Have you set any Earth-saving resolutions for the new year? Getting married myself in 2018, we're combining a big wedding production while keeping goals to reduce our carbon footprint even more this year. The task has required a bit of extra creativity and care, but after a little research, throwing an eco-friendly wedding is proving surprisingly easy!
From choosing responsible vendors, reducing waste and giving back, you too can have a wedding that is not only environmentally friendly, but may even help restore this beautiful earth of ours (and who doesn't wish for that?!)
We've spoken in the past about giveback weddings in general, but here's 12 wedding tips to give back to our planet.
1. Hire Responsible Wedding Vendors
We vote with our money – who we hire and give our money to sets the standards we want for the wedding industry. By giving more of our business to eco-friendly, responsible wedding vendors, it sends the message to other vendors that ethical choices will help their business.
How do you tell who's a responsible wedding vendor? When chatting with potential venues, ask what kind of carbon footprint they leave, if they use wind power, solar power, recycle, or have any stamps of approval by environmental agencies. Chances are if they are proud of their environmental impact, it will be listed on their website and brochures.
Our venue in Todos Santos, Villa Santa Cruz, is solar powered (so cool!), has simple ways to conserve water, and asks that we shut down our major power users at midnight – like large lights and amps. But don't worry, the party doesn't end there, we then move the fiesta to the beach with a bonfire and our own smaller speakers.
For other vendors, look for any “giving back” info on their websites. We hired a wedding photographer, Corinne Graves, who gives a portion of her yearly profits to an animal sanctuary or wildlife rehabilitation center. While her photos caught our eye, her commitment to giving back won us over when choosing between our top photographers.
2. Send Paperless Invites
As an old-school romantic & lover of all wedding goods, I can understand how forgoing the paper invite might sound a bit heartbreaking. So many talented designers, pretty papers, and cool embellishments exist these days for gorgeous invitation suites.
But, if that trendy flat lay stationery shot is low on your wedding priority, perhaps consider emailing your save the dates and invitations. You can still support graphic designers by having it custom designed or customizing a paperless suite from a website like Paperless Post.
Spend that time you would have used designing paper invites on your cool, interactive website (your friends and family will love you for it!) Not only will you save some trees (and CO2 from the delivery trucks!) but you'll save some green in your wallet as well.
3. Carefully Plan Your Floral Design
Ten weddings per year for the better part of a decade, I've seen countless bouquets and floral arrangements dumped in the trash. It's a heartbreaking truth: it's just not that easy to repurpose those quickly wilting beauties when you're running off on your honeymoon.
Try contacting a company that rents bouquets to multiple weddings per weekend, giving those beautiful buds a full and worthy lifetime. Or, rather than ordering centerpieces, repurpose those bridesmaid bouquets as your dinner table centerpieces after portraits are done (your girls will likely not miss carrying them around on the dancefloor). Less bouquets means less money, and less flowers in the trash later.
If you can, hand off your flowers at the end of the night to guests who live nearby to use in their houses. Florists like Framed Florals will press & frame your bouquet or even use the petals to hand dye silks to save forever.
Ultimately the best tip is to buy local, and choose flowers in season, to save carbon emissions from shipping from faraway tropical climates.
4. Use Biodegradable Products
This idea arrived to us when working out a wedding problem of ours, that was coincidentally solved by an eco-friendly answer. We didn't know who to hire to clean dishes at the end of the night (obviously not us!) and didn't want to waste tons of water in the desert of the Baja.
A friend mentioned how much prettier disposable plates and utensils are these days, and we found so many chic styles of bamboo, biodegradable dining sets. Bamboo grows two feet a day, making it an excellent inexpensive and renewable resource.
Not only will we save water, but our dinnerware won't sit for centuries in a landfill somewhere. And, they're so much cheaper than renting dinnerware! Win, win, win!
5. Reduce Your Wedding Waste
Wedding favors can be so thoughtful and so fun! But for us, throwing a destination wedding (and being that guilty guest who never takes home wedding favors) we'll forgo the goodie bags to save us from bringing goods that could likely end up in the trash.
How can you still treat your guests and reduce waste? Rather than buying wedding favors, perhaps spend that money on extra food or events for your guests, (or go open bar if you're not already!) If you still have your heart set on offering favors for your day, make packets from recycled paper of seeds of your favorite flowers. Then, your special favor will add to the environment, and if any accidentally end up in the trash, they can plant themselves!
6. Buy Vintage & Recycled Dresses & Attire
Buying vintage bridal and bridesmaid dresses saves the earth from textile waste, production and often shipping emissions. Whether you decide to buy at your local vintage boutique or online on sites like Nearly Newly Wed & Still White, you're giving a gown another life, and saving the Earth just a bit more waste.
You can also buy new gowns from designers that use recycled fabrics and use ethical business practices. The Reformation gives you the stats on what recycled fabrics they used, and how many pounds of CO2, water and waste you save by ordering each dress.
If you must order that new 2018 wedding gown (sorry, that's me!) consider buying vintage accessories, shoes or bridesmaid dresses. Mixing your attire with new and vintage pieces still helps our environment plenty.
7. Choose An Ethical Ring
Thankfully, with so many organizations certifying jewelers these days, it's easy to search for eco-friendly engagement and wedding rings. From ethically sourced diamonds and gems, to recycled precious metals, you can make a good environmental impact with your ring purchases. Even the box you receive your ring in could be considered, whether from recycled wood or from a vintage goods shop.
8. Find A Farm-To-Table Caterer
Going local for your food not only tastes vibrant and fresh, but saves emissions from shipping ingredients from faraway farms. If no farm-to-table cater to your venue, try choosing a caterer who uses organic produce (saving our farms from pesticides) and fish and meat that are sourced ethically.
9. Get Thrifty!
Similar to buying vintage attire, thrift shopping for your wedding decor saves new from needing production, and gives your fab thrift store treasures a second life. Search for vintage cake plates, paint a variety of candle holders all a cohesive color, or save money on dinnerware rentals and mix and match with vintage china.
10. Dance Under The Stars
Choose a time late into your party to cut down on light pollution. You don't have to end your party, it just means saving a bit of electricity and seeing more stars! Personally, I find a lot of my wedding parties' dancefloors to be far too bright and uncomfortable for booyging down anyway. Dim the lights, turn down generators, and party on.
11. Make A Charity Wedding Registry
Have you been living together for years and want for nothing in regards to home furnishings? Set up a charity wedding registry to your favorite cause to help the environment. Browse through Charity Watch to see which organizations use most of your donation for good, and then link your favorite cause to your wedding website & mention in your invitations.
12. Plan A Wild Giveback Day
Planning a destination wedding and looking for events to invite your friends and family to? Giveback days disguised as wildlife excursions can be a fun party that gives back to our beautiful earth.
Locals and tourists alike volunteer to help baby turtles return to the sea at the beach where Jack and I will say “I do”, and I know plenty of my friends want in on that. Search for what wildlife volunteering may be available near your wedding so that you can plan a day that is both enriching for the soul, and would actually sound enticing to your guests.
Looking for more ways to make your wedding day impactful for the world? Check these 5 ideas for a giveback wedding.