Weddings are meant to be remembered for a lifetime. So much time and effort goes into planning every last detail for that one special day. As guests arrive, you have to make sure everything is in order, all while preparing to marry the love of your life. There’s so much going on, it can be easy to forget just how wasteful weddings can be. From tossing out paper goods, over-catering and wasting food, and disposing of the decorations afterwards, weddings aren’t friendly to the environment.
The average cost of a wedding has shot through the roof the last decade, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Weddings are becoming bigger and more extravagant, which inevitably leads to more and more waste. The average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage, and gives off about 14.5 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. If you think about the number of weddings that happen each day, you’ll realize just how massive the effects are.
For everyone who has felt the effects of climate change, or cares about minimizing our footprint on the environment, planning a green wedding is for you. What does it mean to go green? Going green is a pursuit to minimize the damaging effects we have on our environment. You may not think that changing a few aspects of your wedding will make a big difference, but actually they can. The wedding industry is enormous, and will never be obsolete. Every couple that plans a wedding contributes to that industry, both with money and with your decisions. If the wedding industry sees a push towards eco-friendly products, dresses, invites, etc, that will lead to a greener market.
I know what you’re thinking, I’m going to tell you to cut out all the decorations and slap on a dress made out of trash bags. Eco-friendly weddings can still have all of the glamour and sparkle of a normal wedding, just without the waste. Lucky for us, more and more companies have become environmentally conscious. Many of the top companies have innovated their products and technology to reduce the carbon footprint. Now more than ever, there are eco-friendly alternatives for everything from wedding invitations to dinner plates.
Best of all, planning an eco-friendly wedding is no harder than a typical wedding. The last thing we’d want to do is make your wedding day even more stressful!
We’ve put together 7 ways to plan an eco-friendly, green wedding.
Wedding invitations and save the dates are arguably the easiest way to make your wedding eco-friendly. When it comes to picking your wedding invitations the options are endless, from elegant to minimal to DIY, it can be hard to choose. One way to save paper is to omit save the dates altogether, or send e-vites (email invitations). However, for those who want a more traditional invitation, start by picking environmentally friendly invites.
The most popular option is to print invites on 100% recycled paper. It’s the quickest way to save paper when you’re sending out dozens of invites. No new trees get cut down when you go with recycled paper invites, and some websites even plant a new tree when you place an order with them. Recycled invitations minimize the waste--and guilt--of sending out single use papers.
Plantable invites are an exciting trend in eco-friendly weddings. The invitation is printed on seed paper. You can place the invite itself in soil, water it, and an herb or flower will incredibly grow from the paper. Kelly Caruk, the spokeswoman for Botanical Paperworks, said “Wedding guests can plant the paper in soil to grow wildflowers or herbs instead of tossing the paper out.” Botanical Paperworks is committed to saving the earth with their products and means of production. The company collects paper waste from local businesses and schools, and uses it as the basis for their products, saving 10 tons of paper per year. Even the packaging that their products come in is corn plastic, which is biodegradable. They test every batch of seed paper to ensure your wedding guests will sprout a beautiful flower or herb. These unique invites will have your guests talking about them for years to come.
Or, eliminate the cost and headaches of sending out invites altogether by making a website for your wedding instead. A wedding website is perfect for couples who want more than an e-vite, but less than a paper invitation. There are plenty of free website hosts and you can customize every single aspect of it--and don’t worry, you don’t need to be a computer programmer to build a website these days! You can add pictures from your engagement, the story of how you met, or even directions to get to the venue. From there, you can easily communicate with guests as well as have them RSVP and access all the info they’ll need for the big day.
Table settings are arguably one of the most important aspects of weddings and receptions. They make or break the theme you’re going for, and every single guest will use them. Weddings, as we’ve established, are wasteful. If you’re using real tableware, they can be expensive to rent, are not always clean, and waste a lot of water to wash and rinse afterwards. As for single-use plastic tableware, they are the worst things you could use for the environment. Items like plastic cups can take up to 450 years to biodegrade making plastic tableware a terrible option. Depending on the venue you choose, they may or may not be responsible about disposing plastics properly, meaning the plastic waste from your wedding could be floating around the earth for hundreds of years.
Fortunately, we live in an innovative modern era in which we are no longer limited to paper or foam table settings. There has been a shift toward eco-friendly tableware, which is fantastic, but quality can vary with different types of materials. If you plan on using biodegradable tableware at your beautiful wedding, an elegant looking option makes a lasting impact on your special day.
Chic Leaf addresses all those concerns with its beautiful and sustainable palm leaf plates, palm leaf bowls, and palm leaf trays. Their tableware is made from fallen Areca Palm Leaves. They collect the leaves that have fallen on their own, so as to not contribute to any timbering. Then, the leaves are rinsed with water and turmeric to sanitize them, and left to air dry. Once dry, artisans handcraft those leaves into plates, bowls, and cutlery using heated molds. Several plates can be made from just one leaf. Absolutely no chemicals are used during the process, as a matter of fact only water is used to make them. Best of all they are 100% compostable, biodegradable, and sustainable, because they are purely made of leaves. You won’t have to worry about these plates circling the globe for hundreds of years.
