11 Ways to Plan a More Eco Friendly Wedding

eco friendly wedding ideas bride and groom at reception
photo by Come Plum

Repeat after us, “Weddings don’t have to be wasteful.” Here at GWS, we’re all about going green and making the big day as eco friendly as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to skip on the things you love — florals, centerpieces, a gorgeous ring, or a darling invitation suite — but you can opt for these small changes so you create less of a carbon footprint!

Fortunately couples and vendors alike are taking notice of our impact on the earth, and looking for ways to protect its resources. That said, there are so many new technologies and innovations that are making eco-friendly alternatives more accessible than ever. By talking with your vendors about their practices, figuring out ways to donate or use biodegradable goods, and going local, you truly can make an impact. To help you plan a more sustainable wedding, we’ve rounded up simple + sweet ways you can make your wedding eco-friendly.

How to Plan an Eco Friendly Wedding

Eco Friendly Wedding Ideas for Your Wedding Dress and Wedding Day
photo by Come Plum

Embracing eco-friendly ideas in your wedding planning is not only a celebration of your love but also a tribute to the planet. By incorporating sustainable practices, couples make a powerful statement about their values, showcasing their commitment to environmental stewardship. From choosing locally-sourced, seasonal flowers to opting for digital invitations or selecting a venue that champions green practices, every eco-conscious choice contributes to a lower carbon footprint. Moreover, these green choices can add a unique, personal touch to your wedding, reflecting a deep connection to the natural world and a hopeful look towards a sustainable future together. Engaging in eco-friendly wedding practices is a beautiful way to start your journey as a married couple, ensuring that the celebration of your love also honors the earth that sustains us all. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite ways to do this!

Tip #1 – Greenery + Florals for an Eco Friendly Wedding

Ethical Eco Friendly Wedding Gown and Flowers
photo: Come Plum | florals are by Larkspur Botanicals – a certified sustainable florist

You can have a few options when it comes to the greenery and florals used in your wedding. Our number one tip is to avoid floral foam, which oftentimes can be used in a lot of centerpieces. Floral foam contains a ton of chemicals and most of the time is not biodegradable (and even if it is, there are still toxic chemicals in its waste). You will want to use foam free floral design for your wedding day.

Some couples choose to rent faux florals, that way they never go bad; others choose to donate their flowers (to places like nursing homes) after the big day so that others can enjoy them. If you’d like to forgo the cutting of stems, we’ve seen weddings styled strictly with potted plants—which can then be given as gifts or taken home to plant in your yard! Another idea? Dried flowers! You can keep them in your home after the event so no waste is created with these beauties! We put together this helpful guide on where to buy dried flowers if you are interested in DIYing your dried flowers – also many florists will work with them and can create GORGEOUS centerpieces and bouquets with dried florals.

Additionally, if you’re doing an exit toss, opt for petals or biodegradable goods, rather than rice, which can be harmful for birds.

GWS Asks the Experts

Marisa at Revel Petals shares: From a floral perspective, the most eco friendly practices include shopping local, or US grown only, and requesting that your florist not use any floral foam. When you support US grown flowers, or better yet, a local flower farm, the flowers will likely have way less chemicals in/on them because they haven’t been fumigated at the import border crossing. You also avoid any chance of poor working conditions/slave labor as well as sidestepping a hefty carbon footprint from flying flowers in from the other side of the world. The only consideration is that not all flowers are available in every season then, and so if you MUST have a certain flower, pick your wedding date well in its growing season. 

The florals above are from Larkspur Botanicals, who was the first certified sustainable florist in the NYC metro area, producing many of her florals, and working with amazing organizations to repurpose or reuse after events.

Eco Friendly Wedding Tip #2 – Make Use of Rentals

Using Rentals for Your Eco Friendly Wedding

There are so many rental companies out there with gorgeous pieces to choose from, so unless you’re going to buy things for the wedding and then incorporate them into your home after, it’s better to rent than buy and dump. Oftentimes vases for florals end up in the trash, so consider renting those. If possible, avoid disposable dinnerware and opt for rented tableware and assorted goods.

Need more tips on rental ideas? Check out this piece on What to Rent, Reuse, or Donate for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

3. Sustainable Fashion for Your Wedding Dress

Eco-Friendly Wedding Dress from Reformation
eco friendly wedding dress from Reformation – we love that this dress is made with deadstock fabric!

When it comes to the wedding dress, choosing a brand that practices sustainable fashion is wonderful – and here are 16 designers who practice sustainability with their wedding dress designs!  Alternatively, you could opt for a vintage wedding dress or source one from a second-hand site and give the dress a new life!

Another idea is to buy a custom made gown. Sounds expensive, but we found this romantic gown for under $1000 and it is handmade! Each gown from this company is ethically hand made in their eco studio.  They are completely off grid, use renewable energy, and use fabrics that will biodegrade leaving a smaller foot print.

Also consider what the bridesmaids will be wearing.

We suggest allowing them to pick their own dress — perhaps in a given color range — because they are much more likely to wear the dress again, instead of just throwing it out.

