Planning a wedding doesn’t have to be a conundrum if you’re trying to stay green. By making a few small changes to your venue, catering choices, and even decorations, you can host a memorable celebration that’s sustainable and responsible. Take a look at some of the ways you can put together a show-stopping, eco-friendly wedding.
Save trees – go paperless.
This may seem like a small step, but about 68 MILLION trees are used to make paper products each year. When it comes to making your wedding as green as can be, no details are too insignificant. Sending your invitation as an e-card, slideshow, or online video is an easy way to save paper and money, since you won’t have to worry about mailing or printer costs. There are many online resources for wedding invite templates, or you can even create your own if you want to add a more personal touch:
Go all out with a full-blown website
If you really want to wow your guests, go for an immersive experience and send your invites in the form of a wedding website. More and more people are going this route to save paper while also giving some additional background information about the event, as well as the couple in charge. It’s an easy way for your guests to have access to all of the wedding details such as location, dress code, and even RSVP status. You don’t have to pay someone an arm and a leg to create your site for you; it’s quick and easy to create your own with these free online website builders:
Choose your paper wisely
If you want to stick with the tried-and-true method of paper invites, fear not! There are a ton of responsible producers to choose from who have your mission – and aesthetic – in mind. Look for printers and designers who use recycled paper, or even alternative materials such as hemp or bamboo (which can be replenished much quicker than traditional wood-based paper products). Here are a few vendors you can trust with the task of making eco-friendly invitations:
- Plantable Wedding Invitations by Botanical Paper Works
- Cotton-Based Stationary by Crane & Co.
- Custom Letterpress Wedding Invitations by Smock
- Seed Packet Invitations by Sow n’ Sow
- Green Wedding Invites by Beacon Lane
Save two birds with one stone at a nature preserve
If you’re stuck between venues and want to think about the environment, what better place than a nature preserve? Outdoor weddings are beautiful and down-to-earth, and you can save some money as well. By giving your business to a preserve, you’re also helping to fund conservation efforts. Many preserves have gorgeous outdoor gathering areas, which can include gazebos, awnings, and even rentable tents for those who may be concerned about weather mishaps. Here are a few options for brides-to-be around the country:
- Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, Appleton, WI
- Chattahoochee Nature Center, Roswell, GA
- Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim, CA
- Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD
- Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve, Wilton Manors, FL
Stroll down the aisle at a botanical garden
Another stunning and sustainable venue option could be your local botanical garden. Allow your guests to enjoy a variety of organically grown plants and flowers while joining you for your celebration. Many botanical gardens feature fauna that’s native to the area, so it’s a great way to tie your location with the wedding itself. Many gardens include dreamy features such as koi ponds, romantic bridges, or beautiful rose arrangements that make for amazing photo sessions – both for you and your guests. These are a few of our favorites:
- The Gardens at Elm Bank, Wellesley, MA
- Naples Botanical Garden, Naples, FL
- Moorten Botanical Garden, Palm Springs, CA
- Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth, TX
- Center for Urban Horticulture, Seattle, WA
Go for an edgy vibe at your favorite art studio
Art studios are another interesting indoor venue that have all the necessary elements for an eco-friendly wedding. Art studios provide the perfect environment for cocktail-style wedding receptions and you can even partner with local artists to feature their work as decor. As a bonus, offer to feature their for-sale pieces. Check out these studios to find out more about the packages they have available:
- Mulberry Art Studios, Lancaster, PA
- Art Works Studio and Galleries, Richmond, VA
- Palos Verdes Art Center, Palos Verdes, CA
- Beatnik Studios, Sacramento, CA
- Imperial Art Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Research your flowers
Making sure that your flowers are ethically grown and produced is an easy way to make your big day as green as possible.
Hold a “deco-swap.”
If any of your friends, colleagues, or relatives were married recently, consider asking them for some of their decorations. If you know anyone who is getting married soon, having an item swap party is the perfect way to recycle wall hangings and centerpieces while also helping to take old items off your friends’ hands. Depending on what you find, you might be able to mix and match or customize some pieces for a look that’s uniquely yours, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your decorations were previously used and not created solely for your event.
