Recent wedding trends put the words ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ right up there with “I do.” 


“I am seeing a rise in the eco-friendly style of weddings,” says wedding planner Amanda Hollowell of Savannah, Ga. “Couples are well-versed on their options and how they affect the environment.”


At every point in the wedding process, there are ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your big day. Here are a few ideas for your green wedding:


Stay local for venue, food and flowers

Hollowell advises planning the ceremony and reception in one location to cut down on the need for travel between the two.  She suggests parks, museums or historic buildings for venues that provide a fabulous event site and an opportunity to give something back to the community where your wedding takes place.


“When you use these types of facilities the site fee or rental fee usually goes back to the preservation of the site or surrounding buildings,” she says, citing the Roundhouse Railroad Museum and Old Fort Jackson in Savannah as two great local examples.  “It’s a great way to donate and help preserve.”  


Small farms also are increasingly popular for hosting green weddings. Fees help support the farm, and food grown on site makes for a fresh, local, seasonal meal. 


Go local, seasonal and minimalist with flowers as well. Plan to reuse the flowers from the ceremony at the reception.  For centerpieces, skip the cut, shipped blooms in single use containers.  Instead, dress tables with live plants that people can take home and organic candles that fill the room with light and scent.       


Communicate electronically

Skipping the printed invitations saves money, trees and other resources used by snail mail delivery. Custom websites are a popular way to keep guests informed and engaged far in advance of the event. Slide shows and short videos can serve as a creative invite. Companies like Eventbrite allow you to send invitations and track RSVP’s all in one place.


Connecting guests online also help couples who wish to be more environmentally-conscious about their gifts.  Links to services like Amazon’s Universal Wishlist help couples include more store selection to request things that are really needed beyond the typical department store choices. 


Honeymoon registries, like Starwood’s Honey Money are more personal than gift cards and offer the chance for guests to contribute to once-in-a-life time trips.  


Borrow more

“Using an heirloom dress or ring helps with some of the dangerous manufacturing processes of gold and fabric,” suggests Hollowell.


If there aren’t viable options among members of your family, vintage stores and antique jewelry shops have plenty of selections. Wedding dress designers like Seams Couture rework older dresses perfectly for new brides, combining older fabrics with new and sustainable options. Purchase the dress in person, but if that’s not possible, deal only with websites that have clear return policies just in case items are not what they seem.


Share the love

Party favors are a wonderful way to honor your guests if they honor the planet as well.  Choose planting seeds over fattening treats. Or, forgo tangible items and instead make charitable donations in your guests’ names. No one really needs you to buy them that tiny picture frame, and donating the money you would have spent on favors is a great way to share the love on your wedding day.


In addition to saving our planet, green weddings save money as well.  And you’ll feel good knowing that —from the very beginning —your marriage is already enhancing our world.


Have other tips for green weddings? Leave us a note in the comments below.