We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 best wedding caterers that make sustainability a priority. We believe food must be green. No, not physically. But it must be sustainable to support our world’s rapidly growing population. 7.9 billion people populate Earth as of 2021, and with each person eating about three meals a day, and everyone hosting weddings and other events, we all need to incorporate some basic sustainability practices in our dining and entertaining. Eating and entertaining sustainably tends to always have a simultaneous humble yet sophisticated charm. If that’s the vibe you want for your wedding, you’re in the right place.
“Eating sustainably” doesn’t only mean eating vegetarian and vegan food - although consuming plant-based foods do significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and water usage compared to meat. Serving ethically and locally sourced meat helps the planet, too. Serving anything local cuts down on carbon dioxide emitted during transportation. Serving seasonal foods means you won’t have to import food from long distances away, which also cuts down on carbon dioxide emitted during transportation. Plus, eating what’s in season tends to taste fresher - because it is. Eating organic means you’re not contributing to all the chemical fertilizer runoff pollution that tends to result from non-organic farms.
Other considerations to make your wedding truly eco-friendly are the food’s packaging, cutlery, dishwashing, and composting efforts. Finding a caterer that takes care of all of this in an environmentally responsible way is the dream. Plastic-free packaging, biodegradable cutlery, water-efficient dishwashing, and a proven commitment to both recycling and composting can make your wedding truly sustainable.
Weddings are a wonderful opportunity to introduce your guests to how delicious, fun, and easy it can be to eat and entertain sustainably. While you may have a lot on your plate (no pun intended) at your wedding, these caterers will take care of more than just food. They go above and beyond with recycling, composting, partnering with local farms, and using sustainable dishware.
After all, you can’t truly make sustainable food choices if what you’re using to eat the food is unsustainable. Chic Leaf palm leaf plates are 100% biodegradable, compostable, and vegan. They are naturally-made: Areca palm leaves fall to the ground, are cleaned with water and turmeric, and shaped by hand into plates, bowls, and trays. Their timeless, natural look works great for both elegant and casual catered events.
Let’s see how some of the best eco-friendly catering companies in the U.S. incorporate sustainability into their offerings:
Based in Essex, New York and serving Adirondack farm country in New York and neighboring Vermont, this farm-to-table, all local catering business handles everything, from the food to the flowers to the bar. Their website explains how they “grow and raise your entire wedding menu and flower arrangements here on the farm for a reception that is fresh, local, and sustainable.” Buffet and table service are offered for weddings. Design a seasonal menu with the creative team; seasonal drinks include mulled apple cider in the fall and old fashioned birch beer in the winter.
Farmstead Catering’s Echo Farm produces their meat, fruit, veggies, cheese, and the team also forages mushrooms, raspberries, and walnuts. Echo Farm is a small-scale, diversified homestead and dairy operation with pasture-raised animals. They do not use chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, or antibiotics in the food. The annual report is available on their website for full transparency. For items that cannot be grown, raised, or harvested in upstate New York, Farmstead Catering purchases organic and local options.
Farmstead Catering also helps with event planning and offers bowl, glassware, and vintage decor rentals. Their flowers (wild and farm-grown) are perfect for table centerpieces or in your cocktails. You can even have their farm as your venue.
Fresh, local cuisine. Serving the southern California area (Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Orange County), Abbey Catering has green catering and organic foods. Their menus are seasonal, as they rely on locally sourced produce. All dishes are organic and plant-based, they are all fresh and changing.
Abbey Catering always ensure that they’re using sustainable products, such as palm based woods which save forests as well as avoiding chemicals that aren’t plant-based. They take care to separate recyclables, compostables, and trash during their event to minimize the impact on Mother Earth.
They started AbbeyFarms in 2014, it's a local organic farm based in the City of San Diego. Because of this, they we’re able to source and grow their very own organic food. Good thing about them is their farmers work directly with their chefs to choose plants and ingredients. If you’re looking to support organic, eco-friendly catering business in southern California, look no further.
Based in Cambridge, Basil Tree Catering serves the Boston metro area. In addition to buffet-style catering, they also offer individually boxed portions, perfect for more casual weddings. They have a variety of sandwiches, salads, hot entree bowls, cold side dishes, snacks, desserts (individual and plattered), and beverages (individual and in bulk) for omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free preferences.
There’s a reason their tagline is “catering with a conscience.” As an active participant in the Sustainable Business Leader Program, Basil Tree Catering uses local food suppliers. Their bulk coffee is from El Recreo Coffee & Roasterie, a farm-to-cup, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farm.
