Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas: 11 Simple Options
As you and your partner plan your big day, you may notice that a lot of waste goes into weddings. From flowers to decorations to food, the waste piles up, and so does the environmental impact. In fact, The Green Bride Guide states that the average wedding produces approximately 400 pounds of garbage. When combined with an estimated 2.5 million weddings in the U.S. each year, that equals more than 1 billion pounds. That’s why considering eco-friendly wedding ideas can make a big difference.
There are tons of steps couples can take to lessen the negative environmental impact of their wedding without having to compromise! Environmentally-friendly weddings can be just as beautiful and elegant as any other wedding.
Explore 11 eco-friendly wedding ideas to throw the green wedding of your dreams:
1. Shop for eco-friendly, conflict-free rings.
Engagement rings and wedding rings are powerful symbols of commitment, and finding the right one is essential to both partners. Fortunately, there are many ways to find environmentally-friendly rings. One way is to use family heirlooms. Reusing rings is a powerful way of incorporating your family into the proposal while also keeping the overall costs of the wedding down. If that’s not an option or you’d prefer to buy new rings, there are ways to make that process environmentally friendly as well.
Pay attention to where the ring is made and how the materials are sourced. Check if the creators of the ring are using recycled metals. In addition to sourcing metals, you also want to make sure you’re considering conflict-free materials. There are many facets to finding a conflict-free ring, and there are great resources that will help you learn more.
2. Browse environmentally-friendly venues.
Picking a wedding venue is one of the first things you need to do when planning your wedding. There are a few key things to look for when vetting a venue based on their dedication to environmental awareness and sustainability. From ensuring that single-use flatware is biodegradable and non-hazardous, to avoiding food waste, to having a positive impact on the area they inhabit, environmentally-friendly venues work to make sure that the natural beauty you and your guests enjoy will be there for years to come.
3. Get creative with your invitations.
The wedding invitation is one of the first glimpses your guests will see of your wedding. You want your invitations to be perfectly suited to your needs, showing off your aesthetic and providing key information. There are many ways to make these important pieces environmentally friendly. One option is to go digital.
The digital invitation option provides you with all the style options you could ever want and allows you to truly personalize it to your tastes. It’s also environmentally friendly, as no physical paper is used. In addition to the countless design options, you’re able to track RSVPs much easier. You can create a form fill so that your guests can indicate what they plan on doing and can make changes to their RSVPs until you close them.
If you prefer your invitations to be physical, there are still plenty of ways to make them eco-friendly! Check into the companies you’re considering purchasing from to make sure they’re utilizing sustainable practices and are using materials that aren’t harmful to the environment. One really fun option is plantable wedding invitations. Once the recipient has RSVP’d to your wedding, they can literally plant the invitation in the ground and the embedded seeds in the invitation will grow!
4. Consider sustainable clothing options.
There are many things a bride considers when choosing a wedding dress, and for brides looking to wear an environmentally friendly dress, that list grows even more. Not only because of the dress itself, but because of the fabrics, designer, adornments, and more. One environmentally friendly way to source your wedding dress is to purchase or use one that has already been worn. Most wedding dresses are only worn for a few hours and are still in excellent condition. So if you are looking for “something used” on your big day, it could be your dress!
If you prefer to have your own never-before-worn wedding dress, there are still plenty of ways to have it be eco-friendly. First, it helps to understand what environmentally friendly clothing is and how it’s made. These types of dresses are usually created from organic fibers, are organically dyed, and are made from fabrics that only require small amounts of water to grow. Brides should also consider choosing a dress that’s made using fair labor practices. Thankfully, there are many designers and options for those socially and environmentally conscious brides.
Another way you can make your dress environmentally friendly is to donate it after wearing it. There are many organizations that will take and repurpose your dress. It’s a great way to give back, have an environmentally friendly gown, and make a difference in the life of another bride!
5. Book an eco-friendly caterer.
Picking the right caterer for your wedding is a big check off the wedding planning to-do list. Planning the meals, cocktail hours, and other aspects of the reception are important to both you and your guests. For the environmentally conscious couple, finding the right caterer will include a few more requirements, but shouldn’t make your search harder. Eco-friendly caterers know that a large amount of wedding waste comes from catering, and they work towards reducing that waste through a variety of methods. Ask your potential caterers if they do the following:
Buy local ingredients
Have seasonal menu options
Have vegan or vegetarian options
Have methods of reducing food waste
Use sustainable flatware
Cook using energy-efficient equipment
Each of the strategies mentioned above will help reduce waste, ensure excellent food service and make sure your wedding is as eco-friendly as possible.
