Saying 'I Do' to Sustainability: Tips for an Eco-Conscious Wedding

Saying 'I Do' to Sustainability: Tips for an Eco-Conscious Wedding

The day you’ve been waiting for is approaching, and planning for it while keeping the environment in mind can seem overwhelming. Your wedding day is one of the most memorable moments in your life— and of course you would want to be as kind as possible to our planet during your celebration. From food waste to carbon emissions and energy consumption, weddings can leave a hefty ecological footprint. According to the sustainability consultancy Edge Impact, the average American wedding emits 57,152 kilograms of CO2. To offset this, you would need to plant 2,722 trees.

In a study from 2022 conducted by the Sustainable Wedding Alliance, 98% of couples said that sustainability was a factor when planning their wedding, and 69% of couples said that they were more likely to book a wedding supplier if they had sustainable credentials. In this blog post, we'll explore practical tips and eco-friendly ideas to help you plan a wedding with the environment in mind. 

Setting the Stage: Choosing a Green Venue

One of the first decisions you'll make when planning your wedding is selecting the venue, and there are several choices here that can significantly reduce your environmental impact. The easiest way is to look out for green certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This is the world's most widely used green building rating system, an accreditation awarded by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) to buildings that reach or exceed certain environmental requirements such as avoiding excessive water usage and being energy efficient. 

Other options to consider are outdoor venues, such as parks, gardens, vineyards and lake houses. Not only do they provide a beautiful and scenic backdrop, but they often have lower environmental footprints. By using natural light and ventilation, you can save a lot of energy. 

Staying Local

For the planet’s sake, think a little extra about the location. Air travel is a significant environmental factor in weddings, casting a sizable footprint. With guests flying in from various locations, emissions surge. According to data from The Center of Biological Diversity’s carbon footprint calculator, 200 wedding guests making trans-Atlantic roundtrips produces more than 541 tons of CO2. Opting for a local wedding and minimizing the need for air travel among most guests is a better choice that will make a huge impact.

Keep the Guest List Small

A smaller guest list is favorable for many reasons. Firstly, fewer guests means less consumption overall. Fewer people mean fewer invitations to send, fewer meals to prepare, and fewer favors or gifts to distribute. This directly translates to less waste generated throughout the entire wedding. Moreover, an intimate guest list allows for more thoughtful and sustainable choices when it comes to venue selection, transportation, and accommodations.

Eco-Friendly Invitations

Traditional printed paper invitations contribute to deforestation, waste and water consumption. The Illinois Library reports that it takes more than 1 ½ cups of water to produce one sheet of paper. Consider going paperless by sending digital wedding invites. Digital invitations save paper and reduce energy consumption associated with printing and shipping. Plus, they offer more options in design and allow you to personalize your invitations - the sky is the limit here. With the convenience of email or online platforms, you can easily track RSVPs and communicate important details with your guests (as well as save on postage costs!). QR codes are also a great way for guests to easily navigate wedding details in real time. 

If you really want to send out physical copies to your guests, opt for recycled paper alternatives. Many companies offer eco-friendly stationery options, such as seed paper that guests can plant after use. When the invite is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds grow and the paper composts away. Stay away from foils and laminates as they make your invitations non-recyclable.

Sustainable Florals and Decor Alternatives

When it comes to all sorts of decor, think green and, most importantly, think outside the box. Natural elements such as potted plants, locally sourced flowers, and materials like wood, bamboo, or recycled glass are great to incorporate. 

When it comes to florals and foliage, sourcing locally is important to keep top of mind. Big centerpieces and blooming decors are beautiful, but can take a big toll on the environment.

Don't fall into the trap of assuming that just because flowers are a natural resource, they don’t contribute to waste. Flowers are often imported from areas with optimal growing conditions or cultivated out of season, requiring substantial energy inputs. The Knot reports that 80% of flowers purchased in the US currently come from overseas. This process contributes significantly to the carbon footprint of weddings, underscoring the environmental impact even seemingly natural elements can have. To avoid this, work with a florist to use seasonal flowers and foliage. Additionally, consider loosening the grip on a specific flower type and color. Granting your florist the freedom to work with blooms naturally in season opens up opportunities for more sustainable choices, reducing the need for forced growth or long-distance transportation. Consider giving them a color palette or moodboard to work with, rather than being set on a specific shade. 