Basil Tree Catering’s composting efforts have cut their garbage production in half. They recycle, repurpose cooking oil into biofuel, use LED light bulbs to save energy, and use a uniform and linen service that prioritizes water conservation in their laundering. They are also shifting toward electric delivery vehicles. Finally, after each event, they encourage used utensils, platters, and lids to be returned to them for recycling.
As far as their paper products go, Basil Tree Catering uses napkins made from recycled material. Their printed materials are printed on recycled paper. They use plant-based cutlery and cups, and plates made from sugarcane and wheat fiber waste. (Read more about how palm leaf plates compare to other eco-friendly wedding plate alternatives here.)
Serving the Jacksonville area, this all-organic catering is a fusion of Asian and western traditions. House of Leaf and Bean serves vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore options with dietary requirements taken into consideration. As the only commercial tofu producer in the Southern United States, they are known for their handmade in-house extra firm tofu which follows traditional Chinese recipes. Tofu is made from soybeans and is an environmentally friendly alternative to meat. (The carbon footprint of eating tofu is the equivalent of driving 4.5 miles in a car, compared to lamb’s carbon footprint of driving 91 miles.).
House of Leaf and Bean also serves organic salads, bowls, wraps, desserts, and doubles as a tea shop with organic loose leaf tea and reusable tea accessories. They even have an event venue, free to use!
Serving the Washington, D.C., northern Virginia, and Maryland area, Root & Stem specializes in farm-to-table cuisine, locally sourced ingredients, and delicious meals made from scratch. Your wedding will have a menu catered to the season it takes place in: enjoy cantaloupe basil margaritas in the summer, or applewood wrapped apples with honey and brie in the fall.
Root & Stem offers a vegetarian-only service and omnivore options. Their website states that they source all their “beef, chicken, eggs, and game meats from farms and ranches with an animal welfare certification recognized by REAL Certified and ASPCA Shop With Your Heart program.” As an eat REAL Certified business (REAL stands for Responsible Epicurean Agricultural Leadership), Root & Stem’s health and sustainability excellence is approved by a registered dietician and by the U.S. Healthful Food Council.
Root & Stem supports small family-owned farms to get their delicious ingredients. They compost food waste at local farms and reuse cooking oil for biofuel. Like palm leaf plates, their plates are biodegradable. All platters and serveware are reusable, and their plates are made from recycled materials. Root & Stem recycle plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, and aluminum. Their communication is all digital, with no unnecessary printouts save paper.
Root and Stem sprouted Green Leaf Corporate Catering for corporate events in the area. Both services are Green Restaurant Certified by the Green Restaurant Association.
Based in Brooklyn and serving the New York and Connecticut area, founder and head chef Ryan Brown studied French cuisine before launching his own catering company specializing in seasonal, locally grown, organic foods. Specialties are always artfully designed, from butternut squash tartlets to eggplant caponata.
Ryan Brown Catering composts all their food waste, which then helps fertilize the soil at the local farms they use. They think of everything, from repurposing wine corks to supporting Heifer International (an organization that teaches environmentally friendly agricultural practices to people in developing countries).
Ryan Brown Catering uses environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, energy-saving refrigerators, recycled paper products, and eco-friendly transport food containers. They only serve grass-fed beef, eco-friendly seafood, and ethically raised poultry. Plus, they’re straw-free!
Serving San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties, Park Avenue Catering serves weddings of all types. With plenty of experience in Indian weddings, the team can just as easily whip up a feast of delicious Indian dishes as a brie and pear crostini.
Chef Bruce Riezenman has been a part of the farm-to-table movement since its inception in the 1980s. Bruce went above and beyond by creating an “environmental report card” to keep track of how well the business maintains different sustainability practices - comprising 58 categories and counting. All employees are trained in sustainability practices to uphold the Bay Area Green Business Certification earned in 2008.
Park Avenue Catering uses locally sourced and sustainable products, antibiotic and hormone-free meats, and wild and sustainably farmed fish. They compost everything (not just produce) and bring it back to the kitchen if there are no compost facilities at the event. They have the same commitment to recycling.
Wedding help doesn’t stop at catering: Park Avenue will not only help you pick out the right menu, but they’ll also help you pick the right venue.
There are likely eco-friendly wedding caterers in every state, but these are just a few to get you inspired. Weddings are the perfect time to go sustainable: using eco-friendly caterers means you don’t have to do any of the dirty work! All aspects of eating should be sustainable, from the dishware to the meal itself to clean up. Make sure their dishware is sustainable, too. Palm leaf plates are the best zero waste option for this, plus their durability and design are appropriate for all foods and levels of fanciness. Sit back, enjoy your wedding, and let the trusted caterer of your choice make your sustainable wedding dreams come true.