Your wedding is a milestone event. You want it to memorable, but you don’t want it to be wasteful.
From the flowers to the decor to the food, the average wedding does a real number on more than your savings account.
Fortunately, there are so many Pinterest-worthy ways to host the wedding of your dreams without compromising your eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
1. Opt for eco-friendly stationary
Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to e-invite your friends and family to your special day. Some things are sacred, like sending personalized invitations and thank-you cards.
The good news is, you have a lot of beautiful options for eco-friendly stationary. From recycled paper to soy-and-vegetable-based inks, and DIY options made with green supplies, it’s really up to you and your budget.
My personal favourite is plantable stationary—invites and thank-you notes that can be planted after use and grown into flowers and food.
Another great way to reduce your impact is to limit the amount of stuff sent in the first place: condense your Save the Date with your invite to reduce on envelopes and shipping.
2. Choose an outdoor, daytime venue
What better way to have an eco-friendly wedding than doing it in the natural beauty of a forest, waterfront, backyard, park, or mountaintop? You can save a lot of money this way and reduce your need for artificial lighting and air conditioning. Plus, there’s something about a natural setting that makes the moment with your friends and family that much more intimate.
Worried about rain? If your venue doesn’t have any covered areas like a gazebo, you can rent a tent. Or, you can risk it and dance in the rain.
3. Give green party favours
I’m sure some people like having a bunch of keychains and knick-knacks with people’s engraved initials and wedding date. I’m also sure many people wouldn’t mind something more practical. In this case, more practical also means more eco-friendly.
You can send your guests home with seed packets so they can grow something that reminds them of your special day. You can also give mini potted plants so the work is already done for them. Bonus points if you use these plants to double as wedding decor.
You can also give eco-friendly edibles like fair-trade chocolates in recycled paper wrapping or organic candies.
Or, you can do a group donation to a charity of your choice in your guests’ honour.
4. Decorate with natural elements
This is why hosting outdoors is a perfect choice for your eco-friendly wedding. You can basically sit back and relax while the beauty of nature acts as your core decor.
If you decide to add something extra, opt for sustainably-grown and potted plants and flowers that last longer than your ceremony. You can also rent things like burlap or table centrepieces and linen instead of buying brand new for a one-time event.
5. Use re-usable dishes and utensils
While convenient and low-cost, disposables have no place at an eco-friendly wedding, but don’t worry, no one expects you to do dishes on your big day.
Instead, you have a few choices.
You can host your meal at a restaurant and have them take care of the details for you. You can rent dishes and pay for a cleaning service. You can hire a caterer and even use your own re-usable bamboo plates.
If none of the above works for you, there is another option besides paper and plastic products: compostable dining ware. You can find eco-friendly sugar cane and palm leaf options.
6. Have a water refill station
It’s always a good idea to offer your guests water, especially if you are hosting an outdoor event in the summertime. That being said, water bottles create a ton of recycling.
Encourage your guests to bring their own reusable water bottles and have a water refill station handy. Or, make the reusable water bottle their party gift and hand it out as they arrive.
You can also offer mason jars with paper straws at the water station. Just remember to put someone in charge of collecting these items at the end.
7. Serve farm-to-table food
You don’t need to go all organic or remove meat from the menu, but you should think about where your food is coming from. Going with local options drastically cuts down on your carbon emissions and makes for fresher food anyway.
If you’re hiring a catering service, search for a “green caterer.” If none exist in your area, talk over the options with whoever you choose. More often than not, people are willing to go out of their way to give you the day of your dreams. Just make sure you let them know what you want upfront.
8. Rent, re-style, or re-wear a wedding dress
Let’s be honest, your wedding dress is a big deal. It’s arguably what sets the tone of your wedding, and it’s what makes you feel like a bride. However, it’s also one of the biggest costs with the highest environmental impact—especially if it’s not locally-made and it contains new fabrics.
Consider your options. You can rent a dress and no one will be the wiser. You can work with a seamstress to re-style an existing dress from a friend or family member, or you can outright re-wear a dress.
9. Ask for donations over gifts
Hear me out on this one. These days, chances are you already live with the person you’re planning to marry. You already have a toaster, blender, tea pot, etc. etc. and no one has any clue what to get you. Sure, you can always have more dishes, but is more really what you want? And is it a good use of your loved one’s money? Maybe it’s best to forgo gifts in favour of donations to your chosen charity or even your honeymoon fund.
10. Get people to sign a photo mat instead of a book
Unless you’re hosting hundreds of people, a guest book is largely a waste of paper, which is a waste of perfectly good trees. Instead, blow up and print out a cute couples picture and get everyone to sign the photo mat. After your wedding pics are developed, you can replace this pic with one from your special day.
If you can’t part with the traditional guest book, go for a recycled paper version or DIY one that is made for exactly how many guests you’ve invited.
This is honestly just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a great place to get started on your eco-friendly wedding dreams. Congrats!