7 Tips for a Sustainable Wedding For Eco-Conscious Couples
Weddings are special days, but they can often be expensive in their extravagance, not to mention wasteful. Lots of the materials that go into staging a ceremony can wind up in the landfill, and this does not sit well with couples concerned with preserving the environment and conserving resources. Outside of eloping or heading to the courthouse, there are lots of options to split the difference, allowing you to have a modest-sized, meaningful ceremony (or adventure) that leaves a minimal carbon footprint.
Here are seven of our best tips to have a wedding that not only is the most beautiful and magical day, but that is also sustainable and environmentally (and financially) responsible:
Let’s be honest, bridesmaid dresses are historically ugly. Even though some of the styles have gotten better, these dresses are very rarely economical. There are a number of fair trade merchants that sell dresses that are not only stylish and elegant, but affordable and reusable after the ceremony. For those bridesmaids–or even brides–who don’t care to add any more pieces of clothing to their closets, there are vendors with samples or “worn once“ dresses available for rent.
Clothing is not the only item available in ecologically responsible options. Bridal accessories such as earrings and pendant necklaces can come from small market, Fair Trade artisans as well. Even wedding band crafters are using materials gleaned from recycled materials or harvesting methods that have a minimal impact on the environment. The best part is that the jewelry is just as affordable as pieces from a more “traditional” vendor, if not more so.
Behind the dress and the venue, the menu might well be the most fretted over list item in planning a wedding. It might be tempting to ship Gulf Shrimp up to Wisconsin or Maine Lobster to Phoenix, but you have to have the wallet to match. Check out what’s available in food and drink in your immediate area, perhaps within 50 to 100 miles of your location. There’s a good likelihood there are some craft breweries, wineries or restaurateurs in your area that can provide a sumptuous feast for your guests. Eating and drinking local will not only satisfy the palate, but be more readily available without using additional shipping resources–thus offsetting your carbon footprint.
Most of the popular flowers used in weddings are annuals that grow in different seasons. A good reason many people decide to wed during the spring and summer months may well involve the availability of these flowers at a lower price. Keeping this and whether your flowers of choice are native to your area in mind will allow you to have beautiful decor without an exorbitant price tag. Another option is using potted plants over cut flowers. You can still use cut flowers for the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres, but there is a large number of floral plants that one can use for table centerpieces or aisle flowers. They provide a pretty picture for the day and survive to beautify another space for much longer.
Additionally, a new trend is to use dried leaves for confetti instead of rice, bubbles, or something else that may be harmful to the environment or the creatures that inhabit it.
5: Rent Decorations
Renting chairs, linens and tables is not uncommon for weddings and receptions. But there’s no reason that sense of frugality can’t lend to the rest of the decorations. How many brides will reuse 300 yards of tulle? Or have space to store 75 mason jars? There are lots of wedding planners, boutiques and supply shops that rent party decorations that will suit any theme or style. You can get the look you want without having to find somewhere to put all that extra stuff when the wedding is over.
Formal weddings have this concept somewhat in check: reusable table linens, china, flatware and glasses tend to be staples in the reception set-up. But this may not be practical for more casual weddings. There are so many disposable serveware options that are visually appealing and give a nod toward sustainability: plates and napkins made from recycled materials or sustainably harvested bamboo, plastic cups that are vegetable based and biodegradable and disposable wooden flatware are among the many non-wasteful choices. You can also check your venue’s recycling policy–if they are committed to keeping landfill waste to a minimum, they may provide receptacles for all of the glass, plastic, aluminum or paper used at your event.
You might have only so much flexibility with your venue as far as catering choices, or may not necessarily be able to get all Fair Trade goods. There are a number of companies specializing in wedding items that have a socially conscious focus, including vendors such as Vaseful, a nationwide floral service that actively employs physically challenged people, and Emily’s Edibles, a pastry shop in New Jersey, donates a portion of their proceeds to epilepsy research. A little extra research may help you find companies of the same mindset in your local area.
Shopping with an eco-conscious mindset for your wedding may seem like a small effort in conservation. But even small changes are positive changes, and each small choice helps prolong the planet’s future, and being responsible global citizens is a smart and thoughtful way to begin your future. Hopefully these tips for a sustainable wedding will help you as you plan your big day!
This was a guest post by Carolyn from Northwood Rings. Northwood Rings provides handcrafted wooden rings from a variety of types of timber for people who want to have nature incorporated into their stories. They’ve since expanded to precious metals, and gemstones, to give even more options to the brides and grooms (and guests) who want something a little different.