Conscious Catering

Food and dessert choices can have a significant impact on your wedding's carbon footprint. A study from Sainsbury's has revealed that a tenth of all wedding food is thrown away. This waste comprises unfinished meals, edible wedding favors, and wedding cake. Make sure that you receive all RSVP’s in a timely fashion, and plan your food carefully around that to minimize waste. Not only is throwing away food a waste of resources, but also a waste of money.

Choose a catering service that works with locally sourced, seasonal organic ingredients and, above all, thinks about minimizing food waste. Do you really need a 5 layer wedding cake? Or a buffet? Remember that individually plated dishes served to each guest individually tend to generate less waste than a buffet. Using seasonal ingredients in your wedding menu allows you to showcase the best of each season while supporting local farmers and producers.  From fresh summer berries and greens such as arugula and asparagus, to hearty winter root vegetables, seasonal dishes reduce the need for out-of-season imports. Consider offering a vegetarian menu to reduce the environmental impact associated with meat production. If you are set on offering meat, remember that poultry like turkey and chicken are more environmentally friendly choices than beef. They require less land, less feed, and less water.

Beverages and Drinks

Let’s talk about beverages. Opting for organic wines, beers, and spirits is a great way to promote environmentally friendly drinks. Organic beverages are produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, which helps to protect the earth’s soil.

Remember to try to minimize waste at your wedding bar as well. Avoid single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and cups. Opt for alternatives such as paper straws, bamboo stirrers, and compostable cups made from plant-based materials. Remember seasonality- for example, think watermelon spritzer for a summer wedding and a spiced apple cider for a winter celebration. 

Waste Reduction: Minimizing Disposables

Stay as far away as possible from single-use items and disposables. Source items like tableware and decorations that are reusable. If disposable items are really necessary, make sure that you choose biodegradable alternatives. Provide clearly labeled recycling and compost bins to encourage guests to dispose of waste responsibly. Opting to rent the majority or parts of wedding décor, such as balloons and cake stands, offers a dual benefit of zero waste and better price point.

Ethical Attire

Opting for a sustainable wedding outfit is a pivotal step in reducing your environmental impact on your special day. Choosing a wedding suit that is thoughtfully crafted and designed to last not only contributes to a more sustainable wardrobe but also reflects a commitment to conscious consumption. Brands like State of Matter prioritize eco-friendly materials as well as ethical production practices. Our suits are timeless and can be worn for years to come, not only on your wedding day. Our Cooling Performance Suit is an excellent choice for a summer wedding due to its cooling technology. 



Sustainable Lighting

Illuminate your wedding venue with energy-efficient lighting options such as LED bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer. Solar lights are another great option. They are one of the most environmentally-friendly sustainable outdoor lighting solutions, working by using solar cells which convert sunlight into energy. They are a renewable energy source which is a great environmentally friendly option. 

Traditional paraffin candles release harmful chemicals into the air when burned. Good options to think about instead are candles or lanterns made from soy or beeswax. To minimize energy consumption and create a romantic ambience, consider magical fairy lights or string lights powered by solar energy. 

Planet-Friendly Favors

Wedding favors are a nice way to express gratitude to your guests for participating in your special day. Make sure to think sustainably here too - potted plants and succulents, wildflower seed bombs, sugar scrubs, and personalized wood or bamboo coasters are just a few ideas. 

Digital Guestbook

Think about your paper consumption here too. Why not go fully digital for the guest book? Ditching the traditional hard-copy in favor of a digital alternative is a modern way to capture endless memories from your wedding day. Guests can leave messages and well-wishes online, and also include personalized photos. A digital guestbook can never be lost or damaged - it’s a win-win for both you and the planet. 

Carbon Offsetting

Last but not least, think about carbon offsetting. This might not be at the top of your list when it comes to planning a wedding, but it’s important to remember. Many organizations offer carbon offset programs that allow you to neutralize the environmental impact of your wedding activities.

It is entirely possible to create a memorable celebration while keeping the environment in mind. Remember to keep it fun, and make conscious choices. The planet will thank you for it.