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I want to have an off grid wedding celebration? Is it possible?

Posted by Em Weirdigan on 23 June 2014 at 10:22 am

Q. I am organising a wedding and I would love for it to be off-grid. Is it possible to run a sound system, fridges and field kitchens using just renewable energy?

A. We've become increasingly imaginative about the celebrations and rituals that stitch our lives into such wonderful patterns but there's some logistical planning needed, to make such things run smoothly.

People are used to flicking a switch and – lo! – there is light. Open the fridge door and there's cold beer. Everything plugs in to a socket on the wall, even toothbrushes. So when there are no walls, no mains power, how do we organise a wedding party? Is it even possible?

For an off grid wedding:

• Unless you go for acoustic music and candle-lanterns, you'll need electricity to power lights and sound system. Hire solar panels and a battery bank from a company specialising in event power provision. They will need to know the technical specifications of the equipment you'll be using, to ensure they provide enough power for the 'draw'; be aware that bass is power-hungry, so if you want a rave you'll need a big bank of batteries! The power provider will also need to know if they can get their vehicle to your site, and whether the area is shady or sunlit (solar can work in the shade, and in cloud, just less efficiently).

• Use LED lighting, as this draws a fraction of the power used by other light sources; LEDs come in a wide range of colours and designs, and can be used to uplight trees or festoon them in fairy lights. LED stage lighting is also available.

• You'll probably be able to hire your sound equipment and lighting from your energy provider, or a partner company – this may be wise, to ensure all equipment is present, in working order and compatible.

• If you fancy an installation that's educational and fun, will keep the kids busy and provide a giggle, consider hiring a pedal-powered smoothie machine or hand-cranked record player.

• To provide the wedding feast, you could set up a full kitchen in a marquee, with stoves running on calor gas (not so eco, but a bottle of gas does go a long way); you could construct a mammoth charcoal-fired barbecue (and give the uncles a job); you could provide a cold, picnic-style buffet; or helpers could cook up big pots of curry and casserole in their homes, then re-heat them on a gas hob or cooking fire at the wedding site.

• To chill drinks, hiring large chest-style coolboxes and filling them with ice is probably simpler than finding gas fridges large enough to do the job.

• Intrepid outdoor caterers, particularly those used to working at festivals, will take all this in their stride and reassure your family, if they think it's beginning to sound a bit too 'get me out of here'!

• Remember to relax, and enjoy the day.

What could be more special than firelight flickering on friends' faces and starlight illuminating a couple's first dance? You might never want to go back to the grid...

More information

YouGen guide to energy saving

YouGen guide to renewable energy

About the author:

Em Weirdigan runs The Green Gathering, the UK's original off grid festival. The 2014 Green Gathering will be held near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, 31 July - 3 August

YouGen readers can get a lovely £10 discount by entering the code YOUGG14 when ordering tickets through the Green Gathering website. Full priced adult tickets are £90, youths tickets are £50 and kids go free! (£5 booking fee per order.)

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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