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Eco-Friendly Wedding Guide: Sustainable Celebration Ideas (2024)

Planning a wedding is a massive undertaking, especially for those living sustainably. With so many moving parts, you may wonder how to keep things green.

Are there ways to minimize potential waste? How can you create eco-friendly wedding favors?

Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic sustainable wedding ideas to explore!

Here is your eco-friendly wedding guide, with tips and tricks for keeping your big celebration green:

7 Tips for an Eco-friendly Wedding

1. Send Sustainable Wedding Invitations

Making sure your wedding stays green starts with the invitations. There can be a lot of paper involved. How many times have you seen invites with tons of decorations? People are going to throw them out eventually, no matter how pretty. As such, you want to create sustainable wedding invitations. They can help keep your wedding’s ecological footprint minimal.

There are plenty of eco-friendly stationery companies you can find out there. Each one has different ideas for sustainable wedding invitations. Here are a few ideas to look for when choosing your invites:

  • Planting trees: Does the stationery brand you chose help to replant trees? If they use paper, planting more trees is essential.
  • Recycling paper: Perhaps you could find a business that sells invitations made from recycled paper. They don’t require any additional trees to make.
  • Plantable invitations: Save your invites from the trash and choose one your guests can plant. They could have some new herbs or flowers thanks to you.
  • Digital invites: Who says you have to go through the mail? By sending invitations by email, you can cut out using trees altogether.

Your invites can generate a lot of waste if you’re not careful. Instead, try finding some sustainable wedding invitations to start your celebration well.

Eco-friendly weddings - sustainable wedding invitation

2. Set a Deadline for RSVPs

Even weddings not accounting for sustainability need an RSVP-by date. Having one lets the couple plan the food and favors for who’s coming. However, having an accurate headcount helps out eco-friendly weddings tremendously.

Eliminating trash might be one of your biggest goals. Therefore, knowing exactly how much to order is vital. You don’t want any food or thank-you gifts to go to waste. Encourage invitees to say either yes or no by a specific date.

However, it may be necessary to create a hard deadline. Let them know you cannot accept late responses due to ordering necessities. It may be strict, but it’s OK if you think it’s ideal.

3. Serve Eco-Friendly Food

Speaking of ordering, what kinds of sustainable foods can you offer? Many people choose their caterers only based on what they want food-wise. However, you can dig a little deeper to keep your wedding green. You’ll have to do some homework on your choices before officially committing.

Look into how your catering options source their ingredients. Do they try to stay as local as possible? Do they buy in-season or rely on shipping? How many organic offerings do they have? Try out their contact information if they don’t say so on their website. They could be able to talk to you more in-depth.

On your wedding day, pay attention to how food is served, too. Choosing nice reusable linens and plates is a good move to reduce single-use items and is common for traditional weddings, regardless. While your mileage may vary, serving plated meals is typically considered less wasteful than a buffet — but the difference might not be worth the added expense of a plated dinner, so pick your priorities when planning.

Eco-friendly weddings - wedding table

When it comes to food waste, there’s only so much you can do. Unfortunately, you’ll likely have a few last-minute guest cancellations. Even if you planned for a number, you can still be eco-friendly. If you have any food waste, try composting it. Provide a compost bin instead of a trash can for people to use. This way, any scraps will go toward making healthy and nutritious fertilizer.

However, you’ll have to go another route if you serve meat. It isn’t a good component of compost, so consider packing those leftovers and letting guests take food home as well (if the venue allows it).

4. Ask for Unwrapped Gifts

A lot of paper goes to waste, wrapping gifts. While it is technically recyclable, the ink makes it hard. The process requires much more chemical intervention, and glitter and tape make it impossible. This step should be relatively easy for guests to adhere to.

If you don’t mind forgoing the surprise, ask them not to wrap presents. Truthfully, it’s not a necessary aspect of gift-giving. You’ll also save a lot of paper from going to a landfill. You could also ask for reused wrapping. Most people probably have some newspaper or brown paper around their house. Otherwise, they can skip the wrapping altogether.

They could also make the wrapping part of the gift. Perhaps someone will gift you a kitchen set or some home decor. They could then use a dishcloth or scarf to wrap up the present.

5. DIY What You Can

Supporting local businesses is an excellent way to have a green wedding. But what if the ones around you don’t have sustainable options? The answer is simple: Do what you can at home.