Their products have a high-end look and feel to them. They are heavy duty and microwavable, so you won’t have to worry about floppy plates and spilled food. Although they look similar to bamboo plates, they are much more durable and have a softer feel to them. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, you can choose a 7 or 10-inch plate, round or square.
When you’re looking for a planner, aside from price, you want them to align with your vision. For example, if you want an outdoor wedding, you wouldn’t opt for a destination wedding planner. Likewise, if you want to plan an environmentally friendly wedding, look for an environmentally conscious planner.
Hiring people and vendors that understand and share your views will make wedding planning go a lot smoother, especially when something unexpected inevitably arises. They will keep your values and priorities in mind when putting together the details for your big day.
Wedding planners are realizing the enormous waste produced by large scale events, and are seeing the shift towards sustainability from the next generation of newly weds. Danielle Leilani, founder of eco-friendly Leilani Weddings, said “Most of our couples are conscious when it comes to their carbon footprint and the impact they make on the world, so sustainability is something that we keep in mind when planning our events.”
Often in the pursuit of your dream wedding, couples can lose sight of just how much waste is being generated. Big box stores pump out single-use plastics, decorations, and goodie bags that will inevitably end up in the landfill. Sourcing rentals, centerpieces, catering, and the cake locally are all things a wedding planner can look out for to reduce your carbon footprint. Wherever you may be, there are plenty of eco-friendly wedding planners to consider.
If your budget allows for it, opting for a venue that prioritizes sustainability is a great way to make your wedding eco-friendly. Venues can reduce the wedding’s carbon footprint by using local vendors for food, having a beautiful atmosphere to reduce the use of decorations, and being responsible about clean-up afterwards.
For more intimate weddings, a backyard wedding is very eco-friendly. You can decorate it how you like, rent from the best vendor--as opposed to being forced to rent from the venue--and it adds the sentimental value of getting married where you made so many other wonderful memories. Backyard weddings are also more likely to have a shorter guestlist, which reduces the amount of wasted food and single-use plastics among other things.
Outdoor, scenic venues are another way to keep the environment in mind for your wedding. The Wild Basin Lodge in Allenspark, Colorado is a perfect example. The magnificent mountains and vast greenery serves as the backdrop for your nuptials, it doesn’t get prettier than that. There’s no need for disposable decor, frilly lights, or costly floral arrangements. Additionally, the Wild Basin Lodge offers green packages like shuttling the guests all at once, or donating leftover food to the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. Even if your dream wedding doesn’t involve the mountains, there are plenty of other locations that are sure to offer green packages.
If you’re planning on having a destination wedding, you still have eco-friendly options. Social media influencer Jules Acree had a completely green destination wedding in Costa Rica. She had this to say about the venue in her blog, “My best advice is to pick a venue that already holds sustainability as a value if possible.” Her and her husband picked Kinkara, one of the most eco-friendly venues in the world. They use solar power energy, grow their own food, and prohibit all single-use plastics. As with any destination wedding, you’ll want to keep the guest list short to save money and cut down waste. Even if you don’t want to go full-on glamp tent wedding like Jules Acree, green options are worth looking into for your destination wedding.
The dress is the most important aspect in most weddings. So many factors go into shopping for the perfect dress which causes lots of added stress, so much in fact that reality TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress profit off of that stress. You’ve got to take into account the style, fit, color, veil, train, and cost among other things. The average cost of a wedding dress in the US is $1600, but that number doesn’t seem to be rising like other wedding costs are.
This is because more brides are open to going second-hand or repurposing dresses. “The traditional white wedding dress is fast becoming a symbol of excessive spending,” Chantal Khoueiry, founder of Brides Do Good, explains. Brides are realizing that spending hundreds of dollars on a dress you’ll only get to wear once isn’t very cost-effective, or eco-friendly. Sustainable and ethically made wedding dresses have quickly become a hot commodity in the wedding industry.
It’s difficult to decide whether a dress or fashion brand is sustainable or not, simply because there are a lot of factors that go into making dresses. That includes: what the garment’s made of, what the carbon footprint of the factory is, and how much a factory worker was paid to make it. When it comes to picking a sustainable wedding dress, all you can really do is aim to limit the environmental impact it’ll have; this means being conscious of where it came from, and where it will end up.
As you know, the choices for wedding dresses are basically endless. The same goes for picking an eco-friendly dress. One popular option is buying a second-hand wedding dress. Etsy has become the go-to website for second-hand, vintage, or handmade wedding dresses for both brides and bridesmaids. You’re guaranteed to find the style, size, and price you’re looking for in a dress and accessories. If Etsy just isn’t cutting it, some brides turn to local thrift stores for a dress they can modify and adjust.
Renting your wedding dress is also becoming more popular. Renting a dress is only a fraction of the cost of buying one, and it won’t get stuck hanging in the back of your closet for years to come. Plenty of men rent tuxedos, so why not rent a dress?