Whether you’re planning a wedding that’s classically elegant, casually chic, or super hero themed, there are endless options for you to choose from. Personally, I think this is the fun part. Most of us don’t get too many chances in life to invite a hundred or so of our closest friends to a party. So I am of the opinion that we should do our best to truly enjoy every step of the process.
Sure, the overwhelming number of invitation templates, menu choices, and decoration suggestions can be daunting at times. Add the fact that you want to plan an occasion that is as good to your bank account as it is to the environment, and you have the potential for some major bride meltdown moments, right? Wrong. Sustainable choices often go hand in hand with choices that consider your budget. It’s easier than you think to plan a beautiful eco-friendly wedding day that is good for the planet, good for your wallet, good to your guests and good to you. Here are five easy ways to keep the Earth in mind while you are planning your wedding:
1. Eco-Friendly Wedding: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
One of the wedding traditions that I think is the most endearing is the blending of old and new. It allows you some flexibility to source things more sustainably, while paying homage to what has influenced your life. There are a number of ways to incorporate this into your wedding day. If fair trade dresses are not what you’re looking for (or in your price range), there are many boutiques that specialize in samples and ”worn once” dresses. You can satisfy your desire to wear a stunning designer gown while keeping in mind your passion for sustainability. Vintage wedding dresses are gorgeous and will bring a timeless beauty to your ceremony.
Or, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can even take your mom’s (or aunt’s, or grandma’s) dress and create your own design. The same goes for accessories like veils. Why buy new when old looks so much more unique?
2. Eco-Friendly Wedding: Rent Decorations
When you are setting a stage, you choose the right props. Likewise, when you are planning a wedding, you want the right decorations. Since generic catering flatware and linens generally don’t cause anybody to feel overwhelmed with romance, it’s not surprising that many couples are choosing more creative (and sustainable) ways to set the tone of their wedding.
That being said, not all couples have the desire to scout out flea markets for 25 matching vintage milk glass vases for centerpieces, or to splurge on elegant silver candlestick holders at the antique store. You’re in luck! There are businesses all over the country that rent a dizzying array of vintage, antique, and themed party decorations. It’s as if somebody did all the treasure hunting for you! You are welcome to pick and choose what will work best in the context of your wedding’s visual story. The best part is you are giving a second life to things that may otherwise have been tossed in the trash or left to collect dust on a shelf somewhere. Check out this example.
3. Eco-Friendly Wedding: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Let’s be honest. A lot of waste is produced when over 100 people are eating and drinking together for an entire evening. This isn’t entirely avoidable, but with some forethought and planning, there are ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment. The easiest way to avoid producing more waste than necessary is to not use disposable materials when you can help it.
Renting glassware, cloth napkins, and anything else that can be washed and reused is always a good idea. If your event is more casual and paper plates and cups are a must, like an outdoor BBQ, use recyclable (or biodegradable) materials. There are so many beautiful and eco-friendly options to choose from! Bamboo and palm leaf flatware (like these beauties from Verterra), recycled paper napkins, and vegetable-based “plastic” cups that are compostable can all be found and bought online. Just be sure they are disposed of properly.
Learn from my mistake, and ask the venue how they dispose of their trash ahead of time. If they recycle or compost, request that they place well-labeled receptacles next to any trashcans that may be sprinkled throughout the space. My husband, bless his heart, discovered (about halfway through our reception) that the venue did not recycle. The next morning he went back, and with the help of my saintly father and uncle, was determined to pick out every glass and plastic bottle and take them to the recycling center himself. Don’t get me wrong, I admire that kind of dedication. I just hadn’t imagined our first day as a married couple being spent elbows-deep in a trashcan.
4. Eco-Friendly Wedding: Embrace the Digital Age
Wedding invitations can be a strenuous exercise of organization and endurance. Assembling the invitation, RSVP card and envelope, registry and hotel information, and then hand addressing each one is a real commitment of time. It also uses a lot of paper and produces a lot of waste, not to mention the rising cost of postage. One easy way to make your wedding more budget, time and environmentally friendly is to embrace digital options. It is becoming more common every year to invite your guests through email, and if your guest list is full of tech-savvy people, I highly recommend it.
Or, if you decide to mail invitations, choose recycled materials. And then send out save the dates and request RSVPs by email. That way, you get the pleasure of sending tangible invitations without using so much paper. You can also create a wedding website, which you can do for free on The Knot or WeddingWire, to act as the informational hub your guests will need to plan accordingly. You can add links to hotel information, your registry, share engagement pictures, and even keep track of RSVPs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up a wedding invitation and immediately lost all the necessary details (and very often the RSVP), thus forcing me to sheepishly ask the bride herself later.
5. Eco-Friendly Wedding: Roll Up Those Sleeves and DIY
We are blessed to live in the age of Pinterest. (Or cursed, depending on how much time you spend pinning each day!) There are so many ideas and step-by-step instructions to make pretty much anything you can possibly imagine. If you’re the type who finds pleasure in creating, than this is the way to go. When you make decorations or flower arrangements yourself, you can choose sustainable or recycled materials, save money, and make your wedding look exactly how you imagined it. However, DIY projects can often be time consuming. If you don’t manage your time properly or accept help from your loved ones, you can give yourself a lot of unnecessary stress.
This is the perfect opportunity to put your friends and relatives to good use. (I promise, it’s not as “bridezilla” as it sounds!) Order a pizza, grab some beer, and make it an enjoyable afternoon of catching up. Making time to connect with the people closest to you before the big day is priceless. If you happen to be creating yards of handmade garland or cleaning out old mason jars for centerpieces as you do, all the better! Doesn’t the saying go, “crafting makes the heart grow fonder?”
When you choose sustainable and eco-friendly wedding options, you are investing in the future of the planet we all share. That positively affects you, your community, and communities all over the world.