Your Guide to an Eco-Friendly Wedding

How to make your big day beautiful & environmentally conscious.

For couples who are conscious about the environment, a wedding can cause uneasy feelings. While it’s of course a happy occasion, some can’t help but worry about the environmental impact of a celebration with friends and family.

real wedding photo las vegas country club outdoor classic wedding reception white table with gold charger flatware greenery white rose
Photo: Susie & Will Photography

For couples who are conscious about the environment, a wedding can cause uneasy feelings. While it’s of course a happy occasion, some can’t help but worry about the environmental impact of a celebration with friends and family.

Though elopement is always an option, you don’t have to sacrifice the big wedding of your dreams to help the planet. There are plenty of ways to have an eco-friendly wedding without compromising on style! That said, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by trying to make every single aspect of your nuptials “green.” Even a few small changes can make an impact, and every little bit counts!

If you are hoping to keep the carbon footprint low on your wedding day, check out these tips on how to have an eco-chic soirée.

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Photo by Wild Whim Design + Photography; From Real Wedding: Outdoor Bohemian Fall Wedding at a Magical Venue in Los Angeles

Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations

- Wedding invitations alone use up a ton of paper, with the invitation itself, reception cards, direction cards, response cards, and two envelopes. When you include all of the pre-wedding events, that’s a lot of paper that ultimately goes to waste.

To cut back, consider E-vites for save the dates and parties leading up to the wedding. While we recommend sticking with physical invitations for the wedding itself, you can cut back on paper use by skipping the inner envelope and enclosing your wedding website to provide further information regarding directions, accommodations, and even RSVPs – or choose an eco-friendly wedding invitation company

- For your mailed wedding invitations, find a company that uses – or is willing to use – recycled paper. Another option that is growing in popularity is seeded paper. Wildflower seeds are embedded in the recycled paper and can be planted. Include a note on your invitations with instructions on how to plant.

Eco-Friendly Venue

- Holding the ceremony and reception at the same venue cuts down on fuel usage, as the bridal party and guests will not have to travel after the vow exchange. If this is impossible due to a church wedding, finding a reception space that is walking distance is a wonderful option. Barring that, providing shuttles between each venue at least helps to keep cars off the road. 

- As simple as it sounds, having an outdoor wedding cuts down on the amount of electricity used on your big day. If you have a morning wedding, this goes for the reception as well!

Eco-Friendly Flowers & Food

- Though flowers may seem earth-friendly in theory, many are sprayed with pesticides and are thrown out when the wedding is over. Make sure your flowers are VeriFlora-certified to make sure that chemicals were not used and they were not grown in harsh working conditions.

- Instead of having centerpieces of cut flowers that get thrown away, use potted flowers that your guests can take home. You can also arrange to have the centerpieces donated to hospitals and nursing homes the day after the wedding, like this couple.

- For both your flowers and your food, choose from locally sourced options that are in season. This cuts down on fuel usage because your dinner and bouquet won’t have to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to make it to your wedding.

Eco-Friendly Décor

- Instead of a tablecloth that was dyed and needs to be washed after use, rent tables with glass or mirrored tabletops. Add some candles for a stunning effect. Get inspiration for linen-free wedding tables.

- For cocktail hour, use organic-dyed linen napkins instead of paper napkins that can’t be recycled. 

- LED lighting uses a lower voltage, but still provides the necessary glow. If you are unable to use LED lighting, stock up on candles to reduce the need for electricity.

- However, some candles produce excessive amounts of soot, which doesn’t do much to help the earth. Stick to candles made from soy or honeycomb, which do not create black soot while they burn. 

Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

- The worst-kept secret in wedding planning is that most favors are unwanted, and these unused favors account for even more wasted material.

- Edible favors, such as jars of local honey or jam, are not only likely to be used, but the jars can also be reused. 

- A donation to a reliable charity is a thoughtful alternative to favors that doesn’t require wasting materials. Instead of using additional paper to alert your friends and family to your decision, place a sign (perhaps a reusable chalkboard) at the reception.

- If you really want to lean in to the eco-friendly theme, you can donate to a carbon offset program in order to make up for the carbon emissions caused by your wedding, including guests’ travel.

For further inspiration, discover earth-friendly floral designs for weddings and view more real weddings – and eco-friendly weddings specifically!