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Ah, weddings: full of magical, memorable moments! The love shared between those getting hitched and those in attendance is what makes weddings so special. Everything else is just icing on the cake. But if you’re reading this, you most likely have love for the planet, too. 

The best way to express that love is by using eco friendly practices and products at your wedding. After all, it’s your day. You can do whatever you want! You have the chance to get more people aware of the simple ways to go green - because your guests have to honor your wishes! Now’s your chance to get that stubborn relative to realize just how easy it is to implement sustainability practices in family events. Birthdays and weddings are really the only guaranteed days when it’s all about you. Take advantage of it! 

And oftentimes, those who care about conserving our natural resources also care about conserving their money. Being eco friendly does not have to break the bank! Throwing a wedding for cheap doesn’t mean it will look cheap. In fact, the natural aesthetic is the most timeless aesthetic. Flowers and trees don’t ever go out of style. 

So read on if you want to learn how to throw a beautiful, affordable, eco friendly wedding - within budget: 

1. WEDDING PLATES: Use Palm Leaf Plates

 wedding table with palm plates

 

Using biodegradable eco plates as your wedding plates is one choice that can have the largest positive environmental impact for your green wedding. We've talked to so many brides who have used palm leaf plates for their wedding reception and engagement parties and they loved how elegant and beautiful they made the event look and appreciated all the wonderful things wedding guests had to say about the choice. Since they are made entirely from a leaf without any chemicals, dyes, or glues, palm plates are the perfect eco friendly alternative for an eco friendly wedding.

There are plenty of different sizes and shapes to satisfy any bride planning the ultimate green wedding. You can use square palm leaf plates, round palm leaf plates, or rectangle palm plates. You can use round, rectangle, or oval palm leaf platters for charcuterie boards during the cocktail hour too. There are so many options to use these beautiful disposable plates that have the look of wood plates or bamboo plates.

 All this elegant dinnerware is made from premium Areca Palm Leaf, that naturally falls to the ground, is gathered, cleaned with high pressure water, and then formed into the beautiful plates, trays, and bowls now being seen at large weddings, parties, and events. Each plate is made from a different leaf, so each one has its own unique pattern from Mother Nature. 

Whether you’re planning a buffet or sit-down dinner, these recyclable, zero-waste, heavy duty plates won’t shatter like regular dishware or collapse like flimsy paper plates. And unlike plastic plates, palm leaf plates have a low carbon footprint.

2. WEDDING VENUE: Save Money Locally

Local Wedding Venue

 

Destinations weddings have become increasingly popular over the years, but having a local wedding reduces the amount of travel guests make whether by plane, train, or automobile. According to the Air Transport Action Group, worldwide plane travel produced over 1 billion tons (915 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide in 2019. In that same year, car travel in the United States produced 762.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. You can help minimize the negative impact of long distance travel by hosting your wedding in a convenient location that is local for most attendees.

Sure, a destination wedding is tempting. But it’s not feasible for most people, or within budget. It’s fun to daydream on Pinterest about getting married in the Maldives (especially before it succumbs to fast rising sea levels). But not all friends and relatives can make it for that long plane ride, especially the elderly, those on a tight budget, or those with children. Save your travels for your honeymoon (and of course, consider purchasing carbon offsets when you do). 

Throwing a backyard wedding can be super fun, and will definitely save on wedding costs. You’re in your house every day, so every day will remind you of your wedding day! 

It makes the whole day much less hectic not to have to worry about arriving on time to your wedding venue when you woke up there that morning! This way, you can personalize it, too. You have total control over the space. And you can take as long as you want! 

Or, if you live near a National Park, consider having that as your venue! Note that National Parks require a Special Use permit, which usually runs between $60 and $200, depending on the park. According to Wedding Wire, the average wedding venue cost has been slowly creeping up over the years and now sits at $6,000.

Getting married at a state or local park are great options, too. They also require permits; rates vary depending upon the state. If you live near the ocean or a popular lake, those are also family-friendly, affordable locations. (Permits will likely be required as well.) 

The natural backdrop will really set the scene for your green wedding. But of course, rain and snow do happen, and local weddings can be just as eco friendly when set indoors. The main thing is: stay local, and save gas!

3. FOOD: Go vegetarian (or vegan) and say no to food waste! 

Vegan Wedding Menu

 

It’s highly recommended for the health of the planet to pick one day out of the week to go meatless. To encourage many people at once to adopt that good habit, why not make that one day overlap with your wedding day? For most diets, it’s good for your health, too. 

