Wedding planning can be a lot of fun, but it can also be overwhelming. And the stress of planning gets even bigger when, along with everything else, you're trying to balance your concerns for the environment and combat the needless waste that can run rampant in the wedding industry.
Trying to find sustainable solutions isn't always easy, especially when you're on a budget and trying not to over-complicate things. But hosting an eco-conscious event doesn't have to be impossible. And making sustainable choices isn't just for tree-huggers.
Here are five Earth-friendly ideas that won't put any additional burden on your wallet or your special day…
Follow the crowd
The first step when planning a wedding is deciding where you want to say “I do.” Between couples delaying marriage, and school and work moving people far from where they grew up, friends and families are often spread out.
Choosing to have your wedding where most of your guests live, or at least near a central travel hub, can cut down on wedding-related travel. It also cuts down on the additional planning needed for out-of-town guests, like booking hotels. And if your guests aren't busy flying or driving, they might be willing to pitch in and help with last-minute details.
Your guests will be saved the hassle and costs of travel, and the planet will be saved from the tons of emissions generated by flights and road trips.
Cut (out) the cake
Have you ever been to a wedding where you missed dessert because you were having too much fun on the dance floor? Maybe your slice of cake was cleared away prematurely while you were in the restroom.
What becomes of these deserted desserts? Often, they get trashed and contribute to the 10 percent of food that goes to waste at weddings. Instead of going for the traditional cake, opt for a more portable alternative so that your dessert doesn't get wasted. Doughnuts, cookies, and cannoli are great grab-and-go options guests can enjoy while mingling. They're also easier to transport than an elaborate tiered cake and you can avoid the typical wedding price tag markup.
Skipping paper products like RSVP cards, menus, and programs allows trees to remain in their rightful place: providing wildlife habitat and absorbing carbon dioxide. Emailing save-the-date cards and wedding invitations is also more cost-effective than printing, and eliminates the need for stamps.
If you have your heart set on snail mail, consider opting to receive RSVPS online. They're a more forest-friendly choice, and they're better both for budget and simplicity. There are free online tools that will organize your RSVPs for you instead of you having to keep track, a huge upgrade over the old-school method.
Wear something old (or borrowed)
Brand new wedding dresses and suits require resources to make them. They're also expensive, especially for something you're only going to wear once. Renting suits is a great way to minimize the use of new raw materials. And rental isn't just for menswear anymore. Dress rental is becoming more common. You can also opt for a used dress, which costs a fraction of its new counterpart. And, as an item that's usually only been worn for a day, used dresses can be found in excellent condition. That means no one will be the wiser.
You can find used dresses at online resale shops as well as in local consignment stores, which are usually not as overwhelming as the big box stores.
Toss the bouquet
The majority of flowers purchased in the United States are grown in Colombia. To make it intact for a state-side wedding, they need to be cut, stored, transported, and then arranged and sold.
All of these steps contribute to the sticker shock most couples feel when looking at the costs of wedding flowers. They also add a hefty climate cost to your decor.
Thankfully there are great alternatives to traditional bouquets and floral arrangements, like lanterns or potted plants. These options are often sturdier, you don't have to worry about them wilting, and they're often cheaper than the average wedding bouquet and less resource intensive. They can even serve double duty — becoming wedding favors when the party is over.
Help give the planet a chance for a happily ever after when planning your wedding. It doesn't have to cost you anything extra and may even make the road to walking down the aisle a little smoother.