Weddings can leave a huge footprint - both in your wallet and on the planet. You don't have to go full tree-hugger to have an eco-conscious wedding, just a few small changes can make a big difference, and might even be a little fun.
1. Venue: Many people think, "Eco-friendly, I'll have my wedding outside!" Well, yes, using the outdoors does allow you to use what is around you, but outdoors you will most likely have to bring a lot in; find alternate methods to keep food hot, add lighting where there isn't already lighting, gas-powered generators,and more. You can have an eco-friendly wedding indoors as easily as outdoors. One thing you can do with your venues is to either hold the ceremony and reception in the same place, or two locations very close to one another to reduce the need for transportation between the two places. If you do need to travel someplace farther than walking, consider alternate transportation like a pedicab or horse-drawn carriage for a dramatic entrance or exit.
2. The Dress: Tempting as the new gowns in the magazine are, you can help the environment by using your mother or grandmother's dress. Too old a style? Take it to a seamstress to see if it can be restyled to suit your tastes and style. You might save a bit of money form buying a new dress and having it altered and fitted multiple times, plus you get the added bonus of creating or carrying on a family tradition.
3. Invitations and Stationary: Use stationary printed on recycled paper or other sustainable materials. A new trend is to have wedding invitations, announcements, or programs printed on something called 'Seed Paper'. This is paper that is made infused with flower or some other plant seeds, then printed as usual. When the important information is delivered, the paper can then be planed and the flowers enjoyed by you, your guests, and even the honeybees!
4. Flowers: Ask your florist if they can use locally-sourced flower farms and select flowers that are both native to the area and in season for your wedding. Not looking for a BoHo/wildflower look? You can still use local flowers to achieve any look you want - just talk to your florist about what can be created with what is found around locally. You might be surprised what is possible. Or you can forgo flowers altogether. Your florist can create bouquets and centerpieces without flowers using materials such as ribbons, gemstones, or vintage brooches. still incredibly beautiful, plus they will last a lot longer.
5. Food: Hire a caterer that uses locally-sourced foods and ingredients in their preparations. Ingredients that come from less far away means the food is fresher, it supports other local businesses, and the carbon footprint of transporting food over distances in refrigerated trucks is greatly reduced. You can also look for caterers that are "No Waste", meaning they have methods of disposing the leftovers in a non-wasteful fashion, plus can take eco-friendly down as far as compostable silverware, plates, and napkins so there is nothing left behind.
6. Music: Hire live musicians and singers that are trained to project for your ceremony or cocktail hour to reduce the need to electricity consumption. This is especially handy of your ceremony is in a remote location like in the middle of a field or by a body of water. Concerned that "Shout" won't sound great on a cello for the reception? Don't think that by using a DJ or band that uses amplifiers for another part of your wedding makes you eco-evil - it's all about balance and some conservation is better than none.
7. Favors: Don't go overboard with too many various favors floating around - stick to one gift. Make the favors something useable and useful that can benefit your guests after the wedding is over. Picture frames, coffee mugs, blankets, etc can all be reused and less likely to end up in a drawer collecting dust or in the trash when they leave. Another route is to have favors that enrich the environment such as seeds or seedlings that can be planted and enjoyed for future seasons. Or you can go totally non-waste and forgo favors altogether and take the money you have budgeted for favors and make a donation to a charity or non-profit organization that both you and your fiancé support, then let the guests know that they have, in a way, helped you help a good cause.
8. Re-use and Recycle: There is a variety of wedding resale groups and websites online, on social media, or wedding consignment sales in your local area. Browse these sites and you can pick up new or gently used wedding decor and gear for a fraction of the price of buying new. Plus, when your wedding is over, return to these sites and resell whatever you have left over that your parents don't want sitting in their house anymore. It saves you money and makes you money, it may help out other brides, and it keeps wedding stuff out of the trash which ultimately helps everyone!
There are lots of ways to go eco-friendly with your wedding. Some methods can save you money, some may create a buzz that keeps your guests talking well after your wedding. You don't have to go big, even small changes and decisions can make a huge difference and your wedding will actually be giving back to the planet.