12 Ways to Make Your Wedding More Sustainable

12 Ways to Make Your Wedding More Sustainable

12 Ways to Make Your Wedding More Sustainable

This was not our typical topic, but let’s hop on it now — sustainable weddingWe just got a request about what sustainable wedding choices we can make to lessen our big day’s environmental impact. 

Here are some of them, moreover I’m sure that we can find many other fantastic ideas. 

How can I make my wedding sustainable?

  1. Invites on recycled paper
  2. Bridal dress from a sustainable company
  3. Pre-owned bridal shoes
  4. Jewelry borrowed from a family member
  5. Plated dinner to avoid throwing out leftovers
  6. No beef being served at the wedding
  7. Locally sourced ingredients from your caterer
  8. Donation to charity instead of favors
  9. No disposable items at the reception
  10. Locally sourced flowers
  11. Second-hand decor
  12. Not registering for physical gifts

Invites on recycled paper

Let’s start this topic from the beginning. Before each wedding, you send invites. For a sustainable wedding, we should think differently.

I’m not sure if you have a wedding website, but by using one, let’s say from Zola, it provides the option to allow guests to RSVP through the website. I’ve used it before as a guest for my fiancé’s cousin’s wedding, and it was effortless. I tested it myself to use for our wedding, and there are options to add questions for guests to answer, like meal choices and stuff. If your guests are computer savvy, asking them to RSVP through the website can help save some paper!

Many brides are looking into printing invites on paper that has wildflower seeds embedded. In this case, you should also think that you can coincidently introduce invasive or non-native plants to your region.

Or you can try Paper Culture – they plant trees for each order!

Bridal dress and shoes from a sustainable company

Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. Reformation is #2 with their collections of sustainably made women’s clothing and accessories.

You can also look into Mother of Pearl or Lost in Paris, two other sustainable wedding dress labels. There are also many places you can shop for designer dresses worn once!

For bridal shoes, there also are many options. You either can wear your older shoes (nobody really can see it anyway), or you can try ThredUpwhich is an online consignment and thrift store where you can buy and sell.

Plated dinner to avoid throwing out leftovers

plated food is more sustainable

It’s my understanding that with plated dinners because the chef knows exactly the number of entrees to prepare, there is less waste. As opposed to doing family style or buffet style, where a bit of a margin is added to the food prep, so there’s enough for everyone for each dish, plus a little extra. It could be a misunderstanding, so I asked my friend – catering pro.

I work for a wedding venue for a couple of years, and buffets or family-style had way more waste than plated. There is only about a 10% overage for plated, for people who changed their mind on their entrees. For a buffet or family-style, the venue has to assume that like 60% of guests may want the same entree and buy for that, and once the food is cooked and set out, it has to be tossed for the most part.

Favors are a donation to charity

If you’re doing favors / gifts, you could choose items that encourage sustainability, like reusable bags, straws or water bottles, etc.
That’s a good idea, especially for welcome baskets.

Another idea is that you could ask guests traveling to your wedding to buy carbon offsets for their flights instead of gifts / donations.

Locally sourced flowers, not using floral foam & second-hand / thrifted decor

locally sourced flowers are ideal for the wedding

For your sustainable wedding, you can minimize waste by using only locally sourced blooms with a smaller carbon footprint than imports. Why local? They are beautiful, seasonal, local flowers are trendy!

You can also try Something Borrowed Blooms! Luxury Silk floral rentals that are both economical and sustainable!

Rent your decorations, so that’s another option besides second-hand / thrifted.

We also asked our friends about their opinion. There is just so much stuff with weddings. It’s cringe-worthy how much of it is used once and then probably ends up in a landfill. If you want a more sustainable wedding, you could also be minimizing the number of used decorations. You can do this just by using a space that doesn’t need much added to it!
So here are some thoughts:

Sonya:

We’re just drastically minimizing the “stuff” that seems common with weddings – we specifically chose a restaurant as a venue so that we wouldn’t need to do florals, centerpieces, decorations, etc. We also aren’t registering for gifts (we already have two households of stuff we’ve been gradually selling/donating). I’ll probably sell my dress afterward, and I’m wearing shoes that I already own.

Mara

Confetti is petals dried from flowers gathered by family members and me over the last year. The cones are made from pages of an old novel no one would ever read, so fully recyclable. Garden games are all second-hand.

Flowers for the bouquets are all grown by the florist in the next village. Dishes will be served ‘family style’ in smaller bowls which can be topped up to avoid waste. Food that wasn’t served will be used for the evening buffet.

We’re looking into carbon offsetting the travel element, though everyone is driving from no more than 4 hours away, with the vast majority under 2 hours. Car sharing has been strongly encouraged.

