Eco-friendly weddings are growing in popularity. It’s a way to give Mother Nature some love and save some green (i.e. cash) on your wedding as well. From donating leftovers to choosing a sustainable venue, you’ll be so glad you made eco-conscious decisions for your wedding day.
Not sure where to start? Here are nine ways to throw a more sustainable celebration.
#9: Buy a Lab-Grown Diamond
Before you even start wedding planning, think about the ring you want to wear for the rest of your life. Lab-grown diamonds are a perfect, conflict-free option, and they look like real diamonds. The extra benefit: not only are they less harmful than mined diamonds, they also typically cost less! That’s a win for you and the planet.
#8: Choose a Sustainable Venue
Many wedding venues have decided to go green since so many couples are looking for eco-conscious options. The best thing to do is check out the Green Building Information Gateway website.
Just look for venues that have Energy Star ratings and LEED certifications. You’re sure to find sustainability-focused venues that use eco-friendly practices like solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and more.
Another eco-friendly option is to get married outside. Just imagine getting married at a state or national park, a barn, the beach, or a winery. You may have to pay a small fee to get married there, but many proceeds are used for conservation or cleanup efforts.
#7: Give Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors
Your eco-friendly efforts can expand beyond the wedding day. Choose waste-free wedding favors like a potted plant, a bag of seeds, or a reusable tote bag or bottle. Some of these favors can also double as place cards—another way to reduce waste! Your guests will appreciate something that they can take home and use, and it's less likely to end up in the trash.
#6: Be Conscious about Florals
Flowers are a big part of your wedding décor, but fresh cut flowers aren’t the best for the environment. You have several options here. You can go with potted plants, like orchids, spray roses or trees, or stick to just greenery. Renting faux florals is another way to help the planet, and it’s lighter on your wallet.
If you want fresh flowers, find a florist that uses locally grown blooms that are in season. Be sure that they don’t use floral foam—it’s terrible for the environment. Some couples even work with local farmers or grow the flowers themselves. This also cuts down on the need to transport flowers a long distance.
#5: Pick a Plated Meal
It’s not easy to avoid food waste on wedding days, but there are some things you can do. Choosing a plated meal instead of a buffet is your best bet. This allows you to only buy food for the number of guests that RSVP’d (we recommended an extra 3-5 plates, just in case) and limits the number of leftovers. If you are serving a buffet, have a designated relative or friend take home any leftover food so it doesn’t get thrown away.
You can also reduce waste by renting your tableware essentials: plates, glasses, silverware. These will look great with your rented linens as well. For your bar needs, go eco-friendly with paper straws instead of plastic (or rent reusable stainless steel straws).
#4: Go Paperless or Use Eco-Friendly Invitations
Another great idea is to eliminate paper invitations from your wedding. In today’s world, wedding websites and e-vites can really do it all. Guests can save your date, get all the wedding details, submit their RSVP, and even choose their menu option. Plus, think about the money you’ll save by not having to send out 200 save the dates, invitations, envelopes, and stamps.
If sending physical invitations is important to you, choose a recycled invitation suite! Websites like Flower Seed Paper and Botanical Paperworks offer seed-infused paper where guests can plant the invite, and it turns into a flower. The company Paper Culture takes it a step further and plants a tree in your honor with every purchase.
#3: Have a Non-Traditional Registry
This next option is great for the couple that already has a lot of home goods—skip the traditional wedding registry. Instead, opt for a non-item registry like Honeyfund, Blueprint or Deposit a Gift. These sites allow guests to contribute to your honeymoon or put money towards a larger item like a down payment for your first home.
If there’s a charity that’s near and dear to your heart, you might also consider asking guests to donate money to the organization in lieu of a registry. The Good Beginning is an awesome website to check out. You can browse their charity options, register your wedding, and send the information to your guests.
#2: Offer Shuttle Service for Your Guests
For a less crowded parking lot, offer a bus or shuttle service for your guests and the wedding party. This is a great option if your ceremony and reception are in two different places or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests.
Schedule the shuttle to pick up your guests from a certain hotel and drop them off at the ceremony site. At the end of the night, have them arrive 15 minutes before your send off. For an extra cool idea, rent out a trolley for your wedding party!
#1: Donate What You Can
You’ll need to do your research for this last option, but it’s totally worth it. To reduce end-of-the-night waste, find ways to recycle and donate leftover flowers and décor. Have family and friends take home floral arrangements to display in their home. You can even give them out to your vendors as a thank you (they’ll appreciate it, trust us)!
If you don’t have any takers, companies like Repeat Roses and Random Acts of Flowers will donate leftover flowers and vases to local hospitals, senior centers, and homeless shelters.
Another green effort is to donate your leftover décor like signs, lanterns, LED candles and more. Thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army are great options, plus donations are tax deductible. It’s a win-win!