How to Have a More Sustainable Wedding

A bride and groom standing on rocks in a desert setting.

If you’re environmentally conscious, you may have wondered how you can make your wedding day as sustainable as possible. Fortunately, this is now easier than ever to do, as eco-friendly weddings are a growing trend. In fact, You & Your Wedding magazine reported that searches for “sustainable wedding ideas” have been noticeably on the rise.

While it may be difficult to have a 100% eco-conscious wedding, there are many steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment as you have your special day. To do this, you should look at all aspects of the wedding-planning process.

Choose a Venue that Doesn’t Require Lots of Travel

Since transport plays a large role in a person’s carbon footprint, you can make a big difference by choosing a location for your wedding that’s easy to get to. Of course, if you’re already planning a destination wedding, this doesn’t mean you have to cancel your plans, but try not to choose a venue that is too remote. Environment aside, your guests will thank you because it’ll be much lighter on their wallet.

In regards to the venue, you should consider a place that can host outside, at least in the daytime. That way, you can take advantage of natural sunlight and skip unnecessary air conditioning. Alternatively, choose an indoor space that utilizes energy-saving and other sustainable practices.

Decorate with Less and Choose Locally Grown Flowers

A bride holding a bouquet made of succulents and greenery.

After a wedding, you’re bound to have many bags of litter, and a lot of it may come from the decor. Therefore, always think twice before choosing decorative items which will only be used once. Instead of spending money on single-use things such as balloons, choose something that doesn’t have to go to the landfill.

There are services that allow you to rent decorative items, but you can also hunt around thrift shops yourself. If you want, you can even donate your purchases back afterward.

Flowers, although natural and biodegradable, also require a bit of thought. Some are shipped from overseas, so it’s always best to opt for locally grown options. Alternatively, have potted plants or herbs instead, which guests can take home after the event. If cut flowers are a must, arrange for them to be donated to a hospital, senior home, or community center after the celebration.

Donate Leftover Food

Having an eco-friendly menu doesn’t mean going 100% vegan, although you should try to make at last half of your dishes vegetarian at least. Instead, focus on locally sourced, organic, and/or fair trade foods and drinks. If you’re planning on using a caterer, ask where their ingredients come from.

Try to reduce waste by utilizing actual dishes and silverware instead of their disposable counterparts. Likewise, opt for linen instead of paper napkins. And if you must have straws, you don’t have to deal with the paper versions. You can purchase biodegradable options that are made from starch and are completely plastic-like.

Another source of waste is the food itself. Think about what you can do with the leftover food at the wedding reception. Perhaps you can donate it to a local shelter or food bank, or give your guests the option to take something home.

With drinks, buy your alcohol from one source if possible, and always get the largest container possible. Opt for a keg instead of personal-sized beers, and have a giant water jug instead of individual bottles.

Wear a Secondhand Dress or Suit

A vintage-looking bride and groom in a lace dress and suspenders.

When shopping for your wedding day outfit, consider renting or going vintage, and encourage your bridal party, groomsmen, and guests to do the same. Or, opt for a designer that uses recycled or sustainable materials and focuses on fair working conditions.

Should you find something at a second-hand shop that’s not quite right, don’t be shy and get to know your tailor. And if you do purchase something new, ask yourself if you’ll really wear it again. You can also donate or sell it to someone else to use at their special occasion.

Create a Honeymoon Fund in Lieu of a Traditional Registry

In lieu of a traditional registry, have your guests contribute to a honeymoon fund, or have them to donate to an environmental charity. Alternatively, limit your registry items to only the things you really need, and pick out items that are recycled, energy-efficient, or otherwise environmentally-friendly. Not only will you be doing good in your name, but you may also inspire your guests to do the same.

Go Paperless and Think Wisely About Favors

Small cacti and succulents in pots as wedding favors.

Other things you can do is reduce waste include minimizing your stationary, or going completely paperless. However, if paper invitations are a must, choose recycled paper or seed-infused paper, which can be planted after use.

In addition, think about your wedding favors. Try to limit the amount of packaging and use recyclable containers whenever possible. To reduce the risk of your favors simply being disposed of, give your guests something edible, or allow them to pick out some items you utilized in your decor.

Take an Eco-Conscious Honeymoon

In addition to eco-conscious wedding ideas, people are increasingly looking into eco-honeymoons. As with the wedding location and venue, take into account transportation costs (in carbon currency) and your accommodation’s sustainable practices.

You can also do double-duty with your honeymoon by spending the time volunteering, or staying at a resort that gives your an opportunity to give back by other means. For example, Sandals resorts in the Caribbean give their guests an option to participate in beach cleanups, and at the Anantara hotels in the Maldives, you can help plant coral.

It’s the Thought That Counts

Whether you take on all or only one of these suggestions, every little bit helps. By knowing you’re doing your part in helping preserve the environment, you will feel even better on your big day.

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