When Sandrachile approached us about a post on zero waste wedding ideas, we jumped at the idea with boundless enthusiasm! While we show off gorgeously styled celebrations week after week, we aren’t naive to the fact that the wedding industry can be pretty wasteful. It’s stings a little to know that with every wedding likely comes a dress that will be worn for a total of 12ish hours, flowers that usually end up in the trash at the end of the night, and leftover food that is straight up wasted. We don’t mean to rain on anyone’s wedding day parade, but those are hard pills to swallow. Have we caught your attention yet? If all of a sudden you find yourself thinking twice about the level of consumerism and conspicuous consumption in the wedding world, today’s post is for you! Sandrachile, a Pittsburgh wedding photographer and advocate for using your love story to change the world, rounded up some of her best tips on how to make your wedding day a little less wasteful and a little more impactful. If you’re looking for a few ways to have an eco-friendly wedding, read on for her best advice!
While it seems counterintuitive to discuss wedding stationery while also encouraging green wedding practices, we don’t think the world is ready to eliminate paper invitations just yet. Sometimes a formal occasion such as a wedding calls for something a little fancier than an email, and older generations may not be as e-literate as your friends. But this doesn’t mean you can’t go low waste and still have the wedding paper of your dreams!
According to Sandrachile,
“Telling your guests that this is an environmentally friendly kinda day deserves to be announced in an environmentally conscious way.”
Rather than purchasing your wedding stationery from an online big box retailer, consider working with a local designer who can advise you on the most eco-chic options. For this styled shoot, Pittsburgh wedding stationer Fresh Cut Prints created this DIY-inspired look with upcycled newspaper for the envelopes and recycled paper for the invitation and envelope liner. You can even take the green approach one step further and skip the RSVP cards. Instead, collect RSVPs online or via a text messaging service, like Replied.
Eco-friendly wedding decor doesn’t have to be boring, and this tablescape designed by Devoted to You Events is proof. Put your thinking cap on and get a little creative. Taking inventory of what you currently have, can easily find or repurpose, or can realistically keep after the party is over will be key in helping you go green! Hit up yard sales, consignment shops, Goodwill, your Grandma’s basement, or even the neighbor’s trash pile (we’re serious) for unique decor items that cost next to nothing but add a personal touch to the day’s story.
Sandrachile advises to add decorative lighting, such as this Edison-bulb chandelier from EF Lighting, which leaves behind zero trace but makes a BIG impact. A little calligraphy magic from Scarlet Day Calligraphy helped to transform some old wine bottles into menu “cards” and a cool seating display. Lastly, these linens were found at a local Goodwill!
Bridal Fashion & Accessories
Every bride wants to make a statement with what she wears on the big day. But it’s what you say that really matters! If you want what you wear to have less of an impact on the earth, you have a few options. Look for pieces that are ethically sourced, wear something you already own, bust out the sewing machine and make something new, or go with something vintage. In this styled shoot, Will wore something from his own closet while Aly found this vintage jumpsuit at a thrift store for a whopping $10.
Going green with your wedding wear can extend to your accessories too. These earrings from Adaptive Reuser are made from vintage cans, while a lab grown diamond engagement ring is a more eco-conscious choice than a traditional mined gemstone.
Wedding Hair & Makeup
While many beauty companies still aren’t zero/low waste or cruelty free, the industry as a whole has come a long way. To help play your part, look for hair and makeup brands that offer vegan options, don’t test on animals, or manufacture their products with wind power.
Becky, owner of Tula Organic and the hair stylist and makeup artist for this styled shoot, encourages you to check out Dragon Master Foundation, a non-profit organization fighting to find a cure for cancer. They accept donated personal care and beauty containers to be recycled – making the world a little greener and fighting cancer at the same time!
Wedding Food & Drink
Farm-to-table catering might seem “trendy” but it’s actually so much more than a hip, new food bandwagon. Partnering with caterers who use locally grown or sourced ingredients whenever possible not only creates a more eco-friendly meal but it will also mean a flavor explosion for the tastebuds. You can also consider partnering with local distilleries or breweries for your reception’s libations. Kingfly Spirits whipped up these craft cocktails that would make for the yummiest signature drinks.
To cut back on food waste, think about your tastes (literally and figuratively) and order appropriately. If you aren’t really a cake person, don’t have a five tiered confection; most of it will end up in the trash. Speaking of which, if you can, work with your caterer to make sure your leftover food doesn’t wind up there. Some caterers are willing to package up any remaining meals, allowing you to donate them to the homeless or others less fortunate.
Some might consider wedding flowers to be a big waste, but they certainly don’t have to be. Hire a florist who sources locally grown flowers when possible, and opt for blooms that are in season when you say I do. If you have a green thumb or a thriving garden at home, consider using this to your advantage. Learn how to dry fresh flowers and then work them into everything from your centerpieces to the place settings.
When the party is over, give those flowers a shot at a second life. Allow guests to take home an arrangement or two, or coordinate with Scent with Love or Centerpieces 4 Seniors, two local non-profits that collect wedding and special event florals and repurpose them for senior citizens, hospital patients, and the like.
Yes, even your wedding venue can help you be more eco-conscious. When venue shopping, Sandrachile advises you to ask the following questions during your tour or inquiry:
“Does your venue send all the garbage to a landfill, or does it have any recycling practices in place? Do they offer furniture, or do you have to rent these items separately? Does the venue have decorative elements, or is it a plain room that needs a lot of stuff to look good? Does it offer in-house booze/catering, or can you bring your own?”
The answers to these questions can go a long way in helping reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint. The location of this styled shoot – Kingfly Spirits – offers a renovated yet historical setting that also includes tables and chairs in its rental agreement. Look for a venue like this!
Some venues will even offer you a discount if you agree to adopt certain green practices, such as using china plates and not plasticware, recycling glass beer and wine bottles, and other ideas!
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? If you are really committed to bringing your eco-friendly wedding visions to life, you’re going to need to hire vendors that are willing and able to support those ideas. When researching wedding planners, venues, caterers, officiants, photographers, and other Pittsburgh wedding vendors, remember Sandrachile’s advice:
“Since the ‘ethical’ journey begins before the wedding day itself, when reaching out to vendors, ask them upfront about what environmental practices they have in place.”
If a potential vendor doesn’t have any environmental practices in place or they aren’t willing to adopt some in order to work with your vision, they might not be the vendor for you. It’s important to work with a team of professionals who understand green wedding practices, or are at least willing to learn!
Are you adopting any green wedding practices for your big day? How is your wedding going to be a little more friendlier to the Earth? Comment below and let us know, or tag @burghbrides or use #burghbrides on social media so we can see the ways in which your eco-conscious wedding rocked!