Reduce wedding waste with these eco-friendly wedding ideas
While weddings have occasionally been accused of being wasteful in many ways, they absolutely don’t have to be. There many different eco-friendly wedding choices you can make to reduce wedding waste or lessen the carbon footprint of your event.
Now obviously there’s no way you could do every single one of these things– there are many overlapping ideas here. Some of these ideas may feel obvious, and several may feel small in their impact.
But when you combine many small decisions over time, they add up to bigger results. Being conscious in your wedding choices all along the way creates a ripple effect. No choice is too small, and every bit counts when we’re trying to do our part for the earth.
Weddings don’t have to be wasteful.
The average wedding in the U.S. produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2 (according to Green Bride Guide). Below, we’ve outlined dozens of eco-friendly wedding ideas to help you make earth-conscious choices with your wedding plans. Ultimately you should keep these three things in mind when planning your wedding:
- What is the effect of this choice on the environment?
- How much waste will be produced by this choice?
- Can I reuse, recycle, repurpose, or resell this item after the wedding day?
- Is there a more eco-friendly alternative for this purchase/service?
If you keep these thoughts in mind while planning, you’ll help guide yourself towards more environmentally-friendly choices.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING PLANNING IDEAS
These ideas for planning an eco-friendly wedding will help reduce the amount of wedding waste you generate along the way!
1. Hit the library
Instead of buying every wedding planning guide on the bookshelves, visit your local library and see if they have any wedding planning books available to borrow.
2. Download books on Kindle instead of buying the printed version
3. Don’t print out unnecessary documents
4. Choose an eco-friendly venue
Select a venue who puts an emphasis on environmentally friendly practices such as recycling, composting, or donating leftovers from their events. Better yet, opt for a location that can host both ceremony and reception to reduce the emissions from cars on the road.
5. Offer a shuttle service
If your ceremony and reception are in two different places or there’s a decent commute involved for most of your guests, consider arranging a shuttle service to cut down on the number of vehicles making the trip to attend your wedding celebration.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING DECOR IDEAS
Get sustainable wedding decor ideas for your eco-friendly wedding! Make your day look beautiful while also being kind to the earth!
6. Incorporate natural elements in your wedding details
Borrow some decorative details from nature and incorporate them into your wedding style. For example, use real leaves as place cards for your guests to find their seat at the reception.
7. Choose reusable signage options instead of printed signs
Rather than printing hundreds of paper menus, wedding programs, or signage pieces for your ceremony and reception, consider multi-purpose sign options that can be used again after the wedding. Think chalkboards or acrylic or glass pieces that can be customized with markers or paint.
8. Make upcycled wedding decorations
Save money and the planet by upcycling items from around your home (or your recycling bin) to reuse and repurpose as decorations for your wedding. There are so many creative and affordable ways to reuse glass jars, tin cans, wine bottles and more to create absolutely stunning centerpieces. Why spend more if you don’t have to? Plus, you’ll be reusing something, meaning you’re creating less wedding waste.
9. Buy used wedding decor
Instead of purchasing a bunch of new stuff to decorate your wedding reception, consider buying used wedding decorations from a former bride! We love checking out local buy/sell groups on Facebook or exploring the listings on Facebook Marketplace. It’s like bringing the yardsale right to you via the convenient Facebook app you’ve already got on your smartphone.
10. Choose reusable items over disposables
As a bride on a budget, we know if can be tempting to go with the cheapest option in some cases– especially those things we don’t deem important like plates or tableware. Instead of choosing cheap plastic (but nice looking) plates that are disposable, consider buying real dishware secondhand from a thrift store! Over time you can totally find enough plates for .25 ea to set every place setting for your reception. Plus, you can always resell them after the wedding to recoup some of your cost!
11. Select organic materials for your decor
Instead of choosing disposable paper napkins, consider buying cloth napkins or making your own. Opt for linen, bamboo, or organic cotton for the most eco-friendly fabrics. Consider tying in natural wood elements or log slices for a rustic or boho theme, or use twigs in your centerpieces.
12. Resell wedding decorations after the big day
One way to do good with your big day is to resell or donate wedding items after your event. Instead of trashing items or throwing them away, give someone else the opportunity to reuse them for their own event!
13. Repurpose wedding items in your home
One way to ensure your wedding purchases don’t go to waste is by buying items that can be reused in your home as decor after the big day. Think signage, your card box, monograms, etc– all make great additions to your home decor and serve as a special reminder of your wedding day.
14. Celebrate by candlelight
Instead of lighting your entire event with electricity, utilize candles where possible to cut back on energy utilization. You’ll absolutely love the romantic glow created by the candlelight– it’s perfect for a wedding! Where necessary, use LED light bulbs for your wedding lighting, as they use only 25% of the energy as a regular bulb.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING FLOWERS
Keep these sustainable wedding ideas in mind when deciding on your wedding flowers to keep your day as environmentally friendly as possible.
