My Ideal Wedding

How weddings typically look like – dreamy with lots of flowers and confetti

Image retrieved from Pixabay

While exploring the topic of celebrations for my blog, my lecturer for the ENV1101 module, Dr Coleman, inspired me to think about the environmental impacts of weddings and my ideal wedding. After all, are weddings not the happiest and most significant celebration of a lifetime?

I thought it would be interesting to ask my friends about their ideal wedding. I’ll share the results of my survey as we go along!

Personally, my ideal wedding would be a memorable celebration with my closest friends and family that is as simple and sustainable as possible with minimal flowers and no wedding favours – because wedding favours usually end up in the bin anyway.

In planning a wedding, making it as dreamy as possible is usually the priority, and few would think of environmental impacts as the main consideration. Weddings thus produce huge amounts of trash in the form of food waste and decorations like fresh flowers, place cards, ribbons, and confetti. The average wedding generates approximately 180kg of trash and 57000kg of carbon dioxide (Harrison, 2008)!

Naturally, having more guests would mean more waste generated due to more resources put into making the wedding reception a success. This is partly why I would choose to invite fewer wedding guests, other than the reason that I do not want my wedding to be flooded with relatives that I meet once every few years. And it seems like most of my friends agree with me. Close to 78% of respondents would invite less than 100 guests to their wedding.

In the survey I sent out, I asked respondents how many guests they would invite to their wedding.

However, one result that took me by surprise was that 6 people said they would put shark fin soup on their wedding menu. As much as serving shark fin soup at wedding banquets is a Chinese tradition, I didn’t think that so many individuals from our generation would still support the practice of eating shark fin soup given the extensive media coverage on cruel finning practices. For more information on the harmful impacts of shark finning, check out this post by my friend Shenny.

In this question, I asked respondents to rate how much they agree with this statement. 1 represents “Strongly agree” and 5 represents “Strongly disagree”.

On a happier note, 10-course banquets are increasingly being replaced by live food stations, buffet receptions and dessert tables (Hitcheed, 2018). This may be able to reduce the food waste from banquets as food is made on demand. Leftovers from buffets can also be packed for “take-away”, instead of being thrown away if it was already portioned out at a banquet. There are also options to repurpose wedding flowers via social enterprises like Refresh Flowers for those who wish to reduce their environmental footprint (Chong, 2017).



Harrison, K. (2008). The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks Casablanca

hitcheed. (31 Aug 2018). The Best Wedding Trends we expect to see in 2019.

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Chong, C. (21 Sep 2017). Fresh purpose to wedding blooms

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6 thoughts on “My Ideal Wedding

  1. ryanlee97

    Hi Si Hui,

    Weddings are definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of us. It is quite saddening to know that most of the stuff end up wasted though, especially since they were just there as “props” or single-use items (such as confetti).

    What are your thoughts about telling relatives or friends that they need not bring extravagant gifts for weddings and that they can provide a token sum as a form of appreciation instead? This would greatly reduce wastage since it is clearly communicated.

    I find that it is interesting that Asian traditions generally call for banquets that will break the bank, and of course the environment (in the case of excess food wastage and possibly shark finning). I realise that more people are becoming pragmatic and prefer a minimalist approach to weddings, going so far as to only have a wedding and solemnisation without holding another party after that. After all, while weddings should be celebrated, what matters should be the ones getting married and how they would like to proceed with things no (e.g. a honeymoon).

    It is definitely eye-opening to note that the cost of wedding do not just stop at the explicit prices, but also the amount of waste generated for the union of two people. I do hope that more people will understand that the union between two is definitely a cause for celebration, but should be done with minimal cost and there really is no need for excess. Thank you :)!


    1. Si Hui Post author

      Hi Ryan,

      I definitely agree that sending a clear message to friends and relatives to not gift wedding presents is an effective way to prevent any unnecessary gifts that may end up as waste. In Singapore, although guests mostly offer their congratulatory gifts in the form of red packets, friends may tend to get trendy or quirky couple gifts to congratulate the couple in a non-conventional way. One other solution to this could be for the couple to curate a wish list, such that friends can give them presents that they would actually use.

      Indeed, there is an increasing number of individuals choosing to downsize their wedding, mostly due to the extravagant costs involved. Hopefully, this will become an increasingly dominant trend in weddings, leading to more sustainable small-scale wedding practices in the future.

      Si Hui

  2. FangLing

    Hi Si Hui,

    reading your post has caused me to reflect on how celebrations (from birthday to wedding) can turn from a joyous event to a horrific nightmare for the environment. Considering the numerous times we celebrate a joyous occasion or even a sad one, our extravagant spending on one-time use goods can accumulate over time and caused a massive built up of trash. That said if everyone does it, it sure contributes a whole lot to today’s increasing trash pile. But not buying stuff and present on such a joyous celebration just doesn’t seem right…(why is that so?) I guess the way forward is to adopt a minimalistic approach by cutting down and searching for greener alternatives. I wonder if i can be just like my Aunt, who demands everyone not to bring presents on her birthday.


    1. Si Hui Post author

      Hey FangLing!

      I’m glad that my post inspired you to think about the environmental impacts of celebrations. The point you brought up about how not buying new items and presents does not seem right is also something that I struggle with very much. Feasting on plenty of food and buying gifts are very characteristic of celebrations and are socially acceptable ways of celebrating the festivity. Also, there is something special about receiving a well thought out gift that your friends and family specially picked for you. I guess one way to get around this is to give presents that the recipient actually wants and would put to good use. This way, you can ensure that your gift will be a treasured addition to their homes.

      Alternatively, you could also give them gift cards and let them choose their own gift!

      Si Hui

  3. Joanna L Coleman

    Hey Si Hui,

    Here’s another perspective. I was married before. My parents made a big fuss. 180 guests. It was an amazing, beautiful, fun event for sure and many guests said it was the best wedding they’d ever been to.

    But here are some regrets.

    1) The process of planning was horrific – very stressful. So many details. Who needs that ?
    2) My parents went into debt to pay for it all. This was despite my assuring them a big wedding was unnecessary and we were fine with a simple ceremony and no fuss. My point is, I felt tremendous guilt even though my parents said it was their greatest joy and they’d looked fwd to this all my life.
    3) With all those people there, and us having to acknowledge everyone personally, i.e., go around to the tables, etc., it was exhausting. I barely ate.

    If I end up marrying my boyfriend, I will definitely not do such a thing again.

    1. Si Hui Post author

      Hi Dr Coleman,

      Thanks for pointing out this perspective! I forgot to consider the important role that family members play in the planning process.

      Weddings are such a loud affair that even a distant relative would feel a need to comment on how one’s wedding should be like. I’ve seen this happen to my cousin – she didn’t want a wedding ceremony, but eventually gave in as a result of comments from various relatives. If my relatives are quick to give suggestions against my sustainability principles, it probably means they don’t understand me well enough, giving me more reason to invite only the people close to me to my wedding.

      However, in the case of direct family members, if one’s grandmother insists that they should have shark’s fin at their wedding dinner for example, it wouldn’t seem appropriate to go against her wishes outrightly. I think the only way around this is taking time to convince them. While I get that parents dream of marrying their children off in the best way possible, I just hope that my parents understand that the best way to them might not be the best way to me! If I couldn’t have my wedding my way I think I would have a lot of regrets and I probably wouldn’t enjoy it at all, defeating the purpose of the event.

      Si Hui

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