How (and why) to Throw an Eco-Friendly Wedding
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
What if I told you that nearly all weddings: yours, mine, even the coworker’s you went to last weekend, share the same dirty secret?
(No, the officiator probably didn’t sleep with one of your bridesmaids like he did with mine…)
This secret is so much worse.
Weddings, these glorious days of life, love and beauty, are doing unholy amounts of damage to our planet. By and large, from an eco-perspective, weddings are filthy things, not at all cut out for a white dress.
Consider this: the average American wedding of 100-120 people will produce between 63-66 tons of CO2 emissions!
Put another way, you would have to drive a typical family car for 150,000 miles before you would do that much damage. In fact, on average it would take 4-5 people an entire year to generate as big a carbon footprint as the one made in a single day by an average wedding.
The good news is this is one wedding trend that is dead easy to end. For no additional cost (in fact you may actually save money), you can throw an eco-chic wedding. All it takes is a little awareness and thoughtful decision-making.
Here are 7 of the easiest ways to ensure that your wedding is an Earth-Friendly affair:
1. Choose a Lab Grown Diamond
By picking one of these little beauties, you are saving 109 gallons of water and 98 square feet of earth per carat.
You are also sparing the sky of over 2000 ounces of carbon emissions per one-carat stone.
Best of all, lab grown diamonds are absolutely, splendidly gorgeous. They often boast higher clarity scores than mined diamonds, almost as though these little marvels know just how pure they are…
Think a lab-grown diamond is unattainable? Think again. They typically cost 30-40% less than mined stones.
2. Venue & Transportation
There are multiple ways of making your venue more Earth-friendly.
First, if you really want to be eco-friendly, avoid destination weddings.
Flights are a major carbon emitter. Next, if possible, have the ceremony and event in one location or within walking distance of one another and the closer these locals are to the hotel where most people are staying, the better.
Outdoor venues that rely on natural light are another easy way to save.
If you live in Minnesota and are having a winter wedding, don’t despair. Just ask your venue if they are LEED certified. Ask about their waste program, and whether they use biodegradable cleaning agents or heavy chemicals on that post-party mess. Once you’ve negotiated how you want them to do things, put it in your contract so you can rest easy that it will get done.
On average, 1/10 of all wedding food is thrown away.
That’s a lot of waste, and considering that the average American meal travels 1500 miles from farm to table, that’s a ton of CO2 emissions for something that ends up in the trash.
Most guests admit to throwing away edible party favors, so consider skipping those all together.
Then arrange your food waste to be donated to a local shelter. Again, make sure this is in your contract with your caterer. How good does it feel to know that all the food you’ve paid for is getting eaten, and some of it by those in true need of a beautiful meal.
This is easy… if possible skip them altogether.
Opt instead for a wedding website. Theknot.com is one platform that makes it very easy to set up your own unique site. A website can be updated, making it more interactive for your guests.
If you are a traditionalist and must do the paper invitation, just be sure to use recycled paper and ask that your invites be printed using plant-based inks and earth-friendly ribbons, etc.
ForeverFiances is a company that makes invites so green, you can actually plant the paper when the big day is through!
The best way to reduce your footprint with décor is to choose a place that is already gorgeous, and simply limit the amount of additional décor you bring in.
All those streamers might look great the night of, but will end up in a landfill or ocean as soon as your day is over.
For the décor you do use, source from vintage stores so that no additional manufacturing was required to elevate your day, and choose items that you’ll keep as home décor long after the big day. That way your decorations are sure to be zero-waste, and one of a kind.
Go local and seasonal.
What is old hat to you will be utterly charming to your out of town guests. It will create a sense of place beyond the venue.
Exotic blooms are beautiful, sure, but they are also generic and incredibly costly both in dollars and CO2 emissions.
Going local allows you to get really creative. Who needs orchids when you can use birch branches, cranberries, pumpkins, or even pussy willows to extraordinary ends.
One of our favorite weddings forwent flowers all together in lieu of cotton blossoms. The downy white balls of fluff looked amazing next to her gown, and they were not only gorgeous, but also real and unique to that couple’s sense of home in a way that exotic flowers couldn’t have been.
7. The Dress
The easiest way to be green is to let someone else's cherished gown become your own.
Instead of spending thousands or even tens of thousands on a brand new gown that was made in who-knows what kind of conditions and had to travel ungodly distances to get to your local boutique, hit up vintage stores.
Choose a gown that was previously loved. You can even ask a family member for their old gown.
Then spend a few hundred dollars, tops, to work with a good tailor to make it your own. A tailor will can make an old gown look and feel absolutely new again.
The final result will be guaranteed to fit perfectly. It will showcase your unique style, and it will be one of a kind, which is something no boutique purchase can claim. The old fabric will already be steeped in love and memories, and what is more appropriate for a wedding than that?
Going green on your wedding day doesn’t have to take any additional planning time, and it will almost never cost more money than a traditional wedding.
Who knows what you’ll come up with once you start thinking green? Share your favorite green ideas with our community of brides at our Facebook and instagram pages, and as always, happy planning for your gorgeous, Earth-friendly day.