One of the most exciting things about a wedding is that it can be customized and designed to reflect the style, traditions, and values of you and your fiancé. It can be difficult for environmentally conscious couples to find ways to uphold their environmental values and throw the wedding of their dreams. The good news is, with this list of tips, you won’t have to choose between the two.
Environmental conservation is important to so many of the couples that hire me (if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them!), so I wanted to bring awareness and offer creative solutions to help couples find ways to show love to the earth as they pledge their love to one another.
RING + CLOTHING
Start your marriage off right by choosing ethical rings. While you may be tempted by discounted prices, always consider the origins of your jewelry to ensure you’re choosing conflict-free rings. Ask questions when you shop; jewelers should always know the history of their inventory. If possible, recycle a family ring; keep it in its original form or melt it down into the style of your choosing.
Textile waste is a huge environmental concern, so consider the alternatives. Shop at resale boutiques and vintage shops for wedding gowns, tuxedos, apparel, and accessories, and encourage your wedding party to either wear clothing they already own or purchase clothing they will wear again. Mismatched wedding apparel can offer beautiful texture and personality to your wedding, save everyone some money, and give a little love back to mother earth. If you have your heart set on new apparel, consider mixing in used and vintage pieces.
In Rachael and Ben’s wedding, Rachael wore her grandmother’s wedding dress, adding fabric from a tablecloth that belonged to her great-grandmother to make a dress that was truly stunning, personal, eco-friendly, and one-of-a-kind.
More and more couples are choosing to save a tree by sending paperless wedding invitations, combining save-the-dates and wedding invitations, or choosing stationary that is eco-friendly.
Look for wedding stationary options that are FSC-Certified, 100% post-consumer, and/or biodegradable. Today, there’s even an option to print your wedding invitations on ‘plantable’ paper that contains seeds. When your guest receives your invitation, they can plant it in their garden and watch it grow into herbs, flowers, or vegetables!
While there are many eco-friendly options on the market today, here are a few that really stand out:
Keeping waste to a minimum begins with choosing the right venue. When you tour venues, ask questions to ensure that the coordinators take their responsibility for sustainability seriously. Ask about their Energy Star ratings, and if they have any environmental certifications. Make sure to have a recycling/composting plan in place if the venue doesn’t already.
Find a wedding venue that reflects your wedding aesthetic and is already beautiful. Outdoor venues offer naturally gorgeous backdrops, and many indoor venues (such as breweries, lodges, or outdoor centers) have built-in aesthetic that doesn’t require much additional decoration.
As you plan your day, find ways to minimize travel. Choose a single location to remove travel between venues, offer a shuttle service, and book accommodations that are close by.
In Emma and Ness’s wedding, they hosted their ceremony in IslandWood, an environmental education center on Bainbridge Island. Unsurprisingly, IslandWood is dedicated to sustainability. Emma and Ness used the natural landscape of the forest surrounding the center, and gorgeous wooden interior of the building to set a stunning, natural backdrop for their wedding. Laura and Geraint’s elopement was held at Mount Rainier National Park where the beauty of the National Park’s forests offered the most stunning stage for their intimate ceremony. Like Emma and Ness, and Laura and Geraint, I urge you to consider hosting your wedding at an environmentally friendly venue, or even at a state or national park.
FLORALS + DETAILS
As a wedding photographer, I love a gorgeous wedding bouquet, but I hate to see them dumped in the trash as the couple gets whisked away on their honeymoon. When it comes to florals, there are plenty of earth-friendly options. Use local, seasonal, sustainably grown flowers for your cut bouquets and donate them after the wedding to another wedding, a hospital, or a senior center. Re-purpose bridesmaid bouquets as your centerpieces, or make a statement with potted flowers or plants instead so that your guests can take them home and give them a full life.
When selecting your dinnerware and table settings, choose compostable options, or rent reusable flatware, glasses, and dishes so that your table settings will not end up in a landfill. Encourage your guests to use the same cup at cocktail hour to cut back on water waste. Consider donating whatever you have left after your wedding to another wedding or a non-profit thrift store.
Finally, when you make your wedding exit, use biodegradable confetti such as leaves or flower pedals, not plastic confetti.
When a caterer is eco-friendly, they typically make it well known. Choose a caterer who makes eco-friendly choices, is local to your wedding venue (to cut back on travel emissions), farm-to-table, and offers ethically sourced meat options.
You are paying for the food no matter what, so why not make the most of it? Speak to your caterer about donating what doesn’t get eaten to those in need. In Erin and Dan’s stunning ‘summer camp wedding’, they donated the leftover food from their wedding as a way to pay it forward and eliminate food waste.
Both the gifts you give and receive can be environmentally friendly. Register for gifts from sustainable companies, or choose a charity to support. Give your guests edible favors that won’t end up in a landfill, or an earth-friendly gift like plants or seeds to take home.
Finally, the honeymoon! Book eco lodges, resorts that practice sustainability, or (for the especially adventurous couple) backpack! Choose environmentally friendly travel options such as public transportation to get around. Eat locally sourced, fresh food when you arrive at your destination, and keep waste to a minimum by bringing along water bottles and reusable bags.
As a former environmental educator, I love to help couples find ways to make their weddings environmentally friendly. When you plan your wedding, the number one tip I can offer is to research your vendors. As environmental awareness spreads, more and more vendors and companies are taking steps to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint, so there are more options than ever to help you throw a stunning, eco-friendly wedding.
I’d love to help you make earth-friendly choices as you plan your wedding, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!