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10 Tips for Planning an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Affordable and Easy Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas

Saving our environment has become urgent. Thank goodness planning an eco-friendly wedding day is super easy! In today’s consumer market, engaged couples have tons of modern and beautiful options for wedding details that are better for our planet. If you and your loved one want to plan an earthy, tree-hugging, planet-loving wedding celebration, this guide is for you. From booking wedding vendors to selecting wedding favors, we have earth-friendly options that are both affordable and accessible. Reducing waste on your wedding day will feel just as good as your wedding cake tastes!         

  1. Idea Number One: Skip the Paper & Plastic Products on Your Wedding Day

One of the best ways to host an eco-friendly wedding is to rent reusable products and decor. Say goodbye to single use items such as paper plates or napkins, and hello to reusable rentals such as party linens and wedding decor. Look to your local event rental company. Here in NC, companies such as Petal & Oak and American Party Rentals offer an infinite amount of gorgeous non-disposable wedding rentals to choose from. Don’t even worry about washing all of your wedding rentals, those services are included in your rental costs.   

2. Tip Number Two: Reserve a Sustainable Wedding Venue

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could share your vows at a wedding venue that is both beautiful and sustainable? Guess what, you can! As you search for your wedding venue keep an eye out for venues that already come fully stocked. For example, The Barn of Chapel Hill is a gorgeous NC wedding venue that also has its own on-site florist Wild Flora Farm. Or check out Lavender Oaks Farm, a fully functioning lavender farm with stunning refurbished historic barns. Look for a wedding venue that is already beautiful and then you can spend less money on wasteful decorations. Bonus points to the bride or groom who host their wedding at a local wedding venue close to family and friends, limiting traveling pollution from transportation exhausts.  

3. Eco-Friendly Wedding Idea Number Three: Hire Local Wedding Vendors – and Ones That Use Value Local Products

Hiring local wedding vendors is always a good idea. Here’s why: when you hire local wedding vendors close to your wedding venue, you are cutting down on an excess of carbon emissions. The same goes for buying local flowers and food. Ordering those exotic flowers that only bloom in Hawaii will result in a massive carbon footprint due to the carbon emissions of shipping and flying your order. Also, hiring local wedding vendors gives your wedding guests a taste of your home and the foundation of your love story. Ask vendors you’re considering if they use local products.

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HAIR Wedding Hair by Liz | PHOTOGRAPHER AJ Dunlap

4. Tip Number Four: Avoid Food Waste at Your Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception

One of the worst feelings in the world is throwing away perfectly good food. Whether it’s your wedding day or a regular weekday at home. As you do your wedding planning research and begin to talk to wedding vendors, here are some helpful things to ask the caterer: How much food do you recommend for this amount of guests? Do you have a preference for which foods are most popular during the season I plan to host my wedding? Asking your wedding caterer these environmentally conscious questions will ensure the least amount of food waste at your wedding. And if you still end up with leftovers on your wedding day, call your local food bank and ask to donate!

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CATERER Rocky Top Catering | PHOTOGRAPHER Robin Lin
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CATERER Parizade | PHOTOGRAPHER Riley MacLean

5. Tip Number Five: Ask Your Wedding Florist Not to Use Floral Foam, a Toxic Plastic

You may be asking yourself: what in the world is floral foam? Floral foam, or Oasis, is the green styrofoam material that many florists use to stick the stem of their floral arrangements into as a base. Basically, the floral foam is a non-biodegradable plastic. Not only is floral foam terrible for the environment, it also contains toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and carbon black that can harm the florist and anyone who handles the stuff. Ask your wedding florist vendor if they use a new version of floral foam that is biodegradable or if they have any other eco-friendly alternatives!

