Maximum Love, Minimum Rubbish: Jessica & Jim’s Waste-Free Wedding

6 March 2017

When you hear ‘wedding’, what do you imagine? You might think flowers, gorgeous dresses, fresh-pressed suits, bubbles, cake, loving smiles (and tears!) and lots of dancing. What might not immediately spring to mind? Rubbish.  

It’s not a pretty subject, but waste is incredibly important when you’re planning what may be the biggest (and most expensive!) party of your life. Joyful abundance? Yes! Bins overflowing? No!

So how can you create a beautiful day for you, your guests AND the planet? We asked Jessica Cregan, one of our knowledgeable and creative team members, for some inspiration on how to create a wedding with maximum love and minimum rubbish.

Originally hailing from Ireland, Jessica has been a valued part of our Wellington City store for over 18 months. She married long-time partner Jim on Friday the 13th of January 2017 in Wellington.

jess jim

Look at those smiles! Jim and Jessica's wedding was an easy-going waste-free wedding day for all.

Jessica & Jim’s wedding: a relaxing day - for everyone!

The idea to have a waste-free celebration came soon after they decided to tie the knot. “It was basically from the get go,” Jessica says, “It started with me wanting an edible bouquet… and it just grew from there!

“So much stuff gets thrown away and put into landfill,” she says. “Working here [at Commonsense] makes me even MORE aware of recycling and waste. I didn’t want to see 10 black bags of rubbish at the end of the wedding.”

Jim and Jessica married at the Wellington registry office and then celebrated with close friends and family at the Wellington Botanic Gardens. The day after, they held a big party at their house in Houghton Bay.  “All the neighbours helped out!” Jessica says. “It was a nice casual wedding. We just wanted it to be a relaxing day for everyone”. 

 edible bouquet

Jessica's edible bouquet, arranged by Kat, our amazing Wellington City Produce Manager 

A bouquet that’s good enough to eat!

An edible wedding bouquet was the idea that sparked Jessica and Jim’s entire waste-free wedding vision. The final bouquet was a magnificent creation containing fresh organic vegetables, herbs and edible flowers arranged by Katharina Grau, Produce Manager at our Wellington City Store.

Aside from its beauty, the edible bouquet contributed to their waste-free master-plan. Jessica made soup and tea out of many of the bouquets’ components.  “Everything from my bouquet either got eaten, or composted, or dried!” Jessica says. So gorgeous!


A biodegradable feast

Food is the cornerstone for most weddings, and Jessica and Jim’s was no exception to this rule. But was it difficult to cater for dozens of friends and family while sticking to their waste-free resolution?

“It actually wasn’t hard,” Jessica says. They reduced wastage by using biodegradable cups, plates, bowls and cutlery, and they kept leftovers to an absolute minimum by calling for guest participation! 

We bought a load of sausages instead of making heaps and heaps of food, and we asked everyone to bring a plate,” Jessica says.  All the meat at their wedding feast was free-range and they provided lentil burgers for vege and vegan guests.

Almost all the food was eaten on the day, but Jim did attempt to “force pieces of meat” onto leaving guests, Jessica said.  Any left-overs were quickly dispatched by their family. “We were eating salad all week!” Jessica laughs. “But nothing ended up getting thrown out. We even turned the leftover bread into croutons.”

 street shot

 The happy couple 

A sustainable wedding wardrobe

Sustainable and cruelty-free decisions were at the heart of Jessica and Jim’s sartorial choices for their big day. Instead of buying brand-new once-in-a-lifetime garments, they both went with more sustainable options. Jim augmented an existing suit with an exceptional bowtie, while Jessica discovered her beautiful wedding dress at an op-shop. “I actually found the dress the day I found out I was pregnant.” Jessica says. “I had to keep altering it!

Their focus on sustainability also informed Jessica’s choice of beauty product. Her natural and cruelty-free look was created with Antipodes foundation, Inika blush, Sante mascara, Sante liquid eyeliner and Karen Murrell Lipstick.


Would Jessica & Jim recommend a waste-free wedding to others?

Definitely!” Jessica says. “It was so much fun coming up with ideas.

It was really satisfying at the end that we didn’t crumble. Seeing everything go off in recycling bags and compost, because I would have been feeling really guilty otherwise.”

We were bizarrely relaxed about the whole thing,” Jessica says. “We just thought ‘all of our friends are lovely people. Let’s do this.’ And it really worked! I don’t know if our guests even noticed...”

In fact, it worked so well that Jessica and Jim are going to do it all again! They are planning a second wedding later this year for Ireland-based family and friends, and this one will be waste-free too. Now that’s commitment!


Congratulations Jessica and Jim! Thanks for sharing your waste-free wedding story with us. Jessica is going on maternity leave in early March, but will be returning to our Wellington City store later in the year.

Do you have your own waste-free wedding tips or tricks to share? We’d love to hear them. Email us at