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A Classy, not Trashy Wedding

Planning a wedding is demanding work, but it doesn’t need to be wasteful. Put “having a green wedding” at the top of your list during the planning process. According to a study by the Knot, increased spending on a wedding also leads to increased waste. This guide outlines special considerations that will help when planning for your big day. This guide is specified for weddings, however, for more in-depth details and considerations, please visit the Near Zero Waste Event Guide.

Wedding Venues

Choosing a wedding venue is the first step to consider when planning your big day. Choose a venue that can meet the requirements you would like. Things to consider include:

  • Does the venue offer reusable plates? If not, can you bring them yourself?

  • Are decorations supplied?

  • Is there an onsite recycling?

  • What will happen to food scraps or flowers after your wedding? Is there a compost on-site or do they subscribe to a compost pick-up service?

Consider a venue that is naturally beautiful, this will decrease the cost of decorations needed. 

Invitation Considerations

Choosing the right invitation for your wedding can be stressful! If you would like to reduce your waste, consider going paperless. There are many online invitations tools that can make your invite as beautiful as you imagine, and managing your guests will never be easier! It also allows you to include more information than a typical paper invitation. Tell your love story; give a summary of your wedding party to the guests; easily update your attendees; link your gift registry; and offer recommendations for lodging or sightseeing. If you cannot commit to paperless invites, there are still other sustainable invite choices to choose from! Look for paper that is made from recycled paper. Avoid ribbons, glitter, and metal button embellishments on the invitation. That decreases their recyclability.

Make your near-zero waste efforts clear to your wedding guests by including a cute message on your invite such as “Make memories, not waste.”

Decorations and Wedding Favors

It is customary to gift wedding favors to your attendees, there are things to consider ensuring that your wedding favor does not end up in the landfill. Considerations include the following:

  • Is the gift useful and durable?

  • Would you appreciate receiving the gift?

  • What is the gift made of?

Here are some near zero waste wedding gift ideas:

  • Plants, plants, plants! Easy, cheap option to give to your guests. Plus, you can add a personal touch to your little pot or vase.

  • Native Pollinator Friendly Seed Packets. This will allow you to have personalized seed packets with your date and names on them! It will also spruce up your guests’ lawns.

  • Zero waste Supplies. This can range anywhere from reusable pint glasses, water bottles, straws, travel silverware, beeswax food wraps, or reusable snack bags! The options are endless.

  • Donations.  If none of these tickle your fancy, you can always use the money budgeted for gifts as a donation to a charitable organization.

Sourcing Reusable Dishware

To ensure your wedding is classy, not trashy, use reusable plates and silverware for your reception. Reusable plates may be available on-site, through caterers, rental companies, non-profit organizations, and perhaps solid waste departments.  If your goal is to reduce your impact at your wedding, dishware is a great place to start!

Recycling Connections lends dishware for weddings. Learn more by clicking HERE.

Wedding Floral

Wedding Floral is in wedding photos, on tabletops, and on the wrists or in pockets of the wedding party. But what happens to the flowers after your wedding?

According to the Bouqs, Approximately 50% of imported flowers die before they reach the retail stage. Buying local flowers will reduce your carbon footprint.

Consider having a non-traditional wedding bouquet, made up of sturdy plants that require little water such as succulents. Using plants rather than flowers as your table toppers doubles as a party favor which your guests can take home afterward. Other alternatives include using dried, preserved, silk, or wooden flowers. These options will last much longer than a traditional bouquet and can be enjoyed for much longer.

Are you set on traditional floral for your wedding? Make a plan for your flowers after your big day. Consider donating to local nursing homes, hospitals, or shelters, through donation, you can make someone else’s day just as special as yours. Check to see if your florist has a buy-back program or if they would like to use them again in upcoming events. If all the above fails, compost your floral rather than putting it in the trash.

Food Waste

Food waste is a dire issue in the United States, carefully plan how much food your guests will eat. Plan on composting food scraps, work with vendors that have the same waste reduction mission as you.

Consider having a seasonal menu and shopping locally. Not only will this support local farmers, but your selections will also be fresher, tastier, and more cost-effective.

Purchasing Local Food will keep your carbon footprint at bay by reducing the amount of travel time needed.

If there is left over foods, ask the caterer to pack it up for you so you can use the leftovers the next day. Or you can donate the food. Be sure you have pre-arranged a location or shelter available to accept the leftovers. They may have special handling requirements for receiving the cooked food. 

Misc. Tips

Avoid gifts that you won’t use.  Gift registries really help. Let your guests know of your waste reduction goals. Include things like experiences or ask them to contribute to an organization you like or extra funds toward a trip for you and your partner. 


Author: MaKayla Galecki

About Recycling Connections

Established in 1981, Recycling Connections is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission to connect people, resources, and communities to promote waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and resource conservation. Recycling Connections provides education to advance waste reduction, reuse, and recycling efforts for individuals and communities. By improving our practices, we can make more environmentally conscious decisions that are healthier for people and the planet. Recycling Connections wants you to make more connections and less waste at your next event. Please contact us or visit our website for more information.

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