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How to Find an Eco-Friendly Wedding Venue

There’s an eco-friendly venue out there for everyone, no matter your aesthetic preferences, religion, or budget. In this post, I’ll talk about how to go about finding an eco-friendly wedding venue.

Why book an eco-friendly wedding venue? The wedding industry doesn’t tend to show much regard for the incredible amount of waste it produces each year. The amount of stuff we buy for weddings and then discard is staggering. If we have the option, why not try to do all we can to make our celebrations of love more loving for the environment as well? And why not start with the centerpiece of it all: the venue.

For starters, before booking your wedding venue, be sure to ask the venue owners the following questions:

  1. What does its recycling and waste management strategy entail?
  2. Do they clean using products that are free of synthetic chemicals?
  3. Do they use fair trade products?
  4. Is the venue locally-owned? Family-owned?
  5. Do they use organic and local catering services?
  6. Is their energy from a green source? Do they use solar energy or other renewable sources?
  7. Do they use local suppliers?
  8. Do they support any local community programs?
  9. Can you bring your own (local and organic) alcohol and/or catering service?
  10. Can you have both your ceremony and reception at this location (to reduce transportation footprint)?

After asking these questions, dig a bit deeper into the following issues to determine just how eco-friendly your venue of interest is:

Consider the amount of energy the venue uses

Check to see if your venue sources its energy from a green provider. It’s possible that a green venue will use renewable energy or generate its own renewable energy from solar panels or other sources (biomass boilers, wind turbines, photovoltaics, etc.).

Some venues are committed to using biodiesel (a renewable fuel that can be made from soya and recycled restaurant oil) in their vehicles. Ask your potential venue where they source, or how they create their energy.

Are they just another “wedding mill” venue?

Many venues have weddings booked every weekend throughout the season and perform the same dance at each one. Nothing is truly unique or different from weekend to weekend.

These places are “wedding mills” churning out the same party like clockwork. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this except that we have to be careful that these venues are not cutting corners to make the most money possible while disregarding environmental concerns.

If possible, a better option would be to have your wedding at a place that is significant to you and your relationship, that perhaps does not regularly hold weddings and will be open to your eco-friendly event-management ideas. For example, a local family-owned establishment that you feel a connection with, the art museum where you went on a date, or a public park or beach that holds special memories.

Another benefit of this, besides that the place will feel more special and less cookie-cutter, is that you are more likely to support a local business and the local economy.

What is their waste strategy?

Does your potential venue recycle? There should be a recycling strategy in place and a good one if this venue is hosting big events. Ask how much and what type of waste products are recycled.

Ask if they compost the food waste. There really is no excuse not to do this, as it is easy to implement and can even be used onsite for venues with large gardens. If they don’t compost, however, ask if they would be able to donate all of the leftover food to local gardens.

What are the ways in which this venue reduces, reuses, and recycles? What happens to all of the glass bottles, cans, etc. used during events?

Choose the venue that impresses you the most with its green waste strategies.

Does the venue use air-conditioning?

Yes, many summer destinations can be very hot and many people opt for air-conditioning. Before agreeing to this, however, consider the vast amount of pollution that air-conditioning causes, and how unnecessary it actually is in many instances.

It’s prudent to find out the type of air-conditioning used by your venue, and whether or not it’s powered by green energy. If it’s not, think about whether or not you really need it. Would it be possible to use a venue that cools the building naturally with roof vents and/or windows?

What is the point anyway of having a summer wedding and then blasting guests with AC the entire time?

Find out if they use certified organic products

Venues use many products. Think about the tissues, toilet paper, soap, linens, etc. in addition to the food and drinks that they serve. Are these products certified organic? Or at least some of them?

Why is this worth asking? Non-organic products use enormous amounts of pesticide and other unsafe chemicals. Ask if your potential venue has organic options, such as organic cotton towels and linens, organic bamboo towels and cutlery/plates, organic plant-wax candles, organic toiletries, etc.

Avoid heavy chemical exposure

We are all exposed to harmful chemicals inadvertently, especially due to cleaning products that are used, if not in our own homes, then in the places that we frequent.

We can try and make sure that this isn’t the case on a beautiful day such as our wedding. Ask your potential wedding venue questions regarding their use of harmful chemicals. Ask if they use non-synthetic cleaning products, if they decorate with water-based varnishes, and if their furniture is made with natural materials.

MOSQUITOES: For outdoor weddings, you may be considering some kind of mosquito repellent. One of the most-used kinds of repellent is DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide), which while very effective at repelling insects, has also raised significant health concerns. Consider using instead natural products such as mosquito larvicide tablets, found on Amazon, which can be placed in open water at your venue to kill larva and reduce the number of mosquitoes in the air.

Pick a venue that doesn’t need decor

This is an easy no-brainer. The more naturally beautiful the venue is, the less you’ll need to produce waste in decorating it (and the less you’ll need to spend).

So look for a venue that has a gorgeous backdrop, or that is surrounded by gardens and flowers. Get married at a venue near a body of water, or that’s enclosed by trees. Your photos will be beautiful and natural, and Mother Nature (and probably your wallet) will thank you.

Pick a venue that is non-traditional

Local, non-traditional venues may provide more opportunities to be eco-friendly while celebrating your love.

For example, many people don’t realize that the park offers a wonderful ceremony venue! Contact your local parks and recreation department and inquire about the potential (and potentially free) outdoor options available to you.

Consider getting married at a local non-profit organization whose work you admire. A historical society, cultural center, museum, or other such venue would be unique and potentially more environmentally-friendly than the traditional hotel ballroom.


Brittany is a writer and teacher in Vancouver, Canada. She started the website Wayfaring Weddings as a way to share her research on affordable, eco-friendly, and less stressful approaches to wedding planning.