Approachable Ways You Can Be Sustainable While Wedding Planning

A little change can make a big difference.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Former Associate Editor
  • Maddy is a Brand and Social Content Manager at Birdy Grey, and was a former associate editor at The Knot.
  • Maddy has written for several different publications, including HUM Nutrition, Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School of Journa...
Updated Jan 31, 2020
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

We believe you should have your ideal wedding—whether that's a vineyard ceremony, a ballroom bash or an oceanside celebration. But if green living is important to you and your partner, you're likely looking for ways to plan a sustainable wedding. It can feel like a huge undertaking (there are so many moving parts to a wedding), so we're here to help. We've rounded up a few approachable ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly as you plan. Whether you're striving for a carbon-neutral event or you're hoping to plan a more sustainable wedding, here are nine simple tips to help you cut down on your day's ecological impact.

Rent Your Wedding Outfits

The fashion industry produces 10 percent of global carbon emissions (more than all international flights and maritime shipping), according to the UN Environment Programme. If you're looking to cut down your wedding's carbon footprint, consider renting your outfits for your wedding and prewedding events. Rather than buying brand new outfits for your shower, bach weekend, engagement party, rehearsal dinner and wedding day, borrowing clothes from high-fashion services is a great way to counteract waste (while remaining trendy). Services like Rent the Runway, Nuuly, Armarium and Haverdash allow you to rent clothing perfect for any pre- or post-wedding occasion.

If you're looking for an eco-friendly wedding dress but don't want to rent your day-of gown, buying a pre-owned wedding dress is another viable alternative. It will take out all of the ecological costs associated with buying a brand new gown—and you can score great deals. Websites like Nearly Newlywed offer a huge selection of used wedding dresses in great condition.

Plan Local Wedding Festivities

Lower your wedding's carbon emissions by cutting down on travel. By keeping your wedding festivities local, you and your partner will cut down on any extraneous emissions from travel. Plan a local engagement party, a hometown bachelorette party or a backyard wedding—all of which will be just as fun and won't require the extra energy.

Be Inventive With Wedding Invitations

If you're looking for a way to make your wedding invitations more eco-friendly, consider swapping out your stationery for something that's better for the planet. Of course, one of the most effective options is to go digital and send out electronic invitations. But if that doesn't sound like the right fit for you, you and your partner can use invitations made entirely of recycled materials. Want to take it a step further? Invest in biodegradable seed-infused paper that your guests can plant in their yards. (Let your love bloom in other places.)

Recycle Your Wedding Flowers

Don't want your wedding blooms to go to waste? Those searching for an eco-friendly spin on wedding flowers are in luck. Start off by finding creative ways to repurpose your blooms whenever possible. Those gorgeous arrangements you have at your rehearsal dinner can certainly be an embellishment to your getting-ready room to create a beautiful backdrop. Or recycle your ceremony flowers to serve as extra decor at your reception. Share the bounty with your loved ones as they depart the wedding. There are also services that will give your flowers new life after your nuptials. Many flower vendors or flower recycling companies in your area will donate wedding flowers to nearby hospitals and assisted living facilities.

Create a Plant-Based Wedding Menu

Animal agriculture is associated with methane production, water consumption and deforestation, per the Human Society International. To cut down on your wedding's carbon footprint, consider working with your caterer to create a plant-based menu. (Psst: menu inclusivity is a major 2020 wedding trend we've predicted.) Gone are the days of chicken and fish—serve whatever makes you happiest. And if you're focused on having a sustainable wedding, then serve your guests yummy meat-free options (like scrumptious pasta, stuffed vegetables or plant-based meat substitutes). It's an effective way to cut down on your event's carbon emissions, and your guests will enjoy delicious food no matter what.

Compost Your Wedding Food Waste

You may work with your caterer to create a delicious meal, but there's likely to be leftover food. Rather than dispose of the meal remnants, compost your wedding food waste. Composting enriches soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi and reduces methane emissions from landfills (thus lowering your wedding's carbon footprint). How cool is that?

Make Your Wedding Welcome Bags Plastic-Free

Whether you're having a local ceremony or a destination wedding, putting together a wedding welcome bag is a nice way to show your guests some appreciation. But including a plastic water bottle in each bag can add up quickly, so consider gifting your guests a more eco-friendly option. Whether you give them a reusable container, a seed kit or fair-trade coffee beans, there are countless ways to create eco-friendly wedding welcome bags.

Focus on Your Cash Fund

It can be tough to make an eco-friendly registry (most of it's online at this point, after all). But if you want to go the extra mile, cut down on the shipping emissions and packaging waste associated with your wedding gifts by focusing on a cash fund. The Knot Registry allows your guests to electronically contribute to things like your newlywed nest, your honeymoon (surfing lessons, anyone?) or a charity close to your heart. Start your own cash fund on The Knot Registry here.

Donate to an Eco-Friendly Organization

In lieu of favors, create a donation in your guests' honor to an eco-friendly organization doing work you believe in. Not only will it cut down on potential waste, it's a thoughtful way to personalize your wedding by showing your guests what causes are important to you. Whether that's clean energy, rainforest preservation, water sanitation or climate action is completely up to you.

Up Next
  • bride stands with guests in coordinating outfits at wedding welcome party
    9 Dress Code Explanations for Your Wedding Website