Making choices for your wedding can be complicated enough, but what if you’re a couple who wants to be sure that your wedding choices are ethical and eco-friendly? Luckily, there are a few simple ways to help ensure that your big day is as beautiful, fun, and earth-friendly as possible. Here are some ways to host an eco-friendly wedding day.
1. Choose Local Vendors with Sustainable Practices
As you’re making choices for the major aspects of your wedding day, such as your venue and major vendors, check with the companies about their policies on sustainable practices. Try to find vendors who are consciously trying to cut down on their waste and remember that choosing local businesses as much as possible will cut down your carbon footprint. Make sure your venue has a clear recycling and/or composting plan. If they don’t already have something in place, see if they will work with you to put something together. Find a farm-to-table who uses locally-grown or sourced, in-season food. Don’t be afraid to ask if your vendors have donation plans in place for items such as leftover food or flower bouquets—and if they don’t, ask if they’d be willing to begin the practice! Seeking out vendors who share your values ahead of time will mean less work for you and more assurance that sustainable practices are going to be in place for your big day, and asking these questions may even inspire them to begin to work on even more sustainable practices, so be sure to speak up!
2. Reduce Paper Use by Going Digital
Although it may make sense to use a paper formal invitation (use recycled paper!) it might surprise you just how easy it is to go digital with most everything else. Save-the-dates, response cards, direction instructions, and even menus and programs can be made digital to avoid paper use. Wedding websites are very common now and are a great way to communicate any and all pertinent wedding information without using a single piece of paper. It also has the added benefit of having all of the details in one place, so your guests can easily pull up your site and get their questions answered with a single click!
3. Reduce Travel to the Venues
Choosing a location for your wedding that’s local to as many guests as possible will reduce your event’s fuel use, as well as the need for guests to stay in hotels or other such locations, which often do not have sustainable practices. If possible, having both your ceremony and your reception in the same location can help reduce the need for guests to travel even more. Or if that’s not an option, consider providing some kind of group transportation, such as a bus or trolley, to help shuttle guests from one spot to the other. And, of course, encouraging carpooling and other ride-sharing options is also always a good idea (plus it’s a great way for guests to get to know each other!).
4. Borrow Decor Instead of Purchasing Brand New Items
Not only can you rent classic items such as linens and dishware, but there are now some companies that will rent out decor items as well. And if you can’t find anything that suits your tastes, remember to seek out friends and family who may have leftover wedding items from their celebrations. There’s likely no need for you to purchase 17 tablecloths if your cousin just bought a set for their wedding six months ago. Renting or borrowing items is a great way to get the aesthetic you’re looking for without unnecessary waste.
5. Ditch the Non-Essentials
This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t feel the need to have every single “wedding” thing on the planet. If you can’t find an eco-friendly favor you like, feel free to ditch the idea altogether, or replace it with a charitable donation in honor of your guests. If you think wedding programs are unnecessary or hate to use paper on another typical wedding item, don’t give into the pressure!
6. Create a Thoughtful Gift Registry
Make sure you register for items that are ethically sourced and made of sustainable materials. Don’t feel the need to register for “classic” items if you know you don’t want them or won’t get use out of them. Another option is to create a honeymoon fund, house down payment fund, or charity registry instead and forego physical items completely.
7. Consider Rental Dresses and Suits
A great option for reducing clothing waste is by renting your wedding garments as much as possible. People often rent tuxes or suits for their groomsmen, but consider using a rental option for the bridesmaids as well, and even for you and your partner if you can. There are many websites that offer gorgeous options for rental gowns, for everyone from flower girls to brides to parents, and it’s definitely worth checking those out to see if you find something that suits your needs. If a rental option isn’t the best fit for the spouses-to-be, think about asking family or friends if they have any vintage options that you might be able to wear—it’s a great “something borrowed,” will give an awesome story and feel to your day, and is sustainable, too!