talk soon!

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Hey Danni, Thank you so much for taking part in today’s AMA. Are wedding planners asked about sustainability when planning a wedding?

Hi Danni. It is really interesting to hear about the challenges you face organising sustainable weddings. I am just starting out as a sustainable events caterer in Brighton & Hove. We focus on using local, seasonal produce and minimising waste as far as possible. But our challenge is maximising sustainability whilst also adhering to the highest standards of H&S in terms of use of chemicals, packaging etc. I would be interested to hear about your experience of sustainable catering in the wedding business and whether there are any lessons we can learn from French suppliers? Thanks

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Hi Danni some questions I would love to ask are:

  1. How did you initially get into your line of work and was it a sustainable concept from the get go or was this something that developed over time?

  2. Do your clients ask for their wedding to be as sustainable as possible or is this something you have to brief to them before they accept your services?

  3. Do you find it costs less or more for couples to have sustainable weddings?

  4. Is sustainability in your area and wider areas of France something that people in general take pride in or is it something new that people and businesses are taking on board?

  5. Have you come across any limitations in france in terms of suppliers and having to outsource to other countries?

  6. What do you love the most about creating sustainable events?

  7. What’s the most sustainable aspect of your weddings?

  8. Do you also try to be sustainable at home? If so any tips?

  9. Was it hard to adapt to your new lifestyle in France and looking back would you do anything different?

  10. How long has your business been established and have you any plans to expand into other countries?

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Hi Danni what’s the biggest challenge you face when organizing a sustainable wedding?

Have sustainable weddings become more popular over the years?

What do you love most about your job?

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Hi Danni,
I’m planning my wedding to take place in the south of Spain which would require all our guests to travel, most likely by air. What are the most impactful measures we could take in our wedding planning to mitigate the impact of this travel?

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Hi Giulia,

Thanks so much for your question and good luck in your new venture.
Likewise, the caterers I work with prioritise local and seasonal produce where possible but they face the same challenges as you when it comes to being able to adhere to H&S standards.
I have however noticed a huge reduction in single use plastics. All caterers I work with now use exclusively paper straws, wooden cocktail sticks and have to moved to using biodegradable, recycled or reusable serving dishes and packaging.
There is also a big emphasis on separating waste and recycling or compositing as much as possible.

I find that we can be much more sustainable on smaller, more intimate events. Hopefully this will become easier to scale up in the very near future.

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Hello Arlene,

Thanks so much for your questions.

I have always worked in the hospitality industry and started working in event catering when I first moved to France. This offered me flexible working hours and the opportunity to work in English. Once I could I speak an adequate level of French I moved away from catering and into global event management and logistics.
The sustainable aspect is definitely something that has grown over time and something that I am becoming more and more passionate about.

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It really depends on the clients, some are environmentally aware and we find sustainable solutions together. Others are less so and I try where I can to steer them in the right direction.
As my business grows I would like to be able to only take on clients that are happy to sign my sustainability charter.

Sustainability can definitely be a more budget friendly option. For example, a carpet aisle runner can cost anything from 300 – 1000€ euros and is only used for a matter of minutes. Not having one can be a huge saving for both the clients pocket and the planet.

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As in a lot of countries, sustainability is a bit of buzz word and generally speaking the French are as susceptible as anyone to convenience.

I do feel however that life in France can be quite ‘old school’ and there are a lot less convenience items available. For example, in supermarkets, ready meals are not very popular, neither is pre chopped, pre portioned, plastic wrapped vegetables.

Many people still visit their local produce market daily and support other local small businesses rather than buying everything in bulk at a chain supermarket.

Likewise, people tend to respect the seasonality of food here. Its currently asparagus season but in a few weeks it will be impossible to buy.

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Yes, as mentioned above, France can be a little ‘old school’ and sometimes we need to outsource certain trend led products as they haven’t arrived here yet!

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I love the giving back aspect. When clients are reluctant to use sustainable options or to go without in the first place, I set up a supply chain so that the items do not get discarded. For example on a corporate job last year, my client offered yoga classes to their guests. Rather than the little used yoga mats going to landfill, I organised for them to be donated to a local senior centre.

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We are live folks! Keep your questions for Danni coming in :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t say that there is one aspect in particular but where possible I push my clients towards using local suppliers, particularly small business.
I try and ensure that all food and wine is sourced locally and in season.
I also encourage clients to hire rather than buy decorative items. If a couple is looking for something more original, I will happy trawl second hand stores and brocantes to try and give a decorative item a second life rather than order new.

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Yes, I do!
I am a keen up-cycler and love to restore furniture and decorative items to use in my home.
I also try to buy vintage and second hand clothing.

Over the last couple of years I have reduced my consumption of animal products and have been switching to local, organic food suppliers where possible.
I have also been making my own cleaning products for quite sometime now and have recently added laundry detergent to my haul of homemade!
Will be moving on to homemade cosmetics next!

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Thanks for this one, there were certainly times when moving to a foreign country, with no language skills was tough. It has been a wonderful 9 years for me and my family though so I have zero regrets.

My business has been established for 7 years and although most of my activity has been based in the south of France I have also worked in Spain, the UK and Switzerland.

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Hi Avril,
Thanks for you question.
I’d say that the biggest challenge for organising sustainable weddings is that, as a concept they aren’t really very sustainable but as @zerowastechef said, ‘we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly’ any small changes that I can encourage my clients to make will make a difference. Luckily, clients are becoming more environmentally aware.

The thing I love most about my job is the relationships that are forged. I work with clients for months in the lead up to their ‘big day’ its such a privilege to be so deeply involved with such an important time in their lives.

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Hi Danni. Thanks for your response. Very good to hear that single use plastics are reducing. I think the next big item to target is use of clingfilm and packaging during food preparation itself, as this presents a big challenge. Likewise, good luck with your venture too. Let’s hope the events market picks up again soon. All the best

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Hi Hannah,

Congratulations on your engagement and booking your wedding in Spain.

There are many ways of mitigating the impact the air travel. Firstly you can encourage your guests to book flights with the lowest emissions. SkyScanner have started labelling the emissions of their flights. https://www.skyscanner.net/environment
You can also recommend accommodation in small towns or villages close to your wedding venue so that your guests will have everything they need without having to hire a car.

There are other smaller changes you can make on the day itself to reduce the footprint of your wedding.
Consider using potted, aromatic plants and herbs as table decorations rather than cut flowers.
Eat locally sourced, seasonal food and try out the local wines and beers.
Invitations and menus can be printed on seed paper. The guests can then take these away with them to grow at home.
Even something as simple as having wooden tables rather than using table cloths that have to be laundered can reduce the environmental impact.
Good luck with the planning.

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Agreed this is a big challenge! Exciting things happening in the world of food packaging though, check out Marina Tex, the inventor is Brighton Based too :slight_smile: https://www.marinatex.co.uk/

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