Your wedding is a very important day, but it is just that: one day. And between everything that’s brought together for that one day—a dress you’re probably never going to wear again, flowers that are just going to get thrown out, invitations your guests are going to forget, food that’s going to go waste—it’s enough to get the environmentally conscious couple to stop and ask if there’s a better way. We’re sharing six tips on how to make your wedding that much more sustainable—but no less magical.
As you read through the article, just know that we are not trying to steer anyone in a specific direction, but if planning a more sustainable and eco-friendly wedding is important to you, you will find our favorite ideas and resources below!
While it’s common for the groom and his guys to rent tuxedos and suits for the wedding day, renting a wedding dress is almost unheard of! It is possible, though, and can be a fantastic way to get a dress you love, stretch your budget, and keep your options open.
As an alternative to renting, you can also consider buying your dress second-hand. Going this route may even make it possible for you to wear a designer dress that you love but couldn’t otherwise fit into the budget!
A third option, if sustainability is at the top of your list, is to find a designer that prioritizes green business practices and sustainable materials. This website is a good place to find a company that aligns with your values.
Invitations are a crucial part of your wedding day, but the truth is that no matter how simple or elaborate they are, most of them end up getting thrown away in the end.
The most common way to send out more sustainable invitations is to get them printed on recycled paper. You can design your own or use one of our digital designs and get the invitations printed by a reputable printing company that prints on recycled paper.
Use plantable invitations: Speaking of recycled paper, you can take it a step further by getting invitations that have flower seeds built right into them! These biodegradable seed invitations are a bit pricier, but once the wedding is over, all of the guests can simply plant their invitation and grow beautiful flowers, which makes for a great memory. Bonus: use plantable paper for other areas of your wedding as well, such as menu cards and favors!
Keep it simple: Whether you use recycled or standard paper, consider keeping your invitations simple by using a minimal design with fewer sheets of paper. There are some minimal designs out there today that are streamlined and super beautiful!
Digital invitations: Bear with us on this one; we know it can be a bit of a stretch to consider digital invitations, but there are a few really good reasons to do so. Digital invitations are becoming more popular recently. Not only are they a sustainable option, but because people are so savvy with the internet these days, guests are more likely to see your invitation and are able to RSVP in just a few clicks.
You can send your invitations, add links to your registry, and keep all of the information organized easily, all with no environmental footprint! Sites such as HoneyFund* (read our blog post on this amazing site here) or The Knot makes the process incredibly easy.
Most people are aware of the upsetting mining practices that go into obtaining some diamonds. Thankfully, with a little bit of research, you can choose a diamond that is obtained in a way that lines up with your values.
Here are a few ideas that we’ve seen and love.
Use an heirloom diamond: If you have a diamond ring that has been passed down through the generations, it can be really sweet to continue the tradition. If you don’t love the design of the ring, you can always get the stone re-set into a band design of your choice.
Purchase second hand: You can also consider buying the ring from a reputable second-hand source, such as an estate sale. With a little bit of looking around, you may even find something better than you expected!
Consider a lab-created diamond: The world of diamonds has come a long way, and scientists are now able to create diamonds in a lab using the same methods nature uses! These diamonds are almost indistinguishable from organic diamonds and rate high on the “three C’s scale” of diamond grading. Bonus: lab created diamonds tend to be easier on the budget!
Do some research: Sustainable Jungle is an excellent site that highlights some eco-friendly companies. The companies on this site are known for using recycled materials, practicing responsible mining, using fair labor, and more. The site is chock full of valuable and eye-opening info that can help you find a diamond and make the choice that is right for you.
It’s hard to say what the best type of flowers at your wedding is, but one thing that we do know is that it’s sad to see dozens of huge, beautiful fresh flower displays being set up at the beginning of the day and then simply thrown in the trash at the end of the night.
Here are a few options that can help your beautiful flowers be enjoyed for as long as possible:
Donate your flowers after the wedding: Consider donating your arrangements to a senior’s center or hospital. If you go this route, be sure to assign the task of delivering them to a family member or friend beforehand or hire a delivery service to do it for you.
You can also offer bouquets to the guests to take home at the end of the evening! Just make sure that guests know to leave the vases if they belong to the florist.
Buy local and use in-season flowers: Being able to avoid the process of shipping flowers from outside of your area is a great way to save money, as well as the fuel and labor associated with getting them to you. Opt for in-season varieties that are locally grown.
Use potted plants: We absolutely love this idea. Succulents or a pot of beautiful flowers make wonderful centerpieces and can be sent home with guests to be enjoyed for months or years to come! You can even have large baskets of flowers grown that can be used to decorate your yard (or family and friends!) for the rest of the season.
Use faux flowers: These can be nice, but unless you are buying them secondhand or recycling them somehow, they are not a more sustainable choice because they aren’t biodegradable like real flowers.
Unfortunately, food makes the top of the list for being the most wasteful part of a wedding. A statistic that we hate to share, but is true, is that most weddings produce up to 400 pounds of garbage. Depending on how accurate your guest count is, an average of 10-40% of food will get wasted.
Understandably, your caterer doesn’t want to run out of food, so they make plenty and sometimes make the first servings small to make sure there is enough. Unfortunately, it often leads to plenty being leftover at the end. Here are a few options to help reduce the waste:
Come on up for seconds! One thing you can do to reduce food waste is to have your DJ announce that guests can come up for seconds. Often, they want to but aren’t sure if they are allowed, so announcing it gives guests the permission they need to enjoy a second helping.
Take the leftover food home: Talk to your caterer beforehand to see what happens with the leftover food. If they are ok with you taking it home at the end of the night, have some containers on hand and arrange for a friend or family member to pack it all up.
This is an excellent way to make sure all of the food gets eaten, especially if you are having a family get-together the next day!
Donate the leftover food: Like the flowers, this will need to be pre-arranged with the place you are donating to in case they have restrictions on what can be brought in, and it will need to be delivered in a timely manner. You will also need to find a friend or family member who doesn’t mind doing the delivery for you late at night! If these arrangements can be made, it can be a very welcome donation to many places, though, so it is worth looking into.
Decorations can eat up a huge piece of your budget, but they don’t have to!
Search your local area for companies that rent wedding decorations and supplies. You can also join some local Facebook groups where couples are reselling some of their decorations at a discounted rate. Just by doing a bit of research, you can not only save yourself thousands of dollars, and you will also reduce the environmental impact by reusing items.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, we are not trying to pile on the stress of planning a wedding by adding one more thing to think about. The topic of sustainability is a reality that we are approached with often by curious couples, and we believe it is good to know which options are out there. Regardless of where you sit on the sustainability spectrum, there are ways to find what works for your event.
Like all of the elements that come together to bring your perfect day to life, this is one topic that will fit into your day however you want it to. Don’t let anyone talk you and your partner into anything you don’t want to do, and don’t let them talk you out of something you have your heart set on. Your wedding will be perfect because it is celebrating your unique personalities!
Happy wedding planning!
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