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Inspiring! This couple had a zero-waste wedding

By Divya Nair
November 01, 2018 10:10 IST
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Veena Balakrishnan and Vighnesh Vancheeshwar had a zero-waste wedding planned in three months.
Find out how they did it.

Vighnesh Vancheeshwar and Veena Balakrishnan

Vighnesh Vancheeshwar and Veena Balakrishnan on their wedding day. Photographs: Kind courtesy Two's Company

When Veena Balakrishnan, 23, wanted to marry Vighnesh Vancheeshwar, 32, the love of her life, she was clear -- she wanted to have a zero-waste wedding.

Veena's parents weren't surprised that their daughter brought up this idea.

The National Institute of Fashion Technology graduate, who met her partner while working at Indian Terrain (a clothing brand), recently quit her job to start Two's Company, which offered sustainable living solutions to corporate organisations.

Vighnesh's parents were curious if and how they could really do it.

The inspiration

For Veena and Vighnesh, the idea was simple -- "Why spend on something new when we can recycle?" "Why harm nature when we have a better alternative?"

"We Indians spend a lot of money on weddings, which is sometimes unnecessary," Veena explains to's Divya Nair.

"We buy expensive clothes we don't wear later. We don't really plan and end up wasting so much food. We often look for the simpler, easier, way out."

While planning their zero-waste wedding, Veena and Vighnesh were clear they didn't want to miss out on tradition and fun.

In three months, with the help of Two's Company co-founder Sudarshana Pai, 22, Veena decided to turn her wedding into her first big project.

So how did they do it?

In March 2018, three months before the wedding, with Vighnesh and Sudarshana's help, Veena chalked out a plan.

"We called up all our guests and made them understand why and how we were planning to go for a minimum waste wedding. We told them that we would be sending them a survey form (external link) and that they had to help us fulfil this dream."

The guests were requested not to buy new saris or clothes for the wedding. They were asked to substitute gifts with blessings or donations to the NGOs.

The invite

Most couples use e-cards to invite close friends and colleagues, but still print wedding cards to give out to family members, because it was part of the wedding tradition.

Vighnesh and Veena were clear they didn't want to waste so much paper.

"We told our families and relatives that the wedding card would be useless after a day. Why put so much money in a piece of paper that won't even last a day?"

To respect family sentiments, the couple called each of the guests, showed them the e-card and explained why they were doing it.

The outfits

Veena and Vighesh's zero waste wedding

IMAGE: Veena poses next to a photograph of her grandparents. She wore her grandmother's wedding sari.

On June 10, 2018, the wedding day, Veena wore her grandmother's wedding sari and jewels.

Vighnesh picked one of his newest shirts and veshti from his existing wardrobe.

Veena and Vighnesh's wedding

IMAGE: Veena wore her family jewels to the wedding.

"I didn't buy new jewellery. I just stitched a new blouse for the saree," Veena says.

The venue

The venue

IMAGE: The venue was decorated with flowers.

The couple picked Rina's Venue on East Coast Road, Chennai, because the setting was "natural, aesthetically appealing and required very little decoration."

"We only used flowers for decoration which was sourced directly from the market. After the wedding, the flowers would decompost and can be used as fertiliser."

The venue

IMAGE: The seating involved mattresses on the floor with cushions.

Among the 700 guests who attended the wedding, most were seated on cloth mattresses to avoid plastic chairs.

"For those who had knee or back problems, and the elders who couldn't sit down, we had a few plastic chairs," says Veena.

Zero waste wedding

IMAGE: The earth-friendly seed paper was a thoughtful gift.

All the guests who attended the wedding were given an eco-friendly seed paper as a parting gift.

"They could plant the paper in a pot and water it so it grew into a plant," says Veena.

The food

Zero waste wedding

IMAGE: Veena enjoys her breakfast served on a plantain leaf.

The couple chose to go the traditional route and served the food on banana leaves.

"We used areca bowls to serve paysam and rented steel glasses to replace plasticware," says Sudarshana, who overlooked the wedding on Veena's behalf.

IMAGE: The Robinhood Army with the happy recipients of a shelter home in Chennai.

The leftover food from the wedding was handed over to the Robin Hood Army (a volunteer-based organisation that helps network surplus food from restaurants and events to the needy) which co-ordinated and ensured safe transportation of the food to nearby shelter homes.

Tiny glitches

While most of the guests stuck to the brief, Sudarshana says there were some who had unintentionally carried plastic bottles, which they collected and packed off to a recycling unit.

Another lesson Sudarshana learned at the venue was the lack of briefing.

"Most of the heads knew what we had planned, but some of the workers weren't informed. They weren't told to segregate the waste, for example. Since Veena was busy on her big day, I had to monitor each department and go over the drill again. Had they been briefed, we could have saved so much time," Sudarshana says.

Curious to know how much the couple spent on their destination wedding?

Approximately Rs 500,000 to Rs 600,000, inclusive of food, venue and decoration!

In fact, some of the guests who attended the marriage have already been making inquiries how they could do this for their sons and daughters. Inspiring right?

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Divya Nair /