In the guide below, we list some potential tips for a more sustainable wedding.
We cover different aspects of wedding planning and the wedding day itself, such as invitations, the venue, dresses and outfits, gifts, decorations, the honeymoon, & more.
1. Consider Whether You Want Or Need A Traditional Wedding
Non traditional weddings can involve a range of things, with one example being a courthouse marriage.
This means that although a couple goes through with the legal process to become married, there is no wedding planning that takes place, and no actual wedding day.
Some people may choose to do some other type of light celebration or social get together, or even double up a holiday getaway with friends and family with some sort of unofficial wedding celebration.
Obviously though, not having a traditional wedding event saves on a lot of things like wedding decorations, flowers, food and catering … all things that have a sustainability footprint.
For some people, not having a traditional wedding, and particularly skipping out on a wedding day, is something they don’t want to do.
That is understandable.
But, there’s also couples who are having non traditional weddings now for a range of reasons not even related to sustainability.
For example, some couples look at the cost of a wedding (usually tens of thousands of dollars), and would much rather save that money, or, put that money towards something else.
2. Consider A Wedding Planner With Knowledge About Sustainability
For those who definitely want to go ahead with a traditional wedding and wedding day, the first thing to consider is whether you want a wedding planner, and who you will use.
Although not common everywhere, some wedding planners do have some knowledge about eco friendly or sustainable weddings.
When looking for suitable wedding planners for your wedding, see if you can find one or some who have an eco friendly or sustainable branding to their services, and ask them exactly what makes their services sustainable.
3. Consider The Scale & Size Of The Wedding
The scale and size of the wedding can certainly impact the overall sustainability footprint of the wedding.
Consider things such as:
– Whether a ‘minimalist wedding’ or ‘micro wedding’ are appealing (you can research both online)
– The number of people invited to the wedding (impacts things such as food and catering)
– The size of the ceremony and reception venues
– The amount of decorations and accessories used on the wedding day
– The amount of food, drink and catering provided on the day
Obviously you want to make sure you invite everyone that you want to, and you don’t want to sacrifice on the venue and wedding catering.
However, the main point would be to consider whether the scale and size of any aspect of the wedding is excessive or not.
4. Consider How The Bachelor & Bachelorettes Parties Can Be More Sustainable
A few options to consider here are:
– Downscaling bachelor and bachelorette parties in size and scale, or simply making sure they aren’t excessive
– Having the parties local instead of travelling long distances for them
– Minimising waste at bachelor and bachelorette parties (in the form of plates, cutlery, cups, bottles and so on – if food and drinks are provided)
5. Consider Sustainable Wedding Invitations
Physical wedding invitations involve the invitation itself, an envelope, and also the postage or delivery of that invitation.
Once the wedding is over, the invitation and the envelope may be thrown in the bin as waste.
To improve the sustainability footprint of invitations, some people may consider ‘E-Invitations’ instead.
These invitations are sent electronically instead i.e. via email, or another means.
There may certainly not be as much waste with e-invitations compared to physical invitations.
If e-invitations aren’t appealing, there may be recyclable or biodegradable invitations and envelopes that can be used as well.
Make sure to communicate to recipients that this is the case so they don’t throw them out in general waste.
6. Consider The Sustainability Of The Venue
There may be two aspects to consider here:
– The Venue Itself
An outdoor venue, either for the ceremony or the reception, is considered by some to be more sustainable as there is no electricity/energy footprint
For outdoor venues though, be mindful of the weather – hot weather, cold weather, and wet weather are all things which can cause issues on the wedding day
So, indoor venues may sometimes be far more practical
Some indoor venues may also have a sustainability rating for those looking to book them to consider
– Travel To & From The Venue
Where the venue is located matters from a transport/travel perspective
Obviously, if the venue is local, the amount of travel the wedding participants and guests have to do is far less
Having to take a plane (compared to driving) to the venue might add to the sustainability footprint of the wedding too
7. Consider A Sustainable Bride Outfit, & Bridesmaids’ Outfits
Bride and bridesmaid outfits usually involve the bride’s wedding dress, and bridesmaid dresses.