6. Consider eco-friendly flowers.
Flowers are a big part of your wedding. They add an element of beauty and elegance to the décor. They can also be a source of waste if not handled in an eco-friendly manner. Thankfully there are many ways that couples can mitigate that waste. The first method is to utilize silk flowers rather than cut flowers. Be sure that the company you’re using for your silk flowers is sourcing their silk sustainably as well. Silk flowers last forever and can be re-used in other celebrations and events well past your wedding date. You can give them as gifts to your guests, donate them once the wedding is over, or rent them instead of purchasing.
If silk flowers are not an option, there are plenty of ways to sustainably source natural flowers. Finding eco-friendly flowers is easier than you may think. Sourcing your flowers locally will ensure that they’re fresh and will help your community by giving your business to a local florist. Make sure they’re using eco-friendly practices as well.
If you’re interested in helping others with your flowers, you can donate your florals to other brides! Whether the florals are silk or natural, they can be donated to various organizations that will make sure they’re enjoyed over and over. From other weddings to women’s shelters, there are many ways that your wedding florals can have an even bigger impact than they do at your wedding.
7. Keep your ceremony sustainable.
When planning your wedding ceremony sustainably, there are many factors to take into account. First is the venue. Then comes the decorations. If you’re using linens in your ceremony, make sure they’re sustainably sourced and repurposed once the ceremony is over. A great way to repurpose linens is to utilize them in your home. They can make beautiful curtains or can even be sewn into clothing, and will be a daily reminder of your wedding day.
Another option is to consider hiring a local officiant to lead your ceremony. Finding a local officiant negates the need for travel and will reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding.
8. Go green at the reception.
Similar to the ceremony, the reception can also be done sustainably. We’ve gone over catering and florals, which are obviously a big part of the reception, but there are more ways to keep your reception eco-friendly! One way is to host your reception outdoors. It will reduce the carbon footprint of the reception and allow for the beauty of nature to do most of the decorating work for you. As with the ceremony, you can utilize decorations that can be donated or reused once the reception is over. Mason jars with sustainably sourced candles are a great centerpiece and also can be given as gifts to wedding guests, reducing the need for additional items.
Another way to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding is to have reusable signage at your reception. Talk to your venue about their options — odds are they have tons of options for you. If not, they can help you find what you’re looking for.
9. Be versatile with your registry.
There are many routes couples can take when creating a sustainable and eco-friendly registry. Some couples choose to have guests donate the money they would have spent on a gift to a charity. Others request gifts that are lifetime pieces that are environmentally efficient. Others request that items purchased as gifts must be made in an artisan shop with sustainably sourced materials.
Each of the options mentioned above are good ways to make your registry eco-friendly, sustainable, and socially conscious. Couples should talk through what their sustainability priorities are and make decisions from there. Think through your post-wedding lifestyle when completing your registry and make sure you’re asking for things you’ll actually use. You’ll be amazed at how creative your guests can be!
10. Get guests green gifts.
Many couples want to give as much as they receive on their wedding day by getting gifts for their wedding guests. When choosing what to give your guests, there are many excellent options that are environmentally friendly. One great option is to give succulents or seed packages. Succulents last a long time and require very little water, while seed packages enable your guests to grow a plant in memory of your wedding. Other great options for green party favors are bamboo straws and reusable water bottles. These items are reusable and cut down on single-use plastic straws and bottles.
Fair trade items are also a great way to ethically give gifts to your guests as well. The fair trade movement is “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers…”
Supporting these businesses is a great way to ethically give your guests something they will cherish from your big day. Some great examples of fair trade items are soaps, decorative glass bottles, and pillows. Check out the myriad of options for fair trade gifts.
11. Explore eco-friendly honeymoon options.
After the wedding is done and the gifts are given, it’s time for the bride and groom to go on their honeymoon! This is a special time for couples to connect and start their new lives together. For those environmentally conscious couples, this can be a great opportunity to have a positive impact as well. One option is to make your honeymoon a volunteering opportunity. You can do this locally, with a group, or internationally. There are many volunteering opportunities for couples to choose from, and it’s a great way to make an impact while starting your new life with your spouse.
If volunteering is not how you want to spend your honeymoon, there are still some great options for couples who want to have a positive impact on the environment. There are many eco-friendly resorts and destinations that utilize sustainable practices. These resorts do everything from utilizing biodegradable materials to not using animal products.
Put these eco-friendly wedding ideas to good use when planning your big day!
Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, and taking a well-thought-out approach to being environmentally friendly will not only reduce the waste from your wedding, but will also have a positive impact on the environment. And that peace of mind about how your day will impact the environment and the people and companies who support it will only make your day even more special.