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Sustainable & Eco-Conscious Wedding Planning Guide

9 min read
Cassie Allinger

 

Your wedding will be the most wonderful day of your life. but it’s also an opportunity to apply  sustainable and eco-friendly activity practises just as you do in everyday life. There are many opportunities to avoid travel, food & decor waste so that you do not rack up a hefty carbon footprint. 

Regardless of how you decide to say I do, going green is easier than you think. A few small steps of sustainability can make a big impact. So, in honor of Earth Day, I challenge you to be mindful of the planet as you go about your wedding planning. Planning a beautiful, sustainable wedding is very possible and you won’t have to sacrifice your vision or budget along the way.

How, you ask? Let me show you. 

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Jewelry & accessories

When choosing your engagement ring and wedding bands, take a moment to consider where the stones and metals have come from. Look for brands that specialize in conflict-free gems and support fair labor practices. I love this guide to eco-friendly wedding jewelryand who doesn’t love looking at beautiful baubles?

What’s better than eco-friendly jewelry designers? Vintage. We love how vintage jewelry carries a story that becomes part of your own. If possible, start with family: family treasures and heirlooms will forever hold a special place in your heart. If that doesn’t work, try shopping estate sales and other vintage shops for that one-of-a-kind piece to symbolize your union. 

wedding venue

Perhaps the easiest way to make your wedding more eco-friendly is to select your venue wisely. The first element to consider is location: how can you minimize travel to & from the wedding location? 

Once you’ve decided on the city or area, look for a ceremony and reception site that prioritizes sustainability through operational efficiency, sourcing local supplies and ingredients, or prioritizing energy efficiency. An all-inclusive venue is ideal, reducing your need for extra vendors, decor and most of the single-use elements of your weddingsuch as linens, silverware, serving plates, and so on.

I love a venue with a lot of natural beauty and character built-in. Not only will it make for an incredibly unique wedding, it will significantly reduce the amount of decor that you need to procure, this can reduce waste and spend. Some of my favorites are: charming bed and breakfast, sprawling private estate, lighthouse or windmill, secluded gardens, or a retreat nestled in the forest.

Sustainable Mountain Wedding | Boulder Creek by Wedgewood WeddingsBoulder Creek by Wedgewood Weddings

wedding attire & accessories

For brides: If wearing your mother’s wedding dress is off the table, that doesn’t mean you can’t go vintage with your wedding attire. While there are dozens of small vintage bridal boutiques online and around the world, one of our favorite places to shop here is Etsy. Even buying a once-worn wedding gown is 100% earth-approved. Try searching your favorite facebook group, asking friends, and shopping online shops like Still White. An alternative is Azazie or RentTheRunway which has a wedding concierge service.

For grooms: Call me crazy, but I recommend starting your search in your closet. Most men already have a suit or two that would be perfectly wonderful for your wedding when tailored and paired with some new shoes and accessories. If that doesn’t work, try searching for a suit at a local consignment shop or give renting a try. We love Jim's Formal Wear: they have a great Build-A-Tux option and a rental service that you can organize in store or online. Plus they give all couples who book with Wedgewood Weddings an extra discount 😎

For the wedding party: Rather than asking that everyone wear matching attire, consider choosing a color theme and giving them freedom to choose their own outfit (with your approval, of course). This way your bridal party won’t have to spend money on a single-occasion dress and gives them the freedom to choose what’s most flattering to their body. Plus, it’s rather chic and very on-trend. 

Alternatively, you can focus on making sure that the attire you choose doesn’t go to waste. encourage your bridal party to donate their bridesmaid dresses to a nonprofit that donates prom dresses to kids who can’t afford them. 

Eco-Conscious Bridal Attire | Hofmann Ranch by Wedgewood WeddingsHofmann Ranch by Wedgewood Weddings

Invitations & Stationery

Going green on your invitations and stationary is such a fun, easy way to customize your wedding. At InvitationsByWedgewood.com, we're able to source planet-friendly suppliers and reduce wastage. You can also investigate using recycled paper or alternative materials for your invitations. You may like to support a stationary company that invests in eco-friendly practices like Paper Culture

gift Registry

If you love material gifts and have been planning your registry for months, have no fear! A simple way to reduce waste is to register only for items that you’ll definitely use. Our friends at the Knot have a wonderful program that donates 3% of registry purchases to a charity of your choosing. Bonus points if you make sure that all gift wrap gets properly recycled or reused after your wedding.

If material gifts aren’t your thing, that’s okay too! We love alternative registry options such as contributing to your honeymoon fund, raising money for a charity, or asking that your guests plan a volunteer day on your behalf. 

Floral and Fauna

Sometimes those beautiful, natural flowers that bring added color and beauty to your special day are not very earth-friendly. If you’re going to choose cut blooms, work with your florist and select seasonal flowers that are grown locally. This will reduce waste and support local farmers. Your florist can help you find the best options for your season and style. 

