Here at SaltyLama, we’re always looking for ways to reduce our footprint by making impactful changes, big and small. And with summer almost upon us, we know that means love is in the air — it’s wedding season! Even under the sound of wedding bells, there are plenty of ways to keep the celebration eco-friendly while helping save the planet — and potentially some money.
1. Propose with a family heirloom
We know how important the ring is. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be eco-friendly. Think outside the box and find a ring with little or no environmental impact by going vintage. Instead of running down to your local jeweler, consider reusing or recycling a ring that will be unique and eco-friendly: propose with a family heirloom! Not only is it incredibly special for the loved one receiving it, but also for those who understand the ring's significance.
2. Keep the diamonds conflict-free and sustainable
If you just have to have a diamond, be careful to choose conflict-free and sustainably sourced stones. When picking out your engagement ring and wedding bands, track the origins of your diamond. Because we know you don’t want to unknowingly use a blood diamond — a smuggled diamond used to fund a civil war — as the symbol of your everlasting love. Also, be careful to choose stones that have been sourced sustainably and as close to home as possible, cutting down on the environmental impact that comes with a longer delivery route.
3. Choose eco-friendly invitations
These days, it’s easier than ever to find invitations printed on recycled paper or use alternative materials, like upcycled fabrics, leather, and wood. When thinking through your invites, look for companies that source the most Earth-friendly stationery, print invitations, programs, and menus. One option is seed paper — a biodegradable material that sprouts into flowers when planted in a pot of soil. It’s a great invitation your friends and family can plant and enjoy for years.
4. Create an eco-friendly registry
Because who doesn’t like receiving gifts? It’s normal for guests to want to share gifts as you and your love start your new life. But still, there is room to think eco-friendly. Register for items that will support your lifestyle and keep sustainability top-of-mind. Your guests can get in on the fun as they browse your registry, and they may even be inspired to choose some pretty cool and creative eco-friendly gifts.
5. Opt for a charity registry
There’s a quiet blessing in being someone who’s hard to shop for. Chances are, it means you have what you need and most of what you want. So, if material gifts aren’t your thing or aren’t needed, consider a charity registry as part of your big day. This allows you and your guests to donate to causes close to your heart, especially foundations with a focus on the environment or animal welfare. A charity registry is an especially good idea if you and your partner already live together and don’t necessarily need to register for items like kitchenware, linens, and household décor.
6. Pick an eco-friendly venue
One of the easiest ways to have an environmentally friendly wedding and shrink your celebration’s carbon footprint is by choosing a ceremony and reception site that takes sustainability seriously. You can search for hotels and event spaces with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certifications and Energy Star ratings. With so many beautiful venues going green, you won’t have to sacrifice style to be sustainable.
7. Marry in the great outdoors
Because it’s summer! Go outside. Opt for an outdoor wedding, especially if you are in a fairly mild climate. This is a great way to be one with nature on your wedding day: a lush forest, rolling hills, or a picturesque vineyard are all stunning spots to say “I do.” You’ll also save on your energy usage by reducing how much lighting you need — thank you, sunshine! Even better? All the natural light will result in beautiful photographs, maybe even saving your photographer the burden of carrying extra equipment.
8. Be conscious of floral arrangements
Floral centerpieces are super popular, and there is no doubt that flowers look beautiful. But freshly cut plants aren’t the best for the environment. Luckily, there are fantastic eco-wedding alternatives — and you don’t necessarily have to forgo the blooms entirely. Consider potted flowers, such as orchids or spray roses, or plants, including herbs and even trees, that can be reused at home, on a patio, or transplanted to the garden after the event. This is another great way to gift small, useful take-aways to your guests.
9. Opt for sustainable meals
Food can be a hotly debated topic in the eco-friendly wedding conversation. Look for caterers who focus on local, sustainable, and seasonal cuisine. Ask about the farmers who they work with as well as how they source proteins, including seafood and beef. The more local, the smaller the carbon footprint from long-distance shipping. The same goes for wine.
10. Reduce food waste
Any large affair will have leftovers, and buffet dinners are a huge offender. What happens to all the extra chicken in the chafing dish? It’s tossed in the trash post-service. Opt for plated dinners to avoid excess food, and if you do go for a buffet, speak to your caterer about saving leftovers. If regulations permit, you can donate extra food to a local food bank or homeless shelter, but you’ll want all the details ahead of time to ensure it’s all properly packed and ready to go.
11. Rent when you can
Forget plastic glasses in favor of rented stemware. The good stuff looks more elegant anyway. Also, forgo paper plates for rented china. It will automatically upgrade your wedding’s look and reduce landfill waste. The same goes for linens. Instead of paper napkins, rent linen napkins, tablecloths, and runners. Some venues even provide linens as part of the event space charge. If you’re going for straws in mixed drinks, rent or buy reusable stainless steel ones. Or, for a less expensive option, pick paper straws over plastic ones; they decompose more easily and won’t harm sea life.
12. Gift eco-friendly welcome bags
Welcome bags show hospitality, but they often include one-time-use plastic water bottles and individually wrapped bags of snacks. A green alternative is to gift your guests glass or metal water bottles or boxed water. For nibbles, fill glass jars with homemade granola, candy, and nuts that reduce waste. Toss everything into a fabric tote rather than a paper bag that guests can take home after the wedding weekend.
13. Give edible favors
Tasty gifts are one of the most popular favors, and for good reason. Traveling guests will always appreciate a midnight snack, and most people would prefer something sweet or savory to soak up the champagne over a frame with your wedding date on it. Source snacks from local purveyors or the farmer’s market to support the regional economy.
14. Don’t litter with your exit toss
It may seem like a small thing, but throwing rice or bits of paper around the lawn of your wedding venue isn't the most environmentally conscious way for guests to celebrate your union. There are alternatives that are just as pretty and don’t wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. As an alternative to paper confetti, go with a plant-based approach. Lavender, rose petals, fresh herbs, and a mix of micro flowers are biodegradable and give the added benefit of stunning colors for the exit toss. Another cool option is gifting your guest (and their kids) with small bottles of bubbles they can blow during your exit. Pretty and fun for everyone.
15. Book an environmentally friendly honeymoon
Yes, the eco wedding ideas can continue post “I dos.” While booking, look for LEED rated hotels or use sites like Kind Traveler, which donate a portion of proceeds on your behalf to causes like Global Green, Project Aware, or WildAid. This way, you’re not only embracing sustainable travel practices but also actively contributing to charities that seek to mitigate humanity’s effect on the Earth. While on your honeymoon, consider supporting local environmental initiatives, such as visiting an animal sanctuary, participating in a beach cleanup, or dining at restaurants that source their seafood sustainably. You can take hikes in national parks and dive in marine parks, where your entrance fees go toward keeping the area and wildlife in good condition.
While going green is rapidly becoming the norm, we need to start thinking about how we insert eco-friendly practices into our everyday lives. Summer weddings are another great reason to set the tone for yourself, your friends and your family by showing them green class. Eco-friendly practices not only benefit the environment, they are healthier for you and your family, too.
Happy summer, friends. And happy love.