A rental company might not have cloth napkins you love. If that’s the case, try making your own before going shopping. You could use the ones you have lying around or spare fabric. Do you have a pile of clothes you’ve been meaning to donate? Breathe new life into them by cutting and dying them into napkins.

Flowers will be a significant portion of your decor. However, you often don’t know how a florist raises their product. You can choose to rent silk flowers instead or bulk purchase balsa wood flowers to dye in your wedding colors for a DIY touch that lasts forever. Wouldn’t it be nice to display your wedding bouquet for years to come?

Those with green thumbs can consider forgoing blossoms for greenery and instead sourcing gorgeous plants like Pothos that are easy to propagate and drape. If you have enough lead time, you could propagate one Pothos into enough budding plants to serve as DIY centerpieces that guests can take home.

Eco-friendly weddings - pothos centerpiece

This can get stressful, but you may even be able to DIY your food, too. Do you have some excellent family bakers? Put up a Pittsburgh-style cookie table instead of a wedding cake and invite guests to join in the tradition of shared recipes. 

6. Borrow or Rent Equipment

Your venue might not come with chairs and tables to seat everyone. If they do, they might not have enough. However, that doesn’t mean you have to buy the equipment. Instead, look into rental companies that can provide what you need.

You could even ask friends, family, and neighbors for their help. Do any locals have tables and chairs you can use? Would anyone mind if you borrowed their truck to transport these? You’ll have a few different sets, but it creates a more casual environment.

It might also be necessary to provide glassware, silverware, and napkins. Could you offer some from your own home? If not, renting is always an eco-friendly option. It eliminates the need to buy plastic you’ll only use once. You could also look into biodegradable cutlery.

7. Offer Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

Many hosts offer favors as a way of thanking their guests. They could be commemorative cups, magnets, or even koozies. However, people may not end up taking them. Even if they do, they might not end up using your favor. After all, do other people need an ornament with your wedding date?

Instead, gift people something they can eat or use: 

  • Personalized photos: These can double as a place setting and a favor. At each seat, have a picture of the guest with you or your spouse. Then, write a personal note thanking them for attending your wedding.
  • Mini drinks: Many people love a bit of alcohol. You could offer small bottles of sparkling wine or nips. Consider accompanying the drinks with a recipe for your favorite cocktail.
  • Sweet treats: Give your guests a little something to snack on. You can provide them with a bag of chocolates or candy. They may appreciate the boost of sugar during the long celebration.

Check out this video by Laura Beth Wedding Planner few more helpful examples of eco-friendly wedding favors:

Eco-friendly wedding favors are – most importantly – things people will appreciate. If you want people to take them, ensure they’re useful or sentimental.

Final Thoughts on Celebrating Your Wedding Sustainably

Weddings can be a significant source of trash. Therefore, there are plenty of places where you can choose to be sustainable. Consider following this eco-friendly wedding guide to craft a beautiful celebration.

About the Author

Image of the author - Evelyn LongEvelyn Long is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Renovated. She has over 10 years of experience writing in specialized topics, such as sustainable/eco-friendly décor and design.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Hard to Plan a Sustainable Wedding?

Yes and no. Finding places to reduce garbage can be pretty straightforward. For example, asking for unwrapped gifts and getting a firm headcount helps. But finding a sustainable caterer might be difficult. In such cases, you may choose to opt for cooking and baking yourself. Read the full guide for sustainable wedding tips and tricks.

How Do Weddings Impact the Environment?

There are plenty of ways that weddings impact the environment. You might create a lot of food waste, which goes into the garbage. People may also not take your wedding favors or throw them away later. Decorations like confetti and balloons can harm animals and the surrounding environment. Read the full guide for tips on how to make your wedding more environmentally friendly.

What Is a Zero-Waste Wedding?

As the name indicates, zero-waste weddings aim to create as close to zero trash as possible. Planning such a celebration may end up being your goal. To do so, try to find places where you can eliminate waste. There may still be some garbage, but reducing where you can is what matters. Read the full guide for tips on how to make your wedding more eco-friendly and generate less waste.

References and Useful Resources

Ecowatch: Sustainable Party Tips

The Honest Consumer: Eco-friendly Wedding Invitation and Stationery Brands

The Knot: Zero-Waste Weddings

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