Use recycled paper for your invitations
By using recycled paper, you can save a lot of paper and a lot of trees, especially considering how many pieces of paper get mailed out (directions, return envelopes, etc…)
Use electronic communication for invitations, updates, and replies
Save money and trees by announcing, inviting, and updating people online or via email. You can also ask people to reply online or via email.
Consider treeless paper
You can also get invitations made from bamboo, hemp or kenaf.
Don’t use toxic ink
When printing your invitations, make sure the ink you use, is not toxic. Many inks are, so this is something you can easily ask about (or purchase if you’re printing your own).
Get a simple ring
A simple ring will take fewer resources – natural resources and energy - than a more complicated one.
Consider a pre-owned, re-fashioned ring
A pre-owned or re-fashioned ring takes fewer natural resources.
Try a wooden wedding ring
A wooden wedding ring, while not traditional, does not require the natural resources or energy that traditional rings require.
Make sure it’s not a blood diamond
A simple web search can tell you all of the negative things associated with blood diamonds; make sure your ring is conflict free. A jeweller should be able to tell you the origin of your ring. If they’re not willing to help you figure it out, go elsewhere.
Early Planning Tips
Cut the guest list
Fewer people means less consumption of food, drinks, decorations, pretty much everything.
Reuse & Recycle
If you know someone who recently got married, then perhaps they have some decorations, silk flowers, ideas, or suggestions that you can reuse or recycle. If nothing else, it will save you time researching these things!
Pick a venue that is outdoors (and free!)
Selecting a venue like an area of a forest or part of a beach is beautiful and free! It takes advantage of the nature that is easily accessible.
Think about where your guests are from
When picking a venue, consider where your guests are traveling from. Try to find a place in the middle. After all, the less your guests will have to travel, the cheaper for them and the less oil consumed.
If you pick indoors, pick with windows
Try to select a venue that has natural light so you don’t have to use electricity as much.
Think about asking your guests to purchase carbon offsets
Encourage guests to purchase carbon offsets or donate to an earth-friendly organization to compensate for their travel. Explain to them what an offset is and how they can purchase them.
Car or van pool from hotel to reception
Rather than have everyone drive from their hotel to the wedding reception, organize a car pool or hire a van or bus to transport everyone to & from the venue. You save fuel and ensure your inebriated friends get home safely.
Require a color, not a dress
Ask your bridesmaids to buy a dress that they will wear again – in whatever color you choose, if you want. If they can re-wear, it’s that much better.
Limit the wedding party
A smaller wedding party means fewer expenses for tuxes and dresses, as well as gifts for the wedding party.
Favours & Centerpieces
Donate as the favour
Instead of buying things that might get tossed into a drawer, consider donating money to a charity as the favour. You can have the DJ announce this donation. Tip: Don’t say that you donated “on behalf of” your guests! You don’t want people to get upset that you donated on their behalf to an organization that they may not support.
Plant a tree as a Favour
Plant a tree (or many trees) as the favour to your guests.
Give seeds as the favour so that people can plant on their own.
Give a basket of green products
Come up with a list of some green products and items and give those as the favour.
Make the favours the centerpieces
By using the favours as the decorative centerpiece, you don’t have to use more flowers or purchase other decorative items. And hopefully the favours will be useful and re-useable.
Consider a pre-owned dress
Try a wedding dress that is from your family or even a second hand shop. There are also tons of websites that carry wedding dresses that have only been worn once (or even not-at-all)! It will save on environmental materials AND save you money.
If you purchase a new dress, get one that is made from natural, organic materials such as organic silk or help.
Donate when you’re done
When you’re done, donate your dress to a charity that can sell it; it will create funds for them and save someone else from having to purchase a new dress.
Choose a simple dress that you can wear again
Everything is better if you can wear it again! You don’t need to get an ornate one-time wearing dress. (But if you do, please consider the above advice and donate it when you’re done.)
Don’t use disposable cameras
Disposable cameras require you to print all the photos AND dispose of the camera. It’s much more cost effective AND green friendly to use digital cameras (like the ones that your guests are already bringing).
Share your photos digitally
By storing digital images on your wedding blog or website for family and friends to download as they please, you save money on postage and processing. You also don’t use toxic chemicals to print too many pictures.
Print only the necessary photos
Print only the photos that are absolutely necessary.
Catering, Food, and Drinks
Use organic foods wherever possible.
Hire a catering company that uses only local ingredients.
Minimize the meat, maximize seasonal fruits & veggies
The less meat, the better for the environment. Using less meat and more local veggies means less consumption, fewer resources, and interesting food.
Donate the leftovers
Donate any leftover food rather than throwing it out. There are lots of shelters that would love to receive such a great donation.
Plates & Utensils
Use non-disposable plates and utensils
If at all possible, use non-disposables so that you don’t create a huge amount of waste, especially if you’re having a large wedding reception.
Use recycled materials
If you can’t avoid using disposable plates & utensils, opt for the recycled version or treeless options.
Flowers & Decorations
Use flowers that are in season
When you use flowers that are out of season, they have to be imported. Transportation and care of the flowers requires extra resources that in-season flowers don’t require.
Flowers that are local don’t need to be transported or cared for in the same way as flowers that are transported and moved around.
Grow Your Own
Grow your own flowers instead of buying them.
Use silk or dried flowers
Get silk or dried flowers as an eco-friendly alternative.
Use potted flowers and plants
Potted flowers and plants look great and they can be used after the event for your home or garden. Or you can give it to guests to use in their home or garden.
Use minimal amounts of flowers
Consider using very few flowers. Perhaps have each bridesmaid carry two flowers and have the bride collect one from each bridesmaid and groomsman at the front – as a symbol of how the wedding party have provided support to the couple.
Make your own decorations
One option is to decorate with white lights on trees or potted plants - assuming you get lights you will reuse!
Register for earth friendly products
A registry can prevent people from buying gifts that you don’t really want (however well-intentioned they were!). It can also allow you to register for earth friendly products and things that you would want.
Ask for donations instead of gifts
Ask people not to give any gifts but to donate to a charity of your choice – preferably an environmental organization.
Consider registering for non-consumptive gifts
Register for non-consumptive gifts that you would like, such as massages, wine, soap, or free trade coffee.
Miscellaneous Planning Tips
Use flower petals as confetti
Use flower petals instead of paper confetti, rice, or seeds. It’s biodegradable!
When you clean up or hire the clean-up crew, make sure they recycle instead of throwing everything away and filling landfills