A Guide to a Sustainable and Eco-friendly Wedding

Now more than ever is the time to go green and preserve our planet! Paper straws, recycling, and eco-friendly cars are a few ways to become more eco-friendly in our everyday activities. Still, your environmental efforts do not have to stop at daily tasks. If you are planning a wedding, there are multiple ways to make it eco-friendly. Here we share some environmentally-conscious tips to keep in mind when planning your wedding because sustainability never stops!

Keep the Guest List Small

Your wedding is a special moment in your life and that moment should be shared with loved ones. Inviting guests that have supported you and your spouse at your ceremony is very important, but you must prioritize your guest list, which can be a challenging but rewarding task. 

By keeping a smaller guest list, you are primarily helping to reduce the cost of your wedding. Fewer people have to be accounted for when you map out the seating arrangements and work with your caterer. The additional benefit of the smaller guest list will also help you to save on materials and rentals for seating, party favors, and invitations which automatically helps to make your wedding more sustainable. Also, a small guest list allows for a smaller venue space which can help with being eco-friendly.  

Don’t worry about feeling guilty for keeping your guest list small and thinking that everyone will have to miss out on your special day. The pandemic has shown us the power and efficiency of technology. Hosting a Zoom or virtual element to your wedding is a smart move, and this choice has increased in popularity. In contrast, we no longer have to have everybody in person to participate in the wedding festivities. Offer the live-stream option for guests early on and allow them to be present, just not physically.

Make Your Registry Eco-Friendly 

Living in the era of technology has its perks. There are plenty of brands that offer eco-friendly and sustainable registry options. Etsy is a great tool you can use to search for homemade, one-of-a-kind, and sustainable wedding gifts. The site allows you to curate a wedding registry on their website or app easily and quickly add items to the list while you’re browsing. There are hundreds of eco-friendly shops on, and here’s the feel-good moment – you can help support small businesses. 

Etsy is just one example, but several online and brick-and-mortar stores are sustainable and eco-friendly and support gift registries with eco-friendly product offerings. 

Another option to consider when trying to stay eco-friendly is having alternative gift options instead of tangible gifts. If you and your spouse don’t want an influx of physical gifts from guests and want to help the environment or a good cause, you can always use a donation registry. The Good Beginning hosts a donation registry allowing guests to donate to a non-profit of their choice as a wedding gift. This is a great sustainable gift option because it reduces the number of actual items people may try to give you. Those items could either be harmful to the environment or utilize a lot of energy to create. It also helps contribute to a good cause. 

Another alternate registry option is to accept monetary donations. Multiple websites allow guests to send money or donate towards the couple’s honeymoon expenses, such as airline tickets and the resort stay. These donations can also go towards a house fund, a second celebration at a later date, or so much more.  

Being sustainable or eco-friendly doesn’t always have to be complicated either. Sustainability is as simple as putting items on your registry that you’re sure that you and your spouse will use and won’t end up returning, regifting, or throwing away.  

Keep Vendor Selections Local

Another way to keep your wedding sustainable is to shop locally for all aspects of your wedding. If you use a local catering business, florists, event decorators, and so much more are ways to support businesses within the community and cut down on travel expenses which equal gas and energy prices. If you don’t know where to find local options, reaching out and working with entertainment and other event planning companies are a great place to start. Companies like Entertainment Exchange work with local businesses and can do the hard work by researching and connecting with their preferred (and local) vendors, so you don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. 

From Vendors to Menus to Flowers 

Vendor choice is an impactful way to make sure your wedding is eco-friendly. Hiring food vendors/caterers that use local, freshly grown ingredients is key to sustainability.  Try turning to a local and organic florist when you begin to look for flowers to use on your big day. An eco-friendly idea to consider when dealing with wedding flowers is donating them after the ceremony is over. This ensures that your flowers are sustainable, and you get another opportunity to support local businesses.  

Pick an Eco-Friendly Venue

Another way to incorporate sustainability into your wedding day is to choose a venue that already has sustainability in its values. This ensures that you and the venue are operating on the same page and that the venue will make adjustments and suggestions that will enhance your wedding in an eco-friendly way. Solar power energy options and reusable dinnerware are all examples of sustainability. 

Go Green with Your Wedding Paper and Signage

Biodegradable seed paper is a great way to have your wedding invitations and wedding favors be environmentally friendly. Through personalized shops found on Etsy or websites like Botanical Paperworks, you can customize a message to your guest on the flower/plant seed paper with your, and your guests can plant the paper and watch something beautiful grow. 

