How To Plan A Sustainable Wedding

Preparing for your wedding can take seemingly endless months and often years of planning and behind the scenes work. In the end, you know exactly how much of your blood, sweat and tears you have poured into your “I do’s” – but do you realize the great footprint it will leave behind? According to Green Bride Guide, the average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2 and with over 150,000 marriages in Canada each year, the accumulations are staggering.

We all find moments of bliss celebrating love so here are a few ideas to help show the planet some love at the same time. As an added bonus, a lot of them are good for your wallet, too! 

Keep Your Friends Close 

The easiest way to reduce your footprint is by inviting less people and reducing travel requirements. 2020/21 couples may have been forced into this one, but a lot of people ended up appreciating the intimacy and personalization of a small event. Less cars on the road, less food being plated (and wasted) and often, less staff required. Use the same venue for your ceremony and reception, if you can, to minimize travelling between locations. If travel is a must, then offer shuttle bus for guests or arrange for carpooling. 

Forever and Ever, Amen

The goal is for a marriage that lasts forever, not for the one-time-use plastics you provided to last forever in a landfill. When planning your reception dinner, avoid disposable plates and cutlery or opt for a biodegradable option. Consider thrifting for mirrors or frames to make one sign rather than printing out individual ceremony programs. If you can’t do without some paper, use paper made from recycled materials and ensure it can be recycled again. Even better, provide stationery on seed paper that guests can take home and plant. 

All of your guests are truly overjoyed to celebrate your wedding day, but not everyone wants to take home a trinket engraved with your wedding date. Rather than giving something just for the sake of giving something, consider a sapling or a seed packet or maybe something edible for late in the night because everyone is happy to go home with a full belly. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A lot of people re-sell their décor after the wedding, so check out what is available on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace before making a purchase. If you do plan to make or purchase your own décor items, think about how they will be used after the wedding – can you repurpose them in your home, gift them to friends and family, or donate/sell them to be used for another wedding? Try to avoid any one-time-use items. 

The biggest single use item of your wedding day is likely to be the wedding gown. Unfortunately, there aren’t many opportunities to wear a white gown again (although we should totally throw parties where the dress code is your own wedding attire, am I right). There are many sources for purchasing preloved gowns and there are also a lot of stunners available for rent. If you are interested in an eco-conscious fashion statement, go for a bold option with colour, volume and a return date. 

Talk to your team about how you can reuse décor throughout the day. Once your ceremony is complete, florals from the arch could be moved to your head table, bouquets can be put in vases and aisle markers can be moved to sit on cocktail tables. After the wedding, you can send florals home with friends and family or donate them to a retirement home or community center where your community can also enjoy them! Find a local florist and try to maximize native, seasonal flowers when possible. 

Look for a venue or outdoor space that doesn’t need a lot of additional décor in the first place. A building with a unique look or lots of character doesn’t need much to enhance the space. Often, an outdoor space doesn’t need much, either, and it also won’t use air conditioning or heat. Light up the night with solar lights, candles and/or LED lights. 

It Takes a Village

Your vendors are a huge resource and contribute a lot for your wedding, so make sure you are on the same page. Ask them how they promote sustainability with their service and ask for ideas or feedback to help achieve your eco-friendly goals. Find a caterer that can provide in-season foods from local farmers and bring in alcohol from local wineries and breweries. Pay it forward and donate any leftover meals and flowers to friends and family or community. 

Let’s Get Materialistic

There are lots of little ways to reduce the footprint of your wedding, but another great option is to drill down to using sustainable and natural products. Consider a conflict-free, lab grown gem for your wedding ring. Another option would be a family heirloom or vintage ring, or melting down family jewelry to create something new that is still recycled and repurposed.

Anyone can get a little wild with a scanning gun banking items for a registry but consider what you actually need, and consider the materials – can you opt for a glass version instead of plastic? Or add some reusable cloths and beeswax wraps to reduce your use of paper towels and plastic wraps. Even asking for gifts to be unwrapped will save stacks of wrapping and tissue paper. 

If you don’t need more stuff and can forego the classic Kitchenaid stand mixer then consider asking for a donation instead. 

These are just a few ideas but the opportunities are endless and maybe Mother Nature will return the favour with sunshine all day on your wedding. 

What are some other ideas for a sustainable wedding? Comment below if you are a wedding vendor that promotes sustainable practices!

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