Your wedding day is the biggest event of your life, but it can also be the most wasteful. Reducing the carbon footprint of your wedding can seem like a daunting task, but luckily going environmentally-friendly is getting easier each day. Your wedding vision doesn’t need to be sacrificed to also support mother earth. You may be thinking, “it’s just one wedding” or “does what I do really matter?” Raising awareness about the environmental impacts that weddings have on the environment is one of the significant things you and your fiancé can do during this time. Your loved ones seeing the choices you have made for such an important day may have a bigger impact on their daily lives than you think. Even the small things you choose to do on your wedding day can have a big impact on saving the earth, which is why I’ve compiled a list of planet-friendly ideas to help you plan your plastic-free and ecological wedding.

1. Start before the wedding with your engagement ring.

Did you know that diamonds can be grown in a lab? That means they’re not mined, so they are not harmful to the earth. Another option is choosing a ring that is vintage or utilizes stones from a family heirloom. Alternative stones are becoming more and more popular for engagement rings. I myself have a moonstone in my ring. There are many alternative stones that sparkle just as much as diamonds. If you decide that you do really want a diamond, talk to your jeweler to make sure they are socially responsible. You don’t want a blood diamond as a symbol of your love.

2. Your invitations and other paper aspects.

Invitation suites are beautiful. They are one of my favorite details to photograph on your wedding day, so I completely understand couples wanting to have them. There are numerous recycled paper companies and alternatives materials. Paper Culture plants a tree for every order, as well as using 100% recycled paper. You can also skip the invitations all together, isn’t that what the internet is for?

3. Give to charity.

In lieu of favors, you can make a donation to an environmental charity. Some of my favorites are: Arbor Day Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club Foundation.

4. Recycle while cleaning up.

The cleanup part of your big day certainly isn’t the most fun part of the event, but when you donate your leftovers you can feel good knowing that you cut down the waste from your wedding. Have your florals taken to a retirement home, and see if a local food shelter would accept your food leftovers.

5. Rent instead of buying.

This is one day. Don’t buy the things you need when rental companies have virtually everything you could want. Rentals are very affordable and can help you to create a cohesive vision for your day. If you think you will need far too many place settings or items for your guests to rent them, you can also thrift them! I have seen many couples start gathering early and create their tablescapes with completely out of Goodwill finds.

6. Don’t litter with your exit toss.

This is one of those small things that really matters. Refrain from throwing paper confetti or bubbles, and instead opt for petals or herbs. They even look better in photos!

7. Go local for food + vendors.

Supporting local business is a great way to cut out travel, shipping, and other resources that are used in creating a wedding. Review your options for local food trucks or farm to table catering. Choose a wedding venue that is close for the majority of your guests, and consider transporting them by bus instead of having all of them drive.

8. Be mindful of your outfit choices.

Reformation is an amazing brand with sustainable practices. Consider hiring a local dress designer or going vintage. You could also get your dress used from a site like Stillwhite or Poshmark. When dressing your wedding party, let them choose their own outfits as they are more likely to wear them again or donate them to second-hand stores for other bridesmaids to wear!

9. Think about your florals. 

Using completely potted plants for your arrangements and shopping local are great ways to cut down on your waste after your wedding. Do research about what flowers are in season and what can be found in your area of the world. It’s not only good for the environment but it supports local businesses.

10. Go plastic-free.

This is a big one. I care very deeply about encouraging environmentally-friendly weddings. The plastic used at weddings is extremely wasteful and most of it ends up hurting our environment by ending up in our oceans. Consider the following to cut the single-use plastics out of your wedding day.

  • Give guests glass or secondhand china cups to use for the entire night.
  • Don’t use plastic straws.
  • Rent place settings or use alternative materials such as bamboo or wood.
  • Don’t use plastic, paper, bubbles, or rice as confetti.

If you pledge to make your wedding day plastic-free, you will receive a free engagement session or a $300 print credit towards an album or prints after your wedding. I can help you with talking with your venue or caterers about going plastic-free and offer ideas on how to approach this day with mother earth in mind. For more ideas on how to go plastic-free and to learn more about incorporating it into your wedding day, reach out to me!

One last thing. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The wedding industry is unfortunately not set up to be environmentally-friendly. That is why it is so important for more and more people to incorporate green aspects into their weddings, even if it is something small. As an environmental advocate but also a realist, I know completely eco-friendly weddings aren’t always feasible. Do your best if you wish, and mother nature and I will thank you!