How to Plan a Green Wedding

Let’s face it: weddings can lead to a lot of waste. From fancy invitations to well-intentioned favors, much of the stuff that goes into your typical wedding later ends up in the landfill. On top of that, there’s the electricity that goes into lighting your venue, the pesticides used to treat your flowers, the carbon footprint created by using exotic ingredients in your menu…

Okay, we know, we’re getting you down. But for eco-friendly wedding clients—or for the wedding planner who wants her business to get a little greener—all the trimmings of a traditional wedding just won’t cut it. Putting a little time into picking your venue, vendors, décor, and menu can make for an amazing day that puts money back into local, sustainable businesses.

Ready to give it a try? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can help your clients cut down on their carbon footprint by planning a green wedding.

The ring

This seems like such a little thing, but as anyone who’s bought an engagement ring or wedding bands knows, there’s a big price tag attached! Put that money towards a company who uses recycled metals and stones in their jewelry.

Something else to check: are the diamonds, gems, and metals in the rings ethically sourced? Many eco-friendly jewelers will tell you this up front, but if in doubt just ask where the materials came from to avoid ending up with a “blood diamond.” Check out Brilliant Earth for eco-friendly alternatives to luxury wedding jewelry, or Turtle Love Co. for something a little more rustic.

Two wedding rings on a green envelope

Remind your clients of other options as well, like using a family heirloom or keeping an eye out for an antique piece that fits their style.

The invitations

Between save-the-dates, RSVP cards, extra envelopes, and the decorative invitations themselves, weddings burn through a whole lot of paper—and that’s not even including the programs, seating cards, menus, paper decorations, and thank-you cards that also go into a wedding.

An email invitation just doesn’t seem formal enough, though, so instead of doing away with paper altogether, just be smart about how you use it. Start by creating a single-page invitation that includes a detachable RSVP card. Then look for companies that offer alternatives to traditional papermaking, like companies that use 100% recycled paper or paper alternatives. For an invitation that really gives back to the earth, try the cute plantable stationary from Botanical Paperworks.

The dress

Brides wear their wedding dress once. That’s it. And most dresses involve bleached fabrics and man-made materials that aren’t great for the planet. So when we say traditional wedding dresses aren’t green, we’re not just talking about the color!

Does this mean your bridal clients will have to kiss their dream dress goodbye? Definitely not! An easy way for your bride to land a gorgeous dress is to wear a wedding dress that belonged to her mother, grandmother, sister, aunt… you get the picture. If it doesn’t fit her properly or it’s not exactly her style, work with a seamstress to get it altered.

An heirloom dress isn’t the only option, though. There are more and more small-scale wedding dress designers who are invested in creating beautiful, ethical gowns. Made of natural fabrics like cotton and silk, eco-chic wedding dresses have all the style of a traditional dress without the big eco-footprint.

The flowers and décor

What could be greener than flowers, right? Well, not quite… A lot of flowers are sprayed with harmful pesticides to keep them looking pristine. Plus, out-of-season flowers have to be shipped in to make it to the wedding.

Wildflower arrangement on a wedding table

Opt for local, in-season flowers that are grown without pesticides. You can also cut down on how many floral arrangements you need by using the same flowers for the ceremony and the reception, or by using floral alternatives like this DIY brooch bouquet.

When it comes to décor, DIY decorations can also be a great way to cut down on waste and shipping. Check out sites like Pinterest or Etsy for inspiration!

The venue

That’s right, you guessed it—the greenest place to hold your wedding is outside. Whereas venues like hotels or ballrooms use up tons of energy, an outdoor wedding will give you natural light and some natural décor.

You don’t have to go totally off the grid, though. An outdoor venue like a farm or botanical garden gives you a beautiful outdoor setting while hanging on to modern necessities like plumbing and refrigerators.

If an outdoor wedding just won’t work for your clients, suggest holding the ceremony and reception at the same place to cut down on travel. Capture some of the natural light you’d get outdoors by picking a venue with lots of windows and planning for a daytime wedding.

The gift and favors

Our post on wedding gift alternatives for philanthropic couples is a great place to get some ideas for green gifts. As for favors, while the sentiment is nice, the truth is that many of them just end up in the garbage. To cut down on waste, many couples choose to put the money towards a charitable donation instead of giving out favors to their guests.

Macarons in pretty boxes as wedding favors

Favors have been a wedding staple for the past few decades, though. If your clients are set on including them, try something that won’t make waste (and will actually get used):

  • Homemade cupcakes, chocolates, cookies, or other treats
  • Jars of homemade or locally made jam or honey
  • Seeds in pretty packaging
  • Small potted plants
  • Small centerpieces from the wedding

The menu

You don’t have to go vegan to create an eco-friendly menu for your wedding (although if that’s what your clients want, then go for it!). Instead, find caterers and bakers who will use locally grown food, which uses less packaging and won’t need to be transported as far.

And make sure to stick with in-season produce. Even if you’re getting your out-of-season produce from a local vendor, it’s still sucking energy from a heated greenhouse to grow.

How green is green enough?

Even though it’s becoming easier to find eco-friendly vendors, going totally green may not fulfill your clients’ dream wedding. Maybe they love roses (even out-of-season), or maybe the bride has already picked her dream dress from a traditional salon. Either way, they can still make their wedding green by picking eco-alternatives in other parts of their planning. Every bit helps!

Looking for some DIY inspiration? Check out our post on creating centerpieces for winter weddings to help your clients stay eco-friendly (and cut down on costs)!

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