Green weddings: Leave a smaller footprint

Green weddings: Leave a smaller footprint
Green weddings are a great way to lessen your carbon footprint. (Photo/Anna Shvets)

By Vanessa Ferragut

We’ve all heard the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle,” before but how can we incorporate this theme into weddings, to both save money and leave a smaller footprint?

To start, understanding that there is a reason we read this as “reduce, reuse and recycle” – and in that order – is important. The first of the three guiding principles happens to be the most cost-effective, has the least environmental impact and adds the greatest sustainable benefit to your wedding.


If you eliminate an item you were considering for the wedding, you won’t have to dispose of it afterwards – or pay for it in the first place. Imagine never having to throw something out, ship something back or store it somewhere afterward.

Consider applying the concept of reducing to your catering, florals and giveaways. In catering, consider working with a caterer that buys from local farmers and suppliers to reduce the distance your food has traveled from farm to fork. Choosing a menu of chicken or fish also reduces the resources needed to raise popular meat options like beef. Reducing the number of guests reduces the number of decorations, food, traveling and so many more factors.

Micro weddings have grown in popularity over the years not just for their budget-conscious offerings, but for the intimacy and warmth they bring to a smaller, cozy setting. Many wedding flowers are shipped from hundreds of miles away, so work with a local florist who is buying from nearby and likely using just as beautiful seasonal flowers. Opting to make a donation to a charity that is near and dear to the hearts of the couple in lieu of a wedding favor is also a great way to give back to the communities you love and share that story with your guests.


In weddings, “something borrowed” can be a tradition for some or just a way to include someone who has passed on into the day’s ceremonies. If you are working with a decorator or florist that rents out centerpieces and other central-themed decor – instead of selling them to you – you know what you’re using can and will be put to use again.

Working with a sustainable venue also supports your goal of a sustainable wedding. Is the venue powered by reusable resources like solar or wind; was it made of recycled/reused content; do they have decor and furniture in-house that you could use, or do they have any sustainability practices in place that compliment your vision?

Ask your caterer to use glassware and dishware: Reusing these items keeps disposable items out of the landfill. You can also consider wedding invitations embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted afterwards and add a special touch to your guests’ invitations.


Although recycling is the last of the guiding principle’s most environmentally beneficial options, it is still an essential alternative to the landfill. But recycling isn’t just about the end of that product’s life cycle: it can be the beginning, too.

For this reason, recycling is twofold. For example, consider wedding invitations, wedding programs or wedding favors made of recycled content or ask that your venue and the caterer recycle after the event. Inquire if your caterer or the venue composts.

And if you must use disposables, consider asking your caterer to use disposables made of compostable materials, and ensure that they are in fact, composting the materials afterwards. Otherwise, if compostable items end up in the landfill, they take just as long to decompose as any other paper products.

Your special day can be a beautiful way to express your love of each other, and a love of the planet you call home, as you build your lives together.

The writer is a certified wedding planner.