I celebrated my 1 year wedding anniversary just over a week ago, so I figured as a celebration of that and all of the weddings to come for many happy couples in the future I would put together a list of ways to keep your wedding eco-friendly. These days weddings can go from super casual to super elegant, are held inside a church or with no shoes on a beach in Hawaii. Different people have different tastes, but I think being eco-friendly is something that won’t “harsh” anyone’s “scene” as they say.
Here are a few ways to have an eco-friendly wedding:
Digital Announcements/Save the Dates. Usually the first thing that is sent out when a couple gets engaged is an announcement and/or a Save the Date card. Why not design your own digital card and send them out via email? I know not everyone has an email account, so only order paper cards for those folks and send emails to the rest. You will cut down on costs and paper waste!
Paperless RSVP. I think the world is ready for an email, website, or phone RSVP. I don’t know about other married couples, but I had to make several calls to my invited guests in order to get an official yes or no. If people aren’t going to RSVP via those cute small paper RSVPs then what’s the point in sending them? Ask for RSVPs via phone, email, text, website, facebook, whatever. Just start a spreadsheet and keep track right from the beginning. Again, you will save money (No stamps!) and paper waste.
Recycled Invitations. The invitation is one of my favorite parts of a wedding. They set the tone and mood for the wedding day. They let your guests anticipate what to expect. If you are having a company make them for you ask for 100% post-consumer recycled paper. That is the best “recycled-type” paper you can get. It means that the paper was used, recycled and then re-made into new paper. When something only says “recycled” that can mean several things. Most of the time it means that it has not been used by a customer, but was picked up from the paper factory floor and added back into the paper making cycled. Still good, but post-consumer is even better.
Make your own paper. I had so much fun designing my wedding invitations and making the paper for them. The best part was that I took old letters, cards, etc. from the guests that would be attending the wedding and used that paper to make new paper for the invitations. I got to decide on the color, size, shape, everything. It was hard work, but worth it in the end!
Local/Organic Flowers. If you are against dried and fake flowers and want fresh flowers on your wedding day buy them from a flower shop that grows them locally and organically. The problem with fresh cut flowers is not that flowers are bad for the environment; it is that they come from miles and miles away. Think of the amount of carbon emissions it takes to fly or drive a flower from somewhere in South America to your city (if you don’t live somewhere in South America (: – I think you get my point). If you do use flowers, think of eco-friendly ways to display them. Save some jars and use them as vases; wine bottles work well too!
Non-floral center pieces. Non-floral doesn’t mean no flowers. Buy flowers in a pot so they can be planted after the wedding. Or use dried/paper flowers. I have seen center pieces with edible fruit, cactus, photographs in repurposed frames, candles, and so much more. You can get really creative with center pieces when you think outside the flower box.
Recycled/Soy Candles. Candles make a great alternative centerpiece! Companies are starting to jump on the eco-friendly band wagon which makes it easy for folks like us to get what we want. Companies that re-melt and reuse old candle wax are starting to pop up everywhere. Also, get soy candles whenever you can, they let out less toxins then regular wax.
Don’t throw those center pieces away. The last thing you want to do is use something for about 5 hours. Concentrate on making your centerpieces something you can give away to your guests that they can enjoy for even just a bit longer. Plants are great for that, framed photos, and vases too!
Local/Organic Catering. The caterer for our wedding was so understanding about my eco-friendly needs. We discussed the food being locally grown and organic. Ask your caterer what they do with leftover food. Do they donate it? Do they compost it?
Bring your own Food! This is ambitious, but possible. If you are having a morning wedding and are serving brunch type food, check out your local stores for organic and local pasteries. A cocktail hour reception would allow you to do the same thing. This gives you control over what companies you are purchasing your food from.
Avoid Disposables and Plastics. Use glass dishware and silverware whenever you can. If you are getting married outside in a park or on the beach and aren’t allowed to use glass, try acrylic dishware. If you have to use disposable, make sure it is made from compostable material.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Dress. Check out this one from treehugger.com. Now, I know this isn’t for everyone. But, there are new options for eco-friendly wedding dresses. You can buy a dress made from organic materials. An example can be found at treadheadcreations.com.
Reuse a wedding dress! I was so happy when my mom agreed to let me wear her wedding dress! There was no other dress that compared. I altered it a bit, but the main part of the dress stayed the same. I hope some day my daughter will want to wear (:
Other ways to upcycled a wedding dress are to shop at second hand stores or make your own from recycled fabric!
There are many small steps and big steps you can take to have an eco-friendly wedding. You just have to be willing to think creatively and sometimes spend a little bit more money (food, invitations…). But, where you spend more on local and organic food and flowers you will save by sending paperless announcements and RSVPs! And, just think how happy you will feel leaving only small traces after your wedding ceremony and reception. I know it made me feel great to consider the environment when I planned my wedding.
Any other tips I missed? Tell me!