Sustainable Wedding Planning: Simple Tips For Going Green On Your Perfect Day
A Real-Life Example Of A Sustainable Wedding From Married Bloggers at Recess City
My husband, Porter, and I have been married for six months, and even though the newlywed saying always seems to go: “it’s flown by,” because we’re full-time sustainable lifestyle bloggers (and have been to roughly 11 new countries within those months!) it’s kind of felt more like six years. Memories from our August wedding already have that warm, hazy glow around them, and if I had our wedding album on hand, I’d be nostalgically flipping through it right about now.
As is almost everything in our lives these days, our nuptials were driven by a sustainably-focused mindset. Our goal was to do away with as much waste as possible (in the world of weddings, that’s no small task!) and to incorporate as many brands that epitomize the ethical focus we believe in as possible; ones that are having a positive impact on fragile third-world economies and leaders in driving their industries toward change.
For the sake of those who might be planning their own weddings, we wanted to share how we went about orchestrating our “green” ceremony, as well as offer some alternate ideas for “going ethical” in the categories we’re going to talk about. For convenience, we’ve broken it down into “Stationary,” “Attire,” “Dinner,” “Dessert,” and “Florals” so it can be the helpful, sustainably-centered resource I couldn’t seem to find when we were in the planning stage.
// WEDDING STATIONERY //
The wedding world is (unfortunately) one where waste runs rampant, especially when it comes to paper. There are more papery wedding details than you can list on two hands, the majority of which will swiftly wind up in the trash once the night is through. Knowing this, Porter and I worked with our wedding planners to come up with inventive ways to make as many paper products 1. dual purpose, 2. made out of recycled materials, or 3. not paper at all. Here’s how we did it:
We sourced our invitations from Artifact Uprising, where they (along with their envelopes) were printed on 100% recycled materials. We used the same site for thank you notes.
The programs during our ceremony were one of our “dual purpose” items and doubled as fans. One of our biggest fears leading up to the wedding day was that it was going to be sticky and sweltering. This was our way of avoiding two paper-driven products (fans and programs) and combining them into one. They, too, were recyclable and made for a great keepsake.
Our menus fall under the “dual purpose” category and weren’t paper at all! We went with thin biodegradable cloth menus that doubled as napkins.
This is a detail that I came across on Pinterest and swiftly had to have. To mark table sections, we used painted cutting boards. When the night was over, we took a couple for ourselves and gave out the rest to close friends and family to use in their kitchens
Take It Further
In this day and age you can do away completely with paper products and go all-digital with invites, thank yous, etc. You could have big blackboards or wooden panels to have a calligrapher write the menu or programs on. For us, having these tangible mementos of our wedding day was really important, but if that’s not your shtick, these are just a few of many creative, sustainable ways to get rid of paper products completely!
// WEDDING ATTIRE //
Because we’re deeply rooted in the world of ethical style, it was important to us that our wedding party’s (and our own) apparel reflected our commitment to the sustainable fashion movement. Porter and all of his groomsmen wore shoes from Nisolo and my wedding shoes were made in Spain from an ethical brand called Mint & Rose.
Our bridesmaids dresses were Reformation, and my wedding dress was made using non-toxically treated fabric in NYC. We really focused on attempting to ensure that whatever our bridal party wore they would and could likely wear again. Every time we visit NYC now, I inevitably see one of our groomsmen coming from work in his Nisolos. Especially because wedding outfits are such an investment, it feels good to know we framed our decisions around not purchasing anything (besides my wedding dress) that could only be worn once.
Take It Further
Wearing a wedding dress that’s been passed down is a great way to avoid the heavy “cloth consumption” that comes with having a new dress made. You could also dress your bridal party in vintage finds or avoid wearing shoes all together (if you’re getting married at the beach!).
// DINNER //
From the beginning, we told the catering team we were working with that locally-sourced ingredients were important to us, and they took that request seriously. Not only does a locally-driven, sustainably sourced menu usually mean much higher quality ingredients, it also cuts down on all the CO2 that’s inevitable in the wedding business due to driving things every which way leading up to your big day.
Take It Further
There are so many amazing sustainable ways to approach dining at your wedding from all-vegan, organic menus to donating leftover food to your local shelter.
// DESSERT //
Our wedding cake was half rosemary cake and half blueberry lemon cake with vanilla buttercream, and it was heavenly. I almost did away with saving the top of the cake for a whole year and went after it a couple of days later. We went with Mayflour Confections, a bakery local to us where all of the ingredients were organic, sourced from local farmers committed to sustainable farming, and absolutely delicious.
// WEDDING FLORALS //
Flowers are another area where you can find yourself with the most stunning arrangement, but holding a plant that’s riddled with pesticides and shipped from so far away that it has a carbon footprint the size of Texas (I’m exageratting, obviously, but still). Our wedding was focused on matte floral accents and white, so we had lots of eucalyptus and lavender. We avoided “out of pot” florals almost completely (with the exception of the flowers we incorporated into our table runners and bouquets). This meant a lot of the flowers that appeared at our wedding could be preserved and reused, and we dried and saved many of the ones that couldn’t be as keepsakes.
Take It Further
Buy local, organic flowers, and try to come up with inventive ways for your potted florals to have a “second life” after your wedding. Or, nix flowers completely, and opt for their paper cousins or greenery instead. Pay attention to where your flowers are sourced from and what they’re treated with. These three florists out of NYC are getting it right: Peartree Flowers, Saipua, and Molly Oliver.
Wedding planning often turns sour quickly, but focus on the brevity of this phase, keep your eye on what truly matters, and try to keep your course steered to the fact that it’s a celebration of love, not excess. Even though the aesthetics were exactly what we wanted and the sustainable focus really reflected what’s close to our hearts, it’s always going to be the happiness radiating off of everyone who mattered to us that night that we’ll hold onto most. Don’t distract your guests from the beauty in simplicity.
Photography by Mandi Nelson
About The Author
Anna Lisa is a photographer and lifestyle blogger who, along with her husband, Porter, runs the popular Instagram and blog Recess City. Together, their commitment to ethical style led them to plan a trip around the world, during which they’ll be chronicling their lives, ethical capsule wardrobes, and pursuit of a life of conscious purpose. You can read more about their upcoming journey on their blog of follow them on Instagram.