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10 Ways to Plan a Sustainable Wedding (or at least make it a bit more eco-friendly)

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

If you’re like most people, you do your best to recycle and bring reusable grocery bags to the store. But if you’re getting ready to say I do and want to take your sustainability efforts a step further, here are ten ways to make your wedding more sustainable. They’re easy on the planet, and also in most cases, easy on the wallet!

Meredith in. a floral wedding gown smiling while looking off to the side in a grassy area on the wedding day
Photo by Jessica Manns Photography. Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia, PA

1. Go paperless with digital invitations (and a wedding website!)

Ok, so you’ve set a date, hooray! A great place to start is saving trees (and money) by sending electronic invitations. Paperless Post, Evite, and other online services offer great digital options allowing you to manage reminders and RSVPs in a seamless way. With an online website like The Knot or our personal favorite, Minted, you can do the same and have all of your wedding info in one location.

Not only will this reduce the environmental impact of paper production and mailing, but it will create a place for your guests to check out the event details and check out your registry. If you still want a flat-lay photo, you can have one card printed rather than the hundreds you usually would for guests! Also avoids the hassle of having to deal with lost or damaged envelopes at the post office!

2. Choose a green venue

This might be a bit trickier but look for venues that have energy-efficient lighting and heating, and/or that are committed to reducing waste. Many venues have implemented sustainable practices such as using LED lighting, recycling, and composting programs, and also have a water conservation plan. You might also consider a venue close to public transport or accommodation which reduces the need for guests to drive (and your carbon footprint is getting lower by the minute!) or having to provide large shuttles to move guests around (read more on tip #6).

You can search the Green Building Information Gateway for LEED-certified venues to start, and when you visit these spaces, go for something with “built-in decor” like flower arches or natural gardens that are part of the property. On the topic of gardens, getting married outside or even in a public space, like a national park is a great idea!

3. Opt for a locally-sourced, seasonal menu

Not only will this support local farmers, but it will also reduce the carbon footprint of transporting food from faraway locations. When choosing a caterer, ask them about their sourcing practices and see if they offer locally-sourced options. Selecting natural, local beer and wine is included in this as well! And on the topic of food, you can reduce food waste by choosing a plated dinner over a buffet.

4. Choosing environmentally-friendly blooms & decor

Maybe it’s counterintuitive, but when it comes to flowers, it can be a sometimes wasteful addition, not to mention costly. For many couples, it's a price they are willing to pay, but choosing locally grown, seasonally available flowers is better than their rare, requiring-distant-transport counterparts. Even better than these, consider using potted plants or fewer arrangements to cut down on waste.

You can also use natural elements like branches, leaves, and dried flowers to create beautiful, organic centerpieces that last longer than your wedding day when preserved correctly. There are so many amazing ways to decorate your event and if you know us, you know we are all about the details. Amazing decor is what we strive for, but that doesn’t mean we are wasteful! Always repurpose what you can (ex. ceremony decor brought to the reception space). Outside of flowers, consider renting or borrowing as much of the decor as possible. There are many event rental companies, like Musa Collections, where you can rent pieces that make your space pop! Everything from table numbers and card boxes to champagne bars and furniture can be rented. If you’re not sure, check with your planner (or me!) on who they would recommend.

5. Consider a “green” dress or suit

They say the most sustainable item of clothing is the one you already own, but of course, when it comes to your wedding, you want it to feel extra special. Consider a vintage dress or suit to start, as it is one of a kind and can feel just as special as a boutique brand. Vintage dresses can be found online on sites like Etsy, but also via vintage shops. This Brides article is a great place to start if you’re vintage curious! If that’s not your style, choose a garment made from sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, or peace silk. This will reduce the environmental impact of conventional cotton farming, which requires a lot of water and pesticides, as well as polyester which is petroleum based.

6. Use eco-friendly transportation

Encourage your guests to carpool, where possible, but if you’re providing transportation, choose a transportation service that uses hybrid or electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. This is a great way to decrease the environmental impact of transportation.

7. Go for plastic-free welcome bags

Receiving a welcome bag is always such a treat, but included can be lots of small snacks and items wrapped in plastic, including a single-use water bottle. Instead, go for a glass bottle for each guest, that can be refilled or including these boxed waters which come in 92% plant-based packaging and can be easily recycled.

8. Give back - donate, don’t trash

In all of your sustainable wedding planning, we haven’t mentioned your registry just yet, but instead of asking for “stuff” you could ask for money and donate a portion of your wedding funds to an environmental organization or plant a tree in honor of your special day. This will not only make a positive impact on the environment but also it will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Outside of monetary donations, consider donating flowers and decor to local organizations or shelters. This might be something that requires additional planning in advance, but by doing your best to cut back on waste, you’re certainly doing the planet a service, and you'll feel good after too!

9. Choose sustainable wedding favors (or none)

Instead of giving out traditional wedding favors that will likely end up in the trash, consider giving guests something that is useful and can be used for days, weeks, or years to come, or better yet, something that is edible… or, even better yet, no favors at all!

If you do want to consider giving out favors, a better option could be: seed packets, a small potted plant, a reusable tote bag made with eco-friendly materials, or something edible like a sweet treat!

10. Consider a green honeymoon

Choose a destination that is eco-friendly, and consider activities that will minimize the environmental impact of your trip, such as hiking, biking, or taking public transportation. Perhaps, if you’re flying you pay to offset your carbon or you choose a location that’s a bit closer to home and you can incorporate lots of outdoor activities into the trip. Sitting by the pool with a straw-free piña colada is definitely an outdoor activity in my book, but in many places, the fee to go diving or exploring will also help cover the cost of preserving that park/space.

PS: remember to NEVER support activities that include animals, of any kind, in captivity.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a beautiful and sustainable wedding that positively impacts the environment!

Cheers!! –Andi


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