The carbon footprint of pasta is only 15.5 oz carbon dioxide per pound, much lower than red meat’s 359.3 oz of carbon dioxide per pound. For comparison, the average carbon footprint of beef is almost four times that of chicken. Carbon footprints for fish vary greatly, but wild-caught salmon is considered to be a generally sustainable option. 

Cutting out meat from your wedding menu is a guaranteed way to save money and cut down on carbon emissions.So for your entree, pick a hearty plant-based protein like farro, tofu, or high-protein pasta. There are lots of catering companies that cater (no pun intended) to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and even specialize in it.

The truth is, most people are already up and dancing or too distracted to eat much, anyway. Especially for brides and grooms - everyone wants to chat, and everyone wants a picture. So a little food waste is, unfortunately, inevitable. In that case, it’s better that the food waste be pasta over beef so as to not emit all that carbon for nothing. 

But to prevent food waste from the start, talk to your caterer and see what they suggest. Some may have a partnership with a local food bank. If you’re hosting the wedding yourself, then you have more control over the leftovers. Consider supplying compostable doggie bags for desserts. And if your wedding is in your backyard and you have a compost pile: problem solved. 

Another way to cut down on food waste is to serve smaller portions. No, not stingy! Just don’toverserve. Especially to kids. If you’re having a buffet, consider providing smaller Chic Leaf plates to discourage overloading a giant plate, and put up a sign that encourages people to come back for seconds.  Using 4-inch plates instead of larger plates at your wedding or reception is the perfect way to keep portions down on finger foods. 

4. GIFTS: Pick eco friendly items for your wedding registry.

Eco-friendly gift

 

Prioritize organic, biodegradable, and ethically made products, from utensils to furniture. Consider using local small businesses for your registry so products don’t have to travel from a mega warehouse halfway across the world. Etsy has some affordable, unique, sustainably made handmade home products with a personal touch.  MyRegistry.com has a green wedding registry featuring organic bedclothes, eco-friendly lightbulbs, and even a composter. 

Wedding presents don’t always need to come from registries. Weddings are a perfect opportunity to pass down a family heirloom, like a piece of jewelry or furniture. Priceless hand-me-downs require no time or energy shopping, and gifting them is a beautiful way of reusing quality items.  

And if you’d rather opt out of gifts, offer your friends and family the chance to make a donation to your favorite wildlife conservation charity, clean water nonprofit, or other environmental cause.  The Good Beginning donation registry allows your guests to pick one of three charities and streamlines the process for you. This allows guests to stick to their own budgets, as well.

5. FASHION & ACCESSORIES: Reuse!

Simple wedding attire

 

If you’ve got a wedding dress, tux, shoes, a headpiece, earrings, a necklace, bracelet, or rings that have been handed down in your family - what a way to honor that legacy by wearing it on your own special day. It’s especially poignant if that family member has passed away - they’ll be right there with you, their necklace cool against your heart. Or their bowtie, proudly front and center. It certainly saves money than buying new. (Note that you may have to take a trip to the tailor or jeweler to make sure the hand-me-down attire or ring your size).

Wedding dresses and tuxedos really are typically worn just one day out of your whole life. It’s better to get more use out of old/vintage clothes than to buy super expensive dresses and tuxedos. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” - don’t overlook the “old” and “borrowed!”

You might also consider going casual, especially if your venue is casual, like in a national park. 

Also, let the bridesmaids wear dresses they already have. It’s becoming more and more popular to do this. It’s respectful to your wedding party, who are going out of their way to come to your wedding, and already bringing you gifts. Bridesmaid dresses still look coordinated when they are the same color, but different styles, and your bridesmaids will feel much more comfortable in their own clothes than new ones that may not be their personal style. This will save them money. Reusing clothes is always more eco-conscious than buying new ones - especially if they will only be worn once.

Final Thoughts On Throwing An Affordable Sustainable Wedding


The truth is, when we go to other people’s weddings, we all secretly plan our own. We note whether or not we like the type of venue, the food, and even the dishware. So especially if your friends love the planet as much as you do, you could be a trend setter by throwing a green wedding for cheap. Show off 100% natural, vegan, biodegradable  palm leaf trayspalm leaf bowls, andplates at your wedding, reuse them afterwards, or put them on your registry! 

Check out more sustainable wedding ideas here. Now’s the time to go green for your wedding. The more sustainable the wedding, the more love we spread for our planet.


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