14 Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Learn how to plan an eco-friendly wedding with these sustainability wedding tips. From environmentally friendly wedding decor to what to include on your registry, you can both create lasting memories while caring for the environment.
Table of Contents
  1. Intro

Planning a wedding is an exciting journey. It's a chance to celebrate love and commitment in a way that reflects your values.

For many couples, this includes a commitment to sustainability. They want their special day to be beautiful, memorable, and eco-friendly.

This is where eco-friendly wedding planning comes in. It's about making choices that reduce the environmental impact of your wedding. It's about creating a celebration that aligns with your values.

From the venue to the invitations, from the attire to the rings, every aspect of your wedding can be eco-friendly. It's about making conscious choices that respect the planet.

In this guide, we'll explore 10 ways to plan an eco-friendly wedding. We'll provide practical tips and ideas to help you create a sustainable celebration.

Whether you're just starting your wedding planning journey or looking for ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly, this guide is for you. Here's how to create a wedding that's not just about one day, but about a sustainable future.

1. Selecting a Sustainable Venue

Choosing the right venue is a crucial part of wedding planning. It sets the tone for your celebration. But did you know it can also impact the sustainability of your wedding?

Eco-friendly venues prioritize green initiatives. They may use renewable energy, have efficient waste management systems, or support local ecosystems. Some venues even have certifications to prove their commitment to sustainability.

When selecting a venue, consider its location. A venue close to most guests can reduce travel-related emissions. If a local venue isn't an option, consider providing eco-friendly transportation options.

Remember, an eco-friendly venue doesn't have to compromise on beauty or functionality. Many sustainable venues offer stunning settings and all the amenities you need for your big day. With a bit of research, you can find a venue that aligns with your vision and your values.

2. Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations

Invitations are the first glimpse your guests get of your wedding. They set the tone and build anticipation. But traditional paper invitations can have a significant environmental impact.

Digital Wedding Invitations

One way to reduce this impact is by going digital. Digital invitations save paper and reduce carbon emissions associated with shipping. Plus, they can be just as beautiful and personalized as paper ones.rials of your invitation. Or you can include a note explaining your choice to go green. This can inspire your guests to consider their own environmental impact.

You can even go hybrid, doing a digital save-the-date and print invitations, as many couples do. Or, only print a small number of invitations for family members and as keepsakes (Grandma, for instance, might want one to frame), while sending over artfully designed digital invites to the rest of your guests. Trust us, your college friends are mostly tossing them in the trash anyway — no matter how much you spend on gold leaf.

Some of our favorite companies helping you design digital eco-friendly wedding invitations include Minted, Greenvelope, and Paperless Post.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations

If you prefer physical invitations, consider eco-friendly options. These could include:

  • Invitations made from recycled paper
  • Plantable invitations embedded with seeds
  • Invitations printed with soy-based inks

A great option for a company that prints on eco-friendly card stock is Paper Culture, whose mission is to minimize corporate impact on the Climate Crisis through responsible and contemporary design. To that end, they off-set their own carbon footprint and plant a tree with every order.

Messaging

You can also use the invitation as an opportunity to signal that sustainability will be a priority in your celebrations, and to encourage your guests to recycle the invitation responsibly, when the time inevitably comes to do so.

A simple addition like “This invitation is printed on 100% recycled paper. Please be sure to recycle ” can send the message to your guests that you plan to minimize waste throughout the planning process and wedding itself.

3. Rent Your Wedding Dress (and Other Sustainable Options)

Choosing sustainable wedding attire is a significant step towards an eco-friendly wedding. The fashion industry is a major contributor to global pollution. But there are ways to reduce your wedding's fashion footprint.

Consider renting or buying second-hand for your wedding dress and suits. Many bridal shops offer rental services. There are also online platforms that sell pre-loved wedding attire. This not only reduces waste but can also save you money.

For new attire, look for designers who use sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing processes. Organic cotton, hemp, and silk are eco-friendly fabric choices. Some designers even offer dresses made from recycled materials.

Lastly, consider the life of your wedding attire after the big day. Choose pieces that can be worn again, or plan to sell or donate them. This way, your wedding attire continues to bring joy long after your wedding day.

4. Eco-Friendly Wedding Rings and Jewelry

Wedding rings symbolize your love and commitment. They can also reflect your commitment to the environment. There are several ways to choose eco-friendly wedding rings and jewelry.

One option is to choose rings made from recycled metals. Many jewelers offer beautiful designs using recycled gold, silver, or platinum. This reduces the demand for new mining, which can be harmful to the environment.

