Many of us are finding ways to be more eco-friendly in our day-to-day lives, whether that means using a reusable water bottle, cutting down on food waste, or walking and bicycling to our destination when possible. For many, that desire to be more sustainable is seeping into the wedding planning process. If you are currently planning your wedding, here are a few ways you can make your celebration (and the actual planning process) a bit more green.
Go Digital with Forms and Contracts
You may have an urge to print out every email correspondence, form, and contract that you have with wedding vendors, but try to limit the paper used, when possible. Come up with a digital wedding organization system that you, your partner, and anyone involved in your wedding planning can access to store all relevant documents.
Think About Your Location
Transportation – whether it be by plane or car – does a lot of damage to the earth on a yearly basis. While some transportation is obviously inevitable, you can limit how much your guests have to travel if you pick the right wedding venue. First, consider where most of your guests are coming from – you’ll likely want to pick a venue in the area where the majority of your guests live in order to limit air travel. Also, think about how easy it is to get to the venues you are considering. Venues that are more remote will require more travel time (either from a hotel or guests’ homes) than venues that are closer to the center of town.
Go Paperless with Invites
More and more couples are choosing to use less paper by going digital with their stationary. You may choose to use an online platform for your save-the-dates, and save the physical stationery for your actual wedding invitations. You may also choose to fully commit and go completely digital for your invites. If you do this, keep in mind that you may need to help any of your less tech-savvy guests get the information that they need. If you choose to do physical invitations, you can limit how much paper you actually use by guiding guests to your wedding website for the full details of your celebration.
Use Signs Over Printed Programs and Menus
Another way to cut down on paper waste is to use signs when possible. Rather than printing out a program, use a sign that can be reused (such as a chalkboard or mirror that can be written on) to inform guests about the happenings of the ceremony. Also, rather than giving out paper menus to every guest, consider smaller signs on each table that guests can look at.
Consider Local Food
Food that is sourced from local farmers will require less time in the fridge (which means less power used), and doesn’t need to be hauled long distances by large trucks (which means less fuel and emissions). Plus, it is also great to support your local community! In order to be more sustainable with your food choices, work with a caterer who partners with local farmers to source fresh, seasonable, and delicious produce. For your wedding cake or desserts, see if your baker can work with local ingredients as well. If possible, also consider serving alcohol from a local winery, distillery, or brewery at your bar. These steps will lead to a delicious but more sustainable meal.
Be Green with Flowers
Your flowers can also be sourced locally in order to limit transportation. Talk to your florist about what flowers will be in season and what they can source from local growers. In order to extend the life of your flowers, you may also consider donating them to a shelter or hospital in your area to bring some cheer to someone else.
You may also consider using another more eco-friendly design element in place of flowers for centerpieces. If you still want a natural element, consider potted plants. Succulents are incredibly popular, and you could even use them as wedding favors for guests after the celebration. Another option is to forgo natural centerpieces altogether and choose items that you can rent or already have on hand, like lanterns, books, or framed photos.
Be Fashionably Sustainable
There are plenty of ways the entire wedding party can be more eco-friendly with their outfits. If you are a bride, consider buying your dress secondhand or renting it, or working with a tailor to modernize your mother or grandmother’s wedding dress. If you’d rather have a brand new dress, consider buying from wedding brands that have more sustainable practices in place. This may include using recycled fabrics, working with silk, hemp, bamboo, or cotton, or manufacturing locally. You may also consider selling your dress after the wedding to help another bride be more sustainable on her big day!
As far as the rest of the wedding party, the bridesmaids can rent their dresses or use something already in their closet – just give them some guidelines to follow for color and style. Finally, the groom and groomsmen may want to consider renting their tuxedos or suits.
Rent or Thrift Serving Necessities Rather Than Using Disposable Items
Disposable serving items (such as plastic or paper cups, forks, knives, or plates) can create a lot of waste fast. Rather than going the single-use route, consider renting reusable serving items from rental warehouses, or finding cheap options from thrift stores. You can still find a good deal, while creating less waste.
Pick Out Eco-Friendly Beauty Products
When it comes to creating your bridal beauty look, work with your makeup artist and hairstylist to see if there are any green products they are able to use. Think of products that are cruelty-free, produced by local companies, and/or have zero or minimal-waste packaging. You can still nail your beauty look while being a bit friendlier to the environment.
If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you. You will have the chance to meet with professional wedding vendors of all talents who can help bring your vision to life!