The big, fat, Indian wedding is quite a phenomenon that we all are aware of. Countless guests, fireworks, fancy food, lavish decor, and what not! However, while Indian weddings are known for these OTT celebrations, there is no denying that they impose a great amount of damage to our environment. Moreover, we don't think that you need to be reminded of how fireworks and loud band baaja baraat contribute immensely to air and noise pollution. And honestly, we are not even getting to the part where we talk about the ridiculous amount of wastage of food and money.
Our planet is dying a slow death and it's high time that we become more responsible towards our environment. Thankfully, in recent years, we saw a significant change in the Indian wedding scenario where people opted for intimate, sustainable weddings rather than going OTT. A lot of credit goes to the COVID-19 pandemic that introduced people to private and quiet wedding ceremonies.
We witnessed some Bollywood stars like Milind Soman become the flag-bearers of having more eco-friendly weddings. In fact, actress Kajal Aggarwal's dreamy wedding in the middle of a pandemic was an eye-opener for many of us who thought shaadi can be grand only in extravagant settings. The Singham actress had an intimate wedding with only sixty guests and showed all of us how it's done. As impossible as it sounds, the credit goes to the creative mind behind Kajal and Gautam Kitchlu's wedding--Ambika Gupta.
Ambika Gupta is a luxe event planner and the founder of A-Cube Project, a Chennai-based, award-winning event design company. The TEDx speaker roots for a more responsible and eco-friendly approach to celebrations and has turned many green wedding dreams into reality. According to Ambika, the pandemic has once again reminded us of the need to become conscious of our environment and make responsible decisions. She says, "The pandemic should put things in perspective for us. We cannot now endlessly consume our resources, generate vast amounts of waste and live as if there is no tomorrow because there is. And if we don’t change, the next generation will have to deal with the fallout of the climate crisis in a more serious way.”
Ambika is a Biotech engineer and has a postgraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. However, she ultimately found her calling as a wedding designer and planner. This year, she COVID-19 brought a lot of changes to the wedding industry. As she designed events with safety protocols in place, she also started conversations with her clients about greener, more responsible weddings.
Ambika says, “The pandemic has forced families to have smaller events. That automatically cuts down waste but many of my clients are also well-informed about climate concerns and in fact, want their weddings to set an example. For instance, for a Pondicherry wedding, the couple and the team worked closely to address the issue of floral and food waste. This was a special request from the bride who is very sensitive to environmental concerns. The flowers were composted and the extra food from each event distributed locally. India Wasted and The Robin Hood Army came on board to help us manage this.”
We totally agree with Ambika that reducing our carbon footprint, not buying plastic, and keeping the goodness of the Earth in mind have slowly become the need of the hour. In fact, the designer has also shared some tips on how we can opt for a greener wedding.
Order local floral produce as this will cut down the carbon footprint and help distressed farmers. And, instead of using excessive floral accents, choose statement arrangements that will really be noticed.
TBH, we have never and will never understand the logic behind expensive gifts that are distributed at weddings. Aren't weddings supposed to be an occasion where people celebrate the union of two lives and their love? So, instead of giving away pricey gifts that frankly, have zero use, try to engage NGOs that support artisans to create one-of-a-kind giveaways.
In fact, in the Pondicherry wedding mentioned earlier, Ambika and her team collaborated with Purkal Stree Shakti (Uttarakhand-based NGO), and gifted jute bags with Van Gogh-inspired embroidery to guests. Now that's a gift we can definitely never say no to!
Remind us again, what's the point of creating OTT wedding cards when we can simply send an e-invite (like Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja) or use recyclable paper (like Abhinav Shukla and Rubina Dilaik)?
And when it comes to wedding cutlery, Ambika suggests that it is always a wise option to switch to traditional fibre and glass cutlery and crockery with disposable ones made of biodegradable materials like bamboo. In fact, materials like clay, straw, living plants, and other recyclable objects can be used as props in the most innovative ways.
The designer used such eco-friendly materials at Kajal Aggarwal’s wedding where she planned an event with Kitsch mandi as a theme. Ambika used Kutch workmanship in furnishings, traditional dry palm weaves, a Chettinad console and brass pots with banana leaves. She also used Pettis, contraptions used by coconut farmers, as a backdrop in place of a wasteful prop. And if that's not innovative enough, we don't know what is!
While planning a green wedding, always remember that most of the time, less is indeed, more. Instead of booking a grand venue and inviting the whole town, consider 'mini-mony' where the number of guests is minimum and the couple get married at a local venue. Moreover, for their seating, use classic furniture that can be hired or reused by the designer later instead of plastic chairs. And while you're at it, you might also want to keep a check on the lighting and switch to less energy-consuming appliances.
Not only these ideas make much more sense, but they also inspire us to do better for our planet. Talking about the same, Ambika says, "Sustainable weddings are in and small is the new big because a more thoughtful approach impacts the planet positively. I read recently that more than 10 million weddings take place in India every year and leave behind mountains of trash, discarded plastic cutlery, used flowers and wasted food. I believe, together, we can all do better than this."
Kudos to Ambika Gupta for bringing a much-needed change in the Indian wedding industry and inspiring us to do better!
Featured Image: Ambika Gupta