Wedding planning can feel like a full-time job – and when you’re working on getting everything just right, the impact on the environment doesn’t often come into the conversation. However, the experts at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are here to help! In this condensed version of Your Guide to a Gorgeous Green Wedding, you’ll find 10 simple steps that will elevate the wedding of your dreams to be as beautiful as it is eco-friendly. Visit Phipps’ website to read the guide in its entirety and find dozens of helpful resources!
1.) Location, Location, Location
One of the most important ways you can be sure that your wedding has a minimal carbon footprint is by choosing a venue that shares your values. Natural settings – such as a garden, the beach, or even your own backyard – provide a gorgeous, planet-friendly backdrop for your special day. If you’re concerned about weather, choose a Pittsburgh wedding venue that uses responsible energy and supports initiatives that align with your values.
2.) Plan Your Plate
Choose locally-sourced, organic food to ensure that your guests will enjoy fresh, flavorful, and delicious bites that eliminate or limit harm to the planet on their way to your plate. Look for catering services that have received green certifications and don’t be afraid to ask how your food is sourced. Embracing a plant-rich menu will allow your guests to enjoy a fresh, delicious meal while emitting a fraction of the greenhouse gases produced by meat farms. If you choose to have meat on the menu, opt for chicken, turkey, or fish, and be sure to choose humanely raised meat and sustainably caught fish.
3.) Waste Not, Want Not
Bring your waste full circle. By composting and recycling as much as possible, you’ll keep leftover material out of a landfill and instead put it to use to create beautiful materials for people to enjoy in the future. Avoid ordering too much food and talk to your catering company about donating your leftovers to a local food bank. Be sure to rent dinnerware and silverware for an elegant (and reusable) flair. Not sure where to get it? These Pittsburgh wedding rental companies can help!
4.) Creative Correspondences
Reducing your paper use helps the earth and saves you time, energy, and money! Digital invitations make wedding planning quicker, easier, and greener all at the same time. If you just can’t resist a printed invitation, be sure to use 100% recycled paper and plant-based inks. For items such as escort cards, table numbers, and more, eliminate the paper and add a note of whimsy to the décor by using potted plants or another creative item that guests can take home after the party is over.
5.) Give (and Receive) Green
When registering for gifts and picking out wedding favors, green is the way to go! Choosing natural gifts, such as seed packets, potted succulents, or flowers will allow your guests to enjoy memories of your special day for years to come. We love these wedding favor ideas that are edible, charitable, or otherwise very useful! For your gift registry, choose eco-friendly items that will help to continue your sustainable lifestyle after you say “I do.” Alternatively, opt to have your guests donate to a charity in honor of your special day in lieu of gifts.
6.) DIY Your Day
Give your wedding a unique look by incorporating fancy finds, vintage fashion, and do-it-yourself décor. Whatever your aesthetic, there are many online and local sellers who can help you discover statement pieces that will make your wedding stand out while showcasing your creativity and reducing cost and carbon footprint. Enlist the help of your wedding party to find and assemble unique centerpieces and décor. Also consider renting your bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s tuxedos to save a pretty penny and reduce your environmental impact.
7.) Buy Better Bouquets
Incorporate nature’s most vibrant colors into your wedding by selecting in-season, locally and ethically grown flowers and other plant material for your bouquet. Or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, take a class to learn how to arrange flowers and connect with local growers to design and craft your own bouquets, like those offered by &Flowers! After the big day is over, donate your flowers to a nursing home or hospital to brighten someone else’s day. Check out Scent with Love Flowers and Centerpieces 4 Seniors!
8.) Put a Responsible Ring on It
Your engagement and wedding rings are beautiful representations of your love that you’ll wear for the rest of your life. Rings that are responsibly sourced make for a beautiful choice that you can feel good about. Ask your jeweler about the source and origin of their gems. If they can’t tell you how they got from mine to market, keep shopping. You might even want to look into lab grown diamond rings too! Consider nontraditional materials, such as palladium instead of gold or alexandrite in place of a diamond. Or, go vintage by finding a new-to-you option at a local jeweler or retailer.
9.) Travel in Packs
Family and friends will travel across the globe to be with you on your wedding day. Once everyone is in the same city, a little coordination will reduce your party’s carbon footprint and provide more time for everyone to make memories together. Arrange shuttles or buses to minimize fossil fuel emissions and maximize wedding bonding time. Encourage guests to carpool together to the wedding, and opt to have the ceremony and reception in the same location or within walking distance of one another. You’ll spend more time reveling and less time traveling.
10.) Find Your Honeymoon Habitat
When planning your honeymoon, consider taking an unforgettable trip to experience some of our planet’s natural wonders. Explore a local oasis that you can access by car or train, or if your heart is set on a destination that requires air travel, purchase carbon offsets so you can have a guilt-free vacation. Try out natural adventures, such as hiking or kayaking, and enjoy experiences that allow you to observe wildlife in its natural habitat from a safe distance, like whale watching or a safari. Support the local economy by eating local and choosing your keepsakes carefully from vendors that are transparent about the sourcing of their materials. And when it’s time to put your feet up after a long day of adventuring, look for hotels with green certifications, like Hamanasi Resort in Hopkins, Belize!
What green practices will you be adopting for your big day? Comment below and tell us about them, or upload a photo and tag @burghbrides and use #burghbrides so we can see your eco-friendliness in action!