How to Create an Eco-Friendly Wedding Menu

Appetizers displayed on a table at a wedding reception.

Creating a reception menu is definitely one of the most fun and exciting parts of the wedding planning process. After all, everyone loves a delicious meal paired with an amazing celebration. As you’re creating the menu for your big day, you may want to take into consideration how to make it eco-friendly. There are many ways to do this, but it may not always be straightforward. Here’s five tips for planning a menu that’s healthy for the planet and that your guests will love!

Use Locally Grown Food

A bride and groom at a farm with sheep in the background.

Supporting local farmers isn’t only great for your community and economy, but it’s also great for the planet. Using locally sourced food cuts down on shipping needs. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service reports that fresh produce in the U.S. travels an average of 1,300 to 2,000 miles between farms and consumers. That means a heavy carbon footprint, not to mention less flavor and fewer nutrients due to the long journey between when it’s harvested and when it’s actually consumed. Getting the food that makes up your wedding meal from local sources cuts down on the carbon footprint and tastes better, which is a win-win!

Choose What’s in Season

Different locally grown fruits and vegetables are obviously going to be available based on what season your wedding is taking place. With that being said, plan out the food you’re going to serve based off of what seasonal items will be readily available. This is the best way to sustainably source food and to support your local farmers at the same time. Plus, choosing foods that are in season—for instance, an heirloom tomato salad during the summer or a butternut squash salad during the fall—will guarantee the best tasting food for you and your guests.

Skip the Buffet

A caterer plating salads for a wedding reception.

Most wedding venues offer a buffet or station option rather than plated dinners. While these options are appealing for several reasons, they’re not good for the planet. This is because they often lead to a large amount of waste, since food for buffets and stations are produced in bulk and many times are not all consumed by guests. That means that tons of food gets thrown out at the end of your event. Having a plated dinner service means a more precise amount of food with less waste, which is better for the environment.

To further reduce waste within your wedding menu, try not to have tons of appetizers, passed hors d’oeuvres, and an over abundance of desserts. Sadly, many times these food items end up going to waste.

Go Vegetarian

While having a completely vegetarian wedding meal may not be for everyone, doing so is definitely great for the planet. Over-consumption of meat has environmental consequences. In fact, the livestock sector, including raising cows, pigs, and chickens, generates the same amount (or more) of gas emissions as all the cars, trucks, and other automobiles on the roads combined. Furthermore, cattle ranchers have decimated many miles of forests to create grazing pastures, further contributing to deforestation issues.

So, it’s worth considering more vegetable and plant-based foods at your wedding than you animal-based products. Even if you offer some meat, an uptick in veggies is a great way to help the cause. Consider adding “impossible” meats to your menu in order to allow guests to enjoy the flavors and taste of meat without actually serving meat.

Don’t Forget the Drinks

A wedding guest sitting at a bar with a cocktail.

Believe it or not, even the alcohol you serve can be deemed eco-friendly these days! Breweries and wineries alike have begun making efforts to be better to the planet, working to produce grapes and hops more organically and sustainably. Look for liquor distributors and brands that are committed to keeping the planet safe via efforts such as using recycled wastewater for crop irrigation or producing their products in recycled bottles. Even hard alcohol can be produced organically, reducing the number of harmful pesticides that could negatively affect the earth and environment.

Planning an eco-friendly wedding menu may be a new concept to you, but it’s easy enough to do and it does wonders in aiding your effort to help the planet!

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