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Eco-friendly weddings are rising in popularity, and if you’re looking to plan an epic low-waste, green wedding that prioritizes Mother Nature’s wants and needs, we’re here to help. From choosing the right engagement ring and event venue to going green with your wedding invitations and favors, there are plenty of little tweaks you can make to ensure your wedding day is equal parts magical and eco-friendly.
First thing’s first: choosing the perfect eco-conscious engagement ring. There are a few ways to approach this. Start by looking for a jeweler who prioritizes working with environmentally-friendly materials including ethically-sourced gemstones and metals. Also, consider going with a lab-grown diamond—these are becoming more popular these days as their origin can be traced and they look great. Finally, you could go the ‘something old’ route and choose a vintage ring.
Photo: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
Next up on your wedding planning journey—finding the perfect eco-conscious, low-waste wedding venue for your ceremony and reception. You’ll want to look for event spaces that prioritize using environmentally-friendly practices to run their business. They could use solar energy, have a green roof, use water-conserving plumbing fixtures in their bathrooms, and/or have energy-efficient appliances (usually, these features will be advertised on their sites).
Of course, you should aim to find a spot that does as much as possible, but remember that every little bit counts! Oh, and if you’re having trouble finding a spot that suits your needs, go ahead and ask your wedding planner for a helping hand—after all, it’s their job to point you in the right direction!
Pro tip: Try looking for conservation areas in and around your desired wedding destination—they make for awesome outdoor wedding venues!
If you’re planning an eco-friendly wedding, three themes that work extremely well are rustic, boho-chic, and minimalist. Rustic and boho-chic wedding ideas rely on natural elements and secondhand, vintage-style decor that can be recycled and refurbished (meaning you won’t toss it out when your wedding is over). The minimalist theme is also great because it focuses on using less, which means you’ll create minimal waste on your big day without sacrificing your style.
When aiming for a sustainable wedding, it’s best to keep your guest list short and sweet. Fewer people means less food, fewer favors, and, ultimately, less waste. We suggest sticking to your nearest and dearest and leaving casual acquaintances and tons of plus ones out of the equation.
Regardless of what theme you choose, aim to use eco-friendly decor and wedding flowers. Things like balloons and single-use plastics are a big no-no, so trade those for recycled decorations from past parties or DIY bespoke creations (like handmade bunting or greenery centerpieces). Pinterest is brimming with awesome wedding decor hacks that you can easily make from the comfort of your own home.
Paperless is a great way to go if you’re trying to be eco-friendly. You can easily send out your save the dates and invitations online, so why the heck not? If you want to go the more traditional route for your wedding invitations, just try to cut back on how many enclosure cards you include and use your wedding website to communicate details. Choose recycled paper as your base, and find a stationer who uses eco-friendly inks and printing practices to ensure your paper goods are the cleanest and greenest they can possibly be.
When you meet with any wedding vendor, you should prioritize talking about their commitment to the environment. Having a team stacked with people who share your dedication to green, low-waste practices is key when throwing an eco-friendly wedding. This is especially important when it comes to your wedding planner, as they’ll be the person spearheading your team and recommending additional vendors (like florists, caterers, etc.) to you as you need them.
Now let’s talk about wedding dresses! While bridal boutiques are filled with gorgeous, brand new gowns. You may want to consider going secondhand or vintage when choosing your own dress. Recycling is always a better option for the environment, and you can usually find absolutely beautiful frocks that look good as new (for a fraction of the price, too!).
If you’re not into wearing elegant hand-me-downs, look for a wedding dress designer that uses environmentally-friendly materials and practices to make their gowns. These may be a bit pricier than mass-produced bridal gowns, but they’ll make much less of a negative impact on the environment.
Naturally, you want to treat your wedding guests to an unforgettable meal. Well, good news! Just because you’re planning an eco-friendly wedding doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Ask your caterer for seasonal, locally-sourced menu items that don’t require fruits and veggies to be shipped in from afar (that’ll enlarge your carbon footprint).
If you’re really committed to the cause, you could also skip serving meat altogether. The farming of animals uses up a ton of space, food, and water, and is even known to create harmful emissions. Lastly, don’t overserve your guests, food waste is never good, and you probably won’t be sending your guests home with doggy bags!
Instead of pulling up to your wedding in a gas guzzler, choose an electric or hybrid car as your ride. If you’re not traveling a far distance from your home or hotel to your venue, you could even bike there! We also suggest you encourage your guests to carpool, not only will it make their lives easier, but it’ll put less harmful fumes into the environment! P.S. Choosing a hotel wedding venue will save you from needing to book any transportation—you and your guests will just have to walk from the event space to their rooms.
There are so many awesome eco-friendly wedding favors to choose from that suit just about every wedding theme. If you love plants, gift your guests with mini arrangements, succulents, or packets of seeds. If you’re more of a foodie go ahead and make (or purchase) custom snacks or preserves.
Whatever you do, make sure the packaging is equally eco-friendly—biodegradable wrapping is always better than tissue and cellophane! Pro tip: You can also skip the favors altogether and make one large donation to a charity of your choice in the name of your wedding guests.
If you’ve already got everything you could ever want and need, don’t ask your guests to fill your home with elaborate wedding gifts. In fact, the best eco-friendly wedding gift you could ask for is no gift at all. Instead of a Vitamix, request that they donate to a charity or research center that could have a positive effect on the environment.
Bonus: Check out our complete wedding planning google doc for a wedding checklist, guest list, budget planner and more!
Find wedding ideas, venues, suppliers and entertainment in The Bash Wedding Planning Guide »