By Karlyn McKell
Eco-friendly weddings are growing in popularity as more and more couples consider the environmental impact of their celebrations.
The wedding industry as a whole is notorious for its waste. Most of the things that go into a wedding day are single-use, such as the decor, food, and fashion. This waste adds up to more than 400 pounds of garbage a year, resulting in 63 tons of CO2 annually. With stats like these, it’s not hard to see why couples are taking notice and steps to reduce their role in this waste.
The good news is that going green pays in more ways than one. More often than not, sustainable wedding practices also help lift up local businesses and vendors, decrease wedding costs, and make the world a better place.
Here are some of our favorite eco-friendly wedding ideas:
Choose an eco-conscious venue:
If you are trying to achieve a zero-waste wedding, or simply a more sustainable celebration, working with likeminded vendors is essential. The biggest vendor you’ll work with, that will have a role in everything from planning to waste removal, is your wedding venue. Ask about LEED certifications, Energy Star ratings, and waste removal practices upfront so you can get a good idea of who you are working with. Remember that outdoor spaces such as campgrounds, farms, and gardens tend to be more eco-friendly.
One great thing about the digital revolution is that it reduces the need for printed materials. Set up a wedding website to communicate details of your special day online, and consider sending digital save-the-dates and invites. You can even track your wedding planning on an online checklist.
Host the ceremony and reception outside:
Cut down on carbon emissions and electricity waste by hosting your ceremony and reception at the same outdoor location. This will eliminate the need for guests to travel to two different sites, and cut down on electricity usage.
Stage a sustainable exit:
Rather than littering on your way out the door with a traditional confetti toss, look into a more green alternative instead. Toss green leaves into the air, and wave your hands because mother earth just don’t care!
If your venue is off the beaten path, consider arranging transportation to cut down on the need for multiple cars at your venue. Arrange guest pickup points at the wedding hotel or a central location in town, that way guests will be transported to and from the event in one shuttle.
Choose seasonal flowers:
Participate in sustainable floral practices by featuring local blooms in your wedding bouquet. This will also help cut down on floral costs. You can even consider picking your own bouquet of wildflowers. In addition, consider decorating your venue with potted plants rather than floral displays because these blooms will live on well past your wedding day.
Rent your tuxes:
You and your groomsmen can save costs while saving the environment by opting to rent your tuxes rather than buying. This option still lets you look good in photographs.
Buy vintage accessories:
While not every bride will opt for a vintage wedding dress (and that’s okay), you can incorporate vintage pieces into your ensemble and encourage bridesmaids to do the same. Consider rocking a vintage veil and antique jewelry for a chic, timeless look. If it’s cold outside, always opt for faux fur.
Set the mood and cut the electricity with candlelight. This eco-friendly lighting alternative doubles as romantic decor, and can also help keep bugs away.
Hire the right caterer:
Chances are, your wedding menu will be one of the biggest waste contributors of your wedding day. Reduce this waste by hiring farm-to-table caterers who serve seasonal menus and prepare food sustainably. Also consider setting up grazing tables, which reduce the need for clunky and wasteful display setups, and consider ditching meat altogether in favor of a vegetarian or vegan menu.
Send leftovers home:
Once your guests have finished eating and dancing, they’re probably going to be in the mood for a midnight snack. Secure boxes ahead of time and send guests home with leftover food and dessert. You can also donate the food to a nearby shelter or consider composting it.
For more eco-friendly wedding ideas, check out our visual from Zola below!