16. Choose sustainable flower suppliers
Whether you plan to DIY your wedding flowers or hire a pro, be conscious with your choice of flower suppliers. Check out online wholesalers who source farm-to-table flowers such as FiftyFlowers, Blooms by the Box or the Bouqs.
17. Donate your leftover flowers to a charitable cause
If you adore the idea of fresh blooms for your day, consider working with Repeat Roses! This innovative and eco-friendly biz transforms your wedding arrangements into bouquets that can brighten hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters after your event is over. They even compost them after the fact to keep waste out of landfills.
18. Share your wedding flowers with another bride
Instead of having single-use wedding flowers, consider sharing your bouquets and arrangements with another bride getting married the same weekend. Check out Bloomerent, a unique business that matches brides together to share the cost and stretch the life of their wedding flower arrangements.
19. Use live plants vs cut flowers
Instead of using cut fresh flowers for your wedding centerpieces and decor, opt for live plants in pots and vessels. Instead of having a single-use floral arrangement, you can use the potted plants around your home or donate them to a worthy cause after the big day.
20. Rent your wedding flowers
Don’t like the idea of spending a ton of money on flowers that will ultimately wilt and end up in the trash? Then you’ll love Something Borrowed Blooms! SBB offers gorgeous bouquets, centerpieces, and other decorative items to rent, and they ship everything right to you! Rent wedding flowers from their collection of high-quality silk floral arrangements for less than the price of fresh flowers arranged by a pro! It couldn’t be easier or less wasteful.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING INVITATION IDEAS
If you want to be earth-conscious with your wedding invites, check out these sustainable wedding ideas!
21. Send digital invitations or save-the-dates
22. Print your designs on earth-friendly paper
If you do opt for printed wedding invitations, print them on plantable seed paper. This paper is made with seeds inside it so it will grow a new plant when it ultimately gets disposed of. You could also work with stationery businesses that are gentler on the environment. For instance, Smock Paper prints exclusively on bamboo and recycled paper using wind energy to power their operation.
23. Cut down the number of printed items
You don’t have to go the entirely digital route, but even reducing the number of printed items you mail or give out at your wedding will help make an impact! For instance, skip the mailed RSVP card and envelope and have your guests RSVP online.
24. Have a well-informed wedding website
Put as much of the necessary information as possible on your wedding website and it will eliminate the need for extra information cards in your mailed invitation.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING DRESSES
These earth-conscious alternatives to buying a brand new designer gown are real wedding waste savers. Check them out!
25. Buy a pre-owned wedding dress
One of the easiest ways to go green with your gown is to buy a used wedding dress. Get the gown of your dreams at a more affordable price and cut down on wedding waste in one go!
26. Shop earth-conscious designers
27. Choose fabrics with low carbon emissions
Shop with retailers who have sustainable business and production practices such as Reformation, who do their best to minimize waste and use green technologies.
28. Rent your wedding dress
If you don’t like the idea of buying something you’ll only wear once, maybe renting your wedding dress is an option you’d consider. We’ve seen some absolutely wedding-worthy dresses for rent on Rent the Runway!
29. Shop local, avoid crazy international shipping fees and waste
Instead of ordering a wedding dress from overseas, consider shopping local and cutting down on the excess wedding waste. Shopping in person vs online can be another great way to save on wasteful packaging and emissions from transportation.
30. Re-sell your wedding dress after the wedding day
After the wedding has come and gone, perhaps you’d like to sell your wedding dress to another bride to use? Give another bride the gift of a gorgeous wedding gown for less, and create less wedding waste in the process!
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING CATERING IDEAS
Check out these wedding waste saving ideas for your reception meal, catering supplies and related vendors.
31. Choose caterers who source from local farms
When considering caterers for your wedding event, check out caterers who source their ingredients from local farms. Not only will you be helping to support local businesses and farmers, you’ll also bypass excess emissions from transporting items from farther away.
32. Rent or buy dishware vs using disposables
Instead of using disposable dishware for your wedding reception meal, rent or buy used dishes and utensils. If renting is too pricey, buy cheap plates at thrift stores or check your local buy/sell groups on Facebook for deals on used dishes.
33. If you opt for disposables, choose biodegradable options
There are a plethora of biodegradable disposable tableware options now. If you must use disposables for simplicity and convenience sake, look for bamboo tableware, compostable plates, or biodegradable wooden cutlery. We love these chic wooden cutlery sets from ConfettiMamaParty on Etsy!
