One of the cool things about planning a wedding is that you get to do things your own way. You get to put your spin on everything and instill your personal values into your big day. Whatever you say goes. Planning an eco-friendly and/or vegan wedding is becoming increasingly popular these days, for all of the right reasons.
Even though weddings are such a special occasion, they can be one of the most wasteful events with most things only being used for one day or a quick photo-op. Think of everything from all the paper used to the wasted food and cut flowers. It is all thrown out after the wedding is over.
You might be tempted to think about what your guests will think if you choose to have an eco-friendly or vegan wedding. Will we be judged? Will they eat the food? Although it is important to think about your guests when planning your wedding experience, it is ultimately you and your partner’s wedding, and instilling your values into it matters. Sure, giving your guests a heads up that all the food will be vegan is nice, but there are tons of ways to host an eco-friendly or vegan wedding without guests even noticing! So if you’re interested, here are a few ideas to get you started.
First, start by researching and looking into sustainable wedding venues. Ask your planner for recommendations. There are also a few other things you can do to lower the overall energy and resources you’ll need at the venue you pick. By having your wedding and reception at the same location instead of separate ones, you can minimize guest’s fuel emissions since they won’t be traveling to multiple venues. Also consider having your wedding outdoor if possible to maximize the natural beauty and use the landscape as your decor, minimizing what you’ll need to buy or rent to decorate. Or if you want to get married inside, doing so during the daytime with natural light will conserve energy. As for location, you can also get married local to all your guests so less people are traveling at your expense, or encourage guests to carpool together if they are traveling from out of town to your wedding venue.
When it comes to your wedding dress and overall wedding look, there are so many resources to shop sustainably. Think about going secondhand and hit thrift or consignment shops. Many brides get rid of their dresses and these stores contain lots of hidden gems that have only been worn once. Or ask if you can re-wear a dress that belonged to someone in your family.
Keep an open mind when dress shopping. With a great seamstress, almost anything is possible if you want to transform the look of a dress you find into something that is more your style. If you’re vegan, definitely avoid silk and try to stick to cotton, polyester, or chiffon fabrics for your dress. For accessories, ask to borrow from friends and family. Not only will you have an eco-friendly look, but incorporating family and friend’s past wedding looks will make yours even more personal and special.
From save the dates to invitations and place cards, it’s no secret that the average wedding uses a lot of paper. Try going completely paperless by using digital save the dates and invitations. You can still have customized and beautiful designs even if you aren’t using paper. If you hesitate at the idea of going completely digital, and you’d still like to have some paper, try using recycled paper options or even plantable paper with vegetable based ink for your wedding stationary. If possible, try to put as much information on your wedding website so that the paper usage is minimal.
If you’re getting married in or near a large city, there are likely plenty of fully vegan caterers that have pre-set menus ready for you to pick from. But if there’s not many vegan caterers near you, you’ll definitely want to do some research for vendors who are willing and excited to create a vegan menu for you and your partner. The good news is there’s never been a better time to have personalized food choices. There are so many talented chefs and caterers who are great at what they do so you won’t have to settle for a boring or taste-less menu full of vegetables. To keep it eco-friendly, try working with farms or caterers who source locally grown food that is in season. Because food will be coming from a shorter distance, that means less fuel to transport. And a bonus: you’ll be getting the freshest eats possible.
Many couples are choosing to forgo a traditional registry in favor of charitable donations or monetary contributions to their honeymoon fund. However, if you’d rather go with a traditional registry, with some research you can still find lots of items that contribute to your eco-friendly or vegan lifestyle to register for. Look for products that are natural, reusable, and organic if possible. Guests might even be inspired themselves to be more environmentally conscious when looking for a gift on your registry.
Flowers & Decor
Minimalism is very in right now so you don’t need much to decorate your ceremony or reception venue for it to be beautiful. Rent reusable decor when possible. Reach out to your planner or coordinator for suggestions of where to rent items. You can also source decor from friends that have gotten married, family members, and thrift shops. Another eco-friendly idea is to decorate with double duty items like using succulent centerpieces as guest favors.
For flowers, try to work with a florist that sources their flowers from local farms if possible and pick flowers that are in season. If you’d rather not use cut flowers, try potted plants as decor. They won’t just look pretty, but with outlive your wedding as well. For bouquets, instead of flowers, you can also use veggie bunches, broaches, fruit, recycled paper flowers, or basically anything you want if you’re creative. If you do end up using any flowers for your wedding, remember to coordinate beforehand to donate them to nursing homes, hospitals, and funeral homes so they can bring joy to lots of other people beside you and your guests.
Trash & Leftovers
To minimize your waste and salvage what is left over, work with your venue or planner to set up a table or system where guests or wait staff can dispose of the recyclables like alcohol bottles and a composting system for fruits, vegetables, plants, etc. For any other food leftovers, you and your caterer can arrange beforehand to have food banks pick up your un-served food, helping to serve those less fortunate and save food that would otherwise go completely to waste.
Guest favors don’t have to be boring to be environmentally conscious. Plantable herbs or succulents are very popular and everyone loves them. If most guests are traveling, gift them seed packets for them to plant when they get home. Or a soy candle or bath bombs are always a great choice for favors. You could also personalize your favors by gifting guests a small book with your favorite vegan recipes to encourage them to try new things on your behalf. Who knows? They might even find their new favorite dish. For couples wanting a different route for favors, donating to a few different charities in guest’s honor is always a great way to pay it forward.