Ah, weddings! For a loving couple, a wedding is the ultimate culmination of their relationship. It’s a grand time for celebrating their love and devotion to each other.
But while the couple, their friends, and their families are having a happy celebration, Mother Nature may not share the same happiness. One-time decorations end up being in the landfill after the event. Balloons released after “I do’s” litter the environment as they land. Waste food items, which entail the use of a lot of resources, is simply thrown away. Weddings also use up a lot of electricity to power up lights and sound systems, effectively raising the venue’s carbon footprint.
As you can see, a wedding celebration isn’t exactly an eco-friendly event.
How to Make Your Wedding an Eco-Friendly Event
Organizing a green wedding isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in the world. However, it can be done with some planning and by following some eco-friendly principles.
Sending wedding invitations to your attendees is the norm for many generations. But with the advent of digital technology and the Internet, you can send electronic invitations via email. You can let your creativity go wild here—slideshow invitations, animated invitations, invitations with a personalized video—the sky’s the limit.
Most importantly, because you’re not sending physical invitations, you save a lot of paper. That, in turn, saves a lot of trees. And because the invitations are digital, they can be saved indefinitely in the attendee’s computers, not in a landfill.
Bonus: you can save extra cash as well since you don’t have to buy physical materials, pay someone to create and print the invitations, and spend money to mail them.
Wear preloved wedding outfits
According to updated recycling stats, consumer behavior is a major factor in the increase of waste generation not just in the US but all over the world. This includes a drive to “always go for the new” even though that something new will only be used once—or is rarely used at all.
Thus, for your wedding dress, it’s more sustainable to borrow or rent a pre-loved wedding gown (a pre-loved tuxedo or suit for men). There are fashion houses and establishments specializing in rental gowns and suits. You can even rent pre-loved dresses for your entire wedding entourage. Renting such clothes is vastly more affordable than buying them.
Alternatively, you can borrow pre-loved wedding clothes from loved ones, colleagues, or friends. If you can find one that fits you, that’s great! You don’t have to pay anything!
Streamline your guest list
You may find this hard to believe but each individual guest in your wedding adds to waste generation, fuel consumption, water use, food production, and packaging. To ease environmental stress, you might want to reduce your guest list.
Yes, it’s tempting to invite hundreds of relatives, colleagues, and friends to one of the most important days of your life. But in reality, even if you send that many invitations, many won’t come to your wedding due to commitments and personal reasons.
It’s easier to limit your guests to those who really matter—your family members, a few close relatives, and closest friends. You save a lot of money, and you’ll enjoy a more sustainable, eco-conscious wedding.
Skip on single-use plastic
Does your wedding reception involve an hors d’oeuvres or after-party? If so, ask the caterer to skip on single-use plastic utensils and cups. Grim environmental statistics, waste management statistics, and recycling information show that these plastics not only contribute to the massive global garbage problem but they’re also responsible for the deaths of a lot of sea creatures.
It’s more eco-friendly and sustainable if you use reusable or biodegradable utensils such as bamboo cocktail sticks, glasses, or metal forks and spoons. They also look more classy and elegant than plastics anyway, which is more fitting for your grand wedding, don’t you think?
If such utensils and cutlery is too expensive for you, you can opt for compostable or recyclable dinnerware such as paper cups and plates.
Choose seasonal flowers
Flowers are a staple decoration in almost every wedding. If you want to include flowers in your event, make sure you choose locally grown, seasonal flowers—your local florist can help you choose the best blossoms. Choosing indigenous flowers helps support local farmers while you reduce waste.
Give plantable party favors
Guests often receive party favors and wedding souvenirs as mementos of your special day. A great idea is to give them party favors that they could plant in their backyard. Seeds and small potted ready-to-plant plants make perfect eco-friendly and sustainable souvenirs. Ask your wedding coordinator to find a local grower that can provide wedding seed packets or easy-to-grow potted plants.
Choose an eco-friendly venue
When looking for your ideal wedding venue, choose one that requires minimal travel between other wedding locations. For example, a classy restaurant or a nice hotel a mile or two away from the church where you plan to wed is a good location.
It is also important to choose a ceremony and reception venue that focuses on sustainability. Such a venue often uses energy-efficient equipment, sources out local ingredients for their menu, or focuses on operational efficiency to reduce waste.
An effective way to identify such a venue is to ask if the facility or building is LEED-certified. LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification program. It has a rating system that aims to encourage building owners and operators to be resource-efficient and environmentally responsible.
Also check if your reception venue offers an all-inclusive wedding package. Taking advantage of an all-inclusive wedding package reduces your need for extra providers for decorations, catering, tableware, electronics, and more.
Your wedding is one of the most important events of your life, and it should definitely be special. But it doesn’t mean that the preservation and protection for nature must be set aside during your special day. By following the tips above, you can have a memorable wedding day while allowing Mother Nature to smile upon you.
Lillian Connors is a Senior Content Developer at ACT-ENVIRO, with years of experience in developing content.
Throughout her career, she always looked for ways to contribute to the environment in recycling efforts, while providing valuable information with her written articles.
She’s deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainability not
only makes us far less dependent on others regarding how we live and do business
but also contributes to our planet being a better place to live on. When she is not
trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to
lose herself in a good book and sip on an occasional appletini.