There are many ways to incorporate eco-friendly ideas and products into your wedding celebration. These include, but are most definitely not limited to, the following:
Wedding bands are one of the few tangible items from your wedding day that you will keep and continue to see everyday. For such an important item, why not make a choice that the environment will love just as much as you? A great choice is to use antique or family heirlooms as rings. They can be resized or even melted down and molded into a new ring using the same materials to create a truly unique band.
If you are set on purchasing brand new rings, be sure to consider he materials used. Ask your jeweler for information on the source of the diamonds and gold in the jewelry they carry. Generally, Canada diamonds are ethically mined and responsibly sourced pieces that you can be proud to wear. Cred Jewelry is a company that specializes in jewelry with gold that is responsibly mined and diamonds that are guaranteed to not have been involved in any violent armed conflict. Best of all, their pieces are gorgeous!
There are plenty of ways to customize wedding invitations and now those include green options such as using eco-friendly and recycled papers, no-chlorine dye, and vegetable based inks! If possible, choose a local stationer as opposed to ordering online to support the local economy and reduce shipping since the stationer will probably print at a local or at least regional printer. Choose designs with less paper, such as a postcard Save The Date with just one 3"x6" card instead of a paper card inside a paper envelope with a paper lining sheet. Your invitations will probably still need to contain more papers with the invite, response card, etc. but you can maintain the green idea by not including any plastic wrapping.
Ceremony and Reception Location
Traveling can be a big contributor to the overall carbon footprint of your wedding. To decrease travel, choose venues in a location where your guests will have minimal travel. If you can, hold the ceremony and the reception at the same venue to avoid having to drive from one to the another. If they are in separate locations, consider having some sort of shuttle service that guests can take to the venues and back to their hotels so that you don't have guests driving in multiple separate cars.
Another way to maximize your venue is to choose a space with natural beauty and classicly beautiful interiors. Or both! A good outdoor space with plenty of greenery and florals will provide an elegant backdrop that does not need very much additional decor. Less decor equals less waste. The same goes for an indoor space. Although you won't find as many trees or flowers permanently installed at an indoor venue, you can choose a space with great crown moldings, pillars, or other touches that will result in less work for you and your planners and less waste to throw away at the end of the night
Catering is one of the easiest places to make green choices because there are so many choices to make! Talk to your caterer about organic or locally sourced options and incorporate those options into your menu as opposed to other choices that are not locally sourced. Produce that is currenly in season is always best. You can also avoid using large quantities of foods that are not sustainable such as veal or shellfish.
To avoid waste, a plated dinner is a better choice than a buffet since caterers always add in more food to a buffet than the number of eaters calls for to account for some dishes being more popular than others or guests going in for second and third helpings. These large pans of food result in large numbers of leftovers that often go to waste. If you are being very budget conscious, this might not be the best option for you but you can look into donating leftover food to a local shelter. This is a good task to delegate to a family member or friend who is not in the wedding party but has expressed interest in helping out. They can be in charge of finding an appropriate place to take the leftover food as well as transporting it there. That way you can enjoy the evening with your new spouse without having to worry about it.
In addition to the food, caterers often provide plates, cups, silverware, and napkins. Always choose reusable options for these when necessary. You can rent these items if your caterer does not provide them. If you do choose any diposable products, maybe forks for your cake or something small, choose biodegrable greenware and cutlery which is made from corn, not plastic, and can be composted.
Weddings tend to create a lot of waste in the form of bottles, especially if you are serving alcohol. Check with your reception venue to see if they offer recycling options. If not, you may want to look into setting up an aesthetically pleasing recycling center, if not for all recyclables then at least for glass bottles. You can wrap a pleated curtain around a large trash can with a "please recycle wooden sign hanging on a ribbon, use a sleek looking bin, or try a fun DIY project like the one pictured. Always check with you venue to make sure any object you are bringing in is allowed since some venues have strict rules.
The overall lesson here is the less waste, the better. This is especially true of favors as they can end up getting tossed by guests or sometimes not even leaving the reception. The best way to avoid this is by choosing favors your guests can use rather than choosing tiny trinkets wrapped in plastic or boxes. Check out the above like for ideas on great favors choices.
And, last but not least, as a great alternative to sparklers or bubbles as a send off as you are leaving the reception, how about these amazing lanterns? They are completely biodegradable not to mention stunning against an evening wedding backdrop! Have one for each guest at a smaller wedding or one for every 3-5 guests at a larger wedding. These beauties are made with a thin bamboo frame and rice paper and make such a statement that they inspired this entire post! They can be purchased online from companies such as Wish Lanterns.