2021 ECO FRIENDLY WEDDING IDEAS

Your wedding is meant to be the greatest day of your life, but it can also be one of the most wasteful—tossed paper goods, excess food thrown away, and leftover flowers dumped in the garbage. We're not saying to skip the party or those gorgeous details, but consider these eco wedding ideas, featuring small changes that can make a major impact. Planning an eco-friendly wedding doesn't necessarily have to be harder than planning a less environmentally friendly affair.

These days, sustainable wedding ideas are plentiful, with more eco-friendly wedding decorations on the market and greener options when it comes to catering, invitations, and more. You can even go green before your eco-friendly wedding even begins by choosing a responsibly sourced engagement ring.

 

Cut down on your carbon footprint by hiring local vendors, and buying local and in-season flowers and food. Also, request E-Brochures where possible from your venue and suppliers, rather than printed hard copies. As an added bonus, regional touches serve double-duty to bring together the theme of your party and compliment the surrounding area. There’ll be a huge amount of information to take away at each viewing and it’s easy to realise you forgot to ask lots of important questions.

 

To make sure you’ve got all the essential information you need before you put down a deposit, here’s a list of 20 questions to ask your wedding venue. We’re assuming you’ve already checked that the venue is available on your wedding date, of course!

 
eco friendly rings on wooden ring box

1. RING SHOP RESPONSIBLY

Your approach to a green wedding starts with the ring! If you’re serious about sustainability and ethical materials, make sure to communicate this to your partner.
The ring is going to be an heirloom for you and generations to follow, so it needs to be not only the symbol of your love, but also convey a meaningful idea, like caring and preservation. 

 

There are two possible paths to take here. First — shop for sustainable, ethical jewellery, lab-grown or conflict-free stones, which have less impact on the environment. Second — go vintage, whether it’s a family heirloom or a gorgeous precious find in a trusted antique store that has a beautiful story behind it. 

seed wedding invitations using seed paper

2. CHOOSE ECO-FRIENDLY INVITATIONS 

As wedding vendors become increasingly environmentally conscious, it’s easier than ever to find invitation suites that are printed on recycled paper or use alternative materials like upcycled fabrics, leather, and wood. Look for companies that give back to the environment while shopping for a stationer. For the most earth-friendly stationery, print invitations, programs, and menus on recycled or seed paper. Seed paper is a biodegradable material that sprouts into flowers when planted in a pot of soil.  If you are going to have your invitations printed on traditional stationery, then why not ask all of your attending guests to bring their invitations to the wedding and provide a recycle container to put them in. That way you are sure they will not go into landfill.

 

In this modern age, why not consider an e-card or video invitation or even create your own wedding webiste? There are plenty of sites that allow you to send and track your wedding invitation replies and keep your wedding guests connected.

2 brides in recycled 2nd hand wedding dresses walking

3. SECOND HAND WEDDING DRESS

Wearing a second-hand or vintage wedding dress means you are giving a pre-loved wedding dress a second life. Not only are the prices much lower than your typical wedding boutique, but they often give an on-trend boho feel depending on the style you have chosen.

 

Besides lending style and possibly some sentiment to your big day, incorporating family heirlooms or special items already in your possession cuts down on consumption. Whether you wear your mother’s wedding gown or put your aunt’s retro jewellery to work, repurposing will minimize what you need to buy for your nuptials. If your heart is set on a dress of your own, try and choose sustainable designers who can put you in an ensemble you can consider your “something borrowed.”

 

And if you are a vintage lover, then we don’t need to tell you that Etsy is full of vintage wedding dresses just waiting to see their next special wedding day!

image of wooden signed used at a wedding from amazon

image: Amazon

4. CHOOSE REUSABLE SIGNAGE OPTIONS INSTEAD OF PRINTED SIGNS

Rather than printing hundreds of paper menus, wedding programs, seating plans, or signage pieces for your ceremony and reception, consider multi-purpose sign options that can be used again after the wedding. Think chalkboards or acrylic or glass pieces that can be customized with markers or paint.

 

One way to ensure your wedding decor doesn’t go to waste is by buying items that can be reused in your home as decor after the big day. Think signage, your card box, monograms, etc– all make great additions to your home decor and serve as a special reminder of your wedding day.

place setting for an eco friendly wedding

5. LOOK FOR VENUES THAT HAVE INHOUSE DÉCOR

Why bring in decorations if they already exist at your venue? While booking your ceremony and reception sites, look for spaces that offer details that fit your wedding style. This will save you cash and the earth resources—talk about a win-win.

