Say “I Do” to Eco-friendly Weddings

By Meghan Ploch, Rain Garden Development

I have been a guest at several weddings this summer and a Maid of Honor for one this coming weekend, and much of my time has been planning and helping with the big day. With so much of my time dedicated to these special days, I have been reflecting on different ways the traditional wedding could become more sustainable. Having a eco-friendly focus on a wedding doesn’t mean that style or elegance is sacrificed. Approximately 2.5 million weddings take place each year in the US producing up to 600 pounds of waste and 62 tons of carbon dioxide. Green weddings can be every bit gorgeous as conventional weddings, but without the waste.

green wedding checkout

Every part of a wedding has an eco-friendly option worth considering. Designing a sustainable wedding can be as simple as decreasing the guest list size. The number of guest can be the largest environmental impact in a wedding.  One of the most eco-friendly weddings I have attended had a guest list of about 40 of the bride and grooms closest family and friends. Reducing the number of people at their wedding reduced the amount of fuel used for traveling, amount of carbon emitted, and food consumed and wasted.

Recycled Paper
Recycled Paper

I’m not suggesting this as an excuse to invite the “not-so-favorite” in-laws, just as a stepping stone in converting your wedding to a more eco-friendly one. Consider all the stuff that goes into the conventional wedding such as a single-use bleached white dress, exotic, out of season flowers, toxic makeup, mined gem-based jewelry, non local foods, stationary, wedding décor, and so much more. There is a spectrum in creating a green wedding, but the start can be as simple as inviting guest using stationary made out of 100% recycled paper, but can be as in-depth as incorporating all local foods and beverages, flowers, and décor.

Reusing materials and incorporating local, in-season flowers
Reusing materials and incorporating local, in-season flowers

One of my favorite restaurants in Bloomington, Feast, recently catered a friends wedding here in town. They used organic, in-season fruits and vegetables bought from local farmers. By cooking with these foods less packaging, electricity and oil was wasted. Eating sustainably at your wedding is as easy as calling local restaurant to inquire about catering. Many chefs are becoming creative in their menus to cater to sustainable choices such as vegan palettes.

There are a plethora of resources available online, such as, to assist the bride and groom in planning a more sustainable wedding. Some areas are fortunate to play host to Green Wedding Alliances. The Chicago Green Wedding Alliance is committed to connecting the community to environmentally and socially responsible vendors. To encourage reuse and recycling, they have scheduled their second annual “Great Wedding Recyclery” where party goes can repurchase gently used wedding supplies.

The Great Wedding Recyclery
The Great Wedding Recyclery

There are a plethora of eco-friendly alternatives to some of the most popular wedding trends and traditions. If every wedding could incorporate at least one sustainable wedding alternative, there would be 2.5 greener choices a year. Eco-friendly wedding can be done without sacrificing a budget, vision or style. A wedding should leave an impact on your life, but not the environment.


3 thoughts on “Say “I Do” to Eco-friendly Weddings

  1. Having worked on the planning and execution of events for five years (weddings included), I’ve really seen a recent increase in environmental consciousness on the client side. Both at an individual level (e.g., weddings) and the institutional level (e.g., national conferences), more and more clients have requested recycling bins in prominent locations or suggestions of caterers that are particularly sustainable. I think the event management industry as a whole has participated in a significant and encouraging shift toward greater sustainability, and there is evidence of that — Green Sports Alliance, Green Meeting Industry Council, etc.

  2. The season of the wedding is upon us! I can’t find the article I read about what internet (ie. pinterest,, the knot) is doing to weddings, but it sure does seem like there’s a lot more stuff involved…handpainted chalkboard signs, paper programs and menus, photo booths,and intricate party favors. Keeping things simple and just using less is probably the best bet for a sustainable wedding, and keeping the guestlist down is a great point, too! Thanks for the fun post, Meghan 🙂

  3. I am doing a report on this subject. Your article is full of really useful information. I will make sure to come back to check out your posts for my next report. Cheers

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