Looking for low-waste wedding tips? You’ve come to the right place! A wedding can be one of the most special days in a couple’s lives, and most people tend to go above and beyond to make sure the experience is magical. Everyone has vastly different ideas about what the big day will look like—and it often takes a lot of planning to get there.
When preparing for an event (especially one that’s typically a bigger celebration), it’s important to consider the environmental impact our choices are making. Let’s be real, weddings can generate a lot of waste—an average of 400 pounds of garbage, to be exact.
So where can we even get started to create an eco-friendly wedding? From the centerpieces to the gorgeous gown, there are several ways to tackle your wedding planning in an eco-friendly fashion.
To learn more about planning a low-waste wedding, we spoke with Meredith Bartel, a wedding planner and coordinator at Plus One Planning, LLC. She shared her tips on TikTok, and she gave us the inside scoop on how to have a low-waste wedding day.
5 Low-Waste Wedding Planning Tips
1. Eco-Invitations Galore
There’s a rising trend in invitations that could be here to stay—e-vites. Digital invitations are a super-easy way to go paperless and all of your event information is a simple tap away at all times for guests.
There are many options you can use to create beautiful e-vites. “Feel free to skip the RSVP envelope,” she says. “A digital RSVP is absolutely acceptable, and is very convenient for the guest count and meal tracking.”
2. Dress the (Sustainable) Part
Bartel is all about reusability—especially when it comes to what the bridal party is wearing. One option that encourages everyone to reuse is to allow the bridal party to choose their outfits for themselves while setting parameters like color, length, and material. This allows for the party to choose outfits that they would be comfortable re-wearing at future events.
For a more traditional, uniform look, Bartel suggests rental services. Although prices tend to be comparable to buying a dress, renting allows for a garment’s life to be extended much further than it would’ve been on one-and-done wear.
If the bride still prefers an extravagant dress, no problem! “Even if [the bride] chose a fabulously beaded lace gown, the dress can be reworked into a christening outfit for one’s future children, and the fabric’s legacy can live on!” Bartel says. “And let’s not forget the original sustainable wedding dress option; re-wearing or redesigning an heirloom dress from a previous generation.”
3. Think Twice on Wedding Favors
The unfortunate reality of wedding favors is that many of them don’t even get taken home by guests. Being intentional with what you choose to give can have a more positive impact.
“The worst wedding favors are the ones that are destined for the junk drawer. I hate to break it to you, but the dollar flip flops, can koozies, and sunglasses just aren’t going to be used again,” Bartel says. “My suggestion for low-waste favors that guests will love? Consumables or an interactive experience!”
Consider gifts from a local business, like Fair Trade chocolate or cookies from a bakery. Because many gifts are left behind, choose something you can put to use if there’s some surplus after the party’s over. This can be anything from flower seeds to coffee and tea packs—get creative with what works for you. You can even DIY wedding favors and put your creative skills to the test!
Another idea Bartel suggests is reallocating the gift budget to donate to a charity of your choice. At the reception, display a sign for guests to read about the cause.
4. Venue Decorations
Additionally, to have a low-waste wedding, you’ll want to strive to find a naturally beautiful venue that doesn’t need much in terms of decoration.
Bartel says to look for floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors, and beautiful lighting that can allow for decoration to accent the space instead of disguising it. She also says that utilizing items you already own will often be a wonderful aesthetic choice because the guests will feel that the design represents you.
If you’re going for a specific look or don’t have a lot to work with, you can consider rental opportunities. There are even companies that rent beautiful vintage items, like Borrow My Vintage. This way, you can have a beautifully curated style that won’t require you to store away all of those items after one use.
Additionally, there are hundreds of DIY and upcycling opportunities to try, so keep an eye out the next time you’re thrifting.
5. Dinner Served Sustainably
A key to serving your guests with sustainability in mind is to focus on local and seasonal food.
“Consider hiring a caterer that offers a farm-to-table approach for serving dinner,” Bartel says. “Perhaps they partner with a local farm for grass-fed beef or pork, or they grow their vegetables nearby. Your guests will be wowed by an exquisite, local and seasonal meal!”
She also suggests glassware and ceramic dinnerware—aka reusables. If that’s not an option, and you choose to go single-use, consider swapping plastic and Styrofoam for bamboo and biodegradables.
6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Finally, don’t stress where you don’t need to. We understand the pressure to be as sustainable as possible can be a lot. That’s why we believe in the planet over perfection—aka doing what we can to make a difference.
We’re here to share that any effort toward lowering waste is a major step in the right direction, and there’s no need to stress in the pursuit of perfection. And Bartel also wants to assure you of this.
“I tried to sum up as many eco-friendly wedding tips as I possibly could, but I would never expect a couple to attempt to implement them all!” she says. “Any effort toward a sustainable wedding, whether big or small, is worthwhile. Remember to do the best you can with the resources you have available to you.”
Bartel says some of her alternatives may be financially unattainable, or may not fit your vendor’s capabilities. “So feel free to only implement the tips that apply to you,” she says. “Every small step counts, so even if you make one or two swaps, you are doing a wonderful task for our environment while you celebrate the best day of your life!”
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