Tips on How to Throw a Sustainable wedding – or any party for that matter

Sustainable Weddings are Trending

Professional photographers noticed the trend early on:  Jenn Mauer,  says: “Every year more couples are reaching out saying they want to have “smaller, more intentional” celebrations. Rather than a big, traditional wedding, I’m photographing more eco-friendly outdoor elopements where couples have the chance to be super specific about what things are a part of their day. Rather than physical objects, they are choosing experiences to celebrate this moment in their lives. Instead of huge floral arrangements, they’re choosing natural mountain backdrops. Instead of a big dinner reception with a generic catering menu, they’re choosing a small picnic of their favorite foods.”

“I really think sustainable weddings are the future, whether they are small two-person elopements or eco-friendly ballroom weddings that have been crafted to reduce waste. At this point, a wasteful wedding is out of touch – it’s easier than ever to choose small sustainable swaps to make a wedding eco-friendly!”

Photographer Nikk Nuygen agreed, saying, “Today’s couples are concerned about the state of the planet and are passionate about lowering their carbon footprints as much as possible. Most modern couples don’t want a wedding full of excess waste and unnecessary items, especially with the increasing costs! When it comes to sustainable weddings in 2020, it’s all about locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over plastic, recycled paper and goods, eco-friendly and all-inclusive venues, and mindfully choosing decorations (preferably reusable ).”

Select a Sustainable Wedding Venue

To host a sustainable wedding, one has to find a venue that prides itself on reducing its carbon footprint, recycling wherever possible, and incorporating renewable energy sources. It is not that easy but here are questions when vetting venues to understand their effort towards being more environmentally friendly:

  • Do they offer recycling or composting bins on-site, or recommend a local green trash service?
  • Do they offer rentals?
  • What seasons would lower the wedding’s carbon footprint?
  • Are there any local vendors or organizations they recommend connecting with?
  • Are renewable energy sources, such as solar generators, available?
  • Do they incorporate sustainable operations or methods? Options like carbon offsetting, gravity rainwater harvesting, solar-powered energy, seasonal options, etc.
  • Do they work with a local conservation organization? These organizations typically look like a conservation easement, a mentoring program, etc.

Looking into whether or not a venue is Eco-friendly-certified, . These certifications ensure that the venue is functioning in a sustainable and energy-efficient manner. This includes water savings and materials selection. You’ll feel better knowing your wedding is housed in a caring environment.”

So our Guidelines for a sustainable wedding would be:

Be Thoughtful About Who You Hire

Hiring vendors that care about sustainability and are willing to work with you to be as sustainable as possible is critical. Vendors that share your same views will make wedding planning that much easier. Caterers that source produce locally, that operate sustainably, that tend to buy from organic farmers ( provided they use no fertilisers as opposed to fertilisers that are no registered on the "bio ethics" list.)

Keep the Guest List Small or include a cocktail party prior to the dinner

While it may seem tempting to invite everyone you know to your special day, the smaller the guest list, the less waste you will produce. If you’re in the wedding planning process and you’re overwhelmed with the thought of cutting friends and family from your guest list, you may consider a simpler organisation or split the event into a cocktail with a larger guest list followed by a more intimate dinner.

Choose Eco-Friendly, Recycled Invitations or Opt For Virtual Invitations

There are so many options available for eco-friendly invitations. It’s easier than ever to find invitations made from recycled paper, upcycled fabric, leather, and even wood. You may use Plantable Seed paper card. Some vendors also give back or pledge to plant trees for every purchase.

Create an Eco-Friendly wedding Registry or Have Guests Donate to a Charity of Your Choice

Nowadays, couples already are equipped and if one is really serious about helping the planet, one could register at eco-friendly stores, or focus on durable and sustainable lists. Whether it be recycled ceramic or reclaimed wood, there’s usually a sustainable alternative to our everyday household items or decor.  

If you would rather forgo the gifts, have your guests donate to a charity of your choice. Whether you are passionate about educating children or help save maritime life, there are many charities to choose from.

Buy Ethical Wedding Rings

It is important to track the origins of diamonds and gemstones? Sadly, poor planning and regulation, diamond mining has created a real mess and it is best to find ethical wedding rings.

To be absolutely sure to get a conflict-free diamond ring, lab-grown diamonds are the safest choices. so you don’t have to worry about harming the Earth. Moissanite stones look exactly real diamonds and cost a whole lot less. Companies like Brilliant Earth pride themselves on being as ethical as possible while producing seriously stunning jewelry.

A trend is also to look for vintage options. Maybe  a  family heirloom or estate sale, vintage rings are truly one-of-a-kind.

