Planning a Green Wedding: Ideas For Reducing Your Wedding Carbon Footprint

It used to be that planning a green wedding took a lot of extra work. But these days, wedding vendors are more aware than ever that brides and grooms want to plan a special event without sacrificing the environment. The result is a wide array of eco-friendly wedding products that not only make a wedding beautiful, but earth-friendly as well.

Eco-friendly Wedding Invitations

According to The Green Bride Guide, the amount of paper used to create wedding invitations each year could cover the entire island of Manhattan. Reducing the amount of paper used in an invitation is one of the easiest ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a wedding. Some green wedding invitation ideas include:

  • Choose 100% post-consumer recycled paper for the invitation, and print with only soy-based inks.
  • Print only the invitation and avoid the popular practice of creating a variety of inserts for each potential guest. Send maps, accommodation information, and other events only to those who have confirmed their attendance.
  • Opt for electronic wedding invitations. While it may not be suitable for every wedding, using an electronic invite will save paper, postage, and fuel for the transportation of mail.

Eco-friendly Wedding Attire

Many bridal and wedding attire fabrics are made with synthetic fibers and man-made materials that pollute the air and produce additional carbon. With more brides demanding eco-friendly wedding dresses, bridal designers are paying attention. Here are some ways that wedding attire can be both beautiful and earth friendly:

  • Look for bridal gowns that are made with natural fibers, such as cotton or silk. Justin Alexander, for instance, has recently launched a completely biodegradable and beautiful line of wedding dresses, PURE.
  • Choose a pre-owned wedding gown. Choosing a wedding gown from a consignment shop, thrift store, or a hand-me-down from friends or family not only reduces the environmental impact of the wedding, it can save a lot of money, as well.
  • Rent a wedding gown. Renting a wedding gown is a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to buying a new gown.

Eco-friendly Wedding Accessories

One of the easiest ways to implement eco-friendly practices into wedding planning is by choosing green wedding accessories.

  • When shopping for diamonds, choosing a conflict free diamond is one of the most environmentally and socially conscious options.
  • Many jewelers and wedding ring designers offer wedding bands and engagement rings that are fashioned from recycled gold.
  • Scope out antique stores, thrift stores, and consignment shops to purchase pre-owned items for wedding party gifts or bridal jewelry.

Other Eco-friendly Wedding Tips

In addition to making eco-friendly decisions in the core parts of planning a wedding, creative brides and grooms can extend their green wedding planning to other areas of the special event:

  • Give guests a renewable wedding favor, such as a packet of flower seeds. Small trees have become a popular wedding favor, but they only succeed at being green when the guest will actually plant and maintain them. Opting for something simple, such as seeds, keeps the gift low maintenance for wedding guests.
  • Opt to purchase a carbon offset membership. Carbon offset programs calculate the amount of carbon produced by the wedding, and use the money of the membership to invest in offsetting that carbon. Some examples include investing in wind or solar powered resources.

While there are many options to help reduce the carbon footprint of a wedding, it's important to always look beyond just the label. Many companies have started to "greenwash" their wedding products making them sound more eco-friendly than they actually are.

Creativity is key when planning an eco-friendly wedding and reception. Limiting choices to only those that provide the green wedding results the bride and groom desire can help make a the planning of a green wedding be less overwhelming and more fulfilling.