 

You can take ideas and offer your guests something unique and beautiful. Your wedding invitations and wedding favors can be made out from flowers or plants that complement each other. Utilizing the internet or technology is another way to go green with your wedding stationery. Sending out virtual invitations and “Save the Dates” eliminates the use of paper and is highly eco-friendly. You can also use recycled paper and send one invitation per household (versus per guest) is another option that helps keep your wedding paper usage low and sustainable.  

If you plan to have a guest book for guests to sign when they come in, you can create an alternative option like a virtual guest book where guests can sign their names and send a message online. Another option is to set up an area where guests can record a personalized message for the couple on a camera or tablet. This eliminates the need for a paper book and allows guests to give the couple a personalized message that they can hold on to and cherish for years to come.  

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse When it Comes to Decor

Donations are a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle your wedding decor. You can donate your flowers to local nursing homes, churches, or hospitals. It is a great way to make use of your wedding flowers after the ceremony is over, rather than just composting them or throwing them away. You can also donate your mirrors, lanterns, signage, and other decorations you don’t see yourself reusing to local thrift stores or Goodwill. You will give those who may be less fortunate the opportunity to benefit from using these items. This avoids these items going to waste and ending up in a landfill. 

You can also start off using recycled or donated items as well. The odds are that most of the decorations will never be used again, so by using recycled and donated pieces, you aren’t only helping save the environment; you’re helping save your pockets too. 

Select Green Wedding Attire and Beauty Products 

Looking and feeling beautiful on your wedding day is essential and can be done while staying eco-friendly as well. You can start by renting a wedding dress so you can keep your cost low and recycle the dress so someone else can use it later on. You can use a dress designer that uses sustainable and zero-waste materials to help your wedding be more “green” as well. Try to keep the number of people within your wedding party low so you can reduce the number of bridesmaid dresses needed as well. 

There are a wide variety of beauty products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly that can be used on your wedding day. It’s best to try and solidify your makeup artist sooner rather than later so you can relay to them that you want eco-friendly products to be used for your wedding day look. Having this conversation early on allows the makeup artist to research and find the best eco-friendly products and brands if they don’t already use them. 

Make Your Wedding Favors Fun and Sustainable

Wedding party favors are always a fun way to thank your guest for attending, and they can be sustainable as well. Couples typically want to give their guests a trinket that can serve as a memory of the ceremony and reception. Handmade soaps, candles, and coasters are some of the many options you can give your wedding guests. These types of favors are not only sustainable and personal; they have a higher chance of being used by your guests and not just tossed to the side once they get home. 

These are just a few examples of the many options that allow you to give your guest a thoughtful thank you for coming to your ceremony and still being eco-friendly and cautious about the environment.  

Don’t Leave Behind Waste After Your Wedding Exit

When the music stops and it’s time for everyone to head home, a ton of waste is the last thing you want to see. You want to ensure the trash and debris are handled correctly so you can maintain your eco-friendly efforts. When it comes to the dinner arrangements for your reception, be very strategic about the amount of food you serve, so guests don’t have too much of an opportunity to waste food. A plated dinner tends to be a bit more sustainable because you have a headcount of how many plates of food need to be prepared. Since everyone is customarily served a portioned plate, they will likely waste less food. On the other hand, when food is offered buffet style, people tend to “eat with their eyes and not with their stomach” – meaning they grab everything that looks good, pile it on their plates and end up becoming full before they can finish it all. 

When served buffet-style, people also tend to place a lot of food on their plates to try and eliminate having to get up and make another trip for seconds. This leads to people having too much food and the leftovers going to waste. Do your best to ensure that you have just enough food for everyone to eat, but not so much that tons of food is leftover. Keep this in mind — your guests are here to celebrate you and your new spouse; the primary focus shouldn’t be stuffing their faces like it’s their last meal. When you add music and drinks into the mix, your guests may be having too much fun to worry about too much about food anyway.  

Don’t Toss the Confetti 

Throwing confetti or streamers is fun, but these little celebratory pieces of paper can leave a tremendous amount of waste that can be hard to clean up and harmful to the environment if not cleaned up properly. Flower petals are a more eco-friendly alternative to throwing confetti. The petals are biodegradable, environment friendly, offer a wide variety of color and flower options, and give a more romantic feel to your ceremony. You can also save money by reusing flowers from your table centerpieces if you have the time and staffing to pull the petals between the reception and exit.

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