50+ Beautiful Eco-Friendly, Zero Waste + Sustainable Wedding Ideas
The average wedding produces hundreds of pounds of waste and tons of carbon emissions. While the easiest way to plan a zero-waste wedding is to head to the courthouse and elope, it's possible to plan a traditional wedding while reducing your impact on the environment.
If you're considering planning an eco-friendly wedding, commit to embracing zero-waste principles by renting instead of buying, selling or donating your goods after your reception, upcycling, and choosing eco-friendly brands. To jumpstart your wedding planning, here are 50+ ideas to help you plan a ceremony and reception that's kind to nature and the environment.
Send Digital Invitations
- Go paperless by sending out personalized digital invitations to save on paper and shipping costs.
- Use upcycled paper to set the tone for your wedding and reduce your carbon footprint.
- Choose for soy-based ink as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based ink. Soy-based ink is a more ethical choice and can make your wedding invitations pop.
- Ask guests to RSVP digitally by inviting and managing your RSVP tracking using an online invitation service. Most services are affordable and convenient and can help you save energy and paper.
- Create a wedding website to keep all of the necessary information about your ceremony, reception, venue, and registry in one place.
Choose a Sustainable Venue
- Choose a venue with natural beauty that requires minimal décor. A forested hillside or meadow is a perfect choice for warm-weather weddings.
- Reduce travel by hosting your ceremony and reception at the same venue.
- Skip the arch and get married under a tree.
Plan the Event
- Consider an elopement to cut down on the majority of waste.
- Host a smaller, more intimate wedding with fewer guests to focus on quality over quantity.
- Choose a minimalist wedding theme to use less décor or try focusing on one or two statement décor pieces from your wishlist.
- Serve a vegan spread or incorporate more plant-based meals to significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
- Plan a locally grown menu. Planning a farm-to-table menu can help you serve fresher, tastier food, and reduce transport emissions.
- Skip the party favors and thank your guests for celebrating with you by making a donation to a charity that holds personal significance.
Recycle and Compost
- Set up a recycling station at your venue the day before the event. Make sure your venue and wedding planner are on board with your plan.
- Clearly label your compost, recycling, and trash bins.
- Donate compostables to local gardening groups.
- Donate excess materials and papers to a local organization.
Rent, Don't Buy
- Rent your wedding clothes. In the United States, the average person throws away 80 pounds of clothing annually. Renting a tuxedo or wedding dress can help you combat textile waste.
- Rent the wedding party's outfits, including gowns and jewelry for bridesmaids and suits for groomsmen.
- Rent your wedding flowers or share the bouquet with another couple to reduce future purchases.
- Rent your décor through a local wedding rental service instead of buying decorations you'll never use again.
- Buy a pre-owned wedding dress. Shopping pre-owned designer collections online can help you find promotional discounts up to 80% off designer prices.
Donate and Resell
- Donate your gown or suit to a charitable organization like Brides Against Breast Cancer or Brides for a Cause.
- Donate your wedding flowers to be repurposed for hospice care facilities, cancer treatment centers, and women's shelters.
- Visit local secondhand markets and thrift stores for pre-owned décor items.
Invest in a Sustainable Engagement Ring
- Opt for lab-grown diamonds. As a new trend in the jewelry industry, lab diamonds share the same physical properties, optical properties, and chemical properties as real diamonds. Unlike moissanite, cubic zirconia, and other diamond simulants and synthetic diamonds, lab diamonds are indistinguishable from real diamonds to the naked eye. Lab diamonds are often manufactured for industrial use under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions in a sealed chamber and are guaranteed not to lose their sparkle. Although lab diamonds lack a significant resale value, they provide the peace of mind of knowing that your purchase did not harm the Earth's surface
- Choose a unique gemstone color to show off your personality. Thanks to lab diamonds, couples can find high-quality emerald, yellow, blue, and pink gems that are free of inclusions.
- Research the diamond industry to learn about the environmental impacts of mined diamonds on the Earth's mantle and negative consequences of diamond mining, like volcanic eruptions, before investing in a natural diamond.
- Choose a conflict-free diamond ring if you decide that lab diamonds aren't the best diamond for you.
- Invest in loose diamonds for a pre-owned ring setting. Whether your setting is white gold or sterling silver, lab diamonds can help you create your dream diamond ring.
- Take advantage of promotional discounts and special offer promotions on diamond engagement rings and donate the remainder of your budget to your favorite charity.
- Choose a jeweler that offers lab certifications from the International Gemological Institute or
- Gemological Institute of America to ensure you're getting an authentic lab diamond.
- Reset an heirloom ring setting with a lab-grown diamond.
- Reach out to a customer service support team member to find out more about how lab diamonds can help you afford the perfect engagement ring and promote sustainability. Choosing lab diamonds can help you create custom engagement rings, diamond fashion rings, or a one-of-a-kind ring set with your desired clarity and carat of diamond for a fraction of the price.
Choose Waterwise Greenery
- Opt for low-water flowers and plants. Hardy foliage like succulents, drought-tolerant flowers, low-water herbs, and eucalyptus can help bring greenery to your wedding while reducing water waste.
- Choose locally grown flowers and indigenous plants to support local businesses and encourage local biodiversity.
- Consider dried flower alternatives, which are on-trend and last significantly longer than their counterparts.
Research Eco-Friendly Brands
- Choose a wholesale jeweler to reduce transport emissions and score promotional discounts on your diamond engagement ring. Wholesale jewelers like Agape Diamonds offer shipping within the United States on all diamond jewelry and prices lower than popular fine jewelry designer collections like Ada Diamonds, De Beers, Helzberg Diamonds, Diamond Nexus, and James Allen.
- Find a "green certified" venue committed to operating sustainably.
- Choose vendors that donate a percentage of their profits to charity. By choosing environmentally aware vendors, you'll be able to give back a portion of your wedding budget to the community.
- Research nonprofit venues where your rental fee will support a sustainable cause or local charity.
- Consider the sustainability of your wedding fabrics by choosing sustainable designers like Reformation and Pure Magnolia.
- Find a sustainable jeweler that grows lab diamonds using a pure carbon starter seed in a vacuum chamber using high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) processes with the highest safety measures. The combination of heat and extreme pressure created by HPHT processes mimics the natural diamond growing process, meaning your lab diamond will look as beautiful as an earth-mined diamond.
- Decorate your wedding with potted plants. Consider bringing plants from home or using plants that can double as guest guests. Succulents are a perfect choice and can be easily grown at home.
- Seat guests at larger tables to reduce the amount of décor, linen, and floral centerpieces needed.
- Use upcycled jars instead of drinking glasses and let your guests take their jars home after the reception.
- Serve your meal with gifted reusable cutlery to encourage guests to practice sustainable habits at home.
- Use fresh herbs as centerpieces and encourage guests to use them during the meal.
- Create a cafe-style menu instead of printing individual menus for each table.
- Repurpose furniture, flowers, anddécor to be reused after the ceremony for the reception.
Planning an eco-friendly wedding ceremony and reception can ultimately help you promote sustainability, reduce waste, and save money.