Planning a sustainable wedding, but have no idea where to start? There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate eco-conscious choices on your wedding day.
Let’s break the stigma of weddings being wasteful with a breakdown of what to consider when planning an eco-friendly wedding.
First of all, know that a wedding can’t 100% be eco-conscious. The pressure to have every item be consciously curated can be too overwhelming. To the point where you don’t do anything at all.
Know that doing what you can is enough.
This is your big day, so don’t let the nagging feeling of, “I shouldn’t have used paper plates!” get to you.
Even using one or two of these main ideas is so helpful.
The fact that you are reading this shows that you are more conscientious than most people so hats off to you.
Planning an Eco-Conscious Wedding
Instead of buying every wedding planning book known, start by borrowing a book from the local library or buying secondhand.
Or you can opt out of printed books and download them instead.
Finally, instead of printing out documents, consider using Dropbox or MilaNote to host those important files on the go.
With planning in mind, make sure that you also think of seasons. Say, you want to use a specific flower or fruit for your cake, make sure that it is in-season with the day you are getting married. Or if you getting married in a touristy area, make sure to be considerate of peak season and the increase in traffic.
Finding a Sustainable Wedding Venue
One of the first things couples think about when getting married is, well, where are we getting married?
Finding a wedding venue can be the most expensive part of the wedding and it’s definitely the most time-sensitive.
When finding a place to host your sustainable wedding you should look for venues that:
- Are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint
- Have LEED certification
- Recycle as much as possible, use a local green trash service, or have composting bins on site
- Incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar generators
- Have sustainable operations or methods in place. Ex) gravity rainwater harvesting, solar-powered energy, or other seasonal options
- Work with local organizations like a conservation easement or a mentoring program
If you are getting married in the warmer seasons, ditch the venue altogether and have an outdoor ceremony at a national park. Make sure to check for local licensing laws for more info.
To cut down on your footprint, consider having your reception and ceremony at the same location. That way, there will be the least amount of travel for your guests. You can even calculate flight emissions to get a better idea of travel.
If you do decide to go with different locations, offer a shuttle service for your guest. Speaking of guests…
The Case for an Elopement or Micro Wedding
Mapping out your guest list can be tough. If you need an excuse for having a smaller wedding, planning an elopement or micro wedding could be it!
Having a smaller wedding cuts down on the cost of travel, food, favors, and the waste that comes with it. You can even use these tips on how to narrow down your guest list.
Use Local Wedding Vendors
To cut down travel costs, use local vendors whenever possible to reduce the carbon footprint.
Ask your wedding planner or the venues if they have recommendations for local vendors that could be a part of your wedding plans.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Dress
The second most crucial part of the wedding is your dress, but it’s also something that you will wear once in your life.
Many wedding dresses contribute to the fast fashion trend, but there are plenty of alternatives.
You can also go the secondhand route. Ask if you could wear a family member’s dress as an heirloom. You can also shop vintage on Etsy, buying from Brides Across America (which also happens to be an incredible non-profit organization), or rent a dress from Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses, Borrowing Magnolia, Dare and Dazzle, and StillWhite.
Eco-Friendly Tux and Dresses
Again, tuxes and bridal party gowns are rarely worn again. Renting a tux from Black Tux and Generation Tux is a great place to start. Check if your bridal party gowns can be sourced through a rental company or Etsy.
The jewelry industry is becoming more transparent about ethical mining, but can still improve. Finding out where your jewels originated is important. Most mainstream jewelry co is known for child labor in fatal conditions. Some jewelry companies that are planning to curb this are:
These companies use conflict-free diamonds. This is 100% guaranteed when because they are lab-grown diamonds. Moissanite is the alternative that looks like a real diamond because it is! The chemical, physical, and optical properties mean that is the same as a real diamond and costs a lot less.
Or you could go the vintage route and use a family heirloom.
The most eco-friendly floral practices include shopping locally, ensuring that they are US grown only, and in season.
You can also request not to use floral foam which is notoriously hard to break down.
Local flowers have fewer chemicals because they do not get sprayed during border patrol. This also means there is less of a chance of unethical farming practices and labor.
While using flowers that are in season means that you are getting the best price and freshest bunch.
Or you can ditch the flowers by using plants and succulents that you can use as wedding favors later on.
This recyclable paper company also makes a tree donation in honor of your marriage!
Or you can ditch the paper altogether and use an e-vite.
There are household items alternatives to add to your registry using recycled or reclaimed materials.
You can also skip the registry and have guests donates to a cause of your choosing.
Rent Wedding Decor
Did you know you can rent your wedding decor? Renting items like table linen, runners, furniture, and china can save you more money too!
Check for nearby wedding rentals near you to see what they have before buying.
You can also scour garage sales, Etsy, or Facebook Marketplace and Groups for some wedding day finds.
Meal options for your big day can be conscious. One step is to get rid of the buffet style to cut down on potential waste.
Instead, use caterers and bakers that use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
If possible, you can also have vegan or vegetarian menu options. Being plant-based means that you cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.As for utensils, swap single-use cutlery with rented glassware and dishes. You can use options like paper plates and straws, bamboo straws, biodegradable sugar cane straws, or even re-usable straws for your guests. These can double as favors by using silicon straws, glass straws, or metal straws.
One thing to note, is that similarly to using local flowers, choosing biodegradable confetti that is local to your area is just as important. The reason behind this is not to introduce any invasive species of bugs or other unwanted species into the local ecosystem. If you’re looking to kill some time while watching television, you can take a hole-puncher to make confetti from leaves you find in your yard (so long as you are planning on getting married locally too and not across the country!).
After the Wedding
If you’d love to keep mementos for home that’s great! If not, you can repurpose the decor from your wedding as favors.
For food: Check your local guidelines to see if you can donate food to a soup kitchen or shelter. Otherwise, you can always compost! Check out Mr. Fox Composting to see how they can make composting on your wedding an absolute breeze, or check their featured episode out on the podcast, New England Wed, here!
For flowers: Floral preservation is a popular trend that seems to be going to be around for a while. Dried flowers make for a nostalgic memento.
Did you know that companies can pick up your flowers to deliver to hospitals and nursing homes? They are even some that will compost them if they aren’t salvageable. Check out Floranthopy, Random Acts of Flowers, and Repeat Roses.
Planning Your Green Honeymoon
It doesn’t have to stop after the wedding! You can plan a honeymoon that is sustainable or opt to go camping if you are the outdoorsy type.
Planning a 100% sustainable wedding might not be possible, but every step does help, so don’t beat yourself up about it. The intention is what matters the most!