Green route fits the bill
Elaborate banquets and imported fresh flowers in a beautifully decorated venue can set the scene for an ideal wedding, but greener choices can be kinder to the environment - and the bank balance.
And it's becoming easier to incorporate them into a dream wedding.
'Ma Wan Park has been a favourite spot for wedding photos since it opened,' says Edmond Wong, park manager. 'The nature of the park itself is eco-friendly and so beautiful that decor is not needed.'
The park offers wedding packages with themed receptions ranging from traditional Chinese and classic Western styles to simple cocktail receptions and carnival parties.
Renowned green chef Margaret Xu Yuan and owner of Yin Yang restaurant creates menus for the park's Chinese banquets using organic ingredients as well as cooking and presentation methods with a low-carbon output.
'The wedding banquet for Ma Wan is basically the same principles as what we believe in serving at our private kitchen,' Xu says.
Seafood is sustainable and 90 per cent of the vegetables come from the kitchen's own certified organic farm in Hong Kong with the rest sourced locally.
South China Sea abalone replaces dried South African abalone and is poached under a low temperature and served 'with a mountain of fresh organic vegetables'. Traditional shark's fin soup is also off the menu, replaced with home-made noodles made with wild root flour cooked in a chicken and conpoy broth.
'The menu is based on using traditional banquet ingredients revisited and refreshed to present a more contemporary, sustainable option for environmentally-aware couples,' Xu says, adding tradition is killing the world. 'Getting married is traditional enough. [Getting married is a fresh new start], so start fresh,' she says.
Flowers can be sourced locally, too. 'Nowadays, we get a lot more requests from brides for more eco-friendly and economical weddings and we always suggest they reuse their flowers,' says Gary Kwok, founder and owner of local florist, Gary Kwok.
'Flowers used in church in the morning can be used again at the evening banquet. We can collect the mini-bouquets used along the aisles and use them in the foyer or reception area for the banquet, or group together as the head table centre piece.'
Kwok says the quality of local flowers doesn't always match that of imported ones but 'it depends on the designer's artistic skills and the florist's techniques to make it work beautifully'.
Transporting fresh flowers from overseas adds to the carbon footprint but there are ways to reduce the impact.
'Hydrangeas are very sensitive to heat and should be avoided for outdoor weddings in Hong Kong, unless you are prepared to replace them,' Kwok says.
Phalaenopsis is a favourite among Asian brides, but it is difficult to reuse. 'My advice is to avoid sensitive and delicate flowers if you want an eco-friendly wedding,' Kwok says. 'Use flowers that are available in season or all year round. Thai orchid is a good choice and it's inexpensive.'