Weddings are special, exciting and magical. But weddings can also be costly, not just for your wallet, but also the environment. From electricity to dining ware, food choices and even down to the decorations, weddings can come with a lot of unnecessary wastes that many people might not think of initially.
According to "The Green Bride Guide," the average wedding in the U.S. produces around 62 tons of carbon dioxide and 400-600 pounds of garbage. Yikes!
The good news is, by just making a few alterations, you can do something wonderful for the environment and even save some money too. So check out all these simple ways to go green on your big day; many of them are much easier than you think!
1. Celebrate outdoors
Summer is the perfect time to go green for your wedding. The sunshine allows for a warm, outdoor ceremony, which will save you money on power and electricity costs. You’ll also have a naturally eco-friendly setting for guests. Hello nature! Opt for a location with plenty of flowers and foliage to eliminate additional costs associated with floral arrangements.
2. Go local
The cost of transportation is another factor to consider when it comes to planning an eco-friendly wedding. Choose local vendors for the flowers, food and even the services you have (music, photography, etc.). Local florists may also be able to help you decide on some of the best seasonal plants while also making sure your bouquets don’t contain any wasteful materials.
3. Choose simple, elegant garden bouquets
Having fresh flowers from yours or someone else’s garden is a great way to go green at your wedding! Many flowers such as daisies, roses, hydrangeas and other options are easy to grow at home. To make your own professional-looking bouquets, pick desired flowers, cut stems evenly and tie with ribbon or biodegradable hemp string.
You can also use potted plants as decorations instead of having a florist bring everything in. Your local farmer’s market is another great place to purchase beautiful, local floral options if you don’t have access to a garden.
4. Make something old brand new… even your dress!
While you might not initially love the idea of using a “recycled” wedding dress, the truth is, using a family member's dress can hold a lot of special meaning on your big day. For instance, maybe your mother’s dress can be redesigned a bit, sized to fit you, and can be jazzed up with some more up-to-date buttons. If you’re vegan, you can also choose to have a silk-free dress as a way to go cruelty-free.
By just changing a few things on the dress, you can save on costs and materials while also having your dress mean something much more than a store-bought dress would.
5. Skip the plastic cups and dining ware
Plastic is one of the most detrimental materials for both our health and the planet. So, find a local caterer who takes care of the dishes and dining ware for you. Many caterers and dining services provide glass drink ware, plates, cloth napkins and silverware for your guests so there’s no need to use disposables.
If that's not an option, opt for compostable utensils--we love Nature's Pantry lineup of eco-friendly party supplies made from bamboo and other recycled materials.
You may also be able to work out a discount on the costs if you tell them you’re looking to have a green wedding and hope they’ll be able to contribute to your special day while also supporting the environment.
6. Serve plant-based options
Plants are far less harmful to the environment, with meat and dairy production being two of the single-most damaging and harmful causes of environmental destruction, including climate change. So, do your part by serving more plant-based menu items at your wedding.
If you’re not ready to go full-on veg, start by offering meat-free protein options at your wedding and skip the excessive amounts of dairy in sauces, appetizers and desserts. It’s also a great idea to find a caterer who is able to serve organic and plant-based (vegetarian) fare.
A buffet keeps things simple and will also reduce the cost and waste of dining cards and prevent fussing with menu choices. Your guests will likely appreciate the healthier choices, too!
Remember, foods made with local, organic and in-season produce is the most environmentally-friendly way to go!
7. Choose eco-friendly makeup
There are so many amazing and affordable cosmetic companies that are going green in the beauty department. So choose eco-friendly, cruelty-free makeup products that don’t contain harmful chemicals or animal ingredients to help the bride and bridesmaids look their best!
8. Ditch the excessive printing
When it comes to invitations and photos, go digital! In today's tech-y world, most people appreciate getting less mail anyway. Send beautiful invites through services like Evite. If you do decide you want to send paper invites, just choose recycled paper or seed-based paper as a second best option.
When it comes to wedding photos, have your photographer create a digital photo album for you in lieu of prints. You can save these on multiple devices and print the ones you truly love. You'll always have access to the entire album should you choose to print more later.
Doing this will help you to reduce the photos you have printed and automatically save on printing costs as well.
If you're having an evening celebration, use eco-friendly candles for beautiful outdoor lighting that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients or come with electrical cost. Wax-based or soy-based candles made with essential oils are perfect to use since they don’t contain contribute to harmful emissions in the air.
10. Plan for a green honeymoon
Eco-friendly resorts are abundant these days and they’re one of the best ways to go green when it comes to post-wedding travels. You can also search the internet to find simple ways to reduce your CO2 emissions among other green travel tips.
With all the ways to go green on your big day, having an eco-friendly wedding and honeymoon is much easier than you think! If you’ve ever had an eco-friendly wedding, what are your best tips to go green on the big day? Share your experiences in the comment section below!
Editor’s note: If you're thinking about throwing an eco-friendly wedding, you may be interested in learning how to green other areas of your life as well. Check out our Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative for more information.