Environmentally friendly weddings…we’re here for it and fortunately, so are our couples! The popularity of having an eco-friendly + sustainable wedding has been on the rise lately, but many couples are left wondering just exactly how to pull one off. Recently, we planned a wedding where the couple wanted to go as eco-friendly as possible and although we made all the right choices in that front, navigating those waters can be challenging when it comes to a single day event. From the food to flowers, we did a bit of research on the best ways you can help the environment and still throw a gorgeous event! So follow along below to learn some useful tips!
Choosing your caterer and menu is often one of the more stressful planning aspects for couples. The good news is that now-a-days, couples have so many options and caterers are expecting a slew of dietary restrictions which makes it easier than ever to create a positive impact and not sacrifice taste!
One of the first steps is doing your research with your caterer. We suggest choosing a caterer who focuses on using organic local products. Organically grown food uses less pesticides and chemicals. While it may cost a little more, serving organic ingredients ultimately makes the meal more enjoyable with a tad bit less guilt about what your guests are putting into their bodies. We especially love when caterers source from local farmer’s markets or even grow their own gardens. Wedding venue & restaurant, Green Acre Campus Pointe has their own herb and vegetable garden that they use when preparing their meals.
Another suggestion would be to eliminate one-time use plastics (such as mini plastic forks and plastic dishes for appetizers) and opt for glass/porcelain dishes and silver utensils. Bamboo utensils and dishes are a great sustainable and recyclable option instead. More to come on single-use plastics for the bar (this one is a biggie!) so keep reading!
Invitations & Paper Goods
Stationery is tricky. You want to use it but you also want to eliminate one-time use items… it’s a fine line of aesthetic vs. functionality but we have some suggestions of how to make this work!
First of all, wedding websites are a great tool for couples to direct their guests in finding more information about their wedding. We love the online route as it lowers your carbon footprint and saves those trees! We’ve had some couples even have their guests RSVP online instead of paper RSVP cards. However, we totally understand loving the traditional paper invitation look, so our suggested option would be to work with your stationery designer in using recycled materials. Not completely paperless, but still a great alternative without sacrificing the look.
Recycled paper can be really beautiful and unique since it possess’ varied colors and textures. In some cases, it’s almost like each guest receives their own unique invite! Cotton and bamboo, although more expensive, are also popular sustainable options, but my favorite is the plantable option. Seeded wedding invitations are one of the newest ways brides are reducing their carbon footprint. Companies and designers can now create invitations that are imbedded with seeds and can be planted by your guests! Wildflowers and herbs are just a few of the options brides can choose from. Check out Botanical Paper Works and Forever Fiancés to learn more about plantable invitation options.
Another way to be more eco-friendly is by eliminating single-use paper goods such as escort cards, place cards, menus, programs, etc. Unfortunately, these items are thrown away at the end of the evening anyway. Some creative alternatives are wood, glass, stone, acrylic, and yes even sea glass.
Attire & Accessories
Photography by Shelly Anderson Photography
This may not be an area that you initially thought of, but can make a huge impact! Repurposing previously owned dresses is definitely making a comeback. So many brides are going to their mothers’ or grandmothers’ gowns and hiring designers to repurpose them to suit their personal style, and we are totally here for it! There can be something really special about incorporating family heirlooms into your wardrobe and making them your own! The reason that this can be sustainable? Think about how much energy, materials, and shipping materials, etc. goes into creating one gown.
But if that’s not really your thing, definitely try shopping vintage. Vintage clothing and accessories can be seriously fun, extremely unique, and much less money compared to buying new. Websites like Etsy and Reformation make it super easy these days to find the perfect option without hitting up a million consignment shops as well!
Floral Design & Decor
There are many ways to style you wedding with florals but you don’t have to forgo flowers all together to help save the environment. A trend we have seen really gain traction this year is the use of cactus, airplants, and succulents in addition to flowers. We realize that we live in California and those specific dry plants are easily accessible in this area, but wherever you are, we suggest going with local flowers. Why? Using local products, no matter what it is, is sustainable (flying in flowers from around the world doesn’t reduce your carbon footprint) and buying local benefits your community. With succulents, air plants, and cactus in particular, these can be repurposed and re-used by either you, your guests, or the floral designer. We specifically love when mini cactus’ are used as favors for guests to take home and plant in their own yards – a unique detail that lasts!
Our next biggest piece of advice is to find ways to reuse your flowers after the wedding day. A few ways to do this is to reuse the centerpieces and bouquets for your day-after brunch, allowing your floral to take these home for their next project, or delivering these to hospitals or nursing homes for others to enjoy. We absolutely loving these ways to eliminate waste and to repurpose, repurpose, repurpose!
Last but not least, explore venues that in-house furniture and rental options, such as tables, chairs, and decor. We loved that Green Acre Campus Pointe had so many fun and unique in-house wooden pieces that we mixed and matched, limiting the amount of external companies necessary to furnish the space. More companies = more trucks, staffing, one-time use plastic coverings for linens, etc. Less is more when it comes to being sustainable!
Bar & Beverage
Unfortunately, your wedding bar is a place were we see the most waste happen. One-time use items such as plastic cups, napkins, straws, and empty beer bottles will make up most of the waste at a wedding and will often be a more difficult aspect to get around in the planning process. Limiting the disposables, like napkins and straws (did you know that it takes one straw up to 200 years to decompose?), and renting glassware are a great option to combat this! Another trendy idea is to skip the beer bottles completely and set up a craft beer bar (we’re looking at you, Tap Truck)! By having a small selection on tap for guests, you will not only be eliminating so much waste but will also be able to create a fun and unique experience for your guests. Other ways to eliminate the waste would be to have a water jug/container for guests rather than water bottles at the bar (did you know that one water bottle takes up to 450 years to decompose?).
Although we understand that it can be difficult to go 100% sustainable, we hope this encourages you to make a few more environmentally conscious choices when planning your wedding!