6. Earth-Friendly Wedding Idea Number Six: Ask Your Stationer for Recycled Paper Products

Picking a date for your wedding and sending out invites is one of the first tasks on your wedding planning timeline. This is also an easy time to get eco-friendly. Ask your stationer to use recycled paper for your custom designed wedding invitations. Odds are, you won’t even be able to see a difference between the recycled paper and non-recycled paper products. Local wedding vendors such as PaperBuzz and Blush & Blue Calligraphy and Design are experts in creating earth friendly products. The paper that goes into wedding invitation suites, ceremony programs, and reception menus add up quickly. Bonus points to any bride or groom who skips paper products entirely by creating a wedding website online!  

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STATIONER One and Only Paper | PHOTOGRAPHER Fancy This Photography
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STATIONER Cute Buttons | PHOTOGRAPHER Jamie Blow Photography
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PHOTOGRAPHER Amber Hatley

7. Idea Number Seven: Give Your Guests Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

Eco-friendly wedding favors are fun and creative! Give your wedding guests the gift that keeps giving. Here are a few eco-friendly wedding favor ideas: a packet of flower or plant seeds that are included in your wedding theme, local charity donations in your guests’ name, repurposed mason jars filled with homemade treats, or personalized reusable glassware that your guests can take home and enjoy! Eco-friendly wedding favors send an important message to your wedding guests about being environmentally conscious and may inspire them to do be the same!  

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PHOTOGRAPHER Love Shutter
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8. Tip Number Eight: Buy Used or Rent Your Tuxedos

The popular phrase says it all, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. Buying or renting a vintage or used wedding dress and tuxedo is the latest wedding trend. Say “yes” to a dress that looks just as good used as the one hanging on the rack that is new. Or stop by Bernard’s Formalwear in Durham, NC to browse through their top of the line suit and tuxedo rentals. The global over-production of clothing is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Take a step down the aisle toward being environmentally conscious. Modern brides love to incorporate family heirlooms into their wedding day. Ask your grandmother to try on her gorgeous, vintage bridal gown or ask your dad if he still has the cuff links he wore on his wedding day. Re-purposing clothing items on your wedding day is not only eco-friendly, but also adds a sentimental touch.

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MEN'S FORMALWEAR Bernard's Formalwear | PHOTOGRAPHER Radian Photography
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PHOTOGRAPHER Grain & Compass

9. Tip Number Nine: Reuse and Recycle All of Your Wedding Day Products or Decor

Brides and grooms, if you do end up buying your wedding decor or products, do not throw them away! Save your wedding decor for the future. You never know when you might be able to reuse those elegant white drapes or boho reception table lanterns. Reuse and recycle all of your wedding products for any future events or occasions. Who knows, maybe your future children or neighbor might want to borrow all of those glass vases and votives! Reducing waste on your wedding day by saving or re-selling your wedding products is an easy and awesome way to help protect the environment.

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WEDDING PLANNERS Grace Leisure Events | PHOTOGRAPHER Love Shutter
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PHOTOGRAPHER Grain & Compass

10. Idea Number Ten: Say No to Sparklers and Confetti, Say Hello to Bird Seed and Bubbles

Yes, we agree that sparkler exits look fun and cool in photographs, but there are more alternatives that look just as awesome. Skip the harmful waste that comes with sparklers or throwing confetti for more eco-friendly celebration techniques. Try swapping for bubbles! Bubbles look amazing on camera and don’t remain on the planet for over a thousand years. Or opt for throwing bird seed or flowers in the air! Throwing rice can harm the birds and other animals who ingest the leftovers. Bird seed is just as adorable and healthy for nature’s critters.    

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PHOTOGRAPHER L'amour Foto

Our team at Southern Bride & Groom magazine believes that it is our responsibility to share environmentally and socially conscious actions with the wedding industry. We hope you found our eco-friendly wedding planning guide helpful. We can’t wait to see the incredible and creative ways you plan your special day! Think your gorgeous, eco-friendly wedding should be shared with the rest of the world? Submit your wedding story here and you might see it on the blog!   

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