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Happy Earth Day! How to Create a More Sustainable Wedding Day

It's Earth Day! According to The Green Bride Guide, the average wedding produces anywhere from 400 to 600 pounds of trash and 63 tons of CO2–all in one day! I see it weekend after weekend, all those menus, place cards, and flowers we spent months designing - all piled up in the trash.


Hosting a more sustainable wedding doesn't mean you have to forgo the pretty little details or reduce to a smaller party, we just need to think a little greener in the planning process. Remember, sustainability is not about perfection, small changes can make a big impact.


Invitations


I'm an old school paper-loving girly, but couples are more and more turning towards virtual wedding invitations. Not only are these a more user-friendly option (think RSVP tracking + your guest's ability to add straight to their calendar), but virtual invitations are as carbon neutral as you can get - zero waste!


If you have your heart set on paper invitations, consider printing with a company that has recycled paper options . Minted's original recycled paper is now made from 100% post-consumer waste, FSC-certified, and manufactured using a carbon-neutral process with wind power. Complete with a matte finish, it’s thick and smooth to the touch. 160lb., 17.5 point thickness. Minted is partnered with Mohawk, who "became the first U.S. paper mill to match 100% of its electricity with renewable wind power and the first U.S. premium paper mill to shift toward carbon neutral production."


images via Minted


Registry


More often than not, couples ask me about creating an alternative registry. Whether it's one where guests can easily send cash gifts for things like a honeymoon or date nights, you can also register to support your favorite organization. Sites like Zola have made it easy to take funds contributed by your guests and give them to the charity of your choice. Double perk - virtual registries are also zero waste!


Florals


Flowers are beautiful. They can transform a space and set the tone for your wedding. The work that a florist puts into wedding arrangements is truly a work of art. That being said, flowers are living things still have plenty of life left in them long after your wedding. When choosing a florist, ask what they plan to do with the flowers after. Some donate them to places like funeral or retirement homes, or they repurpose them for other events.


When deciding on your color pallet, consider the season and choose florals that will be in bloom. If you're not sure, just ask your florist. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to whats in season and what will withstand the elements on your day, ie. more delicate flowers (dahlias, ranunculus) are not likely to hold up on your summer outdoor wedding. Also ask where the flowers are sourced from. More often, they will be from local farmers via the flower market, but sometimes florists even have their own gardens!


photos by Catherine Marie Taylor | florals by Flower & Forage [moss was foraged from her mother's garden]


Catering


Choose a caterer that sources local food. Sourcing locally is important as the carbon emissions from shipping food across the country can be extremely detrimental to our environment. The Bay Area is home to so many great local farmers and companies in the industry. In addition to helping the environment, you'll be treating your out-of-town guests to a more unique dining experience that showcases your city.


One of the most significant ways waste accumulates at weddings is discarded food. Ask your caterer what they plan to do with leftovers. If they do not have a plan in place and you do not wish to take the food yourself, consider a company like Food Runners, that will come and pick up the food and deliver it immediately to local shelters and food programs in need.


Decor


Couples spend months and months picking out all the small details, only to find out that post-wedding you don't have any actual need for 100 votives. What to do with all the leftover wedding decor? Find a Facebook group that sells or donates wedding decor or list it on Facebook Marketplace. You can also offer to gift it to your planner or florist. I have a garage full of different wedding decor items I've collected over the years and reuse at weddings. Future couples (and the planet) will thank you!


wedding tablescape

photo by Julia Mina


Favors

In general, I almost always encourage couples to choose favors that are useful to their guests because it can become a huge source of waste, not to mention a waste of your budget. Edible favors and late night snacks are always a hit. I've seen couples source local snacks (think TCHO chocolate or pastries & cookies from Tartine) or create a coffee bar with local beans (shout out to Andytown) and DIY bags.


This couple's wedding was actually on Earth Day in 2023 and they chose to give their guests the gift of gardening with California Poppy wildflower seeds.


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