Engagement season has passed us and now couples are sitting together to plan one of the most incredible days in their relationship. With so many options available, planning a wedding can be one of the most difficult things to do, and it can be one of the most wasteful things to do.
Eco-friendly weddings are now popping up everywhere, minimizing the waste that weddings produce. But what exactly is an eco-friendly wedding?
An eco-friendly wedding is exactly what it sounds like – a wedding that focuses on minimizing the environmental impact that such big events cause. Green Bride Guide says “the average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day.” That’s a lot of trash to produce for just one day, and that’s not even including if anyone has to travel to get to your wedding.
So most weddings produce a lot of waste, but there are ways that we can minimize that. Having sustainable decor and making modern changes to traditions can make a huge impact on the amount of waste you produce. But before we get into that, let’s also touch on how much weddings cost, to give you the idea on not only the environmental impact, but the impact big weddings also have on your wallet.
The Knot conducted a survey and stated: “We were able to determine the new national average cost of a wedding is $33,900 (that’s including the cost of the engagement ring, but excluding honeymoon expenses).” Some states they surveyed had an average of over $50,000.
Read More: 10 Ways to Save Money on your Wedding
When you factor in the costs along with the huge environmental impact, some would even question why anyone would even want to have a wedding. Although it’s important to look at these factors, don’t let this send you into full panic mode. Weddings have been around for centuries, and they are such an incredible celebration of the love two people have for one another – it’s important to recognize and celebrate that love!
Throughout your wedding planning process try and think of the different ways that you can host an eco-friendly wedding and also be unique. Here are some changes to your day that can set you apart from standard weddings and also make a difference to our planet.
Skip the Paper
It’s a wonderful digital world we live in. Sending out physical invitations is not only a waste of paper but oftentimes your invite will simply sit on the guest’s fridge and then be tossed in the trash a few weeks after your big day. For a more eco-friendly wedding, opt for a digital wedding invitation and reminders. Guests can also mark that they’re attending and you can keep a digital track of who is attending. If you love the idea of photos of your invitation, you can print one off just for your photographer to have as a keepsake!
While we’re on the subject of eliminating paper, skip the printed menus for every guest. Adding a large printed menu to the entrance of your reception room is a unique and beautiful way to make the entrance to your reception pop!
Skip the Store-Bought Confetti
If you’re planning on having a lot of guests attend your wedding, the price of having to provide that much confetti can get a bit pricey. Instead, give it a more eco-friendly wedding feel and collect fallen leaves. You can leave the small ones whole and use a hole puncher on big leaves to make smaller pieces of confetti. Not only is this a fun project for you and your bridesmaids, but it will also make your walk down the aisle pop more in photos.
When you’re looking for a florist, you may want to ask them where they source their florals. Inquire about where the florals were cut and grown. The Green Business Bureau says, “Flowers from local growers naturally must be shipped a smaller distance, reducing the associated carbon footprint.” Most florists love the idea of an eco-friendly wedding, so communicating your concerns upfront will give them the information they need to answer all questions.
While you’re talking to them about where their florals are sourced, do a little bit of research on what’s in bloom around your wedding date. While roses bloom from mid-spring to fall, florals like peonies tend to only bloom from April through June. Taking blooming seasons into consideration decreases your carbon footprint and can decrease the amount you spend on certain florals.
If you’re wanting to go with more of a greenery feel for your big day, opting for potted plants is an incredible way to have an eco-friendly wedding. You can reuse them in your garden, home, or donate them to a local nursing home.
Look for Alternatives When Purchasing Your Gown
When you’re planning your wedding, don’t skip over the things that are the most important to you. If your wedding gown is the highlight of your day, then make sure that it is a priority and you are absolutely happy with it. But if you never imagined yourself spending $1500 or more on a gown, then don’t go into a bridal shop right away. Etsy has a ton of options that were made by small businesses, and there are tons of thrift stores that have gently used wedding gowns for a fraction of the price. Think “Reduce, reuse, recycle”.
Read More: Fabulous Etsy Wedding Dresses
Don’t Throw Away Your Leftovers
I know this one sounds a bit silly, but not everyone eats their entire plate at your wedding. You and your spouse may even find that you haven’t had time to take a single bite of your meal. You can find sustainable to-go boxes and offer a service of packing your guest’s food to go. This saves wasted food and also saves them a few bucks on buying their next meal.
Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors
Everyone LOVES a good wedding favor! But half the time chocolate goes to waste and shot glasses never get used. Beeswax candles and succulents are a great eco-friendly wedding favor that your guests will fall in love with and use time and time again.
Eloping is not what it used to be. Most people consider elopements to be two people running off and getting married without telling anyone. Most modern-day elopements consist of around 5-10 people, including the couple. Not only does this save a lot of money, but it also is the biggest way to have an eco-friendly wedding. Minimizing the number of guests lowers your CO2 emissions and waste significantly, as it’s not a huge gathering or party. Do take air travel and hotel accommodations when weighing this option.
Choose an Eco-Friendly Wedding Venue
When you’re looking for an eco-friendly wedding venue, there is a lot to consider. Having an outdoor ceremony in the summer may require fans or air conditioning under tents. But having an outdoor ceremony in the spring or fall would be significantly cooler but not require heaters like it would in the winter. When you’re searching for a wedding venue, you can also check with them to see if they have glassware and table decor readily available. Reusable glassware and decor is a great way to still have a modern, but an eco-friendly wedding. Not everything has to be brand new.
Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting things you and your partner will do together. Keeping the traditions you want and preserving the memories you will have is of the utmost importance, but having an eco-friendly wedding will ensure that couples for generations to come will also be able to have a celebration of their love.
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Photo Credits: Lauren Benson Photography