If you’re like most brides-to-be, “eco-friendly” probably isn’t the first phrase that pops into your mind once you get engaged. But while it may not be as exciting as trying on wedding dresses or tasting wedding cakes, planning your wedding with an eye toward your ecological footprint is becoming more and more common.
And with good reason: According to Melanie Tindell, the founder of Oak & Honey Events, a sustainable event-planning company that takes a locally-sourced approach to helping brides design their perfect day, the average wedding in the U.S. produces 400 pounds of waste and 63 tons of CO2 from things like flowers, textiles, paper, and transportation.”
The good news? Making a few simple switches in your strategy can cut down considerably on the impact your event’s environmental impact. And according to Tindell, there are so many creative ways to amp up your awareness, you won’t even need to compromise on the things that you’ve always dreamed about. (You can even say yes to an eco-friendly dress!) Best of all, some of the most environmentally-friendly options are also the most cost-effective (so perfect for brides on a budget). Here are Tindell’s top tips for going green on your wedding day.
1. Think local. Before you get your heart set on some exotic buds for your bouquets, think about where how far they’ve had to travel. Tindell suggests looking to your surroundings for floral (and food!) inspiration instead with seasonal flowers from a local farm and hiring a caterer that uses in-season and local foods. Not only will these options likely end up saving you money, but you’ll be supporting your community.
2. Watch the guest list. We know, we know! But hear her out. “The biggest impact on the environment that brides can make is cutting down the guest list,” Tindell says. “While it can be painstaking to pare down which distant relatives or plus-ones ultimately don’t get an invitation, the fewer people in attendance, especially at your reception, the less things will be wasted.” This goes beyond whatever apps are tossed out at the end of the night, too. Since every guest has to travel some distance to attend your event, it cuts down on the overall carbon footprint, too. But that doesn’t mean you need to take a red pen to your favorite family members! Just think twice about the extra plus-ones, distant relatives, and long-lost high school friends. (Bonus: Pruning your guest list will save you some cash, too.)
3. Rent and recycle. Sure, you’ll want to keep key pieces of your special day forever, but some items just aren’t useful after the wedding day is over. Instead of laying out a lot of money for items you won’t use again, try renting your wedding fixings. “Renting decor cuts down on vehicle emissions from shopping trips,” says Tindell. And with so many rental companies these days offering unique and hard-to-find vintage items, renting can make your wedding day truly one-of-a-kind. Win-win! Already spent big bucks on some pieces you don’t plan to reuse? Try to get them into the hands of someone who will. “Oak & Honey Events hosts its annual Recycled Wedding Boutique every fall, inviting recently-married couples to sell their own wedding wares to soon-to-be-married couples, saving money and the environment!” Tindell offers. If your local area doesn’t have something similar, check wedding forums to see who might be looking for the very thing you’re trying to unload.
4. Try to be proactive, not perfect. Rather than beating yourself up about not being zero-waste or perfectly eco-friendly in every detail of your wedding, Tindell suggests striving for little improvements wherever you can. “Eco-friendly wedding planning does not mean your event has to be zero-waste,” she says. “It just means being conscientious about the resources consumed in the production of your event. Even little adjustments can still make a big difference!” Tindell notes that every step toward a more eco-friendly event is a gesture of protection toward our future planet, one you’ll get to enjoy with your spouse. “What better way to celebrate your future than by taking care of it?” she asks.
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(Images via Oak & Honey Events)