Hooray, it's Earth Day today! As a business that is based on principles of sustainability, we aim to treat every day like Earth Day. Now that it's the time of year for all of us to take stock of our impact on the planet, it's the perfect occasion to share some of our eco-friendly wedding tips. We were also recently interviewed by the New York Times on this subject, so stay tuned for publication details!
If you're reading this blog, chances are you already know how complicated it can be to plan a wedding. You have so many things to consider, so do you really want to add more details to your "to do" list by making sure it's all green? Won't that increase your budget? Won't it complicate things? Won't it limit your style options?
The short answer: no! Planning a sustainable event can be as simple as choosing the right vendors and letting them work their magic. Here, we share easy tips that any couple can follow as they navigate the planning process. You don't need to be an eco-genius to do any of these things; just do what feels right to you and know that every little effort makes a difference.
The absolute easiest way to "green" your wedding is to choose vendors who are already committed to sustainable event practices. Check out the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance, an amazing resource to find local event pros. We've been members since 2012 and absolutely love the other vendors in this group!
Ask about whether they offer pick up of recycling and composting materials. Additionally, check on their policies to find out how firmly they enforce this with caterers who work on site.
Is the building LEED certified? Even if it’s not LEED certified, has management made efforts to reduce waste by monitoring electricity use, heating, etc.?
Have you considered your host city based on how much air travel or driving will be required for your guests?
Work with caterers that source their products locally as much as possible.
In addition to the meat that so many guests enjoy, serve vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options.
Avoid buffet-style meals—especially when guests serve themselves—because more food needs to be prepared per person and there is much more waste compared to plated meals.
Find out about whether your caterer uses composting and/or recycling services. This should apply not only for events they do in their own space but when they work off-site.
Work with local designers who are conscientious about where they source materials. You may also wish to have an heirloom gown reworked!
Bridesmaid dresses often come from "fast fashion" resources. Instead, look into sustainability-focused lines like Reformation first.
Use ethical jewelers! Clean Origin is a stylish source for lab-grown, affordable diamonds. If you opt for a natural gem, make sure you're getting vintage or reworked pieces (this goes for metals too) or, if new, find one that is certified conflict-free.
These days there are plenty of beautiful papers that are handmade and made from recycled materials. Even using these for some of your paper elements adds a lovely touch.
Consider whether the items you use will end up in a landfill. For example, paper with metallic foil on it cannot be recycled. Have a plan for what will be done with leftover paper goods after the event, and communicate this with your vendor team. If you don’t have a plan, these items are likely to end up in the trash.
Rather than using one-use materials like paper and poster board, display signage on items like mirrors that can be reused multiple times. Many calligraphers and rental companies have items available for signage.
Favors and gifts
In lieu of wedding favors, many couples choose to make a donation for each guest who attends. This cuts down on waste and can also support great causes.
Some couples opt for a charity registry that accepts donations rather than wedding gifts. Aside from reducing waste, we've seen this go to conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund and similar organizations! You may wish to research whether the website you use for your registry keeps a portion of any donations made.
Get a florist who works with local, seasonal flowers as much as possible.
Say "no way" to floral foam in your decor. This is made from petroleum byproducts and can only be used once before it ends up in a landfill. Ask your florist to work without floral foam or, better yet, choose a florist who does not work with it to begin with.
Rent items rather than purchasing new ones. If you do purchase items, try to find ones that were previously used in a wedding, or donate or sell your own after you are done with them.
We believe in curating weddings that reflect our couples' personalities, and that means events that reflect their values too. Celebrate this Earth Day by making a small step (or two, or three) to host a magical, sustainable affair; it's shockingly easy! Happy Earth Day, party people!