Ditch the plastic
One of the easiest ways to eco-ize your wedding is to avoid plastic at all costs. Opting for glass, paper, wood, or cloth-based decorations limits waste while also giving your party a charming look that your guests are sure to remember. Everything from vases to hanging lights can be swapped for an option made from sustainable materials. If there’s something that you must use plastic for, make sure it’s recyclable and, if possible, crafted from recycled materials.
Buy food and booze in bulk – and forget the packaging
If you plan on having an open bar, consider using wine decanters or beer on tap to reduce the amount of bottles and cans that will just end up in the trash. If you’re brave enough, opt for reusable glassware instead of disposable cups to further limit waste production during your wedding.
Skip the wasteful dinnerware
Possibly one of the easiest steps for making a green reception dinner is skipping the plastic dishes and cutlery. Many catering services will gladly offer reusable plates, glasses, and silverware for little or no extra cost. However, if you prefer to use single-use items, check out these environmentally friendly options that you find at a local store or online:
- Veneerware from Bambuhome
- Sugarcane Dinnerware by Eco-Products
- Vine Cutlery by Eco-Products
- Eco-friendly tableware by Party City
- Green disposable dishware from Amazon
Sourcing your food directly from local organic farms and producers will allow you to save unnecessary packaging, while also supporting the growers in your community. You and your guests will also benefit from knowing exactly where your food is coming from, and you can provide the freshest possible ingredients for a meal that they’ll be sure to remember.
Double up on decor with edible herbs
For a crisp and fresh look that also brings some flavor, use potted herbs as decor that your guests can use during their meal. Fresh herbs like basil, mint, and thyme are aesthetically pleasing, and they’ll add a fresh touch to your meal. Your guests will love the interactive element, as well as the idea behind providing package-free seasonings.
One of the most important aspects of any wedding is also one of the easiest to overlook when it comes to finding eco-friendly options. Regardless of the style you want for your wedding dress, and wedding party outfits, there are a wide selection of green options to choose from. If you don’t plan on keeping your dress, renting is a responsible option that can dramatically lower your total costs. Here are some top ethical and conscious brands on the market today:
- Nearly Newlywed
Not so concerned about taking the tag off your dress? Opt for a pre-worn gown instead of buying new! Nearly Newlywed is a rental service that offers lightly used bridal gowns, accessories, and even engagement rings. You can even sell items back to them, and you only need to pay a $25 fee to list it on the website. If your item sells, you’ll receive 60% of the sale price.
- Rent the Runway
Another pre-owned clothing service, Rent the Runway offers a variety of off-the-rack and high-end styles that are sure to suit any bride. Rest easy knowing that you aren’t adding to the number of consumers who buy a dress just to keep it in the closet, since this site allows you to rent rather than purchase your items. You can also choose from their wide range of dresses for your guests or bridal party.
This sustainable brand is an affordable option that you can feel good about. They offer a wide selection of eco-friendly bridal wear at a fraction of the cost of most popular retailers and dress makers. They have a ton of options to choose from, so you’re sure to find something in your style – and price range. Check out their bridesmaid section to give your entire bridal party a green makeover.
For a custom-made dress that’s created by hand with only sustainable materials, find the perfect bridal gown with a consultation from WearYourLove. Choose from luxuriously soft materials such as organic cotton or bamboo for a comfortable and unique dress that you’ll feel good about – and in – on your big day. This online retailer ships directly to their customers, meaning you can leave out the middleman and forget about the in-store markup that many retailers charge.
*Pro tip: Save your wedding dress for future use by using a preservation service, such as this one available from The Knot. This is the perfect way to keep the integrity of your dress if you ever plan to pass it down.
No matter the size or style of your wedding, it can be simple and cheap to keep it green if you know what you’re looking for. From the dress to the dishware, there are a huge range of eco-friendly options available. Save energy, money, and materials with some of these tips and tricks.