Another option is to choose ethically sourced gemstones. Look for jewelers who can provide proof of where their gems come from. They should be able to ensure that the gems were mined responsibly and that workers were treated fairly.

Finally, consider alternative materials for your wedding rings. Wood, silicone, and even tattooed rings are becoming more popular. These options can be more sustainable and offer a unique twist on tradition. Your wedding rings should be a reflection of your love and your values.

5. Decor and Flowers with a Conscience

Decorations and flowers can add beauty to your wedding day. But they can also add to its environmental impact. Luckily, there are many ways to create a beautiful, eco-friendly wedding decor.

One way is to choose flowers that are in season and locally grown. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting flowers from far away. Plus, local flowers can add a touch of local charm to your wedding.

Consider also the use of living plants as decorations. They can double as wedding favors for your guests to take home and plant. This not only reduces waste but also contributes to a greener planet.

Here are a few more eco-friendly decor ideas:

  • Use LED candles or solar-powered lights instead of traditional candles.
  • Choose decorations made from recycled or biodegradable materials.
  • Rent decor items instead of buying new ones.
  • Use digital signage instead of printed signs.

Remember, the goal is to create a wedding that is beautiful and meaningful to you, while also being kind to the environment.

6. Conscious Catering and Sustainable Menus

Food is a central part of any wedding celebration. But it can also be a significant source of waste and carbon emissions. By making conscious choices about your wedding menu, you can reduce your environmental impact.

Consider serving a plant-based menu or incorporating more vegetarian and vegan options. Plant-based foods generally have a lower carbon footprint than animal-based foods. Plus, they can be just as delicious and satisfying.

Choose a caterer who sources ingredients locally and seasonally. This not only reduces the carbon emissions associated with food transportation, but also supports local farmers and promotes biodiversity.

Finally, think about how to reduce food waste at your wedding. You could plan to donate any leftover food to a local shelter or compost it. You could also encourage guests to take leftovers home in compostable containers.

Remember, every choice you make about your wedding menu can have an impact. By choosing sustainable options, you can create a delicious feast that aligns with your values and helps protect the planet.

7. Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Love

Wedding favors are a traditional way to thank your guests for their presence. However, many typical favors end up in the trash, contributing to waste. Eco-friendly wedding favors are a thoughtful alternative that your guests will appreciate and use.

Here are a few sustainable favor ideas:

  • Edible treats like homemade jam or honey from a local beekeeper.
  • Plantable favors such as seed packets or small potted succulents.
  • Charitable donations in the name of each guest to a cause you care about.

Choose favors that are useful, consumable, or contribute positively to the environment. Avoid plastic packaging and consider using recycled or compostable materials.

Remember, the best wedding favors are those that reflect your values and the spirit of your celebration. By choosing eco-friendly favors, you can leave a lasting impression on your guests and make a positive impact on the environment.

8. Incorporating Nature in Wedding Ceremony

There are many ways to incorporate nature and passion for sustainability into ceremony scripts, vows, and toasts.

You can have a tree planting unity ritual (more on that below), or even just embrace nature in the words you share.

9. Tree Planting Wedding Ceremony

A tree planting ceremony can be a beautiful and symbolic part of your eco-friendly wedding. It represents the growth of your relationship and your commitment to nurturing your love.

Choose a tree that has special meaning to you. It could be a tree that blooms in your wedding month, or one that symbolizes love and longevity. You can plant the tree in your backyard, or in a pot if you live in an apartment.

During the ceremony, you and your partner can each add soil to the pot, symbolizing your joint effort in nurturing your relationship. You can also invite your guests to add a scoop of soil, involving them in your commitment to growth and sustainability.

A tree planting ceremony is not only a unique and meaningful ritual, but it also contributes positively to the environment. As your tree grows, it will serve as a living reminder of your special day and your commitment to each other and the planet.

10. Eco-Friendly Wedding Send-Off Ideas

The wedding send-off is a cherished tradition. It's a moment of joy and celebration, but it can also be a source of waste. However, with a bit of creativity, you can make this moment eco-friendly.

Here are a few sustainable send-off ideas:

  • Dried Flower Petals: These are biodegradable and add a romantic touch to your send-off.
  • Bubbles: They are fun, whimsical, and leave no trace behind.
  • Biodegradable Confetti: Made from natural materials, this confetti will decompose naturally.
  • Birdseed: A great option if your venue is outdoors, as it provides food for local birds.

Remember, the goal is to minimize waste and harm to the environment. So, whatever you choose, make sure it's biodegradable and non-toxic. Also, consider the cleanup and whether your choice will leave a mess for others to clean up.

Your eco-friendly send-off will not only be a memorable end to your special day, but also a statement of your commitment to the environment.

