7 Tips for Planning a Sustainable Wedding

Photo Credit: Yuri Krivenstoff

It’s no secret that the wedding and event planning industry can have a big impact on the environment, so it should come as no surprise that more and more couples are opting for sustainable and eco-friendly weddings these days. If you’re thinking wedding planning can be challenging enough without the added stress of making sure everything is eco-friendly as well — we totally get it! But, if you’re truly determined to make it happen, planning a wedding with a small carbon footprint is absolutely possible!

The good news is, although committing to a sustainable wedding day may require a bit more strategic planning and effort, you’ll likely save a lot of money as well. Whether you want to go all out and be as ethical and sustainable as possible throughout the entire process and on the big day, or you just want ideas on how to incorporate eco-friendly options into your wedding, we’ve got you covered.

1.Think Small(er)

Most people tend to think big when it comes to planning their wedding. After all, for many, it’s one of the most important days of your life, right? But if you’re striving for a more environmentally friendly wedding, you may want to scale back a bit, at least as far as the guest count goes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that your day will be any less significant; it just means you’ll be able to enjoy a more intimate celebration with close friends and family. Keeping your wedding celebration small, surrounded by a tight circle of family members and friends, is the easiest way to ensure your wedding is more sustainable.

Fewer people = lower costs, both for you and the planet.

2.Keep Travel to a Minimum

Choosing a wedding destination located as close to as many guests as possible will help cut down on the need for travel, which is a win for the environment. If possible, try to book your ceremony, reception, and lodging all in one place, so the most travel required will be walking from the hotel room to the ceremony and then to the reception hall.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box! For example, if you decide to get married on a farm, you could invite guests to camp right on the property, which is incredibly convenient if there are no hotels nearby. Talk about minimizing travel! If you can’t have everything happening in the same space, consider utilizing a shuttle rental company to cut down on car travel for your guests on the day of the wedding.

3.Choose an Eco-Conscious Venue

When it comes to picking your wedding venue, the most sustainable option would be to have the ceremony and reception outdoors. Do you know someone with an epic backyard or a good-sized lake house? These can make for the most perfect, intimate venues. Nature provides the ideal backdrop for a beautiful wedding day, so you don’t have to spend hours (or a ton of money) trying to create a specific type of atmosphere. Mother Nature has you covered there!

If you are going to rent an indoor space, choose a sustainable venue that:

  • Encourages recycling (and has processes in place to make it happen!)
  • Reduces their energy consumption (such as by using solar panels and water-saving appliances)
  • Builds connections with local vendors (reducing the need for added traveling or shipping)
  • Supports causes you believe in (like those that care about the environment)
  • Offers sustainable catering options (such as farm-to-table meals)

With more and more businesses focusing on doing their part to improve the environment and reduce waste, it shouldn’t be too hard to find venues and vendors that mean many — if not all — of the above.

4.Consider Alternatives to Fresh Cut Flowers

Flowers are typically a huge part of weddings. You’ll want them not only for bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party but also for decorations and table centerpieces. Unfortunately, fresh-cut flowers are not necessarily the greatest for the environment. The first most eco-friendly choice would be faux flowers. I know what you’re thinking; fake flowers?! But have you looked into faux flowers recently — silk, in particular? There are some lovely options out there, so don’t knock it without doing your research.

Another great option is to focus on greenery rather than flowers, and consider renting plants, instead. Imagine creating an entire aesthetic around different types of greenery! You could use planters to line the aisles rather than cut flowers and include tall perimeter plants around the area where you plan to exchange vows, creating a beautiful garden effect.

If you remain set on having fresh flowers, be sure to source locally from a nearby farm or gardener and use flower varieties that are in season to cut down on the need for shipping out of state.

5.Opt for More Sustainable Wedding Attire

What you, your groom, and your wedding party choose to wear on the big day is undoubtedly one of your most significant decisions. After all, once the day is over, the photos you have of the memories made are what will last forever. You’ll look back on these outfits again and again. It’s also essential for everyone to feel beautiful and confident that day, but how sustainable is it to spend thousands of dollars on a dress you’re only going to wear one day? Did you know that a typical wedding dress requires over 2,300 gallons of water to make? If you’re concerned about your wedding attire’s impact on the environment, there are many ways to dress more sustainably for your big day.

The great thing about wedding dresses is that brides who keep them typically store them in a safe place, so they remain in mint condition. Plus, people wear wedding dresses during a day filled with loving memories, which means good vibes and omens for you. So why not buy second-hand, or restore a vintage dress? You can still find the dress of your dreams — we promise! Second-hand stores, vintage shops online, rental options, and websites like Poshmark and thredUp are full of fantastic options for your whole wedding party. You can get your entire bridal party’s dresses second-hand, have them wear dresses they already own in a specific color palette, or spend a day going thrifting with them for a fun bonding session!

And if you decide you need to experience trying on multiple dresses while having your mother and best friend “ooh and aah” at you (because yes, you deserve that!), consider looking for local bridal shops that specialize in repurposing used dresses. As sustainability becomes more of a priority in the industry, retailers continue to see the need, and these boutiques are becoming much more popular.

6.Go Digital with Invites, RSVPs, and Gifts

When it comes to telling people about your upcoming celebration, invitations and the registry are two areas where it is easy to minimize waste. Paperless invitations are the most environmentally friendly choice and are pretty easy to manage as well. But if you want to send a physical invitation so that people can hang your beautiful photo on their fridge, consider using recycled paper or send out a save-the-date with a note about an Evite to follow. That way, people can RSVP online without having to wait for another paper invite from you.

For the registry, try focusing on adding sustainable, eco-friendly items. Or forgo the traditional registry altogether and set up ways for guests to give cash funds and fund experiences like classes and memberships instead of physical gifts. If you don’t want or need more things, this is a great way to minimize the negative impact on the environment. Choosing a charity registry is another excellent option that you and your guests will feel good about long after the wedding celebration is over.

7.Rent, Reuse, Thrift, and Borrow  

When planning a sustainable wedding, consider these four options whenever you can: rent, reuse, thrift, and borrow. Throughout the process of planning your wedding, ask yourself, “Can I rent this?”, “Can I thrift this?” or “Can I borrow this from someone?” Single-use anything is not great for the environment, and you likely have a good friend or relative who has some accessories or clothing that you could repurpose for your wedding day, right? Or, consider renting everything from a local vendor; renting is one of the most environmentally friendly things we can do for this planet.

Sure, there may be some DIY involved with these options, but you knew that when you decided to go green. Luckily you can borrow, rent, or thrift just about everything from decorations to table settings to lighting and more. Although this may require a bit of extra work, it’s going to make for some very unique and special decorations, along with an entire experience that genuinely represents you and your partner.

Lastly, the best way to wrap up your wedding on a sustainable note is to donate or repurpose anything new you ended up purchasing, instead of tossing it out! Give others the opportunity to find joy from items that were a part of your magical day.

Need Help Executing a Sustainable Wedding?

Photo Credit: Classic Photographers

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with planning your wedding day AND making it a sustainable one? First; don’t stress if you aren’t able to have a completely eco-friendly day. Even opting to include one or two of the above-mentioned ideas is admirable and will make a difference.

If you need help planning, Angela Marie Weddings can help you find sustainable local vendors and venues, and anything else you might need to help you plan your special day, while also keeping the environment top of mind. Call us today for a consultation. 

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