zero waste wedding

10 Tips for Planning a Zero-Waste Wedding

Jane Marsh - March 14, 2019

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Although you want your wedding to stand apart as a sentimental celebration, you also want to treat the earth right. However, you might be like many others who don’t realize how many paper products, décor accents and food items get thrown away after a couple ties the knot. Welcoming a zero-waste wedding can be your solution.

Environmental considerations during your wedding planning can have a substantial impact. Based on the 2.5 million American weddings each year, a typical wedding generates approximately 500 pounds of waste. Exchanging your vows doesn’t have to expend massive amounts of material if you choose a zero-waste wedding.

A zero-waste wedding doesn’t mean you skimp on the ambiance of the event. It means you carefully reduce your consumption and implement renewable alternatives. Check out these 10 tips for planning your green wedding.

1. Send Digital Save-the-Dates and Invites

Announcing your upcoming wedding doesn’t have to use up tons of paper with printed save-the-dates, although that is the traditional and formal option. By cutting out envelopes and stamps, switching to emailed reminders can efficiently decrease your paper waste.

Digital save-the-dates and invitations have become much classier, too, with services like Paperless Post, which brings fun designs and online RSVP capabilities. Plenty of customizable features still make the digital replacements just as personal.

With an influx of physical invites around wedding season, your guests can appreciate receiving one less piece of paper in their mailbox. Consider recycled or artisanal plantable paper for your wedding if you have your heart set on handheld mail.

2. Use Pre-Loved Attire

Many couples and their wedding parties wear their wedding-day outfits only once, then discard them, ignoring the ethical factors involved. From the tuxes to the bridesmaids’ dresses, you can take a sustainable course.

If your groomsmen and bridesmaids have fancy outfits already, ask them to wear what they already own. On the other hand, you might want to maintain a unified look. In that case, you can rent bridal party outfits for the day and return them to the rental company for further use.

The usual central figure of the wedding, the bride, has several waste-free choices, too. Repurposing a vintage bridal gown is perfect because the bride can sport an original style while avoiding a new purchase.

You can also join many other brides in renting a wedding gown. Places like Rent the Runway allow brides to wear a dream dress at a fraction of the price while conserving crucial resources.

3. Opt for Secondhand Rings

In an attempt to gather raw materials, the jewelry industry has polluted the earth and participated in controversial environmental actions. Conflict-free wedding jewelry is a chance to promote a positive, ethical process.

Secondhand wedding rings from a local store or an online shop can fit right into your zero-waste wedding. If there’s a ring available from a family member, this kind of pre-loved jewelry can add a sense of heritage.

4. Wear Sustainable Makeup

Wedding-day beautification is another way to exchange harmful items for beneficial ones. Cosmetic waste primarily affects the ocean, like when microbeads from exfoliating scrubs go down the drain.

Pure beauty products from conscientious brands are ideal for your wedding look. You can ditch chemical-filled products and adopt healthy ones to boost your natural beauty on your big day. Introduce your bridesmaids to these natural cosmetics, too.

5. Embrace an Outdoor Venue

Rather than hosting your wedding in an indoor event space or church, you can take the celebration outside. Conserve energy by taking advantage of natural light and accepting the outdoor climate can diminish your expenses and contribute to the environment.

6. Choose Eco-Friendly Food

Your soon-to-be mother-in-law may select her favorite main course, but leave the side items untouched. Plating foods guests might not eat frequently leads to full garbage bags after the event.

Let guests pile on their chosen portions by setting up a buffet. Locate an eco-conscious catering company that makes good use of the scraps.

Composting the leftovers is one way to repurpose unused food. You can also dodge plastic dinnerware and pick up the best biodegradable plates, cutlery and cups to add to the compost pile.

7. Select Bulk Beverages

Celebrations call for top-notch beverages, but your wedding can responsibly and sustainably serve alcohol — with bulk containers.

Big-batch cocktails, kegs and growlers can keep guests content while limiting single-use containers. Also, reducing the number of wines and beers on your menu can diminish waste.

If you can’t forgo wine bottles and you have a bartender, set them up with a nearby recycling bin and instructions on what qualifies as recyclable material. With your bartender watching out for waste, you can relax and enjoy the festivities.

8. Go for Natural Decor

While greenery and flowers are in style, you can go a little further for purposeful decor. Make sure to shop locally for in-season blossoms to lend a hand to the earth.

After the event is over, don’t throw away your bouquets or centerpiece arrangements. Preserve some of your wedding-day blooms and incorporate them into home decor. You can transform them into wreaths to remember this special time or press them to create artwork.

9. Rent or Borrow Ceremony and Reception Furniture

Setting up your event outdoors can still be a captivating space with the right furniture, but borrow the props rather than buy them to maintain your zero-waste theme.Do your friends or family members have spare tables or chairs? Ask them to drop off their extra furniture that suits your wedding atmosphere. You can also rent farm tables and chairs for your sustainable reception.

10. Give Green Favors

Sending your guests home with a little memento of the day is considerate, but ensure the favors are useful and green.

Seed packets or potted plants are both appropriate favors that show your passion for the earth. Sweet treats your guests can eat on the way home are also thoughtful and smart.

Eliminate Waste on Your Big Day

Sustaining a green mindset during your wedding planning is doable and can make the event reflect your values. Say no to waste on your big day to display your love for the environment

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.