The food was grown by the bride and groom, the toilets were composting, and the tableware was borrowed from friends. Last weekend, I traveled to upstate New York and experienced first-hand a really nice and really green wedding.
In fact, I’ve never been to such an eco-friendly wedding or a green baby shower for that matter. I’ve decided to share my newly gained knowledge with you in this, the ultimate guide to an environmentally-friendly wedding.
Not everyone will be able or willing to do everything in this list. But hopefully you’ll find a few tips you hadn’t thought of.
Green wedding guide ~ the eco-friendly wedding of your dreams
Invitations & Thank You Cards: Make Your Own, Plantable, and/or Recycled
If you’re the crafty sort, consider creating green wedding invitations and thank you notes of your own design. You can cut photos out of wedding magazines, use recycled paper, and write the wedding details by hand.
If you feel like you already have too much going on and making your own invitations could push you over the edge, not to worry. There are some really cool plantable invitations and notes that bloom into wildflowers. The eco-friendly wedding couple from New York used these for their invites, and invited guests to bring them to the wedding to plant them at the wedding site.
We had plantable thank you notes at our own attempt at having a green wedding and our friends thought they were great.
If those aren’t quite what you’d envisioned, check out these recycled invitations.
They do away with the extra envelopes and random sheets of paper that often accompany wedding invites by making your invite and reply card out of one long piece of paper. Sounds a bit weird at first, but there are lots of designs to choose from. We used these and loved them.
RSVPs: Via Email, Website, or Phone
Eliminate the need for extra paper and shipping (which burns gas) by asking your guests to choose a lower-impact RSVP method. Make it easy by giving them more than one option. Think of the money you will save on stamps taking this eco-friendly measure.
Registry: At a Local Shop, Grocer or Donation to Non-Profit
We learned the hard way that if you register at a national store, you’ll receive an obscene amount of packaging with your gifts. Fortunately, we were able to donate excess packaging to a friend who was moving.
But in general, it’s better to stick to a local store, local grocer or craft shop where you can pick up the gifts all at once, sans extra wrapping.
The eco-friendly wedding couple from last weekend registered at a local shop and also gave the option of contributing to the off-the-grid dream home they want to build. We have been to weddings and other types of parties — retirement and birthdays — where they suggested donations to the local food bank, Humane Society and others.
Eco-friendly Wedding Dress: Reused
No need to spend a lot on a new wedding dress when you can find a perfectly good used one for less. The eco-friendly bride last weekend had her mother’s dress altered into a sundress for her outdoor wedding. Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, Craigslist and Ebay are also great places to find used green wedding dresses. This is such an easy way to have an earth-friendly wedding, and you will look great too.
Venue: Outside or Eco-Friendly
Have your ceremony and reception in a park, on a lake, or even on a farm. The wedding last weekend was in the woods, with the reception just a few feet away. If you opt for indoors, choose a hotel or other reception venue that has solid environmental practices.
We didn’t want to worry about Vancouver’s fickle weather for our reception, so we chose an eco-friendly Kimpton hotel.
Food: Grow Your Own or Get It Locally
If you’re lucky enough to have a place where you can grow your own food, go for it. If not, make sure you buy from local farmers, bakers, and cake shops with sustainable practices.
You can even ask nearby friends and family members to contribute with veggies from their gardens or have someone pick them up for you from the farmer’s market.
Table Settings: Mix and Match
The bride and groom’s family and close friends brought plates and silverware from home, which were used the at reception. After the wedding, they were washed and returned. No need to rent plates from an expensive catering company.
If you have an artistically-inclined cousin, ask her/him to be your photographer. Better yet, tap a few friends and family members to serve as photographers so you get lots of different perspectives.
If you go the professional photography route, make sure your photographer uses digital. That way you only have to print the photos you want to keep.
Music: Live Band or Computer
Depending on the kind of music you like, you may not need the full-blown, electricity-sucking setups DJs often use. Hook a computer up to speakers, or hire a live band. You’ll even save money by skipping out on a pricey DJ.
Trash: Composted & Recycled
Composting your trash will be easier if your ceremony is on your own land, but it’s possible to find a venue that will accommodate you. When you’re considering where to have your wedding and reception, inquire about their composting and recycling capacities.
Table Decorations: Reusable & Waste-Free
Try wildflowers in mason jars and local chocolates. Guests can take the flowers home with them, and hopefully compost them when they die.
There are dozens of ways to reuse mason jars. And who doesn’t enjoy seeing some delicious local chocolates at their table?
Favors: Local & Edible
As we were leaving the New York wedding, we picked up organic veggies and homemade jam from the favor table. I can guarantee your guests will enjoy these sustainable wedding favors much more than they would an acrylic heart-shaped key chain with your wedding date on it or a heart-shaped picture frame.
Guest Accommodations: Camping or Bed & Breakfast
The eco-friendly wedding couple invited friends to camp on their land, which I thought was an excellent idea. They also offered the names of some local B&B’s if not everyone was into camping. If you don’t have land for friends to crash on, consider recommending some nearby campsites and hostels, in addition to bed and breakfasts.
Eco-friendly wedding idea that isn’t for everyone….
Bathroom: Homemade Composting Toilets
Green toilet? Ever gone to the restroom in a big plastic bucket with a toilet seat attached? After last weekend, I have. Step 1: Do your business. Step 2: Dump some cedar shavings on top. 3: It will compost within a year. Quite simple, really.
Granted, this isn’t for everyone. Even some of the greenest people I know wouldn’t be comfortable having these buckets as a reminder of their wedding guests a year later. But if you have the space and the will, it’s a pretty cool idea.
Read on if you are interested in Living Off Grid
Easy green wedding ideas
There are easy ways to having a green wedding. It is all about what works for you. Most often, when you try to have an eco-friendly wedding, you will save money and support local businesses, and have a less-stressful and more enjoyable time overall.
It is easy to implement some earth-friendly wedding ideas, even if everything isn’t as green as possible.