Did you know that there are over 2 million weddings in the U.S. each year? And these weddings produce more than 1 billion pounds of garbage? Put another way: each wedding creates about 400 lbs. of trash, and over 60 tons of carbon dioxide!
That’s a lot of waste… So it isn’t surprising that many brides and grooms today are looking at ways to make their own weddings more eco-friendly…
While some may be comfortable with evites, many would rather send out something more tangible to their wedding guests. However, this does not mean you need to give up your eco-friendly values. In fact, this can be an opportunity for you to set the eco-tone of your wedding by sending out invitations on recycled paper. Paper Culture, for example, offers some great invite options AND will plant a tree in honor of your marriage with every order. Very green
In fact, you can opt to use recycled paper throughout your wedding: from the invitations to the place cards…
Wedding Clothes, and beyond!
Going green doesn’t mean you can’t wear white. From renting a wedding dress (weddingdressforrent.com) to finding a fantastic vintage or second hand option (borrowingmagnolia.com), there are many ways the bride can wear her dream dress, but without compromising her desired look for the day.
Another approach is to buy your wedding dress with the intention of reusing it after the wedding is over. This can be done by dying and / or altering the shape, transforming it from a gorgeous garment you only wear once in your life into a go-to cocktail dress (for example) that you will return to time and again.
The groom could take a similar approach – he can either rent a tuxedo / suit or else find a second hand option. If he decides to buy, he should look for designs and colors that allow him to re-use the suit in the future: from job interviews to bar mitzvahs.
Note: if the bride and groom do opt for pre-owned / gently-used wedding garb then it is a good idea to take them to a tailor to get them fitted for the big day. A small investment that will make you look a million dollars.
And finally, another option is letting the groomsmen and bridesmaids wear their own clothes (of course adhering to your delightful wedding color theme), reducing the chance of an outfit being bought, worn once and then left, unloved, to live at the back of a wardrobe somewhere.
Sustainably-sourced Wedding Flowers
There is something so special about fresh flowers. Whether strategically placed around the ceremonial venue, in a button-hole or as a gorgeous centerpiece on the tables, they bring sophistication and natural beauty to every wedding.
But even flowers can have a negative eco-impact.
For a greener option, start by looking for sustainable florists close to your wedding venue. Often flowers used at weddings are brought in from incredible distances – roses from South Africa or Columbia & tulips from Holland – and are heavily sprayed when they come into the country with all sorts of chemicals. Nobody likes the sounds of that. So pick a florist who works with local farmers, or even grow their own.
While a freshly-cut flower is the norm, you could consider potted plants (including orchids and spray roses), herbs and even trees for your wedding plants. These have the double bonus that you can take them home after the big day, keeping your happy wedding memories around you as you begin your lives together as a married couple!
Whatever type of flower you decide on, give them a life after the wedding one way or another. If not at your home, then you could offer the arrangements to people in your wedding party or as favors.
Finally, there are some research organizations who will pick up your flowers after the wedding and donate them to local children’s hospitals, assisted living homes and homeless shelters. Some places will provide you a tax deductible note so you can claim back the market value of the flowers on your taxes. Being green can save you some green!
Avoid floral foam at all costs!
People use floral foam to make flowers stand in a certain arrangement by jamming the stems into the foam. It is made using some very nasty / toxic chemicals that cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable. Be sure not to have them at your wedding.
Decorate with style
Not that you were ever going to have anything other than a stylish wedding, but when choosing your decorations think about things that you can bring into your home afterwards. For example, if you’re going to have a book for your guests to sign as they arrive at the reception, you could decorate the table the book is on with framed photos of you both, along with your family and friends. You can pick up some vintage frames fairly inexpensively, and can keep the photos at home afterwards.
Alternatively, if the decorations aren’t really a fit for home, then you can drop them off at a local Goodwill or Housing Works for more tax-deductions come next April 15th!
Avoid single-use + plastics
Remember that if you opt-for single use then there is a chance it will end up as landfill. So aim to rent tablecloths / linens, dishes and stemware. Not only is it more eco-friendly, but it looks more elegant too. And, if you’re up to it, ask the renters about their approach to cleaning – because some of them use nasty chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
This said, if you absolutely must go with single-use for your plates or flatware then try to find options that are sustainable or even compostable.
The confetti dilemma
Confetti has gone through many different iterations. As we learn from D. Graham Burnett, the confetti we use today has evolved from bones + stones to sugar plums + nuts. More recently rice was thrown over newlywed couples as they celebrated tying the knot, but it was discovered that it was harmful for the winged clean-up crew (aka birds).
The big thing to check first is whether or not the venue allows confetti.
If it does, here are our recommendations for eco-friendly confetti:
- Don’t use glitter.Not only is it bad for the environment, but it also gets stuck in people’s hair, in their clothes and up their noses. And if the toss is outside then it will probably be eaten by – and subsequently hurt – any local wildlife. A definite no-no.
- Check the bird seed. You might think bird-seed would be the ultimate green confetti option; however, it can actually be a very bad choice. This is because the plant seeds used may not be indigenous to the wedding area, meaning you are introducing plants that could end up hurting local ecosystems. If you’re really keen on using bird seed then be sure to check the actual plant seeds are local to the environment.
- Consider dried flowers. Totally biodegradable, you can either DIY or buy cones of pre-prepared flower confetti at a number of places (e.g. Tiny House Farm). After the ceremony, the confetti can be swept up and composted – making it an awesome green solution
- Biodegradable Paper. If you’re not sold on being showered in dried flowers, you can also opt for paper, such as those offered byPomtree.
As with your flower choices, the eco-friendly couple should look for caterers who focus on local, sustainable and seasonal cuisine. When you speak with the vendors, ask about the farmers they work with (you ideally want to buy from a farm which does not use pesticides, herbicides, etc.) and check to see how far the food is coming to get the wedding venue. Again, the less travel the smaller the carbon-footprint.
You may not know this, but approximately 10% of food served at a wedding goes uneaten and is thrown away. This is a terrible waste. Rather than tossing all this perfectly good food, the bride and groom should encourage their guests (and vendors!) to take leftovers home with them. You might also consider donating the food to a nearby shelter, who will no doubt be very grateful.
This is a tricky one – because although air traffic “only” makes up about 2-3% of global carbon emissions, its growth is much larger than any other sector. And until airlines properly tackle their carbon footprint, this is a problem that is only going to grow. There is a reason Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic.
There are – of course – lots of incredible honeymooning options here in the USA that would negate you needing to travel long-haul: from the bright lights of Vegas to the serene calm of Colorado. Still many couples will want to travel abroad for their honeymoon. And that’s okay! But is it possible to honeymoon internationally while staying green?
From ecolodges in the treetops of Belize to earth-friendly safari camps in Botswana, there are lots of options that will allow you to offset the carbon emissions from your travel, but without diminishing this incredibly romantic break together. For more ideas, take a look at Bride’s top ten list of eco-resorts.
You can also book your trip through sites like donate to causes like Global Green, Project Aware and Wild Air – this way you are contributing to charities with eco-causes, as well as embracing sustainable travel practices.
At the end of the day, your wedding must be a special reflection of you and your partner. With this list of ideas, it should be possible for you to incorporate some easy eco-friendly best practices to make your big day a whole lot greener, but without losing sight of your vision for your perfect wedding.
About The Crystal Plaza
The Crystal Plaza is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding and event venues in the US. Based in Livingston, NJ we offer impeccable white-glove service to meet the exacting needs of our guests. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.