Top Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a happy couple walking through the trees on a sunny day.

The 2020 wedding season is underway, as is the most epic wedding series in TLC history, “Say Yes to the Dress America,” featuring a whopping 50 brides, one from every state.

TLC and MyRegistry recently shared the Top Wedding Trends to Expect in 2020. The biggest one? Sustainable weddings. Here we'll show you some tips for how to make our wedding eco-friendly.

What Is an Eco-Friendly Wedding?

An eco-friendly wedding is one in which every attempt is made to reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of the event. A wedding day is a magical occasion, the start of an exciting new chapter in the life of a couple, but one big party can also be none-too-easy on the environment. Holding an eco-friendly or sustainable wedding is a way to enjoy your big day and be kind to the environment at the same time.

As more and more people want to reduce their carbon footprint, we want to help soon-to-wed couples do the same by sharing some tips on how to make any wedding more earth-friendly. From sending digital invitations to repurposing wedding essentials, there are plenty of options to consider.

Embrace Digital

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a basket of small envelopes reading Mr & Mrs with a banner on the top.

From Save the Dates to wedding invitations and RSVP cards, weddings require a lot of paper, which leads to a lot of paper waste. A great way to avoid this is to send out anything you can digitally. When it comes to paper materials that can’t be handled digitally, such as place cards and wedding programs, choose from eco-conscious brands and stores that use plantable or recycled paper. 

Bonus: There are plenty of wedding websites that will manage RSVPs for you, so sending these materials digitally can also help keep you organized.

Reduce

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a box labelled Farmer's Market overflowing with fruits and vegetables.

A good way to cut down on carbon emissions is to avoid shipping items for your wedding. This includes food and flowers. Go farm to table by using local caterers, vendors, and florists, and in turn, confirm that they use locally sourced products. That way you’ll be helping both the community and the environment. Another way to avoid the need to ship is to choose food that’s in-season at the time of your wedding.

Recycle

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a gazebo draped with thin curtains and a flower border.

Couples spend a fortune on flowers and food, only to toss plenty of both after the wedding. Instead, find florists and caterers that compost flowers and food waste after an event. Another option is to donate the flowers to hospitals and senior centers, and donate the food to homeless shelters or soup kitchens. If you do choose to donate food, just be sure you have attendants assigned to properly pack away leftovers.

Replant

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a dish filled with flowers.

Instead of cut-flower centerpieces, consider using potted plants or succulents on reception and cocktail tables. You’ll save money, and when the wedding’s over, you can replant them at home, or pass them out to family and friends for their own gardens.

Bonus: In addition to plants, choose other decorations with the intention of repurposing them at home, so nothing goes to waste.

Repurpose

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, the legs of a man and woman standing next to each other, wearing a repurposed suit and wedding dress respectively.

A great way to avoid waste is to repurpose wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses. Wear the dress your mother, grandmother, sister, or friend wore, and alter or redesign it to suit your style. Or, go to a thrift store and give an old dress a new life.

And chances are, some of your bridesmaids have been bridesmaids before. See if any of their previously worn dresses match your wedding’s color scheme. Or, if you’re willing to mix and match, create an eclectic look with different colors and styles.

All-in-One Venue

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, an outdoor setting with banners and lights strung on the trees with fancy tables set with cloth linens and fancy china.

Choosing an eco-friendly location will help reduce your carbon footprint. Pick a venue dedicated to sustainable practices, such as donating or composting, and they’ll take care of leftover food and flowers for you. Since donating and composting can also be done yourself, wherever you are, the best venue is one that can host both the wedding ceremony and reception. That way, your guests won’t have to drive to a new location.

Register Responsibly

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a couple hiking across a huge, grassy hill bordered by a large, beautiful body of water

Consider registering for nontraditional and — more important — nontangible gifts. Instead, register for experience gifts, charity funds, or cash gifts to go toward larger purchases, from your honeymoon to a house down payment.

When you do register for material gifts, be intentional. Make a point of choosing them from stores and companies that follow eco-friendly practices, such as offering products made from sustainable materials and using recycled and compostable packing. Companies that embrace sustainability will make that information easily available, and every little bit helps!

Favorite Favors

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a jar filled with candy.

Wedding favors are a nice gesture, and a fun way to thank your guests for attending, but many of them go to waste. Consider offering favors your guests are more likely to take home, like something edible. It could be coffee beans from a well-known coffeehouse, jam made by a local farmer, or sweets from a popular candy emporium. A very eco-friendly option is to give your guests seeds or small potted plants. Even if some forget to take them home, they can easily be shared among remaining guests or used yourself.

Taking it further, a popular new route for favors is charitable donations. Leave notes on reception tables telling guests you made a donation in their name to a charity. You can even personalize the choice by offering guests a short list of charities to pick from.

The Right Ring

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a chain holding a girl's engagement ring and a man's engagement band.

To truly have a green wedding, start at the beginning: with the engagement ring. A classic engagement ring is designed with a diamond set in a gold or platinum band, but these rings can actually increase your carbon footprint. Mining for diamonds can cause the spread of dangerous chemicals and negatively impact irrigation and fisheries. A great eco-friendly alternative is using recycled metals and lab-created diamonds, which have the same shine and chemical properties of real diamonds, with no mining necessary. If you’re set on a real stone, consider repurposing a diamond from a piece of antique or family jewelry.

Bonus: No need to stop with the engagement ring. Recycled precious metals make for beautiful and eco-friendly wedding bands too.

Make It Your Own

9 Tips to Make Your Wedding More Eco-Friendly, a wedding van.

When it comes to helping the environment, these tips are just the beginning. There are plenty of things you can do to make your wedding sustainable, some unique to your location, so feel free to get imaginative in ways that work for you and your special event.

And don’t forget to tune into the season finale of “Say Yes to the Dress America” on March 14 at 8/7c on TLC. We’ll be watching!

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