Many couples who had planned their weddings for 2020 and 2021 were forced by Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions to postpone their celebrations til this year. Now, it’s wedding season again and love is in the air. But you know what else is in the air? Planet-warming co2 emissions, smog, and pollution in general—all of which are bad news for everyone’s future.
If you’re in the middle of planning your wedding but want to ensure that your celebration of love also reflects the love and care you have for the earth, then here are some things to consider.
Skip the destination wedding
While it may sound like a dream to exchange vows in a beautiful land, far, far away, the reality is that the environmental cost of a destination wedding is quite pricey. Requiring your guests to hop on a plane to attend your wedding only adds to co2 emissions that come from air travel—a number that already sits between two and three percent of the globe’s total co2 emissions.
Instead, consider hosting your wedding at a central location that most friends, family, and loved ones can get to without catching a flight. Of course, there may be a few guests who still have to fly, however, making sure most guests don’t have to will help reduce your big day’s impact on the environment.
Pick an eco-friendly venue
Once you’ve got the general area figured out, it’ll be time to narrow down the venue. Naturally, you and your partner should choose a venue that prioritizes the environment—something much easier to find these days.
To avoid falling prey to greenwashing, make sure to look for certain certifications. When choosing venues, keep an eye out for locations that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, or Energy Star certified. Another good resource when searching for green buildings or venues for any event is the Green Building Information Gateway.
When checking out a place, make sure to ask the important questions, like: how do they handle waste? Where do they source the ingredients for their meals? Do they incorporate renewable energy sources to power their facilities?
Or, if the climate and weather allow, you can decide to get married outdoors. This eliminates the need to use a lot of resources to decorate the place, as well as the need for excessive lighting, heating, or cooling.
Rent what you can
Weddings are events that require many items that will only be used once. Instead of buying things new, consider renting items like bridesmaids’ dresses, veils, jewelry, tuxes, and other garments.
Renting won’t just save resources, but will likely also save your wallets.
Mining gold, diamonds, and other precious metals or stones have a severe impact on nearby ecosystems and water quality. The practice of exploiting the planet is also linked to human rights atrocities—another reason to reject traditional wedding and engagement rings.
These days, however, there are plenty of shops and businesses offering sustainable jewelry, so it should be fairly easy to find a place that suits you and your partner’s style and aligns with your values.
Another option is to melt down secondhand gold jewelry to make new rings that are specially designed for/by you and your partner, or to use pieces that are already in your family.
Setting up a gift registry is a great way for you and your partner to start your married life on the right foot. However, before throwing every little thing onto your list, make sure to really consider what you need.
Before adding anything to your wishlist, think about whether you already have these items or if they are things you could easily find secondhand.
You could also opt for a sustainable registry, or ask guests to make a charitable donation to organizations that protect and conserve the environment.
Pick flowers mindfully
When purchasing flowers, it’s best to go for locally grown flowers that weren’t imported from far away, which releases more co2 emissions into the atmosphere. We’ve written a whole article on buying sustainable flowers and bouquets that you can find here.
Forgo wasteful traditions
Many wedding traditions are inherently wasteful, so instead of letting tradition direct the show, you and your partner should decide for yourselves which traditions you can cut.
For instance, throwing confetti might be a good photo op, but is essentially littering. Instead, consider alternatives like using a hole puncher to make small pieces out of colorful leaves for biodegradable confetti.
Instead of party favors (which could be an added source of waste), give away small plants used as decorations so that guests can replant them when they get home or give experiences like a gift card from a local coffee shop.
Serving plant-based meals is a great way to reduce waste and cut down on wedding-related emissions.
Also, be sure to minimize food waste by calculating how much food you’ll need based on how many guests will be in attendance.
Recycle and compost
If you’ve selected a venue that values environmentally friendly practices, then they will likely already have a system for recycling materials such as paper and plastic. The same goes for composting, which helps keep food waste out of landfills and minimizes the release of greenhouse gases.
Donate the rest
At the end of your big day, there will probably be many items that are fit to be donated. If there are unopened trays of food or other leftovers, then consider donating those to local community kitchens and homeless shelters.
You can also plan ahead by partnering with an organization ahead of time that could make use of any leftovers, flower arrangements, or wedding outfits.