Your Wedding is one of the most unforgettable days of your life, a reflection of your union as a couple, and the life you plan to live. But, did you know, weddings on average produce around 400-600 pounds of trash, and 63 tons of Co2 (Green Bride Guide)? If one of your values as a couple is to live sustainably, then why not incorporate that into your wedding?
What is a Green Wedding?
A green wedding, otherwise known as a sustainable wedding, or an eco-friendly wedding, is a celebration in which the pair consciously decides to opt for choices that minimize their waste and carbon footprint.
Eco-friendly weddings are currently on the rise. With more people becoming conscientious regarding their carbon footprint, it has become easier than ever to plan a sustainable wedding of your own. Still, feeling nervous? Have no fear! We have 15 suggestions to lighten your carbon footprint without compromising style and the experience.
01) Estate Jewelry & Sustainable Diamonds
One detail of a wedding that is often overlooked is jewelry. Metals in particular produce up to 20 tons of toxic waste, let alone destroy the Earth's surface and oceans. Additionally, blood diamonds (or conflict diamonds) are still plentiful on the market, as it is incredibly difficult to trace the origins of diamonds and other gemstones. None of this sounds great, right? Picking up a ring or jewel at an estate sale is a great place to start, as not only will you be "re-using" and reducing your carbon footprint, but you will have something unique to you.
Additionally, lab-grown diamonds and gemstones are great alternatives. Although this seems counterintuitive, there is no mining involved, thus it is no longer harmful to the Earth or involved in a conflict.
02) Eco-Friendly Invitations
It has become easier than ever to find vendors who offer recycled, sustainable or compostable wedding invitations. Many companies are willing to give back or use up-cycled materials such as wood and ribbon. Our personal favorite Earth-friendly stationary is seed paper. A 2-in-1 gift perfect for your guest, perfect for invitations, menus, and place cards and to top it all off, it's easily compostable. Our partner Minted has an abundant selection of Earth Friendly paper stationery
03) Charity or Eco-Friendly Registry
Is your lifestyle environmentally conscious? Items such as stainless steel straws, silicon cup liners, and energy-efficient appliances are great choices. You may even inspire your friends! Not interested in material items? Not to worry, have your guests invest in a charity or your (or their) choice! This is a fantastic idea if you and your partner already live together and don't need any extra odds and ends.
04) Marry in the Outdoors or Pick an Eco Friendly Venue
Your wedding venue is a vital part of the wedding planning process. With so many venues going green, and the increasing popularity of outdoor weddings, you won't have to sacrifice style for a sustainable venue. Being conscious of fair wages, water and garden practices is a great place to start. You can check Green Building Information Gateway for more information on sustainable design and energy conservation. Additionally, looking for venues that incorporate elements that fit your wedding as well as built-in decor will save on your expenses, as well as the waste.
Although traditional venues are beautiful, nothing beats the simplicity and beauty of the outdoors. Book a wedding with a national park, have one in your backyard, or even in a local park! You'll save on energy and water by relying on sunshine and the weather. P.S.; All natural light results in breathtaking photographs. These include wineries, botanical gardens, and greenhouses.
05) Be Conscious of Floral Arrangements
Let's face it we love florals, but the amount of water, transportation, and maintenance isn't costly for you, but for the environment. Luckily, there are a multitude of ways to incorporate sustainable florals for your event. Using potted plants such as ferns, orchids or ivy is a perfect way to reduce your footprint. Additionally, renting silk flowers is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you do choose to go with cut flowers, think local, or think dried. Go with seasonal blooms that have a minimal carbon footprint and use less water. Additionally, finding ways to compost or preserve your blooms is a great way to reduce waste. Dried flowers are also a fantastic way to reduce your water usage and have a keepsake for years to come! Be sure to check out our selection here.
06) Opt for Sustainable Meals and Reduce Food Waste
Food is arguably one thing your guests will look forward to. Looking for catering companies who specifically work with sustainable and local farms will make it all the easier to be sustainable. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but you'll be decreasing your carbon footprint. This goes for wine as well. Looking for wine that is from sustainable vineyards and choosing magnums over single-serve will help aid in the reduction of waste.
Additionally, opting for set dinners without a buffet and a smaller menu will help cut down on food waste (and you save your wallet). If you do opt for a buffet, talk with your caterers about donating the leftovers when possible.
07) Rent or re-use what you can
Let's face it, weddings can get expensive and fast. When you're all done, then what? First and foremost, decor. Checking places like Craigslist or Facebook for decor cuts down on unnecessary waste and helps you recycle. Then, when you're done, you can always re-list your decor or incorporate it into your home, because let's face it, single-use anything isn't ideal. Additionally, renting supplies is a great way to avoid dealing with the difficulty and time of tossing or re-selling most of your items as well. Want something specific but can't find it renting? Consider donating your supplies and give them a new life.
08) Less is More: Micro Wedding
We've had eras of large beautiful weddings, but it turns out, less is more. When you think about reducing your footprint, think about reducing the number of guests. We know this sounds harsh, but hear us out. Does your distant uncle you talked to once 10 years ago NEED to be at your wedding? Probably not.
09) Be Thoughtful about who you Hire
The people you hire for your wedding will either make your life easier, or harder. Having vendors or planners who truly understand your vision of sustainability in mind will make your planning process smooth and help you on your journey to sustainability. They may even have additional resources creating less work for you.
10) Opt for a sustainable toss
Easily one of the most looked over aspects of your wedding, is the wedding toss. A tradition long kept for centuries, so what's all the fuss? Wedding toss with non-compostable items is littering. However, there are many more ways for you to celebrate your union that is dare we say, even more beautiful. Plant-based approaches such as Lavender, or other flower petals are easily compostable, beautiful, and make for incredible photos. Seeds during their planting season are also a great choice as is seed paper.
11) Wedding Attire
Although already mentioned, purchasing new isn't optimal for the planet, or for your wallet. Looking for wedding dresses, tuxes, suites, bridesmaid dresses, etc on Poshmark or other thrifting sites is a fantastic way to cut down on waste. Not only will you get a great deal, but so will your bridal parties.
If you still can't obtain exactly what you're looking for, renting is another great option. There are an incredible amount of vendors today that rent wedding dresses and attire of all sorts, best of all, when you're done you can send it back to be re-used.
Remember, while sustainability can be easily achieved, no wedding is 100% sustainable (or perfect). The most important part of the process is to have fun and enjoy it!