11. Managing Waste: Recycling and Composting at Your Wedding

A significant part of eco-friendly wedding planning involves waste management. It's essential to have a plan in place to minimize waste and dispose of it responsibly.

Firstly, consider providing recycling bins at your venue. Make sure they are clearly marked and easily accessible. This encourages guests to dispose of their waste correctly, rather than just throwing everything into the trash.

Next, think about composting. Food waste from your catering can be composted instead of going to landfill. Some caterers may offer this service, or you can arrange for a local composting company to collect it.

Additionally, consider using reusable dishware and linens. This can significantly reduce the amount of waste produced at your wedding. If this isn't possible, opt for compostable or recyclable options.

By managing waste effectively at your wedding, you're not just reducing your environmental impact. You're also setting a positive example for your guests, showing them that sustainability can be incorporated into every aspect of life, even celebrations.

12. Carbon Offsets for Wedding Travel

A whopping quarter of all weddings are now destination weddings, according to recent data. While much attention is given to the environmental impact of consumer and work travel, little is paid to wedding travel. It’s a tough topic, we get it. If your cousin or college roommate is getting married in the Bahamas and you can swing it financially, you’re probably going to go. But these often short-term, long-distance flights have a massive carbon footprint.

Stanford Magazine reports that the average *non-*destination wedding of 200 guests is likely to produce about 56 tons of carbon emissions — about three times the average American’s annual footprint. Now add to that roundtrip domestic or international flights, car rentals or Ubers to get to hotels, buses to and from venues — the sum is tremendous.

We’re not here to shame. Destination weddings are a beautiful thing — a chance to gather everyone you love in a place that's special to you as a couple. But there are ways to organize them responsibly.

Purchasing carbon offsets for each of your guests is a great way to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to ecological responsibility, and it may be cheaper than you think. An economy flight between New York and Los Angeles, for instance, will release about 0.29 metric tons of carbon per passenger, according to this New York Times report. You can offset carbon emissions for that guest for $3.26.

Many airlines also offer offset programs during checkout, so you can encourage guests to purchase these themselves, perhaps messaging that you intend to cover the cost of offsets for the ceremony and reception themselves.

13. Eco-Friendly Wedding Registry

Filling your registry exclusively with wedding gifts verified for their ethical and sustainable production is a great way to support eco-friendly brands.

And you can still get the things you want and need. For instance, if you’re in the market for homewares, furniture and decor, check out Made Trade, an online marketplace that exclusively carries products that are “rigorously assessed and verified for both sustainability and equity.” Their ethos prioritizes craftsmanship and ethics over blind, mass consumption — so you can feel good about every gift you receive. You can also point guests toward Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade platform selling ethically sourced and environmentally sound handcrafted goods.

For bedding and furniture, we recommend Parachute, a carbon neutral purveyor of homewares, and Goodee, a BIPOC-founded marketplace which works exclusively with artisans and products that make a positive social or environmental impact.

14. Charity Wedding Registry

You can also set up a Charity Wedding Registry with an environmental cause as a beneficiary. This has increasingly become a trend for couples who feel they have their material needs met, and want to use the occasion of their wedding to promote some good in the world. Popular wedding registry websites like Zola allow you to add charities seamlessly, alongside other gifts, while The Good Beginning focuses exclusively on the charity wedding registry.

Once you've set up your charity registry, the next step is to decide what environmental organization to list as the recipient organization. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your partner the causes nearest and dearest to your hearts: are there certain human or animal populations most impacted by climate change that you'd like to benefit; are you more compelled by deforestation, natural disasters, etc. Having a frank and open conversation about the topic will not only help you select the organization that perfectly articulates your values and concerns as a couple, it will help you connect on the level of civic engagement.

Conclusion: Your Eco-Friendly Wedding Legacy

Planning an eco-friendly wedding is more than just a trend. It's a meaningful way to start your married life together, showing a commitment to each other and the planet.

By incorporating sustainable practices into your wedding, you're creating a positive impact that extends beyond your special day. You're setting a precedent for future celebrations and inspiring others to consider their environmental footprint. Your eco-friendly wedding isn't just a beautiful celebration of your love, it's a legacy of care for the world we share.

Ready to plan your eco-friendly wedding ceremony? Check out the Tree Planting Ceremony in Provenance's Ceremony Builder today.

We strive to be as inclusive and accurate as possible. If you have any questions or requests, please email us at hello@provenance.co

Learn how to plan an eco-friendly wedding with these sustainability wedding tips. From environmentally friendly wedding decor to what to include on your registry, you can both create lasting memories while caring for the environment.
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