No one wants a trashy wedding. Unfortunately, the average U.S. wedding isn’t very eco- friendly, producing 500 pounds of waste. That’s about a third of the trash most Americans produce in a year. Luckily, a green wedding can be just as elegant without the waste.

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Planning an environmentally-friendly wedding won’t take any more effort than a typical wedding if you focus on incorporating eco-wedding ideas in a few key areas.

Rent Your Dresses

You’re already halfway to achieving your green wedding dreams since you’re likely already planning to rent any tuxedos you’ll need for the day. Why not do the same for dresses? There are now many online retailers that rent out wedding attendant dresses. Not only is this a much more eco-friendly option, your attendants will appreciate the savings.

An orange rented bridesmaid's dress.

Image: JuneBugWeddings.com; CC By-NC-ND 2.0

Nowadays, it’s even possible to rent a wedding gown. But if you want a dress you can hold onto, you can still make it an eco-wedding dress:

“Modern brides can embrace eco-chic in several creative ways, from accessorizing with estate jewelry or conflict-free diamonds, to “recycling” their gently used wedding dress by donating it to charitable organizations like The Princess Project or Brides for A Cause.”

Jolene Harrington | Here Comes the Guide

An eco-friendly rented wedding dress.

Image: Marcus; CC By-NC-ND 2.0

Go (Almost) Paperless With Announcements

You can go green with your announcements and invitations in two very simple ways. First, consider sending your save-the-dates electronically. Today there are countless elegant—and inexpensive—options available.

You can always order paper versions for relatives who don’t use email, and if you’re worried about your messages being overlooked or consigned to spam folders, many e-vite services track who has opened them, so you can follow up if needed.

Second, for your formal invitations, nix the inner envelope and use a postcard for RSVPs. This will save paper, save ink and save you money.

RSVP post cards for a green wedding.

Image: Sarah Parrot; CC By-NC-ND 2.0

Use Minimal Décor and Sustainable Favors

When it comes to décor, the simplest way to plan an environmentally-friendly wedding is to choose a venue that won’t require much decorating—whether that’s a beautiful outdoor location or an architecturally-stunning indoor venue.

The most wasteful aspect of most weddings’ décor is the flowers. For a more eco-friendly option, consider equipping your wedding party with something different, like candles for an evening wedding or objects with significance to you and your partner. Don’t forget that your party doesn’t have to carry anything.

If you’re set on flowers, choose from among those that will be in-season in your area at the time of the wedding. If at all possible, choose a local vendor—bonus points if that local vendor grows their flowers organically.

Use in-season flowers for an eco-friendly wedding.

Image: Tony Wang; CC By-NC-ND 2.0

Finally, let’s talk about favors: they’re no longer mandatory. We’re all trying to declutter these days. Trust us, most of your guests don’t want to find a home for a favor, no matter how lovingly picked out.

If you’re determined to give guests something, a beautiful idea for a green wedding is to use small potted plants to double as both your centerpieces and your favors. Invite interested guests to take them home at the end of the night and donate any leftovers to hospitals or nursing homes to brighten someone’s day.

Going green with potted plant wedding favors.

Image: smcgee; CC By-NC 2.0

When it comes to your gift registry:

“Green wedding couples sometimes shy away from the consumerism inherent in traditional bridal registries. So opt for socially conscious online shopping sites, such as VivaTerra.com or SevenHopesUnitied.com that offer a wide array of eco-friendly gift options…or in lieu of gifts, ask your guests to make a donation to your favorite charity at GlobalGiving.com.”

Jolene Harrington | Here Comes the Guide

Minimize Food Waste

Your work in planning a green wedding isn’t done until you’ve come up with a plan for combating food waste. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to calculate exactly how much food and drink to order to ensure that none is wasted. So, your goal should instead be to ensure that leftovers don’t end up in a landfill. The simplest way to do this is to donate leftovers to a local homeless shelter or food bank.

Steps for fighting wedding food waste:

“Talk in advance to a local food bank about their requirements, and then ask your caterer if they can box up leftovers. Enlist volunteers among your family or bridal party to do a drop-off for you.  Same with floral arrangements—their delivery to a nursing home or hospital can brighten up a stranger’s day!”

Jolene Harrington | Here Comes the Guide

Eco-friendly tableware at a wedding reception.

Image: Lindley Ashline; CC By-NC-ND 2.0

By making green wedding planning choices in just a few important areas, you’ll be able to enjoy a wedding day that celebrates the beginning of your new life and honors your environmentally-friendly values.

Have your own eco-wedding ideas? Share them in the comments.


Header Image: Bethdotme; CC By-NC-ND 2.0