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What is an Eco-Friendly Wedding?

I wasn’t aware of the world of eco-friendly weddings until recently when I started to hear about the massive ecological impact of weddings, and how eco-friendly weddings could be part of the solution. I decided that I wanted to learn more about eco-friendly weddings so that I could make a difference with my own wedding planning!

An eco-friendly wedding, also called a green wedding or a sustainable wedding, is a wedding that is conscious of the impact it is having on the Earth. Eco-friendly weddings strive to be less harmful to the environment by cutting down on excess waste, and by promoting recycling and reusing.

Many people see the importance of having more eco-friendly weddings in today’s atmosphere of environmental deterioration, but just don’t know how to go about it or what it involves exactly. There are a ton of factors that contribute to making a wedding more sustainable, and some pitfalls that are easy to fall into along the way… I’ll explore here some important tips to keep in mind as we plan greener weddings going forward.

What Makes a Wedding Eco-Friendly?

It may be difficult to check all of these boxes but the most important elements of an eco-friendly wedding include:

  • A wedding venue that uses green energy and sustainable waste management techniques
  • A venue that is attractive on its own and doesn’t require a lot of wasteful decor
  • Vendors and companies that recycle and reuse
  • A wedding dress, and attire for the wedding party, that has been sourced and created ethically or is secondhand
  • Food options that are local, organic, and/or vegetarian
  • The venue for the ceremony and reception are the same to minimize transportation pollution
  • Engagement and wedding rings that have been ethically sourced
  • Flowers that are local and organic (grown without harmful chemicals)
  • A registry that includes eco-friendly products, requests contributions to a low-impact experience for the honeymoon, or asks for charitable donations for a well-loved organization
  • Includes eco-friendly wedding favors for guests
  • Uses eco-friendly, natural skin and beauty products for the bride and bridesmaids

If a wedding is able to check many of the items on this list, then there’s a good chance that it’s considered eco-friendly. We all know that recycling, reusing, and reducing are the key to making less of a harmful impact on the Earth.

Whenever we can, using products that are local, organic, chemical-free, ethically-sourced (meaning fair trade and created without child labor), and perhaps even secondhand, will make our weddings all-around more eco-friendly.

The energy source of the venue is probably the most overlooked item on this list. A venue supporting weddings every weekend, with sometimes hundreds of guests at a time, uses a LOT of energy.

For a wedding to be eco-friendly, it’s important that this energy is clean and renewable, perhaps solar or wind powered. We may be doing all of the small things we can to be green, but if our wedding venue is guzzling away a lot of unsustainable energy, we can’t be sure that our footprint is as light as we’d like it to be on this special day.

How Do You Ensure Your Wedding is Considered Eco-Friendly?

A couple concerned with their wedding being eco-friendly can check on many of the points listed above by simply asking questions in the planning process.

When going to book vendors or a venue, proactively searching their websites to see if sustainability is important to them should be your first step! Check their mission and vision statements, their “about us” section, and see if they mention any environmental concerns. Then check to see how they’re trying to make a difference. If they’re a wedding venue, do they use renewable energy? If they’re a caterer, do they source their food from local farmers?

If you meet the wedding venue or vendor in person, you can come prepared with a list of questions to ask them to ensure that your wedding will be as eco-friendly as possible. For example, you might ask wedding vendors or venues:

  • Is being eco-friendly a priority for your company?
  • What steps do you take to ensure that your products/services are sustainable?
  • Do you have any previous experience with eco-friendly weddings?
  • Does your company recycle and reuse?
  • Where do your products come from?
  • What kind of packaging do you use for your products?
  • What is your waste management strategy?

Many of the other items from the eco-friendly elements in the above list are in your hands entirely, such as finding an eco-friendly or secondhand wedding dress or seeking out eco-friendly favors for your guests. The same goes for your wedding registry, which you can set up to be completely eco-friendly.

An eco-friendly wedding means doing what’s right by the environment and not adhering closely to traditions or expectations “just because” it’s what you’re supposed to do.

So be bold! If you want to have a wedding that is conscious of the planet, go for it and stick to what you believe in, no matter what others may say. It’s your wedding after all!

Why are Eco-Friendly Weddings Important?

“It’s estimated that each of the 2.5 million weddings that take place each year produces 400 to 600 pounds of garbage and 62 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”

-Huffpost (Source)

These days, eco-friendliness is on all of our minds with the threats of climate change looming. We’re all freaked out watching the news and I think we just don’t want to make anything worse. In fact, we want to do what we can to make things better where we can.

So on our special day, a day celebrating our love for our partners (and our families), we want to also show some love for the Earth. Our wedding day is an important opportunity for us to show that we care. That the environment is important to us and that even on a day of “excess” we’re not going to compromise our principles, or what’s important to us.

Most of all, perhaps, an eco-friendly wedding recognizes the value of the commitment of marriage, over the value of material wedding decisions such as decor and attire. It keeps the true meaning of the day in mind throughout the planning process, and doesn’t get bogged down in “stuff.”

We’re losing much of the beauty, species, and basics such as water and air quality on this home planet of ours. It’s important that we not let selfish human things that we think are important in the moment (such as big, expensive, excessive weddings) take over what’s actually important – i.e., the home where we all live and breathe together.

How to Start Planning Your Eco-Friendly Wedding

So now you have a decision to make! It’s a decision I’ve made recently – to make my wedding as eco-friendly as possible, and to write about what I learn along the way so that I can help others to do it too.

If you want to have an eco-friendly wedding, it’s simple. First you decide that this is important to you, and that you want to have one. Congratulations!

Now start doing some research. You can start here on my website by checking out some of my other articles about eco-friendly dresses, flowers, favors, and more! I’ll put some links below if you’re interested. There are also endless resources online and (gasp! dare I say…) even at your local library!

Next, make some inquiries about venues and vendors, and companies (such as wedding dress companies) you’re interested in to make sure they have eco-friendly missions and policies. You can do this by checking out their websites, reading wedding forums, calling them up, or going in person to ask them the tough and important questions.

Believe in what you’re doing. Know that it’s important. Once you know this for yourself, you won’t be intimidated or feel bad asking questions to a business about their eco-friendly status. If they’re not using sustainable practices, don’t feel bad about walking away.

More Green Wedding Ideas

Take some time to peruse some of my other articles on eco-friendly weddings as you plan your big (or small!) event for the betterment of the planet! Good luck planning your own eco-friendly wedding.

Related Questions

Are eco-friendly weddings affordable? Yes! They can be much more affordable (we’re talking thousands and thousands less) than the average wedding because eco-friendly weddings cut down on many of the splurge-y big-ticket items that usually cost a fortune. For example, full all-new designer dresses and wedding party attire.

Are eco-friendly weddings more difficult and time-consuming to plan? No, not at all. Because you’re only focusing on the few things that are MOST important to you, simplifying, and cutting out excess, it can be much easier than planning the average wedding.

Here’s a video I made about 20 ways to have an eco-friendly wedding on my Wedding YouTube Channel 🙂


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.