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10 Tips How To Plan An Eco-Friendly Wedding

Today’s environmentally aware couples are going out of their way to find green wedding ideas to reduce the footprint of their ceremony and reception leaves. It’s not easy, but with a little advice your big “I Do” can be much more friendly to Mother Nature.

There are plenty of major and minor things you can do throughout the entire wedding planning process - learn more here if your planning is just getting started - that can quickly add up to a green wedding. Here are 10 great ideas to get you started.

1. Travel Light

Reducing the amount of travel may be the largest earth-friendly contribution to lowering your carbon footprint you can make. Gas and airplane fuel can add up pretty quickly, and you don’t really have to put in too much effort to keep things in check.

It’s as easy as;

  1. Choose a venue that’s close by
  2. Coordinate a shuttle to the venue (get a hotel block so that out of towners are all in one location)
  3. Keep out of town guests to a minimum
  4. Choose a reception and ceremony venue that are close by, or even the same place.

If you’re lucky, you can even hit the green trifecta. Rent a hotel block, and use the same hotel for your ceremony and reception. That way the only traveling most of your guests will have to do is down the elevator.


2. Source Local Food

Not only is commercial food often littered with pesticides, but it also uses way too much water and takes fuel to get to your table. Locally sourced food is one of the best green wedding ideas because not only does it avoid all of this, it supports local business. Win:Win.

This green option takes a little bit of legwork because you’ll have to plan your menu around it. Consult with your source as early as possible to determine what will be in season during your celebration and let them know how many guests to prepare for. If you or a friend/family member isn’t doing the cooking, make sure that your caterer is cool with everything.

Of course, you could luck out and find a caterer that exclusively works with environmentally friendly food. Do your research as early as possible.

3. Sustainable Gown

If you’re a first-time bride chances are you’re in your twenties or thirties, and it’s highly unlikely that your Happily Ever After dreams involved a used wedding gown. But, modern problems call for modern solutions. The proud recycled bride understands the strain on the environment that the process of creating a wedding gown causes and is more than willing to either:

  1. Find a designer (or off the rack option) that is entirely composed of recycled materials. Or
  2. Find a previously-loved wedding gown

The second option is best because the gown has already been made, and a recycled materials gown still requires the energy to make the material fit for re-use and transport. Plus, the used gown could come from your mother or another relative and add a completely unexpected layer of sentiment.

Encourage your bridal party to wear eco-friendly dresses as well. This probably requires that you opt-out of setting color and design requirements, but any bridesmaids may appreciate not being told that they have to wear seafoam.


4. Green Venue

When it comes to how to be green with your venue, things can get a little tricky. You would assume that a barn wedding would be fairly low-impact. But what about the cost to run power to the structure, heating it in colder months, bringing in portable washrooms and disposing of the waste? There’s probably more.

Your best bet would be to find a LEED-certified venue that takes pride in its low carbon footprint. Many of these buildings require very little power to heat and cool and use solar or other renewables for the power it does use. LEED focuses on all facets of environmental impact, and these buildings are recognized for using the best materials and most modern solutions to using power, water, and other resources. In many cases, they give back to the grid as opposed to taking from it.

All that being said, it may conflict with the location advice we gave earlier. You’ll have to compare and contrast the benefits to find the best balance.

5. Mother Nature’s Favors

You actually have many nature-friendly options when it comes to wedding favors. Skip the etched shot glasses and dish out mason jars filled with bird feed to keep the birds singing. Or, better yet, perennial flower seeds. Your guests will remember your Happily Ever After - which is what wedding favors are for - every time they see the bees coming by.

If that’s not your style, there are plenty of handmade gifts that you can provide. Think all-natural soaps, teas, or bookmarks. You could even heal two birds with one stone - see what we did there? - by planting small trees as the centerpiece and sending your guests home to plan them.


6. Eco-Friendly Printables

Weddings require tons of paper.

  1. Save the Dates
  2. Wedding Invitations
  3. Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
  4. Table Cards
  5. Menus

The list goes on. When you have hundreds of guests this sure adds up quickly. The second easiest way to lower your wedding’s environmental impact - since it’s so readily available these days - is to use recycled paper for your eco friendly wedding invitations and other stationery. There are even specific eco friendly wedding ideas that create green stationery. One thing that people sometimes miss is the ink. Make sure that yours isn’t the toxic type so that your paper can be recycled again once you’re done with it.

7. Reduce the guest list

Working on how to be more environmentally friendly can be tough sometimes, and this is most apparent when it comes to the guest list. Each and every attendant contributes to waste, water use, fuel consumption, food, and favor packaging.

A significant contribution to your eco conscious efforts is reducing the list as much as possible. When you were young, it’s likely that you dreamed of a massive affair involving hundreds of enthusiastic guests. But if eco friendliness is high on your list of priorities you should strongly consider cutting the list down to only your closest friends and family members.

8. Pass On Plastic

The wedding guide to a reduced footprint obviously involves plastic. Straws, cups, and any other single-use plastics are high on the radar for almost everyone (we’ve all seen the pictures of garbage island and those poor sea creatures getting choked by discarded can holders) and this should 100% be avoided.

Multi-use plastics, although recyclable, should be avoided as well. Yes, you can extend their life through the recycling process, but consider the fact that trucks need to be sent out and tons of energy needs to be used to melt them down and reformed into something new.

Simply pay attention to when plastic is being used and try to find a replacement.

Plastic forks and knives? Use the real deal and wash them.

Plastic packaging for wedding favors? Use banana leaves or paper instead

Some choices will require a little extra effort or compromise, but it’s well worth it.

9. DIY

One thing that most people don’t think of is flowers. Sure they’re green and biodegradable. But, they require lots of water to grow and are only used for that one event. Most couples plan their wedding about 12 months in advance, and sometimes longer. Choose your flowers early, grow them in your own back yard using the water from a rain barrel, and scoop them up afterwards for compost. This way you control the entire lifecycle of your eco friendly flowers without a single negative impact to the planet.

Extend this mentality across your entire planning process. Reuse wedding decorations, make your own when you can’t, and plan ahead when you can.

10. Skip The Rice

The ancient tradition of throwing rice is tied to good luck and fertility. Sorry, but we tricked you here, throwing rice doesn’t make birds explode. It doesn’t harm them at all. The main reason rice is banned at some churches is because it’s difficult to clean up - myth busted.

That being said, wasting food isn’t cool. As a replacement distribute flower petals that you gather from your neighborhood. The bright colors make for better photo ops, they’re (slightly) easier to clean up, and whatever doesn’t get cleaned up adds nutrients to the soil. Everybody wins.



The fact that you care enough to go through all of these eco friendly tips is a great first step to an eco friendly wedding. Nobody will judge you for not nailing 100% of the possibilities, we’re all still learning and it’s the effort and intention that counts. Every little bit counts, and you’ll find that it all adds up quickly. Do what you can, and make sure that your wedding recycled items are passed along to the next bride to keep the green ball rolling. It would also be a good idea to document your results to inspire the next happy green couple. Thanks for your efforts, we all appreciate it.


Ryan is an environmentally conscious wedding blogger and wedding planning expert providing hints, tips, and guidance to engaged couples for several years.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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