Eco Friendly Wedding Tip #4 – Go for Plated

photo thanks to Casa de Perrin

Food waste is inevitable when it comes to weddings, but planning ahead can limit the waste. Buffet dinners are notorious for producing wasted leftovers. Instead, consider plated dinners to avoid extra food. If you can, talk to your caterer about packaging and freezing any extra plates that were not used to bring home for later. Many caterers will not allow this due to food laws but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

5. The Ring

Lab Created Diamond as an Eco-Friendly Ring For Your Wedding
image courtesy of Clean Origin

Opting for a lab-grown diamond or a vintage ring for your wedding day is a splendid way to infuse your celebration with eco-conscious elegance. Lab-grown diamonds provide a modern twist on tradition, offering a responsible choice with significantly reduced environmental impact compared to mining. These gems are every bit as stunning as their earth-extracted counterparts but come with the peace of mind that no new land was disrupted in their creation. Meanwhile, choosing a vintage ring not only preserves history and reduces demand for new resources, but it also tells a story of timeless love, adding depth and sentiment to your special day.

Both choices reflect a commitment to sustainability and a desire to celebrate your union with respect for the planet. In embracing these alternatives, couples can showcase their love for each other while honoring their love for the Earth.

6. Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations

paper culture eco friendly wedding invitations
invite from Paper Culture

Invitation suites are some of the prettiest details to photograph, so we understand not wanting to cut out this tradition. While some couples choose to go completely paperless and send their invitations via e-mail, there are other options for those that want a physical product! Paper Culture is a wonderful resource for invitation suites made on recycled paper!

Here’s what the team at Paper Culture has to say: Weddings are about the future, and at Paper Culture, one of the ways we plan for the future is by making sure that every order placed actively works to make the planet healthier for future generations. That’s why we use 100% recycled paper, so no new trees are cut down to make your wedding invitation suite. The best part? Paper Culture plants a tree in honor of your marriage with every order. That tree will stand as a testament to your love and will be a symbol of a happy, healthy future together. Paper Culture has been recognized by the EPA as a Top 10 Climate Leader and is certified as a Green Business. 

7. Celebrate the Outdoors for your Eco-Friendly Wedding

Eco Friendly Wedding in New York
photo by Come Plum

Celebrate the outdoors and the natural environment by choosing an outdoor venue where you can rely on natural light. Or, for a real intimate feeling, you could opt for candles instead of switching on light fixtures. Another way to make this work is by hosting a brunch wedding, instead of going well into the evening.

Alternatively, find a venue that makes “being green” a priority. One great resource to start your venue hunt is the Green Building Information Gateway. You can search for hotels and event spaces with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certifications and Energy Star ratings. With so many beautiful venues going green, you won’t have to sacrifice style to be sustainable.

8. Don’t Trash, Donate!

Ethical Eco-Friendly Wedding
photo by Come Plum

Wedding clean-up might not be the most fun thing to think about, but you can reduce the waste by donating your leftovers…and we’re not just talking about food! Numerous companies exist that will pick up your flowers to deliver to nursing homes, hospitals or compost them if they aren’t salvageable. Check out Random Acts of Flowers, Floranthropy, or Repeat Roses. There are also charities like Gift of a Wedding and Wish Upon a Wedding who specifically help those who desire to tie the knot, and every donation they get helps this to happen. 

If you can find a homeless shelter or food bank willing to take leftover meals—great! If not, you can set out compost bins for the scraps.

Recycle, recycle, recycle. If you are using any paper goods, glass, metal or plastic, set out appropriate bins so everything can be separated into the right category.  

9. Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

Plantable Seed Pencil Favor

There are lots of great ideas for eco friendly wedding favors! You could dreate escort cards that can double as favors, such as cookies with names or darling potted plants (we’ve seen succulents work out quite well!). Another idea is choosing a favor that gives back to the environment, like a package of seedlings! Another bonus, if you use potted plants for favors, they can also make great table décor, too!

10. Preserve Your Bouquet

perserve wedding bouquet into artwork eco-friendly wedding ideas
artwork from Wedding Bouquet Preservation

For many, tossing the bouquet is one of the most memorable parts of the ceremony, and even with flowers being one of the decor items that have the shortest life span, they can come with a hefty price tag. Preserving your flowers will not only prolong the beauty of your blooms but will also allow you to cherish those sentimental moments for years to come, as they can be transformed into unique keepsakes like art for your walls, flower paperweights or even a jewelery holder

11. Go Local

Ethical Eco-Friendly Wedding

Go local for catering and choose artisans and vendors alike from the area. By going local, you’ll cut out some of the transportation costs associated with bringing other people or resources in, while supporting business in your local community. When opting for locally-sourced foods, products don’t have to be coated in extra preservatives to keep them fresh for the long journey. You can also seek vendors that give back to the community, too.

Greater Good Events shares: We are a boutique event planning company with a focus on sustainability, and ethical events. Working with food and flower rescue vendors, and as well as sourcing eco-friendly vendors to ensure that as many parts as possible are green and thoughtful.

If possible, working with a food and flower rescue vendor is a great step you can make in order to make sure those resources don’t go to waste.

Incorporate Eco-Friendly Choices Into Your Wedding

As you plan your dream wedding, incorporating eco-friendly choices can significantly reduce its environmental impact and add a meaningful dimension to your celebration. Opt for sustainable practices by avoiding floral foam and donating your flowers post-ceremony, or use potted plants for décor that guests can take home. Embrace rentals for attire and decorations, ensuring items are reused. Encourage carpooling among guests and select sustainable fashion options. Consider vintage rings or lab-grown diamonds to add both beauty and responsibility to your choices. For invitations, go paperless or choose recycled paper, and select a venue that prioritizes natural light and green practices. Implement recycling and composting to minimize waste and choose local food and vendors to decrease your carbon footprint. Each eco-conscious decision helps create a wedding that not only celebrates your love but also showcases your commitment to the planet..

Got any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your eco-friendly advice in the comments below!