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With the cost of an average American wedding going over $25,000, it’s easy to assume that it’s producing a good amount of trash. Food, decorations, favors, dinnerware—things start to accumulate very quickly. Although your wedding should be special, it doesn’t need to be wasteful. I’ve dug through Pinterest to find the best tips and tutorials to make sure you can have the happiest (and greenest) day possible!
From treasured family heirlooms to cutting-edge designs, there’s a ton of variation and personal preference when it comes to wedding gowns. If you’re able, try reusing the dress of a family member, or updating a vintage piece. You can have it customized and altered to fit your shape, while reusing materials in a modern way. Turn outdated puffy sleeves or excess fabric into something perfect. It’s sustainable, totally customizable, and one of a kind!
If you’re searching for something new, look for a designer who focuses on sustainable design, and works with all-natural or organic materials. Vegetable dyes, repurposed materials, and use of organic fabrics are all hallmarks of an environmentally-responsible designer. Doing a little research into your designer’s background can easily uncover if they’re eco-chic, or unnecessarily wasteful.
Let’s start with what many would consider to be the best part of any wedding: the cake. Ensuring that your cake is made from fair-trade and organic ingredients is a great way to make it eco-friendly. Find a bakery that specializes in either of these things, and you’re on your way to a green treat for everyone. When decorating your sweets, ditch the sugary accents and try edible flowers. They’re a beautiful way to work in some natural charm (without the waste of artificial toppers).
Food that’s locally sourced and sustainable will have the lowest possible carbon footprint, since it’s not traveling far to get to you and your guests. Take advantage of ingredients at their peak freshness, while celebrating your local flavors. You can choose to work with a chef or catering company that practices this, or just cook up your own menu! This way, you have 100% control over what ingredients are used, and can customize them to your tastes. Once you break down the steps (and recruit some helping hands), planning a menu that satisfies all of your guests is totally doable.
It doesn’t get much more eco-friendly than electronic invites! Sites like Paperless Post can help you design your own invitations/save-the-dates, which saves on paper and the cost of hiring someone. Get the word out quickly (and skip the fear of disliking your final printed product).
On the other hand, technology can have its downfalls, and no one wants to find out on the day of the wedding that not all of the intended guests got an email. If you’re insistent on physical invites, you can still design your own and print them on recycled paper. Or even better: tree-less paper, made of shredded silk, grass and petals. When it’s time to press print, swap in some soy-based ink to cut down on byproducts released into the atmosphere. All great ways to get the word out!
You don’t need to start from square one when sourcing wedding decor; a lot of household items can be upcycled! From cake stands made of saucers and vases, to an eclectic mix of plates and glassware to serve, many of your wedding necessities can be found secondhand. It makes the setup seem more personal and thought-out, instead of the standards you’d find in a rental hall.
Even though it seems like flowers are just naturally eco-friendly on their own, they can leave a significant carbon footprint if they have to be shipped to you. Celebrate your surroundings by working with a florist who sources locally, assembling your own bouquets, or even DIY-ing some artificial blooms with common household items. You’ll save money, and can continue to display the flowers around your home long after the ceremony.
One of my favorite ideas to stumble on was the 7 Hopes United Fair Trade wedding gift registry. They’ve curated beautiful and functional gifts that are all certified fair-trade and eco-friendly, guaranteeing that you’ll get something that’s globally-conscious. While browsing through the registry, your guests might stumble on some cool new products for themselves!
After receiving gifts from your friends and family, send them home with a favor that should be useful and appreciated. Homemade/locally-produced treats or tiny plants are great ideas for favors with a small environmental impact. These little seedlings provide exactly what the world needs: more trees, and less of those rock-hard candy almonds.
We hope you’ve found some solid inspiration to plan a more environmentally-thoughtful wedding. If you have any other tips or eco-friendly ideas for your big day, let us know in the comments!