Ditching the usual idea of the groom arriving on horseback or in a car, Aditya Aggarwal’s entry to his wedding was unique. Along with his groomsmen, he arrived on an e-bike, while some chose to cycle to the wedding.
Such was the eco-friendly start to school sweethearts Aditya and Madhuri Balodi’s zero-waste wedding on 14 January 2021.
The idea of the baraat on e-bikes and cycles was given to the couple by Madhuri’s brother.
“My brother always cycles everywhere, even to work. He told us that if you are planning a sustainable wedding, the groom should also enter on an e-bike. There were about 30-35 baraatis and some came on cycles and some on e-bikes that we rented,” says Madhuri, adding, “I cycle to work daily too, and don’t own a vehicle.”
“I have grown up watching my grandparents practice sustainability in their house in Uttarakhand. My parents also imbibed those values in me. It’s not about the big things, but small steps that we take in our daily lives that matter. Even today, I do not use plastic bottles, only glass ones. If a flip flop breaks, we were taught to repair it, not buy a new one,” she says.
The couple says they wanted to ensure that their wedding was high on happiness and sustainability, and low on cost and wastage.
So, everything from photography to decoration, to catering, was handled by their friends. In fact, the pandit was also a friend of the couple.
Madhuri says she was inspired by the community weddings in Uttarakhand. “In community weddings, everyone does everything. No professionals are hired. It’s a great bonding experience too.” Moreover, there was no plastic at the wedding.
She adds, “When it came to the wedding, I didn’t want to spend a lot just for one day. The important thing is to celebrate it with your loved ones and have fun.”
Aditya also adds that for them, being with family was paramount. He says, “We just wanted to celebrate our love, with the people that matter. We didn’t want to stress about anything else. It’s about celebrating two people, right?”
Having studied in school together, their friendship gradually blossomed to love, and then marriage.
Aditya adds, “Compatibility and understanding are very important in a couple. Who understands you better than your best friend? That’s how the journey has been for us. I love how determined Madhuri is, in whatever she wants. I’ve learnt a lot from her and have been adopting sustainable practices after being married to her.”
Their wedding was organised in 10 days at a cost of Rs 1.5 lakhs. How did they do it?
The first decision was the venue. Madhuri’s uncle offered his garden in Mandi House, New Delhi, for the same.
Then came the invitations, the couple sent out e-vites, which they designed that talked about their ‘sustainable wedding’. The invite requested people to come to the wedding using public transport, cycle or electric vehicles (EV)s. They also asked guests to bring plants instead of flowers. While the couple said no to gifts, the gifts they received were wrapped in newspapers.
They even used upcycled cutlery. The couple and their friends decorated the garden using newspaper buntings and old glass bottles. Some of them were decorating the venue till 2 am on the wedding day.
“We called the local coconut water seller and chaiwallah to set up a stall at the wedding. This way, we avoided wastage, as whatever they didn’t sell, they took back. Our friend bought us tulsi garlands. My mother crushed the tulsi leaves and used them for tea later. We reused all the flowers at the wedding,” says Madhuri.
The couple didn’t buy expensive clothing. The bride bought one saree for Rs 2500 and the groom bought a sherwani for the same amount. And Madhuri adds that she has worn the saree five times after the wedding.
The bride’s makeup and Mehendi were done by her friend.
After the wedding, the duo gave away saplings as return gifts.
The wedding banner was a chalkboard. The chairs were rented and covered in cloth by the couple.
“We also didn’t buy new furniture after the wedding. We made a bed using reclaimed wood,” says Madhuri who runs the Kavi Project. They make utility products from old glass bottles and reclaimed wood. People can also send them their glass bottles, which they upcycle and convert into products.
Madhuri claims her venture has upcycled more than 6 lakh bottles to date.
She says that the youngsters who are to be married in her family are now inspired after seeing their wedding. “Happiness is paramount, not the scale of the wedding,” she concludes.
Edited by Yoshita Rao
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