Question: There’s a third guest of honor at your wedding and she’s super important. Do you know who I am talking about?
Answer: Mother Earth!
Cheesiness aside, as far as we know, the earth is all we’ve got, so it’s important to treat her with honor and respect. What better time to do so than at your wedding? I know you might be thinking, but it’s so expensive to go green and requires lots of leg work. The truth is, there are several ways you can incorporate eco-friendly practices into your wedding without busting your budget or clocking in extra hours at the wedding planning factory. Here are some eco-friendly wedding ideas to get you thinking green.
Think about all the paper that goes into creating a wedding: save-the-dates, invitations, RSVPs, envelopes, menus, seating cards, thank you cards, programs… When you think of paper products as energy, trees, and ultimately waste, you start to understand the impact it has. You can cut down on using traditional paper without sacrificing style by sending digital save-the-date cards. Paperless Post and Green Envelope have beautiful options to choose from. With everything from florals and geometrics to rustic and watercolor, you’re sure to find a style that fits your wedding personality.
Another way to make your invitations eco-friendly is by using recycled paper products. Places like Earthly Affair, The Windmill Paper Boutique, and Botanical Paperworks offer recycled stationery and even biodegradable, seed-infused paper so that guests can plant their invites and watch them grow into flowers, plants, and herbs.
One more eco-friendly tip: instead of stuffing your invitations with separate paper (maps, directions, cards, additional info), direct guests to your wedding website where they’ll be able to find all the information they need.
For the ultimate eco-friendly wedding, keep your design sweet and simple. One of the best ways to do that is to use mother nature herself; have an outdoor wedding in a location with stunning views. Think botanical gardens, sweeping landscapes, rustic barns, and city rooftops. Not only will you have natural lighting to work with, you’ll also have most of your decor taken care of in the form of flowers, plants and trees or unique city scenes. Buildings with interesting architectural design and historical elements also make great eco-friendly venues because you can use what’s already built in as decor.
Other decor ideas include: reusable items (think about things you can take home and use again), natural elements (sea glass, shells, driftwood, acorns, etc.), rented and borrowed items (linens, vases, glassware), LED lights, clean-burning candles, greenery as place cards, bare tables that don’t need tablecloths (wooden, old farm tables, glass-top tables).
It’s an ugly truth that most wedding favors get left behind or tossed in the trash. To ensure your guests will actually enjoy the gift you give them, while also remaining eco-friendly, give a wedding favor that keeps on giving. Think flower seed packets, potted succulents, or wrap your gifts in plantable seed ribbon. You can also give edible gifts, because who doesn’t love receiving a sweet treat? Can your own jam, purchase local chocolate or coffee beans, or wrap up an organic cupcake in a pretty recyclable box.
Another wedding favor idea is to make a donation on behalf of each guest. You can choose a local charity or one that you’re passionate about. Put out a sign that lets guests know you’ve made a donation to a worthy cause in lieu of giving out favors. Or get the guests involved by choosing a few of your favorite charities and letting them pick which one they’d like you to give to.
Not all flowers are created equal. In fact, most of the flowers sold by U.S. florists are sprayed with toxic chemicals, which are not only harmful to the environment, but to the folks who cultivate these flowers (mostly overseas). So what can an eco-friendly couple do? Ask your florist about local, seasonal flowers or check out the farmer’s market. Find sustainable flower options from companies like The Bouqs Co. and look for blooms certified by Veriflora, which “guarantees that flowers and potted plants have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and with high quality standards.”
Potted plants and topiaries are also great options, as they can be replanted after the wedding. And for any flowers you don’t want thrown away after the celebration, there’s Rebloom, a company that will pick up your arrangements and reuse them. Hooray!
5. Food and Beverages
Let’s face it: the wedding menu is a big to-do and you want to treat your guests to the best. To keep your eats and drinks as green (and tasty!) as possible, think seasonal and local. Search your area for organic caterers and green restaurants, use locally-grown products, and create a menu that is bursting with fresh, local flavor. Organic food may cost more than traditionally-grown food, but you can keep the cost down by buying in-season and direct from growers.
Earth-friendly weddings don’t have to be pompous or boring and they certainly don’t have to break the budget. With these tips you’ll be on the green track to feeling good about a wedding that celebrates mother earth as much as it does your love.
Cassandra Key is a freelance writer and native Texan based in the Philippines. She’s written about everything from real weddings and bachelorette parties to bridal showers and wedding fashion, and is the creator of Bridal Magic – a blog for brides with a fairy tale heart. When she’s not blogging, you can find her beach bumming, reading Francesca Lia Block novels, dancing up a sweat, and trying to incorporate a daily meditation practice.