Andrea has worked with HubPages for 8+ years. She mostly writes about dating, couples, weddings, travel, interior design, and gardening.
Environmentally Friendly Weddings
It takes time to rethink parts of your wedding and make it environmentally friendly and sustainable. Most people will appreciate that you're trying not to make your wedding a carbon explosion and that you're showing you care about the planet.
As you're planning your wedding, consider each step and what you can do to make it better for mother earth.
The Wedding Dress
For starters, let's talk about the wedding dress. Do some research on companies to see whether they have environmentally-conscious practices and if they use vegan products. You can look pretty without putting a hole in the ozone layer.
- Avoid buying a dress online that will have to travel from far away. This isn't carbon-friendly.
- Wear a dress that's second-hand. Borrow a friend's dress.
- Nothing is wrong with going vintage.
- Don't wear a fancy white dress and instead wear your favorite dress that you already have.
- Look for stores that give back to the environment with your purchase.
- If you have the skills, make your own dress.
- Buy a dress that is biodegradable.
- Silviyana is a fair trade, eco-friendly wedding line that makes many of their dresses from pineapple leaves.
Make-up and Hair
- Avoid hairspray.
- Opt for cruelty-free makeup.
- Opt for products that haven't been tested on animals.
- Use biodegradable makeup.
- Buy makeup that isn't heavily packaged.
- Use cruelty-free brushes.
One of the messiest and most harmful things done at weddings are send-offs. Throwing rice bags isn't great for the environment, and especially birds.
Fireworks are air pollution.
Throwing things and leaving them on the ground is trash.
So what can you do for a memorable send-off?
- First off: do you need a memorable send-off? Can you just give people hugs and say goodbye?
- Give people candles that they can take home.
- Have an itinerary that folds into fans that they can wave and later recycle.
- Give people little bells to shake that they can take home, or drop off in a box and you can use those bells to make an art piece after all the wedding festivities end.
- No glass, no tiny pieces that will be trash, avoid seeds, no chemicals.
- Avoid balloons and floating lanterns. Balloons are bad for animals. Floating lanterns pose a fire hazard.
- Sparklers and neon glow sticks are non-eco-friendly items. They go to landfills and just sit there.
Rent Items You're Only Using Once
- Wedding dresses
- Bridal party outfits
I would recommend doing invitations online and skipping paper invitations. You'll save money by not ordering a whole bunch of paper invitations; it will also produce less waste. If you want to use invitations, consider the following:
- Buy materials that will recycle.
- Buy biodegradable materials.
- Buy recycled paper.
- You can also print your invitations on plantable paper.
- Buy invitations that are magnets that people can use on their fridge for years after your wedding.
- Include self-addressed stamps so people can send back their replies. Then you can make sure the items are recycled.
- Look for recyclable stamps.
It is better to buy real flowers than fake ones. Real flowers are organic. They can be used for compost. They're biodegradable. They have other uses than to look pretty at your wedding. Fake flowers can be reused at home in vases, but fake flowers are more wasteful. They might be cheaper, but they have no value for planet earth.
- Buy flowers that are native to your area.
- Buy from a professional florist and not a random home gardener.
- Centerpieces with flowers are more organic and biodegradable.
Food & Drink
My recommendation is that whatever food is leftover is taken home. You could have Tupperware boxes for the end of the reception, so people can take home the food. Don't throw away good food. You could also donate the food to a local pantry or food kitchen to help the hungry in your community.
- Vegetarian menus are better for the planet. Cows put out methane, and there is an abundance of it on the planet.
- Avoid single-use plastic or paper. Opt for dishes that can be washed, reused, or compostable.
- Think carefully about the food you select for your menu. Consider whether you are getting foods that come from sketchy sources. There are industries in the world that still use slavery and cheap wages, and many of those industries are connected to food. If the food isn't native to your area, then you should do some research to find out its origin.
- Choose caterers that support local farmers.
- Offer healthy options for your menu.
- Kegs over bottles. Bars can produce a ton of waste. All the cans, bottles, and packaging can get excessive. Water, lemonade, and tea stations can be set up with ease.
Your guests are likely traveling in from all over the planet. You have people flying, driving, coming in by train, and maybe even boat. It really depends on where you live. The point is people will use carbon to get to your wedding. You want to minimize the carbon footprint for your wedding as much as possible.
- Encourage people to carpool to the ceremony and reception.
- Make the distance from the ceremony to the reception as short as possible. This also prevents hungry guests from getting lost.
- Block a hotel close to the reception site, so people don't travel far and waste gas for lodging.
- Encourage people to plant trees or set up a website where they can plant trees in your name. This might make people who are flying in for your wedding feel better.
Programs, Menus, Name Cards
Every paper item you pick for your wedding should be recyclable and ideally biodegradable. I also encourage skipping printing off these things and making as many of these items as possible electronically. You're wasting less paper by doing things through email. It's also good for people who are prone to losing their paper items.
- Send people emails for the seating chart.
- Send people emails for their food menu.
- Send people emails for your wedding program.
- Send it all together as one email package, so you're not wasting a whole bunch of digital space.
Consider what you're putting on your wedding registry. You can make a registry from the comfort of your home online.
- Research sellers and their business practices.
- Put green items on your registry.
- Avoid items with lots of packaging.
- Register non-tangible goods like money for a honeymoon, gift cards, or for a house.
- Add items to your list that promote sustainability from solar lights to plant seeds.
- Add books for your Kindle.
Reuse Wedding Elements Throughout the Day
- Instead of a unity candle, do a flower arrangement, then put the flowers on the head table at the reception.
- Reuse your ceremony arches at the reception for a photo spot.
- Reuse candles at the ceremony at the reception.
- Bouquets can be used to decorate the reception bar.
Choose Wedding Decor Items You'll Want in Your Home
- Lights can be used for holidays.
- Centerpieces can be used at home.
- Fake flowers can be put in vases.
- An arch can be set up in your backyard.
I suggest skipping wedding favors because a lot of guests actually don't care. It's another item that they have to care about and they tend to forget about it. Weddings favors often get left behind.
- Give out small plants.
- Give out packets of seeds.
- Give out fruit they can eat on the way home.
- Give out objects they can reuse, recycle, and are biodegrade.
© 2021 Andrea Lawrence