Tips for an Eco-Friendly Wedding
You know the expression: Something borrowed, something blue.
But today’s couples also want something—lots of things, rather—to be green as eco-friendly wedding considerations have become front of mind.
As Meghan Hanna was planning her spring wedding in Asheville, N.C., she was mindful about food potentially going to waste. So, she worked with her wedding planner to ensure that any of the dishes left over from her reception—like Southern-style gumbo and chicken and veggie risotto with broccolini—would be donated to an organization to feed the homeless.
“So often, at the end of events, there’s so much food that goes to waste,” said Hanna, Vice President of Marketing at Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). “We wanted to donate the food because we know there are so many people who could benefit from a warm meal.”
Nearly all couples say that sustainability is a factor when wedding planning, according to a 2022 report from the Sustainable Wedding Alliance, and 78 percent say it was “important” or “very important” to them.
In addition to donating food and prioritizing reusable cutlery and serving ware, here are more ways to help your clients prioritize Mother Earth on their big day.
Send out eco-friendly invitations
Brides and grooms can start their weddings off on a green note by sending eco-conscious wedding invitations.
Many companies have customizable invitations crafted with recycled paper.
But to go one step further, couples can send plantable wedding invitations with a company like Botanical Paperworks. The cards are made with biodegradable eco-paper that, when planted in a pot of soil, has seeds that grow and paper composts away and wildflowers or herbs grow.
Rethink your bouquets
Help couples save money and reduce their environmental impact by renting flowers. Something Borrowed Blooms, for instance, rents premium silk wedding flowers that look like the real deal. Beyond the bouquets, rental options also include boutonnieres, garlands, flower crowns, centerpieces and aisle markers.
If you go with fresh-cut flowers, though, they can be donated after the ceremony through organizations like Random Acts of Flowers and Floranthropy. Couples can also check with local hospitals and nursing homes to see if they will take flower donations.
Another option? Use potted plants as centerpieces instead of flowers and encourage wedding guests to take home plants as wedding favors. Plants are great for the environment because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
One more tip: Scout venues that have lush, photo-ready gardens.
Rent wedding attire
Did you know that the average American tosses 100 pounds of clothes every year? Textile waste is a growing problem that’s largely fueled by fast-fashion, but one of the ways to scale back is to rethink special occasion outfits like bridesmaid and special occasion dresses that are often just worn once or twice. Enter: Fashion rentals.
Services like Rent the Runway, Armoire, Vince and Gwynnie Bee all have a nice selection of dresses, and many have curated wedding guest looks. A great subscription service for bridesmaids is Nuuly, which sources satin bridesmaid dresses in different cuts and colors from BHLDN, a sister brand of Anthropologie.
The subscription services are a nice addition to tux rentals that have long been available for special occasion menswear. Brides can also make use of a subscription service to rent looks for everything from bachelorette parties to rehearsal dinners.
Plan for eco-friendly wedding favors
Want to advise couples on some eco-friendly wedding favors that show gratitude to both the guests and the environment?
There’s lots of options from whimsical seed packets that guests can plant at home to reef-safe sunscreen they can wear at beach weddings and reusable straws that can be used to sip those signature cocktails at reception. Or, in lieu of favors, couples can choose to donate to organizations that are near and dear to their hearts and leave cards on tables notifying their guests.
Curate farm-to-table meals
A tasty way to be more sustainable at weddings is by working with vendors that are sourcing food from local, organic farms and nearby purveyors. Not only does this translate to fresh, seasonal menus that are packed with flavor and nutrients, but it also helps event planners reduce their carbon footprint.
By eating local food, CO2 emissions are reduced because the menu items didn’t need to be trucked or flown in from afar. As a bonus, the wedding party and guests are treated to regional foods, whether that’s a grazing table with local cheeses, caprese bites with zesty tomatoes harvested in a nearby garden, or local and sustainable daily catch fish dishes.
Menus and passed plates with plant-based options plus natural wines can also help couples reach some of their sustainability goals.
Rent reusable tableware
Just about everything a couple needs for wedding decor and serving ware can be rented. Local events companies have chic inventories with everything from blush coupe glasses and gold cutlery to wedding-themed neon signs and even yard games like giant Jenga sets.
Not only do rentals prevent single-use plastics from going straight to the landfill, but rentals allow for a more bespoke tablescape. Several companies also sell compostable serving ware, like bamboo plates.
Event planners can make sure to have recycling and composting stations set up that are clearly labeled to help further prevent items from going to the landfill.