 

You can also opt for venues that are beautiful on their own, requiring less décor to be added to turn them into your ideal wedding location.

 

Consider hiring décor items rather than purchasing them if your chosen venue or location doesn’t supply them or don’t have the style you are looking for. This enables you to host a wedding celebration kitted out to your taste, with elegant – and non-disposable linens, plates, utensils, and more.

eco friendly wedding bouquet on a chair in forest

Photo by Artsy Vibes on Unsplash

6. ECO FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS 

Of course, flower arrangements are an indispensable part of the wedding day. However, depending on the size of your bridal party and wedding in general, flowers can be the biggest throw-away item from your wedding. When it comes to floral styling for your green and sustainable wedding, consider the following with your wedding planner, wedding venue and florist.

 

Reuse ceremony arch flowers for your bridal table decoration as this will save you having to fork-out for extra floral arrangements and will continue the theme from your ceremony to the reception.

 

Choose local and seasonal 

Flowers or floral decorations can contribute to the biggest wastage on your wedding day. Choosing local and seasonal flowers and greenery means smaller carbon-footprint, lower delivery costs, and more natural and organically looking arrangements. If your favourite flowers are out of season or are exotic, it might be tempting to ship them to your chosen destination and be done with it.

 

Try imagining the result though — will it look natural and in its place? Will it contribute to the overall ambiance of the place? Usually, the answer is no, and choosing varieties that are native to the area is actually more appealing. 

Potted flowers as table decorations
 

Choosing to decorate your dining tables with potted flowers and herbs is a wonderfully eco-friendly idea. They can later be donated to the local conservatory or taken home by the guests and yourself. Beautiful way to preserve memories and share a passion for natural world. 

 

Avoid floral foam

Floral foam is widely used by florists due to its ability to prolong the life of flowers (it soaks up water), and the possibility to create truly extraordinary shapes and arrangements with flowers. However, the problem is that it’s not biodegradable and actually toxic, and most of it ends up being down the sink or in a landfill where it never decomposes.  More conscious and forward-thinking florists use foam-free ways to make their arrangements, such as chicken wire and flower frogs, all of which are multiple-use and help create more natural, organically looking free-form arrangements. Also, request that your florist try not to use cellophane with the delivery of your bouquets.

Compost & recycle

If you do use cut flowers in your decorations, make sure to discuss with your florists what happens to it all after dismantling. More often than not, flowers are thrown away right after, regardless of their state (and let’s face it, they are usually in perfect condition by the end of the night and can last at least a couple more days).  If the flowers look fresh, you can agree to donate them to a nursing home or let the wedding venue use them for their other events in the near future.

 

A great way to handle the waste is to also turn used flowers into compost.
Discuss this with your venue and find the solution that works best for all parties.  

 

The florist may be able to repurpose them so work with your venue to ensure that they are handled with care after your wedding ceremony or celebration.

wedding table displaying eco friendly wedding food

7. REDUCE YOUR FOOD WASTE

Food waste is a big problem in the wedding industry, and it’s tackled with various degree of success by restaurants and wedding venues. Eating local is important all the time, as the carbon emissions involved with shipping food across the country or across the globe has a very negative impact on our environment. Work with caterers who source their food locally, and try to consider only selecting foods that are in season at the time of your wedding.


Buffets quantities are hard to control, and most times they create bigger food waste. If you do opt for buffets and food stations, discuss with your caterer how to handle the remains. Consider food donations to shelters, charity organisations or local farmers for use as animal feed.  

 

Food banks across the country will pick up chilled leftovers of unserved food from your reception. Speak with your caterers or wedding venue in advance to see if they can make the necessary arrangements. If they have done this before, they may know just whom to call.

bride & groom happy after planning eco friendly wedding

8. SHUTTLE GUESTS

Try and pick a central location to the majority of your guests for your ceremony and reception. This will reduce the carbon footprint of your wedding by reducing the travel required by guests both to the ceremony and then the reception. Organising a shuttle bus or similar service is a great way to minimise travel and a safer option for wedding guests wishing to party well into the night.

 

 
Hope this will help you celebrate your wedding in a more meaningful, green and eco-friendly way.