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Green wedding ideas for an eco-friendly, affordable celebration

With Earth Day and wedding season in full swing, many people are turning to eco-friendly ways to have a sustainable wedding in 2022

“Your wedding is meant to be the greatest day of your life, but with tossed paper goods, excess food thrown away, and leftover flowers dumped in the garbage, it can also be one of the most wasteful,” Brides.com noted. 

Now, we’re not saying you should skip hosting a party or forgo those beautiful details, but if you are an eco-conscious bride or groom and want to reduce your event’s effect on the environment, here are some sustainable methods that are shaping the bridal industry and can ultimately reduce your wedding carbon’s footprint.

What is a green wedding?

A green wedding is any wedding where the couple plans to decrease the ecological impact of their special event on the planet.

“Today’s couples are concerned about the state of the planet and are passionate about lowering their carbon footprints as much as possible,” photographer Nikk Nuygen told the blog Junebug Weddings. “Most modern couples don’t want a wedding full of excess waste and unnecessary items, especially with the increasing costs!” 

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Wedding tablescape and decor (Credit: Something Borrowed Blooms)

And these days, wedding experts say it’s not too hard to accomplish, with many more eco-friendly wedding decorations on the market and greener options for catering, invitations, and more.

Have a smaller guest list

While you may want to invite everyone you know to your wedding, it can end up being more wasteful and ultimately more costly. 

RELATED: Learn Sustainable Wedding Planning with Detroit Cultivated

So, it’s simple: the smaller your guest list, the less waste you will end up producing. 

Consider faux flowers

For most weddings, flowers are used for a few hours before being thrown away. And, while the smell of fresh flowers can certainly be alluring, some wedding couples are opting out of fresh flowers for an alternative solution.

Businesses such as Something Borrowed Blooms offer silk florals — a more sustainable choice to fresh flowers. 

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Flower arrangement created by Something Borrowed Blooms (Credit: Something Borrowed Blooms)

According to the company, bouquets from Something Borrowed Blooms are reused multiple times, with light refreshes between each use. In fact, some bouquets are reused upwards of 26 times per year before being recycled. 

But, if you’re not into the idea of faux flowers, you may consider growing flowers yourself or utilizing a local farm. Some florists may even compost your arrangements after your big day, so make sure to ask your vendors about their options.

Sustainable wedding dresses and accessories

Many companies are also looking at eco-friendly approaches to wedding attire and its accessories. 

Businesses such as Etsy, Nearly Newlywed and Preowned Wedding Dresses can offer gently used gowns for your big celebration. 

And this isn’t limited to the brides. Your groom and groomsmen can also save big bucks by renting from suit and tux sites including The Black Tux and Generation Tux.

Companies such as NOVA by Enaura also offer rentals of bridal accessories such as veils, which may not only save you money on your wedding day (weddings are expensive!) but also help the environment. 

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Wedding dress and veil by NOVA by Enaura (Credit: NOVA by Enaura)

The founders at NOVA by Enaura noted that their customers desired wedding accents like a veil, but were reluctant to invest in them because the likelihood of wearing them again is slim. So, the team developed a rental option as a way to cater to modern brides who are sustainably motivated. 

But, if you aren’t interested in a gently-used dress or accessory, many bridal businesses are now using sustainable practices. 

The founders of Sophie et Voilà started a sustainable bridal brand that relies on sustainable materials such as recycled fabrics for each of its collections. The company prioritizes working without stock to limit excess and uses recycled packaging to ship the pieces.

Consider ethical diamond ring, family heirloom

If you want a shiny new diamond or wedding band, it’s important to track the origins of the stone. 

Wedding experts suggest looking into lab-grown diamonds

“Lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in nearly every way,” gemologist Anubh Shah told Brides. “They have the same chemical, physical, and optical qualities as Earth-mined diamonds.” They also cost a lot less. 

RELATED: Carats and ranch: Diamond made from salad dressing highlights lab-grown popularity

Moissanite, a rare, naturally occurring mineral, is lab-grown and gaining massive popularity. No mining is involved in the creation process, so it’s not harmful to the planet and it’s not involved in conflict trade. 

If you can’t afford an ethical piece of jewelry, you can also opt for a family heirloom. 

Use virtual or eco-friendly invitations

There are many options currently available for eco-friendly invitations. 

You can look for invitations printed on recycled paper or alternative materials.

Companies such as Paper Culture offer 100% post-recycled paper invites and plant a tree in your honor with every purchase. Meanwhile, Botanical Paperworks prints their invites on seed-infused paper that you can plant and turn into flowers.

Or, you may consider doing away with paper altogether, opting for digital-only invitations. This will cut down on all paper waste, and it may be a big money saver, as well. 

Choose reception with built-in decor

When scouting out your dream venue, consider sites and spaces that already have decor available. 

Does your venue come with tables, florals or other decorations? Ask these questions when choosing a venue. 

The more that is already available at the property, the more sustainable the choice will be. Plus, it’s likely going to save you a lot of money. 

Consider a local or vegetarian meal at the wedding

It may be controversial to consider a vegetarian meal at your wedding, but plant-based meals generally consume fewer resources to produce. You may also look for natural wine as your drink of choice to support environmentally conscious producers. 

If you know you cannot have a plant-based celebration, finding locally-sourced ingredients for your wedding can also help, since carbon emissions from shipping food can be more harmful to the environment. 

After the wedding, donate decor

Once your big day is over, consider the myriad of ways to donate, reuse or recycle your items. 

Consider reselling your wedding decor, dropping the items off at a thrift store or gifting it to family, friends or wedding guests so the items don’t go to waste. 

Also, if possible, donate your leftover flowers and food to local hospitals, food kitchens or homeless shelters. 

Happy wedding planning!

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