Petra:

We’re doing vegan catering, second-hand dress, and minimal decor. Unfortunately, half the guests have to travel, which is where the heck of a lot of carbon will be coming from.

That travel piece is hard to get away from. Maybe it’s a bit offset by a lack of traveling in the last year? We also will have vegan catering! I like that it’s also an opportunity to showcase just how yummy vegan food can be to people who may not normally choose a vegan dish.

Laura:

We’re doing a lot of this too, as this is really important to my fiancé and me! Luckily, our wedding planner specializes in sustainable weddings, so she’s been helping to guide us. For example, we’re renting as much as we can. While it’s tempting to get those fun custom-made acrylic signs and whatnot, we would never use them again, and they’d end up in the trash, so renting all signage and doing a QR code for the wedding program instead of print outs. 

Also, doing e-vites for our friends and our family is getting either the invitations you can plant or compostable ones. We’re having our wedding flowers donated after the event to either a hospital or an elderly home. We’re also working with our caterer to see if any leftover food can be composted as they’re not allowed to donate it to homeless shelters. 

And while it might seem like a gimme, using local vendors who don’t need to travel is a big one for us. We get to help support small local businesses and cut down on any travel emissions/waste from packaging (for things like favors). We hope that this can counteract a little bit the fact that all of our friends and family have to travel for the wedding since we live so far away from them.️

Leyla:

We definitely asked if we could do leftovers! But it’s written in our venue contract that the food can’t be taken home or donated for safety reasons, which is why we’re looking into composting. I’m not sure if this is a city regulation, but leftovers/contributing to a homeless shelter was my first request.

As for signs, there’s a ton of wedding rental companies near our venue with super reasonable prices on different types of signs, furniture, and even decor. So we can rent chalkboards or acrylic signs and have someone do custom calligraphy on them for the wedding. I think they even have a few generic neon signs you can rent, which is awesome.

One other thing I forgot to mention is transportation to the venue. Luckily ours is within walking distance of most hotels, but otherwise, we would have done a shuttle. It ensures the safety and more cars off the road!

Wera:

We use locally sourced flowers with a florist that doesn’t use plastic or floral foam. She also will donate all of our flowers afterward. We’re printing our invitations on recycled paper, and we’re only using reusable dishware and napkins at the reception. In welcome bags, we plan on giving everyone a reusable water bottle. We’re also not doing anything people will just throw in the trash, including programs and favors.

Daria:

We’re getting married in a national park, so decorations will be “provided,” plus a donation to the park will replace wedding favors. There is no bridal party, and we’re encouraging a casual dress code, so no one needs to buy anything new. 

Our catering is a food truck, and they are allowing all leftovers to be taken home by guests (wood-fired pizzas – a bonus wedding favor, I guess lol). I’m growing the flowers I plan to use for my bouquet/groom’s buttonhole. I’m also planning on going for a non-traditional wedding dress, so I can wear it again to other functions.

Rita:

We will be borrowing most of our decor/misc items – we made a Google doc with all the items we’re looking for and shared it with family and friends. Has allowed us to avoid buying or renting things like cake cutter, candlesticks, yard games, vases, string lights.

We also will be using mismatched wood chairs – maybe not more “sustainable” than rentals, but we’ve rescued dozens of great chairs from the trash by cruising our neighborhood on trash day and searching for “curb alerts” on Facebook Marketplace.

All flowers are grown in my garden or wildflowers collected on the family property. Plus electronic STDs and RSVPs.

Julie

Buy stuff you’ll reuse or use stuff you already have. Our centerpieces are going to be things we will use afterward or can donate. I’m wearing shoes I already own. Small things like that make a significant impact (also an impact on your wallet).

Naomi:

I’m in the Philly area, and there is a local nonprofit that will upcycle your flowers after the wedding by turning them into mini arrangements and giving them to local nursing home residents. As a big proponent of sustainability, I’m willing to bear this extra cost knowing that my expensive flowers will have a second life and bring others joy. 

My florist also had planned to do potted plants mixed with flowers as centerpieces, which would double as take-home favors.

Ashley Therese Photography

Sheryl

I’ve bought silk flowers for my bouquet. My fiance asked me the other day, “Aren’t we supposed to get real flowers for a wedding,” and I replied, “Do YOU want to spend hundreds of dollars on something that is going to die in two days?!” He’s a little concerned that the silk ones will just be house clutter in the years to come, and I’ve assured him they’ll be a magnificent wall decoration by the time I’m done with them.

I’m also thinking of requesting fresh produce for table-settings – eggplants, pomegranates, apples. That way, they can be repurposed and eaten after they’ve served their purpose as decor.

