The more weddings I plan and design, the worse I feel about all the waste they create. Now I’m a realist and a lover of all things beautiful, but as we learn more and more about the impacts of global warming, I am inspired to find small changes to live a more sustainable life, including in the work I do in creating beautiful celebrations. More and more eco-friendly and sustainable options pop-up every day in all aspects of the wedding industry. Many ideas on my list below won’t trade down the look and feel of your wedding and won’t add much cost, if any extra. In fact, some of my suggestions will save you money, like thrifting for decor or sending digital invitations. Plus many of my suggestions focus on sourcing local, creating a celebration that extra special and unique to you.
LOOK FOR A CONFLICT-FREE RING
When it comes to jewelry, there are both human rights and environmental concerns to be considered. The harvesting of diamonds has a history of fueling conflict and the mining of precious metals is often damaging to the environment. Beyond this, miners are frequently denied fair wages and adequate health and safety provisions. Look for conflict-free stones. Consider jewelers that use recycled materials, like the style below. And don’t be afraid to shop vintage styles on Etsy, eBay or local antique shops.
ring: Cat Bird
RENT THE TUX
We often focus on the dress, but purchasing a tuxedo and asking your groomsman to do the same will leave a considerable carbon footprint. If you are unsure if your friends will rewear the suit or tuxedo, consider renting.
OPT FOR POTTED CENTERPIECES
This is a great idea that will bring in the greenery trend, and guests can carry home the centerpieces at the end of the night, instead of using garlands or hundreds of flowers that will likely end up in a landfill.
SUSTAIBABLE, REUSEABLE LINENS
We LOVE these natural dyed linens by Rose Marine Textiles. Opt for reusable over paper and bonus if the linens are cared for with an eco-friendly cleaning process.
napkins: Rose Marine Textiles
USE LOCAL FLOWERS
Exotic and out of season flowers are often literally flown in from the other side of the world. Think about the energy it takes to grow, cut, refrigerate and transport them around the globe. Support local growers and source beautiful, truly fresh, seasonal blooms.
USE EMAIL INVITATIONS
Email invites have a come a long way. Instead of wasting 200 invites, 200 response cards, 400 envelopes, 400 stamps and whatever other do-dads come with your chosen suite, keep it simple and collect the responses instantly. Check out Green Envelope, Paperless Post, Riley and Grey or Glo for modern designs.
invite: Paperless Post
FIND A SUSTAINABLE WEDDING DRESS
There are many ways a clothing company can be sustainable, look for dresses that use natural fabrics like organic bamboo, organic cotton or natural silk. Garments should be made using fair trade standards and made locally always reduces the carbon footprint. Smaller bridal houses often make gowns to order, creating minimal wastage and limiting dead stock. Find additional dress resources on The Good Trade.
dress: Celia Grace
USE LOCAL, ORGANIC FOOD
Again, anything made locally does not have to travel, be preserved or refrigerated. Sourcing local and organic is a great start for a sustainable catering meal. Eliminating meat or animal products takes it a step further and finally, with a little research, you may be able to find zero-waste catering resources.
caterer: Preserving Harvest Catering
SHOP FOR SECONDHAND DECOR
If you poke around on Etsy, eBay or even your local Goodwill, you can find nearly anything for your wedding decor needs. Purchasing dozens of new, cheap goods, likely made overseas is a huge sustainable no-no. Once the day is over you then need to find a place to unload your newfound collection, all too often a landfill becomes the final resting place. Where ever you purchase, please try to resale or donate your items.
candlesticks: Tattered Stacks on Etsy
FOREGO INDIVIDUAL MENU CARDS
We’ve seen many many chalk board menus, and I hope we see more! By nature chalk boards are reusable. They are an easy rental item that can be used time and time again, saving disposable paper and plastic from the landfill.
PROVIDE GUESTS WITH REFILLABLE DRINKWARE
Cute glassware not only adds detail and style to your day, but asking guests to reuse their cup or mug could save over 1000 plastic cups! Bonus if your wedding is straw, or at least plastic straw free.
OFFER DONATIONS INSTEAD OF FAVORS
Is there anything thrown away faster, or worse, forgotten, than a bad wedding favor? What a brilliant idea to forego the traditional favor and make a small donation on your guests’ behalf to a favorite charity!
donation cards: Bella Figura
CONSIDER A SECONDHAND GOWN
Another way to shop for a sustainable gown is to look for a vintage or second hand style. Sites like Nearly Newlywed or Once Wed sell gently used, modern styles. Or hunt for the perfect vintage dress on Shop Gossamer or Etsy.
CUT TRAVEL BY HAVING CEREMONY AND RECEPTION IN ONE LOCATION
Reduce carbon emissions by having the ceremony and reception all in one place, reducing travel for guests. Bonus if there are accommodations on site for out of town guests.
ENCOURAGE BRIDESMAIDS TO FIND USED DRESSES
Make your bridesmaid dress search as fun as your own by taking a trip to local vintage shops or even shop popular brands on sites like Poshmark or Thread-up.
Lauren Koster is the owner of Lauren Koster Creative, a West Michigan based wedding design company that specializes in the unique and whimsical look. Her eclectic style and modern hipster vibe always has us entranced. We always love when she graces our blog with her monthly “Steal This Style” article. Want to know more? You can personally follow or find her from these links below: