Nowadays, weddings can often considered an extravagant, wasteful expense. Dresses are worn once, then discarded, and enormous cakes go uneaten, while plastic and paper décor wind up in the trash… but it doesn’t have to be that way! Simple substitutions can actually save you money while still being a bit kinder to the earth. With more sustainable vendors and suppliers jumping on the trend, planning a green wedding is actually easier than ever! We’ve gathered just a few ideas below to help you have the eco-friendly wedding of your dreams.
- Reduce the Size of Your Guest List
Small weddings are more popular than ever and it’s easy to understand why. When you reduce the size of your guest list, you reduce the amount of invitations and paper goods needed, and cut back on potential food waste as well. A smaller wedding can actually be a much more intimate, personal event; consider that you’ll even reduce the amount of electricity needed to power your smaller reception!
- Use Recyclable Invitations or Cut the Paper Goods Entirely
When designing your wedding invitations, look for recycled paper and consider that embellishments like glitter and ribbon aren’t biodegradable. More and more couples are opting to use plantable wedding invitations, like those made from seed paper, which guests can recycle by planting in their garden afterwards. While more traditional family members will likely still want to receive a physical wedding invitation, many modern couples are choosing to cut out paper goods entirely! It’s possible to go completely paperless for your wedding: You can send a beautiful save-the-date or invitation by email and create a simple wedding website to store important details about the venue and travel.
- Let Your Wedding Venue Speak For Itself
If you want to plan a more sustainable wedding, consider choosing a venue that needs little to no additional décor. There are even added labor and energy costs associated with setting up a tent or marquee, so think about choosing a permanent building that has everything you need already: places like a cool downtown loft, a historic house, or event hall. If an outdoor wedding is more your style, let nature speak for itself! A beautiful park or garden will not need additional décor to look absolutely stunning.
- Choose Food That is Locally Sourced and Seasonal
Ask every potential wedding caterer about who their suppliers are and whether they work with local farmers. You’ll reduce costs by choosing produce that is in-season and local, rather than having a specific vegetable shipped over in wasteful packaging. Be sure to skip the buffet, too. More often than not, caterers will over-prepare buffet items to ensure there is more than enough for everyone!
- Look For Truly Organic Wedding Flowers
Did you know that some farms use harmful chemicals on their flowers to keep insects away? Don’t be afraid to question your wedding florist on where they source their blooms. As with the food menu, think local and seasonal in order to cut down on refrigeration times and fuel costs during transport. One sustainable wedding alternative is potted plants or topiaries, which you (or your guests!) can take home and plant in your garden. Finally, give your wedding flowers a second life by donating your beautiful blooms to a local hospital.
- Ditch the Single-Use Plastic Wherever Possible
Wedding decorations tend to be predominantly single-use plastic; think balloons, bunting, streamers, and even confetti. Now picture all that plastic sitting in a landfill or polluting the ocean! Plastic straws are one of the worst culprits. Ask your caterer or venue coordinator if they can supply metal drinking straws or straws made from biodegradable materials instead. Rental décor like lanterns or lovely pillows can look beautiful without being wasteful.
- Consider Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Electricity
Having a small wedding is a great way to keep things eco-friendly because you’ll automatically use up less electricity at your venue. Consider using candles to light your evening reception to create a romantic atmosphere and cut electricity use even further! Less guests also means a smaller carbon footprint created by travel. Encourage guests to carpool or use public transportation as a greener means of traveling to your wedding and keep the festivities contained to a single venue to cut back on additional driving between events.
- Think Vintage or Pre-Loved
Vintage and vintage-inspired wedding dresses are absolutely timeless. Perhaps your “something old” could be your mother or grandmother’s wedding dress, altered to fit you and your unique style. Simply bring the dress to a good tailor and collaborate to give the design your own personal touch. Even your bridesmaids can be eco-friendly, by choosing to wear one of their own dresses instead of buying another, or by renting a dress from sites like Rent The Runway.
- Choose Ethical Wedding Jewelry With Responsibly Sourced Diamonds
Instead of further depleting natural minerals, consider recycling gems or metals from a family heirloom piece to create a new, one-of-a-kind and sustainably sourced wedding ring. Look for a jeweler who sources diamonds responsibly and works with fairtrade metals. You’ll find it’s easier than you think to shop ethical and eco-friendly wedding jewelry!
- Skip the Traditional Wedding Registry
Kitchen mixers, gadgets, and fine china are all lovely to have, but imagine the sheer volume of waste associated with packing and shipping it all. If you truly want to have a sustainable wedding, consider skipping the traditional wedding registry entirely. Instead, invite guests to contribute towards off-setting the carbon footprint of your honeymoon or donate to an eco-friendly, charitable organization of your choice.
Implementing any of the above ideas are great ways to get started planning a green wedding! Hiring a professional wedding planner who understands sustainable weddings can help alleviate a lot of the stress of planning your big day. Remember, small changes can leave a lasting impact and choosing to have a sustainable wedding sets a positive example during one of the most exciting times of your life!