10 Things to Avoid for a Greener Wedding

A bride and groom standing on a cliff overlooking an ocean.

With such a focus on keeping things eco-friendly in today’s world, it comes as no surprise that making your wedding green may be a priority as you’re planning. There are definitely ways that you may not be thinking of to make your wedding earth-friendly, and there are certainly some things to avoid to achieve this goal. Here’s a short list.

Destination Locations

This isn’t something that always comes to mind, but the more need for your guests to travel to your wedding, the less green it will be. This is because the need to travel via planes, cars, trains, and buses creates a large carbon footprint for your event. Be sure to have a wedding close by, if possible, and encourage guests to carpool to your event in order to cut down on the negative impact travel can have.

Extra Stationery Pieces

The more paper stationery pieces that make up your invitation suite, the less green your wedding will be. Try to create a more consolidated suite in order to save paper. Or, if you really want to save trees, go with e-vites rather than paper invitations altogether. Another option is to print your invitations on plant-able paper or to buy your invites from brands that are eco-friendly.

Plastic Water Bottles

Glass water dispensers at a wedding reception.

It’s common for couples to give guests “welcome bags” when they arrive at their wedding venue, especially if many guests are coming from out of town or if they’re going to be staying for more than just the event. Avoid including plastic water bottles in these welcome bags and instead opt for glass bottles or even gifting guests with a reusable cup or water bottle. By the same token, avoid the use of plastic water bottles at your reception with large glass containers that can serve multiple people all day long.

Buffet Meals

Buffet meals often lead to an abundance of wasted food, since it’s often tossed in the trash. Instead, go with plated meals that result in less wasted food and resources.

Mass Produced Favors

While mass produced wedding favors may be inexpensive and easy to give guests, it’s more eco-friendly to give locally, sustainably sourced favors. Edible favors are typically the best option as they are less likely to be forgotten at the table, thus creating the least amount of waste.

Single-Use Items

A table at a wedding reception decorated with green glassware and lemons.

Items such as single-use plates, utensils, and cups may be convenient and cheap, but they create an abundance of unnecessary waste and should be avoided. Instead, using real plates, cups, and utensils is more “green.” Take it a step further by using fabric napkins rather than paper to further cut down on waste. Furthermore, encourage guests to reuse the same glass every time they visit the bar instead of getting a new one every time. This will cut down on wasted water from washing tons of used glasses at the end of your event.

Registering for Tons of “Stuff”

The more tangible items you register for, the more waste will be created from packaging and boxes. This is especially true when it comes to guests sending items via mail. Instead, opt to register for experiences—like through a honeymoon fund—or gift cards. This cuts down on wasted packaging that is less than beneficial for the planet. Another option is to do a “charity registry” that encourages guests to donate to a charity of your choosing rather than giving you physical gifts.

Bottled Beer

Offering draft beer or using a keg at the bar at your wedding is a much more eco-friendly option than single-serve bottles or cans.

Overkill on Flower Arrangements

A bride holding a simple bouquet of white flowers.

Going overboard with flowers may be tempting for your wedding, as they’re such a beautiful part of any event. However, the more flowers that you use at your wedding, the less eco-friendly it is. Try reusing arrangements from one part of your event at another, or even go with paper flowers that can be saved for a long time to come.

Balloons or Floating Lanterns

While they’re certainly picturesque and have gained popularity at weddings in recent years, these two elements can be harmful to the environment. Balloons are not biodegradable and can be dangerous to wildlife. Floating lanterns are beautiful—but they pose a risk of fires.

There are so many simple ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly, and these are just some of the things to consider avoiding to aid in that effort.

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