Something old, something maybe not so new, something borrowed, something green — these days, couples are swapping wedding-day opulence for eco-consciousness.
“Sustainability has become an important consideration in many aspects of life, including weddings,” said Syrie Roman, the owner and creative director of Social Maven, based in Buffalo, NY. “As people have become more environmentally conscious, they constantly look for ways to reduce their ecological footprint. There has been an increased level of awareness of the amount of waste that weddings (and events, as a whole) generate; couples desire to reduce the impact of their celebration on the planet.”
Roman even points to the Knot’s 2021 Real Weddings Study, which reported that 70% of couples are interested in having sustainable activities and decor, with around 52% of respondents saying they are finding ways to incorporate sustainability practices.
Most recently, the Knot’s 2023 Global Wedding Report echoed these findings, noting that “sustainability is becoming more top of mind across countries.”
Anecdotally, planners are seeing an uptick in eco-weddings. Take Kawania Wooten, owner and principal consultant of Howerton+Wooten Events based in the Washington, DC, suburb of Bowie, Md., who recalled one couple who made sure that sustainability was a priority for their wedding day.
“First, they chose a wedding venue that was located nearby, so many of their guests didn’t have to travel far,” she said. “Guests were greeted by a beautiful chuppah that they created using materials that were passed down to them from family and friends. They worked with a green-certified caterer to help them create the most delicious vegan meal, and, instead of ordering kippahs specifically for their wedding, they provided guests with a bowl of kippahs that were donated to them from friends and family who had extras from their own weddings and mitzvahs.”
If you need a few ways to lower the wastefulness factor at your wedding, here are some ideas.
Opt for digital invitations
Or, “If you decide to send paper invitations, choose seeded, bamboo or recyclable paper,” said Roman. Check out Paperless Post’s sizable collection of bespoke designs.
Use local, seasonal blooms
Imported flowers are shipped from around the world, resulting in carbon-dioxide emissions, said Roman. “Working with small, local farmers will ensure that your flowers travel the shortest distance possible; some of these farms even offer to compost your greens after the wedding,” she said.
Alternatively, use potted flowers such as orchids or roses, plants or even herbs. “You can still have the botanical component of your tablescape, but you can give them to your guests to take home as gifts,” she suggested.
Another option? Bloomerent is a top-notch flower-sharing marketplace that repurposes blooms from events for reuse.
Plant a tree
“One huge way weddings contribute to CO2 emissions is caused by the necessary travel from their out-of-town guests,” said Roman, noting that you can offset those carbon-dioxide emissions by donating to a tree-planting nonprofit.
The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign and the National Forest Foundation’s effort to reforest national forests are two good options. “Couples could take it a step further and have a tree-planting ceremony on their wedding day as a symbol of their commitment to their environment and their own values,” she added.
Thrift it up for your decor
“Couples are bringing the charm — and sustainability — to their weddings by diving into second-hand and thrifted decor,” said Megan Breukelman of Megan & Kenneth, a New York wedding photography and videography company, based in the Hudson Valley.
Breukelman has seen everything from whimsical candleholders and quirky vases to vintage glassware sourced from thrift stores.
“The best part about these for couples is that it’s one-of-a-kind, and it’s something they can use after the wedding,” she said of this chic and eco-friendly alternative to buying from large retailers.
Thrifting is another sustainable choice for your and your wedding party’s attire, shoes and accessories.
Rent till you drop
Jamie Chang, the destination wedding planner and designer behind Mango Muse Events based in San Francisco, is all about renting items for your wedding to reduce waste.
“This applies to many aspects of your wedding,” she said, and can include attire, accessories, decor and more. “And if you go one step further and purposefully rent your items from a company who also has sustainable business practices in place, that impact is even larger.”