Learn more about wedding photography
If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, you know that our family took a leap into the world of “zero waste” at the beginning of 2019. That means we’re doing everything we can to reduce what we send to the landfill, and we’re trying to be careful about limiting our single use plastic usage after reading reports that a lot of plastic that used to get recycled is now being burned or ending up sitting in piles with nowhere to go.
In our personal lives, we’ve changed the way we shop for groceries, and we’re checking ourselves when it comes to Amazon purchases (my mom used to joke that there was a new Amazon box in our entryway every time she came over).
We buy our groceries with tare bags (bags with their weights printed on them), we shop the bulk section, and we’ve started making more at home (bread, cookies, even carbonated water—I was crazy enough to set up a refillable Co2 tank under the sink to put bubbles into my water).
As I’ve been spending more time diving into the world of zero waste, I started to see more and more discussions online around how couples can take conscious steps to cut their waste on their wedding days. Here are seven simple ideas that I’ve come up with.
7 Simple Ideas to Cut Waste on Your Wedding Day
1. Buy Plantable Wedding Invitations
Botanical Paper Works offers invitations printed on seed paper, so they can be planted. The seeds add a great texture to the paper, to boot.
2. Hire a Caterer Who Uses Washable Tableware
Many caterers will provide you with reusable glasses, plates, silverware, and even napkins. Ask the bartender if you can skip the straws, or use paper straws instead.
Linens can also be rented, which is an easy win.
3. Compost Your Flowers After the Wedding Day
See if you can get table arrangements that don’t involve foam for structural support, and talk to your florist about what happens to the flowers after the wedding day is over. Hammond Farms in Lansing has a yard waste drop off composting program. If you really want to go all out, you could use living potted plants on your tables and send them home with guests.
4. Buy Some of Your Pieces Secondhand
There’s an active Facebook group in Lansing called Bride to Bride Mid-Michigan where married couples sell their wedding pieces to couples who are planning their weddings. Between this and Facebook Marketplace, you’re sure to come across some great finds to save money and reuse items that have only been used once.
There are also some great vintage rental companies in the area.
5. Have Your Wedding Party Rent Their Outfits
I’m a huge fan of Rent the Runway for bridesmaid dresses. Your bridesmaids can wear incredible gowns without having to worry about what they’ll do with them after the wedding.
6. Choose Eco-friendly Gifts
Rather than giving each guest something packaged in plastic, consider donating to a cause, letting them take home the potted plants that you’ve used as centerpieces, or giving them something tasty (I’m always a fan of donuts in paper bags as a wedding favor—let them choose their favorite donut from a special dessert table).
For the wedding party, can you think of an experiential gift instead of a physical gift? Maybe you treat all of the bridesmaids to a little something at the spa (make it a girl’s day). Maybe you treat your groomsmen to a sporting event, or give them gift certificates to their favorite restaurants.
If you really want to give the members of your wedding party a physical gift, consider giving them something low waste or something that they can use regularly, like a stasher bag filled with their favorite sweet treat (Horrocks has a crazy assortment of package-free goodies, or you could order cookies from a local bakery), a package-free lush bath bomb, or anything from the website packagefreeshop.com. Need a bag to put it all in? These cute tare bags can be used to buy produce or bulk items at the grocery store instead of using plastic.
Now that Marie Kondo is all the rage, they’ll appreciate that they don’t have to add any more physical items to their lives. And thoughtful experiences always bring joy.
7. Use Leaves to Create Confetti for Your Big Exit
Use a heart or circle punch to punch out confetti from leaves for your guests to throw during your exit (thanks to Kait for this amazing idea). They’re biodegradable, and they won’t produce plastic waste like tiny bubble containers. You can find cute baskets at secondhand shops to put them in, and then donate or sell the baskets when you’re done, or create little paper pouches that can be recycled.
This post contains affiliate links.
Learn more about Allie & Co. Wedding Photography
For more tips, check out The Guide to Sustainable, Zero-Waste, Ethical Weddings from 77Diamonds.