Some brides may want to buy a wedding dress, and keep it as a memento.
Some brides also have their dress passed down through the family.
Both of these options might be considered reasonably sustainable.
But, some other potentially sustainable options might include:
Dresses and outfits can be cleaned and returned after use for others to rent.
– Buying Used & Pre-Worn Dresses
Some online stores offer a range of used and pre-worn wedding dresses to buy.
– DIY Dress
Not an option for everyone.
But, those that are skilled with dressmaking, or who are willing to pay a dressmaker, may supply or pay for sustainable materials, and have a dress made for themselves locally from these materials.
– Buy From A Sustainable Dress Brand
Some dress brands provide some sort of sustainability guarantee with the dresses they make and offer.
8. Consider A Sustainable Groom Outfit, & Groomsmen Outfits
Groom and groomsmen outfits usually involve suits.
The same options might be available for suits as there is for wedding dresses:
– Buy Used & Pre Owned
– Buy From A Sustainable Suit Maker
9. Consider Sustainable Wedding Rings & Bands
Some wedding rings and wedding bands are more sustainable than others.
This is something we’ve written about previously in a guide about sustainable and ethical diamonds.
For example, secondhand diamonds, recut and re-polished diamonds, reset diamonds, and also recycled diamonds might be more sustainable in various ways than some new diamonds.
It’s also possible that some newer diamond technology, such as some diamonds and jewellery pieces offered by some lab brown diamond brands/companies, may be more sustainable or ethical in some ways than some mined diamonds.
So, it may be worth doing the research on these alternatives for diamonds, but also generally on other types of jewellery and rings.
10. Communicate Specifically To Family, Friends & Wedding Guests About Gifts
To avoid receiving unsuitable gifts from family, friends and guests that may end up going unused (and therefore go to waste), the bride and groom may communicate clearly that they would much prefer cash gifts instead.
This allows the bride and groom to spend the money on things they will need and use.
11. Consider Sustainable Florists For Bouquets & Flowers
Some local florists may offer sustainable flowers and bouquets.
There may be certain sustainable practices they use, or, they may even have sustainable alternatives to natural flowers that they offer.
12. Consider Sustainable Decorations & Accessories
There’s a range of decorations and accessories that can be used for a wedding.
Potential sustainability tips might be:
– Look specifically for stores that offer sustainable decorations and accessories, such as sustainable confetti, or decorations and accessories made from sustainable materials (such as linens and other accessories)
– Try to minimize single use decorations and accessories – such as confetti, balloons, etc.
– Rent decorations and accessories where possible so that they can be returned re-used
– Look for venues that have built in decorations and accessories that get re-used
– Consider donating decorations that you bought, and don’t have another use for, instead of throwing them out
13. Minimise Or Eliminate The Use Of Single Use Plates, Cutlery, Cups, Etc. On The Wedding Day
At the reception, instead of using single use plastic plates, cutlery, cups and bottles in any capacity, you may make sure to use reusable and washable ones instead
14. Minimise Food Waste On The Wedding Day
This may involve speaking to the venue where the food will be served, or the caterer of the food
Not being excessive with the amount of food provided, and also asking if the option to take home uneaten food in storage containers is available might be a few things to consider
15. Consider Sustainable Wedding Take Home Gifts & Favors
A few things to consider with take home gifts might be:
– Get rid of single use plastic gift bags and single use items
– Try to make the gift something that has minimal waste, or something that is reusable and will last
16. Consider A Sustainable Honeymoon
A few options here might involve:
– Booking holiday retreats or destinations that have a sustainability or eco rating
– Going somewhere local or closer to home, instead of further away (that would involve plane trips)
– Delaying the honeymoon, and ‘doubling up’ whereby you can wait until another planned holiday/get away, and do something special together as a couple then.
This would be instead of having two separate trips for a honeymoon and then a holiday at a later date
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides