Your wedding day will be one of the most special days of your life- but that doesn’t mean it should be the most wasteful. Disposable decor, unwanted gifts and frivolous favors all add up, and it’s not uncommon for a wedding to produce hundreds of pounds of waste.
Fortunately, more and more couples are opting for an eco-conscious approach to their wedding day, and there are now a plethora of ways to keep your wedding green- in more way than one we might add, as many eco-friendly options are also budget-friendly.
In honor of Earth Day, we’re sharing 10 ways you can make strides towards an eco-friendly wedding. Know that in choosing to keep your wedding green, and showcasing the stylish side of sustainability, you may just inspire family and friends to make changes in their own lives that better the planet.
Opt for Ethical Bling:
It may just be one little stone, but blood diamonds are a real concern, and should definitely be avoided, as diamond mining can cause detrimental social and environmental impacts. Consider opting for a lab-grown diamond– after all, they’re virtually identical to mined diamonds, and cost significantly less.
But wait! Diamonds aren’t all you have to worry about. Precious metal mining is also a concern. Fortunately, Etsy is home to thousands of sustainable engagement and wedding ring options (including handcrafted rings made with reclaimed metals) that you’re sure to love.
Choose a Wedding Venue With the Environment in Mind:
Opting for an eco-friendly venue is one of the most impactful ways to green-ify your wedding day. Here are several eco-friendly wedding venue ideas to get you started:
Book local: Choosing a venue that’s close to home means less travel for guests- and less fuel emmissions. This is especially impactful when compared to a destination wedding that guests would be required to fly to. Check out the IW Venue Finder to discover wedding venues near you.
Opt for an eco-conscious wedding venue: Look for ceremony and reception venues with a commitment to being green. This is crucial if your wedding venue will have a hand in catering and clean up, as you can’t control what happens to extra food, or how waste is disposed of. Check out EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels or the Green Hotels Association to start your search. Here are a few eco-conscious venues we love:
- The Greenhouse Loft in Chicago, Illinois
- Hotel Renew in Honolulu, Hawaii
- Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur, California
- The Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel in Ventura, California
- The Islander Resort in Islamorada, Florida
- Intercontinental Hotel in Toronto, Ontario
- The Kortright Center for Conservation in Toronto, Ontario
Immerse yourself in the environment: Go one step further and host your wedding at an organic farm, nature sanctuary or botanical garden. The venue cost will go towns supporting a sustainable business, and you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature. Here are a few of our fave sustainable venues:
- The Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, Ontario
- Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, Ontario
- Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario
- Planterra Conservatory in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan
- Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion in Chevy Chase, Maryland
One Year Anniversary Shoot at Iconic Seattle Conservatory // Photography: Beginning and End Photography
Hire Eco-Conscious Vendors:
From florists to caterers to planners, more and more wedding pros are striving to make their companies as environmentally conscious as possible. How to you spot an eco-friendly wedding vendor? Ask questions. For the florist: “Where do you source your flowers from? Are they grown using harmful pesticides?”. For the caterer: “What happens to the food waste? Do you source local, organic ingredients?”.
Red Rock Canyon Styled Shoot // Photography: Jenny Collen
Ban the Balloons:
Released balloons return to earth as litter that can kill wildlife, and ruin previously pristine natural areas. Plus, helium is a finite resource, and has gotten very expensive in recent months. Instead, opt for buntings or tissue tassels as decorations, and bubbles, paper pinwheels or flags for a fun sendoff.
Say No to Plastic Dinnerware:
Ideally, single-use plastic forks, knifes, spoons and plates would be swapped for reusable ones, but that’s not always an option for larger parties. If renting dinnerware is not feasible, opt for biodegradable paper plates and wooden cutlery.
Wooden cutlery from SucreShop
Something Borrowed (or Rented):
Why buy a brand new wedding dress when you can rent or buy a pre-owned wedding dress for a fraction of the cost? After all, you’ll only be wearing your wedding dress once. Here are a few wedding dress sources to help you find the dress:
Wedding Dress Rentals:
- Rent the Runway: Wedding dress rentals start at just $30
Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses:
- Still White: Thousands of used wedding dresses available worldwide at a fraction of the cost of brand-new wedding dresses.
- Nearly Newlywed: This service takes the risk out of pre-owned wedding dress shopping, as each gown is shipped to the Nearly Newlywed HQ for inspection and condition verification before being shipped to you.
- The RealReal: This online consignment shop is filled with wedding dresses from luxury designers. Psst- they carry all kinds of clothes, not just wedding dresses… Time for a wardrobe upgrade?
Airy Beach Elopement Styled Shoot // Photography: Rae Leigh Photography
Thrift Store Magic:
It’s no secret that we love thrift stores. In shopping second-hand, you’ll save loads of $$ in addition to helping the environment, From stunning vintage jewelry to beautiful antique glassware, many thrift stores are filled with items that would be perfect for your wedding.
Keep an eye out for these items at your local thrift store
- Old books: Old books can be beautiful decor items, and if you’re a DIY bride, the pages can be used to create a bookish bouquet (like this one from Stéphanie and Francis’ Alice in Wonderland Intimate Wedding)
- Antique Tableware and Glassware: Antique vases, candle holders and plates can instantly elevate your table setting. Check out the reception decor from Kate and Justin’s Surprise DIY Farm Wedding to get inspired.
- Ornate Frames and Mirrors: Pretty frames and mirrors can easily be converted to beautiful wedding signs (like these signs from the Love Letters Styled Shoot).
Woodland Fairy Tale Elopement Styled Shoot // Photography: Holly Castillo
Do you really need that $200 ice cream maker and $27 napkin ring set? If you can envision a registry item being someone else’s aforementioned great thrift store find in a few years, it’s probably best to keep it off of the list. Instead, fill your registry with useful, eco-friendly products from sustainable companies that will make it easier for you and your spouse-to-be to live sustainably.
Here are a few eco-friendly must-haves for your home to add to your registry:
- sheets, pillows and towels made with natural fabrics
- beeswax food wraps
- bamboo plates
- stainless steel straws
- *stylish* food compost bin
- essential oil diffuser
You’ve probably seen enchanted by videos on your Instagram feed of sky lantern releases, but while they may look pretty, sky lanterns can be incredibly harmful to both the environment and wildlife. The lanterns can take a long time to decompose, and the wire frames can strangle wildlife and livestock. Even more alarmingly, the lanterns can cause forest fires. It’s no wonder they’re illegal in several countries, including Australia, Spain, Brazil and Germany.
Do the Earth a Favor:
Gone are the days of commemorative coasters and magnets! Give back to your guests while giving back to the earth with eco-friendly wedding favors. From birdseed hearts to wildflower seed packets, there are so many options to choose from (check out this post to see 10 of our faves from Etsy).
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