34. Ditch the single-use straws
Instead of plastic straws, consider biodegradable options to keep your guests hydrated while also being earth-friendly. Check out different eco-friendly straw types such as bamboo straws, Wheat Straws, Paper Straws, or even re-usable straws for your guests to double as favors such as Silicon Straws, reusable plastic straws, or metal straws.
35. Serve a vegan wedding meal
Reduce wedding waste by serving a meal free of animal products. Cutting out meat is better for the environment and will also lessen the carbon footprint of your wedding. There are tons of incredibly flavorful meals that you can serve that are meat-free and delicious.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING FAVOR IDEAS
Check out these sustainable wedding ideas for your wedding favors or guest gifts to reduce wedding waste.
36. Birdseed wedding favors
Planning to give your guests a token of appreciation for attending your big day? Go green by using no-waste wedding favors like birdseed hearts ornaments! An eco-friendly wedding favor your guests can use that does no harm to the earth.
37. Seed packet wedding favors
Give your guests the gift of new growth in the form of customized seed packets. Customize with seeds for flowers or garden plants as a way to encourage your guests to start something new in celebration of your big day.
38. Seed bomb wedding favors
Encourage your guests to put new plants in the earth with these seed bomb wedding favors from Etsy Seller FreeMountainDesigns. These wildflower Seed Bombs are plantable biodegradable hearts that are packed with a curated variety of both annual and perennial wildflower seeds.
39. Choose eco-friendly confetti for your send-off
Want to get one of those magical “wedding exit” photos? Instead of wasteful paper confetti or sparklers that can cause some minor air pollution, go with a more eco-friendly send off material. Choose from flower petals, seed paper confetti, or birdseed for your guests to toss during your grand wedding exit.
40. Choose recyclable or zero-waste packaging
If you’re planning to give an edible wedding favor, use packaging that can be re-purposed or recycled after your guests enjoy what’s inside! For instance, glass jars for local honey or biodegradable paper sacks for wedding cookies.
41. Potted plant wedding favors
Give your guests something green as their guest gift! Mini succulents are a popular choice for wedding favors and are easy for your guests to maintain after the big day. For bonus points make sure their potting materials are eco-friendly, too– like these pulp containers from LeBoxBoutique on Etsy.
42. Make a charitable donation instead
Rather than giving your guests a decorative tchotchke or edible treat that they leave behind, consider making a charitable donation to an earth-friendly charity.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY WEDDING RINGS
Finding a sustainable wedding ring is a great way to lessen your carbon footprint with a pretty major purchase!
43. Choose a conflict-free diamond
If you’ve never heard the term blood diamond, it essentially means stones from war-torn areas in certain parts of Africa. Conflict-free diamonds are stones that are ethically mined and sold, with no connection to criminal activity or terror groups. Shop with retailers who offer only conflict-free stones to ensure your purchase isn’t supporting illegal activity or abuse in the world.
44. Buy an antique ring
A great way to be conscious with your engagement ring or wedding band choice is by purchasing an antique. If you have a family ring or even just a stone you could use, consider upcycling it into a new wedding band or engagement ring.
45. Shop with ethical suppliers
Find a jewelry designer who uses recycled or fair-trade metals or vintage and ethical stones to reduce the impact of buying new. We’re big fans of AUrate, a company that practices social responsibility, gives back to charity with their profits, traces the origin of all of their diamonds and even uses recycled gold.
46. Consider a lab-grown diamond
Synthetic diamonds or lab-grown diamonds are a fabulous alternative because you don’t have to wonder where they came from. Better yet, lab-grown stones have just as much sparkle as the real thing, and they’re often less expensive. What’s not to love about lab-grown? A current favorite option for rings featuring synthetic diamonds is Clean Origin.
🌍 ECO-FRIENDLY GIFT IDEAS
Another way to be more conscious with your commerce is to choose eco-friendly gifts for everyone in your life! Whether you’re looking for a wedding anniversary gift or a gift for your bridesmaids, try selecting something that has a low environmental impact, or even something that helps the recipient be more eco-friendly in their own life.
For the groom
Buy your guy a razor that creates less waste by reducing the need for wasteful plastic cartridges.
Learn more at Leaf Shave.
For the bride
Choose a piece of jewelry made from recycled materials, like this dainty sterling silver bangle set.
Buy it on Etsy.
For the bridesmaids
Reusable water bottles make a great gift, and discourage wasteful plastic bottled water.
Buy them on Etsy.
For the groomsmen
Give your groomsmen the gift of style with these wooden sunglasses
Buy them on Etsy.
Re-usable produce bags will help everyone cut back on waste from single use bags.
Buy them on Amazon.
Shop more eco-friendly gift ideas in our gift guides.
Reduce wedding waste with these eco-friendly wedding ideas!
We hope these sustainable wedding ideas help you reduce your wedding waste and have the eco-friendly wedding of your dreams!
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.