Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our full disclaimer to learn more.
In a time when plastic fills our oceans and landfills cover acres, having a sustainable wedding is more than a trend. It’s a nod to the future of the wedding industry.
Say goodbye to filling dumpsters with uneaten banquet food and trendy wedding décor and say hello to a green wedding that will make you proud on this Earth Day.
Recently, Cactus Collective and an army of Las Vegas wedding vendors held a sustainable wedding, complete with a gorgeous repurposed wedding dress and more. Read about the story behind the shoot here.
Check out these tips for having a sustainable wedding.
Remember, it’s not an all or nothing proposition. Pick the tips that work with your style, your ideas and your dream:
- Rather than purchase a new engagement ring, consider using a family heirloom. Or, shop for an antique ring. If you do purchase new, make sure to ask for conflict-free gemstones.
- This might be the simplest tip of all time. Pick wedding invitations made from recycled paper. There are plenty of companies using recycled paper and you can shrink your impact in this simple and elegant way.
- Pick a photographer who understands your desire to have a sustainable wedding. For this eco-friendly wedding, Cactus Collective Weddings.
- Rather than spend thousands of dollars on a new wedding dress, take a step back. Is your mother’s dress an option? Your grandmothers? Wouldn’t that be special to wear a dress with a history? Maybe you can’t fit in mom’s dress? Or maybe it’s not your style. Consider buying a dress from a vintage clothing or second-hand store. Then, make it your own. In our eco-friendly wedding, Las Vegas company Pincushion purchased a dress for $20 from Savers. Pincusion’s Abby Stroot altered the dress into a two-piece number and added a train. The result – stunning.
- For a groom, consider having your guy wear a suit he already owns, says Stroot. Spice it up with a unique tie. Because let’s face it, most men would rather be comfortable than stuffed into a tux.
- Rather than buy new bridesmaid gowns, plan a group trip to a vintage or second-hand store. Choose a color scheme and then hit the racks. Find dresses that can be altered into unique dresses for each individual bridesmaid. Or, hire someone to make dresses. If you decide to buy matching dresses for your bridesmaids, choose a style they can wear again. Too many of us have old bridesmaid dresses hanging in our closets that we’ll never wear again.
- Set on buying a wedding dress? Consider repurposing it after your wedding – maybe as a christening gown for your future children. Consider donating it to an organization that helps couples facing illness or life-altering situations … or even a military couple.
- Pick wedding venues that have committed to low-impact or green weddings. Take The Doyle in downtown Las Vegas for instance. Built in 1949, The Doyle is an industrial space with rustic, original wood trusses, white washed walls and a large courtyard. The Doyle has a comprehensible sustainability plan. One hundred percent of captured food is reused. The Doyle has a small micro-farm behind the building complete with ducks, rabbits, goats, pigs, guinea fowl, chickens and worms. The leftover greens are fed to the rabbits and goat, food waste to the pigs, chickens and ducks and dressings and sauces go to the worms. Any greenery used is recycled in compost bins or through vermicomposting, and floral arrangements are consumed by the goats or used for paper making. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are collected and donated to the homeless to sell for profit and any cardboard waste is used in artwork by one of The Doyle’s owners, Steven Spann.
- So much of what is used in a wedding ceremony ends up in a landfill. Consider a different approach. For this sustainable wedding, we enlisted the help of Jessica Huth with Gaia Flowers in Las Vegas. Jessica created unique greenery for our wedding by scouring the neighborhood, trimming overgrown bushes and trees. Amazing!
- Turn “junk” into decorations. Gaia Flowers used PVC for the hanging arbor; materials that were left over from a project. They even used an old hanger found by the side of the road. These were paired with outdated gardening tools for a one-of-a-kind chandelier.
- Ask family and friends to loan one unique item to decorate the tables. If you pick an antique theme, then ask for antique things. Or, pick a theme that suits you as a couple. You might be surprised to discover what unique table arrangement you can make with Uncle Bob’s antique horseshoes.
- Use potted plants instead of flowers. You can even ask family and friends to donate (for the day only) their favorite plant to decorate the venue.
- Do you have a crafty friend or relative? Sit down with them and find a way to make some completely unique decorations using items you pick up in a secondhand store.
- Food is a big part of any celebration, especially a wedding. Right now, the farm-to-table movement is going strong. This makes it even easier to find healthy food grown and cultivated right in your community. Locally grown food might cost a bit more, but you’ll end up with fresher and probably healthier food. If the cost seems too great, stick with foods that are in-season for your area.
- The couple love to send guests home with a gift or favor. Think eco-friendly for your sustainable wedding. Consider giving each guest wildflower seeds. Or, maybe you’d rather buy yummy chocolates in bulk and send them home with a jar of goodies in a reusable jar.
- Or give the flower arrangements to the guests as a favor. They can enjoy them for a week while they fondly remember your big day.
- Donate wedding flowers to a nursing home or local nonprofit.
- Consider donating to a local charity in place of favors. Make an announcement or put up a sign informing the guests that their presence has impacted the life of someone less fortunate.
- Register for eco-friendly items, such as organic bedding and natural kitchen projects. Or, if you’re already set on household items, consider asking guests to make donations to a favorite charity.
- Instead of a traditional raucous bachelor and/or bachelorette party, consider mixing it up a bit. Pick a volunteer project for a local charity and do this with your friends. Once the volunteer project is complete, you can still make the rounds to the local pubs for some fun and frivolity.
- When the light sets for evening dancing, light candles and save on electricity.
- Rent a bus, shuttle or van to transport guests. This cuts down on the fossil fuels used and makes it safer for anyone who may have enjoyed a bit too much wine at your reception.
- Consider using a local brewery or winery to supply spirits.
- When picking a honeymoon, think of a location that has value. For instance, investigate travel agencies that benefit nonprofits. One such organization is Charitybuzz, where you can bid on experiences or trips with the benefits going toward a designated charity. Check out this Forbes article for other organizations.
- Hire a local musician for your wedding dance. And consider hiring teenage string musicians for wedding music. You’re helping these young musicians save for college and their future and saving on costs.
These tips are just a start. Be creative and find ways to be gentle to our environment. And then, enjoy your big day!
Download the Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist for Couples
McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.