It’s no secret that I love weddings. I love nature too – after all, living in Colorado, how could you not? Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that sometimes creating a beautiful wedding can come at a high cost to Mother Nature – whether it’s in carbon emissions, pollution or waste. Of course, the most sustainable solution is to elope to your local courthouse, but that isn’t right for everyone. And we believe in the power of expressing your commitment in front of as many loved ones as you see fit! So the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the environmental and ethical impact of your wedding. Here are some ways you can reduce your footprint and make your wedding more sustainable.
Location. First and foremost, choose your location wisely. Each guest who has to travel to be there adds to the total airplane and motor emissions. If you’re choosing between a venue that is local and one that is more remote, go for the one that’s easier to access. Have the ceremony and reception in one place, and if that’s not possible, then provide a shuttle to cut down on driving. If you have your heart set on a destination wedding, then consider a domestic location like Aspen, instead of an international one, and potentially limit the guest list. You could also find out which of your guests are traveling from the same place and encourage them to carpool. It’s also a great way for them to make new friends!
Food. Have you considered a vegan or vegetarian menu? A veggie menu would significantly reduce the environmental impact of your wedding catering. However, if that’s not right for you, try to find a catering company with a sustainable ethos. Ensure they source organic, local and fair trade ingredients, and encourage them to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetable where they can. Local food needs less fuel for transport, less refrigeration time and less packaging. Buying ingredients locally also puts money back into the community. And frankly, it usually tastes better. Then, don’t forget the drinks – local beers and wines are always a good idea! To prevent food waste, organize to donate any leftovers to a local shelter.
Fashion. Did you know that most wedding dresses undergo an extensive chemical dyeing process? In addition, many are made using fabric made in countries without fair labor laws. Some of the ways to approach ethical bridal fashion are by wearing a vintage or upcycled gown, or working with a designer who uses sustainable fabrics. For the groom and bridal party, you could encourage them to wear something they already own, or rent a dress or tux instead of buying one. Finally, be sure that you choose conflict-free diamonds for your engagement ring and other bridal jewelry.
Waste. Weddings are filled with single use items, and that means a lot of waste. Try to be really conscious about what you choose to buy, and rent décor wherever you can. Get creative about dual use items, or those you can incorporate into your home or give away after the wedding instead of throwing away. You can even repurpose some fresh or live ceremony decor into the reception.
You can also opt for a wedding website and send out save the dates by email. Use signage instead of individual menus. Give your guests edible favors instead of trinkets. Opt for plants or potted flowers for your centerpieces. And finally, make sure the items you do use do no harm. For example, balloons and sky lanterns can be extremely harmful to birds and wildlife. Opt for biodegradable confetti and glitter, and make sure the bar serves drinks without straws. Each of these is a small thing, but they really do add up!
Venue and vendors. Also consider who you work with. It’s okay to ask a potential venue or event partner what they do in their own business practices that helps to protect our environment. Align yourself with venues (like Knapp Ranch) and vendors (like us!) that have the same belief system you do, and together, you can make change.
Perhaps one of the best and most important outcomes when you choose to make your wedding more sustainable is that everything you learn can be brought forward into your married life. That way, your eco-friendly wedding will be kind to the environment for years to come! ..and don’t be afraid to educate your wedding guests in the process.
Top image by Danielle DeFiore