Choosing an Eco-Friendly Wedding Dress

One can be sustainable and still look fabulous. There are many wedding dress designers who focus on ethical production and eco-friendly fabrics. If lucky enough, one can find seamstresses with experience. Sourcing fabric can then be tricky but then, why not try and  give a second chance to a pre-loved wedding dress. A good seamstress will be able to mend and alter to your size for a fraction of the price of commercial options, but more importantly, the carbon footprint offset will be more impactful.

PS: Avoid Bridesmaids with exact same outfits. Bridesmaids that choose their own style might reuse clothing they already have worn, which would be super sustainable considering…  

Rent Tuxes for Groom

Unless galas are regularly part of your social life, there is no need to have a nice tux on hand at all times. Save you—and your groomsmen—money and help the planet by renting a tux from sites like The Black Tux and Generation Tux. That’s what we call a win-win.

Get Married Outside

Finding a sustainable wedding venue may seem tricky. The great outdoors might be a no brainer. What better way to be one with nature than to tie the knot surrounded by a lush forest or the rolling countryside?

Outdoor venues typically have built-in decor, making them easy to work with. Vineyards add scenic backdrops while greenhouses bring lush greenery without the need to bring cut florals. The only caveat would be to arrange there are toilets nearby but if you find a farm nearby that caters for partying, it would be one of the best solutions.

Think About Travel and the carbon footprint

Consider the travel necessary for friends and family. If you have your eyes set on  a faraway destination, you and your guests are likely going to have to hop on a plane, which can drastically affect your carbon footprint. Destination weddings don’t need to be counted out just for sustainability. Businesses like My Climate offer a calculator to offset your carbon footprint from travel.

Travel isn’t necessarily only by airplane. If you’re hosting your wedding in two different venues–one for the ceremony and one for the reception—consider offering a bus service or ask your guests to carpool as much as possible.

Check personal Ads For Wedding Decor

Couples are often looking to sell their wedding decor once the wedding has passed, and one of the best places are social market places or even pre-owned platforms. You can find everything from linens to glassware to lighting.

Reuse Flowers or Opt For Dried Flowers

Flowers are one of the most stunning ways to dress up a venue and give a festive vibe to any event and even more so to a romantic one. There are a few ways to get the most out of your floral arrangements. Favour potted orchids, roses, and even succulents that also make great focal points for tables. It can be placed as a backdrop as decor for bridal photos and can be taken home once the day is done

If you’d prefer to skip the flowers altogether, for those who like DIY, there are many possibilities: crochet, paper flower wreaths. Currently, dried flowers are very trendy and can be found in many shops.

Use Reusable Garlands in Sustainable material

Donate Leftovers and Decor

One of the most significant ways waste accumulates at weddings is discarded food, decor, and flowers. Rather than throwing everything in the garbage, consider donating it.

Resell wedding decor on those Facebook groups we mentioned earlier, and donate leftover food to local food kitchens, if possible. If regulations prohibit this, give your guests the option to take food home in to-go containers.

Reconsider the Confetti or Rice Toss

While rice or confetti looks great in photos, it’s not very environmentally conscious. There are alternatives that are just as beautiful–one could argue that they’re even more beautiful. If you still want a dramatic send-off before your reception, go down the natural route with dried flowers. Some of our favourites include lavender, rose petals, leaves, and dried flowers.

When distributing the petals, if going for that option, add them onto old recycled book pages or newspaper cones.

Avoid Single-Use Dishes and Utensils

This is one of the easiest switches to make when planning a green reception. While it may seem easy to opt for single-use plates, napkins, and utensils, these options produce lots of extra waste. Renting dishware and glassware not only helps make a significant impact but also adds an extra touch of glam to your special day.

Choose Caterers That Source From Local Farmers

Eating local is always important, as the carbon emissions from shipping food across the country can be extremely detrimental to our environment. When putting together your wedding menu, have a conversation with your caterer to find out where they source their food and if you are able to keep the food menu seasonal.

Avoid Buffets for less waste

Speaking of your menu, while a buffet may seem like an easy choice–as it gives your guests choices–it can also lead to a lot of food waste. Hosting a plated dinner will ensure that you have just enough food for the guests that attend.

Cut out Balloons and Floating Lanterns

Balloons and floating lanterns have become increasingly popular for over-the-top exits at the end of the evening. Balloons, if not disposed of properly, can end up being eaten by animals. Floating lanterns can not only be a fire hazard for you and your guests, but they can also spark forest fires if in wooded areas.

Rethink Your Wedding Favours

How many times have you gone to a wedding and left with a wedding favour that you know that you will never touch again? Although they are a great way to thank your guests for celebrating with you, they are often small goods that we forget about once we leave the wedding. Tasty edible gifts are popular for a reason—guests will look for midnight snacks after a night of celebrating with you.

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