Summer is wedding season! While it’s a time for love, family, friends, and happiness, weddings can also lead to a lot of waste. The good news is you have the power to prevent it! Whether you’re planning a wedding for a future date or you’re putting the final touches on your upcoming summer nuptials, these tips can help you tie the knot the sustainable way.
Close to the Heart
Destination weddings are an effective way to combine honeymoons, get away from your usual surroundings, and cut down on the guest list (not everyone is willing to travel to the Bahamas for a few days). But traveling to exotic, far-off lands can also be taxing on the planet due to emissions from planes, trains, and automobiles. If possible, opt for a venue closer to home where guests won’t have to travel far and can carpool together. Outdoor venues are also a good option—let the sun be your light source during the day, and use solar-charged lights in the evening.
It’s 2019—why are we still sending things via snail mail? OK, a wedding is a little different since it’s a special occasion, but if you want to cut down on paper waste and costs, sending out an evite is another viable option. Paperless invitations can still be elegant, classy, and unique while being cost-effective and wasteless. If there are some family members who don’t have email addresses (we’re talking to you, Aunt Ida), you can still print and send a handful of invitations without breaking the bank or the environment. And, if you’d like a keepsake for your wall or wedding album, you can print one out, too.
Do the Environment a Favor
Unfortunately, party favors are one of the biggest offenders at weddings. While they’re a traditional and fun way to take the happy occasion home with you, they often end up in the trash. If you’re willing, forego the little gifts altogether and give a small donation to a charity in your guests’ name. Or, give something that will eventually leave little to no waste, like small jars of honey, cute plants, tea/coffee/spice blends, or reusable bags, cups, or straws. Consider this rule of thumb at bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well.
Dress to Impress … the Earth
What do they say about weddings? Everyone will remember the dress and the cake! It’s so tempting to want to buy the most expensive, elegant, show-stopping dress, but secondhand or heirloom dresses are an often overlooked option. Besides, heirloom dresses have special meaning when you know they’re being lovingly handed down from a cherished family member or friend. Also, men rent tuxedos, so what’s the big deal about women renting dresses?
Let Them Eat Cake
Then send them home with leftovers! That goes for any food you may have at the end of the reception. The best way to handle food is to find out how many guests will be attending and plan for that number to prevent food waste altogether. But, if that doesn’t work out, you have a few options. Have your catering company, if you use one, pack up leftovers for guests. Or, you can donate uneaten food to local organizations for the food-insecure. Yes, it can be done, despite what your catering company might say! It’s important to make sure you have a food waste prevention or donation plan in place before the big day.
Continue the Celebration
Did you know you can donate a lot of items that can be reused after your wedding? Flowers can be donated and rearranged for hospitals, hospice facilities, and elderly communities to brighten people’s day. You can also allow your guests to take arrangements home, but whatever you do, don’t just toss all those flowers in the trash. Organic waste makes up the largest part of the waste stream. Decorations, dresses, favors, unwanted gifts that weren’t on your carefully curated registry, and wedding prep supplies can all be donated to prevent waste and allow someone else a chance to celebrate on a budget.
Sure, most of us love the excitement of getting and unwrapping gifts! But, before you get giddy with the registry scanner, consider requesting funds for your honeymoon instead. Cash is always a good way to go, but if you’d like to suggest your guests contribute to a fund that will help you pay for fun activities, there are several honeymoon registry sites. The highlight of your honeymoon could be that your loved ones help pay for it! Who needs another toaster that will eventually break and end up in the trash anyway? Plus, imagine all that shredded foil, glittery paper and ribbons—you can’t recycle that stuff!
If you’re into environmentalism, these tips are a great way to bring awareness to your guests and prevent waste. And they’re all great suggestions for saving money, too!