If you want to shake things up, while still having the look of live florals, try potted plants such as palms, ferns, or orchids. Staged carefully, they lend to a beautifully eclectic, bohemian styleand you can bring them home or gift to guests after your celebration. Some other fun alternatives include: sustainably sourced dried flowers, beautiful fake flowers, or fresh flora from your local farmers market

When all is said and done, give careful consideration to how you dispose of your flowers. If you don’t bring them home, consider donating to a local charity or finding a farmer who will happily compost your wedding blooms. At Wedgewood Weddings, your team can do this for you and often give floral arrangements to local care homes on behalf of the couple celebrating. Try searching for local flower donation charities like Random Acts of Flowers which recycles flowers and delivers them to unwell individuals in healthcare facilities.

Vintage Wedding Decor | The Orchard by Wedgewood WeddingsThe Orchard by Wedgewood Weddings

DECORATIONS AND WEDDING FAVORS

No matter how beautiful your venue is, you’re going to need some decor to set the backdrop for your ceremony and reception. The most commonly used pieces (besides flowers) are signs, centerpieces, mirrors, picture frames and candles. Consider using items that you already have at home, sourcing from local friends/family, thrift stores, or renting items that you can return after use. When all is said and done, try to find a home for every piece of decor. You might donate the leftover decorations to a local organization or try selling them on Facebook marketplace to other brides. 

Keep in mind that while DIY projects can be incredibly fun and creative, sometimes they are more wasteful (and costly) than alternative options. We like to keep the DIY projects fun and either edible, reusable or plantable! I recommend these DIY seed bomb wedding favors, cute little succulents that double as decor, and mini packages of fair trade coffee


Food & Drink

Start by serving appetizers, drinks and dinner (or brunch) with reusable or recyclable materials. The simplest way to do this is via a full catering kitchen who will have servingware that is fully sanitised and reused at each event. We also offer a choice of stylish china and glassware at all our venues so that you can find something that works with your wedding theme. 

To take another route, you can could give a gorgeous custom glass to all guests as a wedding favor that can be pre-placed at each guest setting for the toast.

Reduce food waste by choosing alternative serving styles. An expertly prepared buffet can be just as glamorous as a plated dish, but will ensure that guests only choose food they plan to eat. After dinner, get creative with your dessert options. I love cake pops, s’mores and mini pies! These work well in addition to a mini wedding cake so that you can partake in your favorite cake-smashing traditions! 


Honeymoon

Are you secretly most excited about the honeymoon? If so, that’s awesome, it means you’re excited for some quality alone-time with your special someone. You know that some longhaul travel is not particularly friendly to the environment, so we’ve brainstormed ideas on how to minimize your impact while celebrating your nuptials. 

The easiest way to go green is to stay close to home! If you live in an area of the country where adventure and nature surrounds you, consider a local getaway. Some of my favorite ideas are an eco-friendly spa or retreat center, rubbing elbows with locals in a small coastal town, or taking off on a week-long backpacking trip.  If you do want to jetset then carbon offsetting is a great option - you can do this easily with most airlines. Another idea is working with local organizations like Treepeople who  will plant a tree or manage the the local environment on your behalf. 

If that’s not your style, you can still travel in a eco-friendly way. Consider only visiting countries that prioritize sustainabilityCosta Rica is a wonderful exampleand search for accommodations or resorts that are committed to sustainability. Now more than ever, sustainable travel is accessible and doesn’t have to cramp your style one bit. 

Eco-Friendly Wedding Venue | Stonebridge Manor by Wedgewood WeddingsStonebridge Manor by Wedgewood Weddings

Offset Your Carbon Footprint

When all is said and done, your wedding should leave you guilt-free and ready to celebrate your life together. Whether you’ve decided to tackle 2 or 20 of these eco-friendly wedding ideas, I love the concept of doing something that will offset the environmental impact that you’ve made.

For a simple, easy, cost-effective idea: plant a tree. Simple, right? Consider incorporating the tree into your wedding as a unity ceremony. this can be extremely meaningful and represents the strong roots you will grow together. In addition to choosing your state tree, here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Wisteria = Romance
  • Oak = Power & Courage
  • Palm = Peace (because their trunks are flexible and unbreakable 😍)
  • Cherry = Good Fortune
  • Birch = New Beginnings
  • Elm = Intuition & Inner Strength
  • Redwood = Forever
  • Maple = Balance & Promise
  • Pomegranate = Life

After planting your tree, my favorite method to offset your carbon footprint is to give back. Find an opportunity to volunteer together, either locally or abroad, for an environmental cause. You can even incorporate this into your eco-conscious honeymoon plans! 

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If you’re engaged to be married, I hope this post has inspired you to make being 'green' part of your color palette, or to simply be mindful of your impact as you go about your wedding plans. Either way, I wish you a happy and romantic wedding!

“If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches on the same tree" - W. B. Yeats

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