Weddings are undoubtedly an important day, but it’s one that can unexpectedly generate excessive amounts of waste. There are ways to keep your wedding environmentally conscious while still bringing to life your dream wedding Pinterest board. Our founder, Stacy, had her wedding in September 2020 (virtual attendees included!), and offers some first-hand experience on how to make a sustainable, beautiful wedding possible. Here’s 5 tips to reduce your wedding’s footprint.
#1. Throw Biodegradable Confetti
Opt for natural dried rose petals over plastic confetti or rice (which is harmful to wildlife) for the wedding toss as you walk back down the aisle. Even personalize your packs, with this vendor, which Stacy had for her ceremony. Beautiful, fragrant and will naturally biodegrade back to earth.
#2. Choose low impact vendors and venues
Look for a ceremony and reception venue that already prioritizes the environment. Use The Green Building Information Gateway as part of your venue search. This shows you the hotels and event spaces that have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications and their Energy Star ratings, so you can make an informed decision.
When it comes to food, choose a caterer that specializes in seasonal menus and works with local, sustainable farms. Ask these farmers about their agricultural practices and how they source their proteins. Opt for a plated dinner rather than buffet style to avoid excessive amounts of leftovers.
Apply these same principles when choosing wine. Look for something that’s natural and organic, and made at a local, eco-friendly vineyard and winery.
#3: Rent Everything, Donate Everything Else
Avoid single-use items by renting whenever and wherever possible (including plastic, paper and beyond). By renting items, you can increase the longevity of their usefulness and elevate the look and feel of your wedding by using better quality items. Bonus, it’s typically less expensive than buying new and you don’t need to worry about the disposal of them afterwards. Key rentals include: fine China dishware, glass stemware and flatware, linens (tablecloths, runners and chair sashes), and linen tablecloths (rather than paper).
If you do end up buying decorations, don’t toss them in the trash after the big event! There are so many ways to repurpose these items that don’t involve them sitting in the landfill for decades – reuse, recycle, donate, etc. See if you can incorporate them into your home or use them for another event. If they don’t fit into anything in your life, donate them to a local thrift store.
#4: Borrowed or Biodegradable is best
When it comes to shopping for your dress, ring and all wedding accoutrements, opt for borrowed where possible. Family heirlooms bring the richness of stories without the environmental impact of ‘new’. If that’s not possible, go through a sustainable shopping checklist:
- What materials are used and where/how were they sourced? (Hint: choose 100% natural where possible)
- What is the quality of the item, its durability and how long will it last? (Bonus: if you will wear it more than once)
- See through any greenwashing tricks! Do some research into what the brand does behind-the-scenes.
Alternatively you can search for alternatives that might treat the earth a little better. For example, choose paper products or plastics, and those that are made from recycled materials, can biodegrade or made from seed paper (and your guests can plant them afterwards, grow flowers and think of you!). In today’s digital age – hello e-invitations!
Search for diamond alternatives, lab-grown diamonds and sustainably sourced gemstones and metals. Stacy found her forever lab-grown diamond from Lightbox in Los Angeles.
When it comes to dresses, suits and other clothing items – look for natural, organic materials and ethically produced.
#5: Choose local, in-season flowers and plants
Botanical decor is practically everywhere at weddings – centerpieces, bouquets, strung up and scattered. They aren’t necessarily the best for the environment but there’s no need to sacrifice these florals completely. Consider decorating with potted flowers and plants. If you still want to stick with fresh cut flowers – choose seasonal varieties that are grown locally (which do not require being transported over long distances). Bonus tip: choose natural twine or cotton cording instead of plastic ribbon.
Don’t toss out your flowers after the event! Look for a local organization (or you can even arrange it yourself) to donate your flowers to a local hospital or senior home to brighten up their days. If that’s not an option, consider gifting them to wedding guests, family or staff. Another option could be to compost them – chat with your florist or drop them off at your local compost depot. Find sources here on where to donate. Bonus points for choosing flowers that are local in season, avoiding travel miles and carbon emissions to be brought in.
Bonus tip: Give wedding favours your guests will actually use
Don’t give gifts that your guests will toss into the bin - give them something they’ll appreciate instead:
- Edible and locally made treats: frosted cookies, glass jars filled with jam, preserves or syrups
- Seeds of you and your s/o’s favorite flowers or vegetables that your guests can grown in their own homes
- Small potted plants, flowers or even herbs (can be used for seating place card displays too) – bring oxygen, smell beautiful and add flavor!
Remember: Decide what’s important to you
It can be overwhelming to plan a wedding, let alone trying to minimize impact on the planet. Be realistic and prioritize what is important to you both. When in doubt, look at where you’re purchasing the most volume, chances are this is also where the most waste can happen. Perhaps it’s focusing on the flowers, food or maybe even the feeling of intimacy and love. Remind yourself of what feels right to you and your partner - that's the best way to celebrate your love.
Have you already celebrated your special day and have a green tip to share with our community? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on instagram for a chance to be featured on @wearkent.