Note from Lauren: I get asked often to provide tips on how to plan a sustainable wedding. Because a wedding isn’t in my immediate future, I sought out the help of Christina from The Good Haven, a blog that focuses on sustainable and ethical brands, who happens to be getting married in October. Here’s what she had to say about planning a wedding that’s personal, affordable and sustainable:
As I’ve grown into incorporating sustainable values into my everyday life, from ethical fashion to cutting down on trash and waste, it was only natural that I ended up taking those same values and incorporating them into planning my wedding day. When I got engaged to my fiancé, our vision for our wedding was very clear; we wanted a simple, intimate wedding that focused on friends and family over stuff and things. We wanted our big day to reflect our sustainable values in all the details, from the engagement ring to the dress I would wear.
Although it seemed like a daunting task in the beginning, with some research and creative thinking, my fiancé Aaron and I were able to source the right vendors and find ethically-made resources to bring our dream to life. Even on a modest budget, it’s totally possible to throw a wedding that hits all the right sustainable notes while achieving all the things you’ve ever wished for.
Go with an ethically made and sourced engagement ring and wedding bands.
At first, I was really worried about finding a brand that was within our budget that used ethically-sourced diamonds and sustainable materials. After a lot of research, we decided to go with Canadian jewelry brand Foe and Dear. Aaron worked closely with owner and designer Katherine to create my ring. The ring was crafted so beautifully and was made with stunning recycled white gold.
Another ring idea: Going for second hand or antique rings is another great option, especially if you love vintage style.
Say “yes” to a vintage or second hand dress.
Known for their sustainable practices, Reformation’s bridal collection was one of the first brands I looked at when shopping for wedding dresses. I fell in love with a dress that I found on their website, but lo and behold, the dress was sold out online and in stores. After having a brief freak out moment, I decided to turn to eBay.
I ended up finding my dream wedding dress for only $300. Yes, it is possible to find your dream dress on eBay! The site is a treasure trove of undiscovered gems, and it’s also a more affordable alternative than buying a brand new dress that, let’s be honest, you probably won’t be wearing again.
Another dress idea: If you have a friend or family member willing to part with (or sell you) an old dress and you have a good tailor in mind, an adjustment in the hemline, neckline or sleeves of a dress can give it new life and make it all your own.
Rent the tuxes.
For suit and tux wearers, try renting instead of buying a new one. The Black Tux was a great option for my fiancé, since he isn’t one to wear suits very often, except maybe once or twice a year for special occasions.
See if you can arrange ahead of time with the rental company to not send any thin plastic coverings with the tuxes and just send them in the reusable garment bags.
Another tux idea: For a pop of color and fun, pair tuxes or suits with a sustainable tie made from vintage fabric.
Try paperless, recycled, or sustainable invitations.
Go completely paperless and do an evite or use recycled paper for your invitations like Paper Culture, a brand that also plants a tree with each purchase.
Because it was super important to us to send out physical wedding invitations, we decided to opt for online save-the-dates where guests could RSVP on our wedding website, which helped us save on paper and postage by only sending invites to people we knew were planning to come.
Another invitation idea: If there’s space on the bottom or back of the invitation, print a quick note asking guests to recycle their invitation. Something sweet like, “Save me, frame me or recycle me. Just please don’t throw me in the trash!”
Swap single-use paper or plastic for more sustainable alternatives.
We’re keeping it casual for our rehearsal dinner and are planning on hosting an outdoor barbecue. Instead of using the venue’s plastic forks and knives, I found some beautiful bamboo tableware as a sustainable alternative. They cost a little extra, but we were willing to spend a little more for the design and of course, the sustainability factor.
If you’re using recyclable or compostable alternatives to single-use items, also make sure you provide clearly marked recycling and compost bins, and if you’re giving a little speech, even feel free to add in a note about that and how you’re trying to make your wedding as sustainable as possible!
Another idea for avoiding single-use items: If there will be a bar at the wedding, arrange ahead of time that bartenders will only serve drinks in glassware, not use plastic straws or stirrers, and will only provide a cocktail napkin with drinks upon request.
Ask your wedding party to wear something they already own.
In the spirit of keeping things simple and low maintenance, we decided to have a very informal wedding party. Rather than fussing over perfectly-coordinated outfits (that are usually expensive and never worn again), we asked our guys and girls to come in something that they already own. For the ladies, I asked them to wear a simple black dress that they own or if they really want to buy something, a dress they would wear again. For the guys, we are asking them to wear a suit that they already own and to simply wear a black tie!
Another wedding party idea: If you plan to give your wedding party gifts on the day of the wedding or at the rehearsal dinner, opt for items that will help them reduce waste during your wedding weekend and beyond like a reusable water bottle, reusable utensils or a reusable straw for the giant post-wedding iced coffee they might need the next morning 🙂
Find creative ways to get the most out of your wedding flowers.
First, I’d recommend cutting way down on the number of arrangements you think you need. Our bridesmaid bouquets are small and simple, and they will double as aisle decorations for the ceremony, and then also function as centerpieces for the reception.
Send guests home with arrangements at the end of the night, or coordinate with a local nursing home or hospital in your area to see if you can arrange to donate the flowers the day after. Or, see to it that the flowers are properly composted so they don’t end up heading to a landfill.
Another wedding flowers idea: Skip cut flowers altogether, and decorate with potted house plants instead. Gift plants to your wedding party, close friends and family or fill your home with them after the reception.
Are you planning a wedding? What other sustainable solutions are you looking for?
Christina has an ethical lifestyle blog, The Good Haven, in Brooklyn with a mission to help educate and inspire her readers about ethical fashion, conscious consumerism, and sustainability. It’s a place for people to discover conscious brands, be inspired by their missions and stories, and feel empowered to shop more intentionally.
Follow Christina: @thegoodhaven