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Jewelry shopping can be intimidating. That’s why we started Ask Holden, our blog where we answer your FAQs, break down scary industry lingo, and guide you in finding the perfect piece of jewelry.
We recently polled our Instagram followers on ways that they cut down on the environmental impact of their weddings (or are planning to at their upcoming ceremonies!). We had so many excellent suggestions that we turned them into a post - if you’re hoping to throw a more sustainable wedding but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place!
1. Guest List
The number one suggestion we received? Elope! With a guest list of two, you can drastically reduce your footprint. Many couples who pivoted to smaller ceremonies due to COVID-19 loved the intimacy.
Cutting any number of guests is a way you can feel good about your impact. As one follower put it, her number one way to cut back is by “only inviting those that I ACTUALLY want there! No obligatory invites = less waste, less food, less travel, etc. etc. Plus - I’m happier!” And THAT is a very concise summary!
There are multiple ways you can approach this. We had several couples recommend sending digital wedding invitations. Doing so saves money, paper, and precious fridge real estate (or is that just me who has a fridge covered in invitations?).
If you do choose to send physical invitations, there are lots of options to choosing a more environmentally friendly way to do so. You could print your invites on recycled paper with Paperculture (who also plant a tree with every order) or seed paper (your guest can plant their invite and grow flowers from it!).
You could also combine the two concepts by sending an email Save the Date and a paper invite. Instead of including an envelope with RSVP cards (which are hard to keep track of manually anyway), have your guests go to your wedding website to RSVP online.
If you want to lean into a “green wedding,” consider taking the concept literally by using potted plants! After the event, you can keep them to decorate your home, donate them, or give them to your wedding party and guests as living party favors.
If you’re looking for flowers, you could use dried bouquets rather than fresh flowers - the flowers last forever and never go to waste (see Caze and Jeremy's flowers below).
For fresh-cut flowers, Chas Thompson Thomas of Wildflower Portland recommends seeking out a florist who has relationships with local flower farmers. “Local doesn't have to mean ‘moody’ or ‘forest vibes,’” Chas points out. “There are local orchid growers making even tropical designs possible!” The photo below is from one of Chas’s wedding designs - the orchids were grown locally in Oregon!
Chas’s second tip: repurpose. “When thinking about wedding flowers, I love talking through creative ways to repurpose flowers from a couple's ceremony to their reception.” She points out it cuts costs in addition to “lightening your footprint by not bringing in other, potentially destructive, decorative elements.”
Your florist can also work with more sustainable materials while arranging, Chas explained. “Utilizing natural botanical dyes or sun bleaching are just two creative ways to alter a flower's appearance without harming the environment. Likewise, using technical mechanics like chicken wire - found at any local garden center - can produce arrangements just as beautiful as those using harsh materials like floral foam.”
After the ceremony, donate leftover flowers to an organization where they can be used again. Forget Me Knot Flowers in Philadelphia or BloomAgainBklyn in New York recycle flowers by donating them to local nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab centers.
Think back on the weddings you’ve attended - where are those favors you received? I have a wooden spoon that I still use 16 years after my cousin’s wedding (gross maybe at this point, but I can’t say goodbye), but otherwise, all the wedding favors I’ve ever received either ended up lost under my seat at the reception or found their way into a drawer, never to be seen again.
Couples suggested forgoing favors entirely or making a donation to an environmental organization instead. If you want to provide a favor, why not choose something eco-conscious? Give your guests something that will help their own sustainability efforts, such as a metal straw or reusable travel cutlery.
This is one of the biggest (and perhaps most controversial!) ways to reduce carbon emissions at your wedding. Because plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable, consider working with your caterer to make your dinner vegan or vegetarian. If you aren’t sure you want to commit to that, you could consider just making your cocktail hour plant-based.
If you aren’t sure about having a plant-based wedding (it’s not for everyone!), you can still think about ways to eliminate food waste at your wedding. Plated receptions (rather than a buffet or family style) tend to have the least amount of wasted food, since you don’t need extra food in case people choose to come back for seconds.
You can also talk to your caterer about using compostable plates and napkins for cocktail hour (or brainstorming apps that don’t need to be served in individual cups). Harvest and Revel in Brooklyn has an entire page dedicated to sustainability - it’s definitely worth asking your caterer how they’re committed to sustainability!
This one is more about having a more eco-friendly marriage than a wedding, but when crafting your registry, think about items that will make your life greener. If you have an insatiable penchant for La Croix (me), consider asking for a SodaStream! And if you realize you and your partner already have basically everything you need, consider asking your guests to donate to an environmental organization in lieu of physical gifts.
This one was suggested to us by a follower, so we had no choice but to blush big time and include it! If we do say so ourselves, Holden is a great environmentally-conscious choice for your wedding and engagement rings. Your ring is the one thing from your wedding day (other than your marriage, of course!) that you’ll have with you every day thereafter, so we believe you should pick something you can feel good about wearing.
We make our rings locally in NYC using recycled precious metals and ethical lab-grown diamonds. We hold no wasteful excess inventory, and we offer free resizing for life! We’ve also recently committed to offsetting 100% of our carbon emissions with Climate Neutral. Feel free to check out our sustainability page or our blog post on sustainable wedding rings if you’d like to learn more.
You may be familiar with the three main Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), but in honor of this post, we think there should be a fourth: rent. If you’re thinking about wedding decorations that are quite specific and won’t be able to be repurposed after (or if you don’t want to be saddled with 200+ votive candle holders after your big day), consider renting them. In addition to individual supplies, Social Studies offers rental packages by theme.
Consider looking for a wedding venue that can be a one-stop shop for your ceremony and reception. Having your guests move from one location to another is less earth friendly than having them arrive at and stay in the same location. If you’re able to hold your ceremony outdoors, you can skip lighting and air conditioning. There are some fantastic venues out there - Caswell Farm provides in-house catering with veggies that have been grown at the farm specifically for your ceremony! A wedding dinner that was grown with you in mind 100 feet from where you’re eating gives new meaning to the term “farm to table.”
Any other eco-friendly wedding tips you’ve discovered while wedding planning? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!