Looking for some ways to have an eco-friendly wedding that has a positive impact on the environment and your community? You're not alone — more and more couples are thinking about the impact of their weddings. It makes sense given that so many couples getting married today have been raised to recycle anything and everything, are aware of the the impact of their purchasing decisions, and have grown up witnessing the effects of climate change on the environment.
And it's definitely not surprising that couples are wondering what they can do when the average wedding generates 400 to 600 pounds of garbage, and 62 tons of carbon (whoa!), according to the Green Bride Guide.
We all know that it would take a lot of work to eliminate the waste from the wedding industry entirely, but even with some small basic changes, you can still make a pretty drastic difference on how much your wedding impacts the environment and your community.
The key is to be aware when wedding planning that all decisions you're making will have an effect. So before opting to go one way or the other, take a look to see if you can make a decision that’s not only best for your wedding, but the environment and your community, too. (Photo credit: Somerby Jones Photography)
1. Choose your location wisely
The farther guests need to travel to your wedding, the larger your wedding's carbon footprint. If you can, choose a wedding location that means the least amount of travel for all of your guests. Also, the more people who need to stay in hotels, the greater the carbon usage for your wedding. Realistically, some people will need to travel and stay in hotels, but it's a good idea to try to minimize both.
2. Ask vendors about their environmental impact
Every vendor you hire will impact the environment when providing services for your wedding. When possible, use caterers who source food locally, florists who grow their own flowers (such as flower farms) or use local flowers that are in season, and photographers who provide all digital photos (which is pretty common these days). The more your vendors consider the environment in their own delivery of services, the less negative of an impact your wedding will have.
3. Support companies you believe in
A lot of purchases will likely be made for your wedding: wedding attire, jewelry, gifts, decor, etc. When doing your research to find the best quality and price, also include looking for eco-friendly, fair trade products to purchase.
When you can, it’s great to shop local to keep money in the local community while reducing the effects of long-distance shipping.
Also, excellent businesses to purchase items from are B Corporations, which are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Here are a few B Corporations that are great for wedding purchases: Etsy for invitations, gifts and decor; Susty Party for tableware; Dogeared for jewelry and bridesmaids gifts; and, of course, Ben and Jerry’s for dessert.
Chelsea Frisbee of the Intervale Center, a non-profit organization in Vermont that works to strengthen community food systems and also rents our their Community Barn for weddings, suggests that people also think about how they can give back to organizations that have a positive effect on the local community and environment while wedding planning.
Instead of wedding favors, you can make a donation to a local organization of your choosing and then let guests know you opted for a donation instead of favors people are likely to forget or not use.
For a wedding that took place at the Intervale Center, Frisbee described how the couple asked if there was anything that they and their helpers could do while at the venue setting up for the wedding. The group ended up donating a few hours to help with the grounds at the non-profit.
Frisbee also suggests composting your wedding trash when possible. If composting isn't available through your venue, many businesses will come and pick up your compost for you (some will even transport it by bicycle, further enhancing your wedding's positive effects) for a nominal fee.
6. Choose your registry wisely
You can opt to fill your wedding registry with your standard items from big box stores, but there is a host of wedding registries that are much better for the environment. My personal favorite is SoKind Registry which encourages guests to give experiential gifts and time-based gifts rather than material gifts (though you can add some traditional gifts if you would like to, too).
What I particularly love about SoKind Registry is that it allows couples to ask for people to help with their wedding (for instance, putting a dessert for the wedding on their wedding registry in hopes that a guest will give it) in a really tactful way. And it also helps to create ample opportunities for friends and family can give meaningful, heartfelt gifts that the couple will likely treasure for a long time to come.
Want to learn FUN, UNIQUE + CREATIVE ways to involve your community in your wedding? Join Caitlin Frauton of DIY Wedding Mento and Edna Rienzi of SoKind Registry on Thursday, April 21st for a FREE webinar called "Creative Ideas for Community Weddings." Reserve your spot now!
Caitlin Frauton is the Founder and Lead Coordinator at DIY Wedding Mentor, a leading wedding planning resourcefor couples who are planning their own weddings and winner of the WeddingWire Couples Choice Awards. She started DIY Wedding Mentor after planning her own DIY wedding, and now helps couples all over the United States who are planning DIY weddings.
Want to learn more about staying true to the values you care about while planning your own wedding? Join the DIY Wedding LOVEFEST Facebook group and check out the DIY Wedding Mentor wedding planning resources for couples who want to have authentic, affordable and simple weddings.
*A version of this blog post was originally published on Bustle.com