We’re probably not doing favors – the only thing that has caught our eyes is a company that plants a tree on behalf of each guest, so we might pursue that if we feel the need for wedding favors. And I’m getting a wedding “ensemble” rather than a wedding dress, so each item can be repurposed afterward.

I’m trying to keep sustainability and waste-reduction in mind with every wedding decision that we make. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen wedding cakes mostly thrown out because by the time that $700 monstrosity has been cut, everyone has already eaten their weight in food and wants to get up and dance.

Mary

My dress is non-traditional, so I can wear it again. I’m DIY-ing decor that will be used again in our home, including using jars we’ve saved up that are going to be crocheted around using existing yarn for vases and flowers will be from the local flower market, as well as ordering a dried flower bouquet that can last for 3+ years. Everything is fully vegan, including the reception venue and food. Our rings are antique, with my fiance resizing his grandfather’s.

There’s probably much more we could be doing, but my main focus has been choosing things we love as opposed to following a theme or color scheme as we really want to reuse as much as possible.

Alena

I’m using compostable/wildflower seed wedding invitations and only using 100% cloth (silk, cotton, wool) for runners and napkins.

The gifts will be succulents and seed packages that benefit pollinators as well. 

My dress, I can’t seem to find one I really like, but if I wear it more than once it’s a win! So I am teaming up with a seller on Etsy for a dress that can be restyled as everyday wear.

The flowers will either be wood, paper, or silk as well. I’m going for a natural, garden-themed wedding. I don’t have place cards for guests since it’s only ~100 people. I bit doing the something blue, white or new.

There will be no tossing the bouquet since every friend I know is either asexual, married, about to be married, or against marriage. I will wear boots that can be worn in muddy situations (long dress) since it’s garden-themed and I trip a lot. Jewelry will not be custom-made for a wedding, just regular day-to-day.

I am making my own wine and beer, so I won’t worry about transport or liquor costs. Though I will purchase spirits/liquors because I am afraid of asking for vodka, haha.

The wedding is close to everyone’s home, so transport costs are down, and I’m using local vendors for food who will bring their own tableware. It will also be at a botanical greenhouse, so the decorations are built-in!

Well, I really hope that we covered the topic of More Sustainable Wedding enough for the beginning. Let us know if you want more information, and we will continue. We can ask our team members, and you can read the opinion of wedding planners, florists, photographers, or caterers.

Check our website if you would like to see more great articles. You also can join our private Facebook group.

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14 Comments


  1. Cristina Petrini

    I admit that I am a person who pays attention to sustainability in various aspects: food, fashion, beauty, wellness, travel, but in marriage I had never thought about it. Interesting.

    Reply
  2. Neely Moldovan

    I love this and I really wish people did more sustainable weddings. These ideas are amazing.

    Reply
  3. Brianne

    I absolutely love these tips. I think it’s so important to consider sustainability in everything we do, even weddings!

    Reply
  4. Kuntala

    I’m such a big fan of sustainability in all things. I love that you highlighted how you can do it with weddings, too.

    Reply
  5. Bryan Carey

    Avoiding disposable items is a biggie. I have been to weddings where they hauled off several trash bags full of disposable cups, plates, etc.

    Reply
  6. Cinny

    Those are great ideas. I love the locally sourced flowers idea.

    Reply
  7. Emily Fata

    These are all such great ideas! It’s really important to make an effort to have a sustainable wedding.

    Reply
  8. Gervin Khan

    Such wonderful wedding tips. I know that the wedding day is the most special day for every couple, but we need to accept the fact that we don’t need to spend too much money on that event instead we should save money for our future. In short, I do agree with having a sustainable wedding wherein you can still have a beautiful, unforgettable, and enjoyable wedding day while saving your money.

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth O

    These are wonderful ideas. Sustainability is a mindset that can apply to everytyhing.

    Reply
  10. Ntensibe Edgar

    Yes, you’ve done a great job listing all these sustainable ways we can enjoy wedding celebrations. One caught my eye immensely; “Plated dinner to avoid throwing out leftovers”. It makes a lot of sense!

    Reply
  11. Melanie williams

    What a lovely article. there are some really good ideas here and I am all about caring for our planet so this is fab x

    Reply
  12. Lyanna Soria

    Those are some wonderful points to keep in mind and thanks for the share. I’m always up for trying out ways to lessen the load and cash expenses, though will have to wait on this since I am not planning to get married yet.

    Reply
  13. Benita McLaurin

    Thank you for sharing these useful tips on how to be sustainable. The plated dinner idea is smart also it’s cost-effective as well, no wasting food, and it’s proportioned. I am really into party planning, I have not planned a wedding yet, but these are some good ideas for my first wedding planning event.

    Reply
    1. WMFteam108

      We are happy that you find if useful, Betina.

      Reply

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