11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding

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Shortly after we got engaged my husband and I decided we wanted our wedding to reflect our values. It was tempting to let our wedding be an exception to the way we try to live—after all, it’s a one-time event. That, though, is ultimately why we worked hard to have a green wedding.

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

Making sustainable choices for our wedding was challenging at times, especially as we hosted a very low-cost celebration. However, it turned out that the green wedding choices we made often ended up being cheap-wedding choices. And not only was our wedding cheap and green—it was also beautiful. We weren’t perfect, of course, but we did what we could to host a really fun celebration that we could feel good about.

Mission accomplished.

Mr. M. and I have now been married almost five years! While our wedding was just a celebration marking the start of our marriage, and I am glad that I can look back at it with a clear conscience.

11 gorgeous ideas for a green wedding

These are some of the (very budget) things we did to make our green wedding a success. This post contains affiliate links, which help support GWR at no cost to you. Thank you!

Grow your own flowers

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

Unless you’re getting married in January, growing your flowers is an easy way to keep costs down. Besides, isn’t a fresh local bouquet just more awesome than one imported from Columbia?

Now, there is a certain art to putting bouquets together. So, if you’re not familiar with flowers—or have a friend who is—you’re probably better outsourcing this job. There is a vendor at our farmers market who crafts the most lovely bouquets out of her own blooms for a fraction of a normal price. But even your neighbourhood florist should be able to tell you what is in season and where it comes from. You can also consider a timeless bouquet made from old broaches, paper, dried flowers, or fabric.

Choose ethical wedding rings

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

There aren’t many aspects of a wedding that are more symbolic than the rings. I had let Mr. M. know that an ethically sourced ring was essential to me. In our case, my wedding band was secondhand and my engagement ring was custom designed using an old family stone. I love them.

We were lucky to have a local jeweler who does wonderful work very reasonably. If you’re not keen on vintage rings you can look into Canadian stones, or something altogether unique. Etsy is a great place to start. I love this twig wedding ring set. Etsy let’s you contact the creators directly to ask any questions. The sellers I’ve listed here give ethical information right in their profiles. Wooden rings are another fantastic option, especially for the man’s band.

Rent, beg, borrow, or source secondhand

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

This is my top suggestion for ways to save money and stay eco-friendly as you plan your wedding. The best thing we did for our green wedding was to borrow tableware from our local thrift shop. They saved us over 200 table settings for a reasonable donation. If you’re using a caterer they’ll provide real tableware. Linens, napkins, chair covers, etc. can be rented.

I found lots of items for our green wedding on a local BST Facebook group. I was also lucky to get a beautiful aisle runner secondhand. You can check Kijiji or Craigslist, especially if you’re in a bigger centre. Wedding items are only needed for single use, so you can often find them used for a fraction of the price. Bonus points if you can find a dress you love secondhand!

Serve local food, or find a caterer who does

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. Choosing a cake made with local ingredients is one way to make an impact.

Food is a central piece of any wedding reception. Mr. M. and I couldn’t afford a caterer, but fortunately we knew lots of wonderful women who helped us put together a feast. My mother accomplished the fantastic feat of growing almost all the vegetables we needed. My sister baked our cake using homegrown butter and eggs.

Of course, not everyone has the help and space to grow their own green wedding fare. However, you can ask local producers for pricing on large orders. You might be surprised to find that it is comparable. If you are getting catering put some thought into hiring a business that can source locally. The most deliciously memorable wedding food I’ve had (and I’ve been to many weddings) was catered by a bistro that served local vegetarian/vegan food.

Be intentional with decor

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

We hosted a DIY outdoor reception. Our centerpieces were tealights inside mason jars wrapped in secondhand lace. While mason jars aren’t unique the are reusable and cheap. I also had local cherries on every table, which were gorgeous, free, and delicious. Throughout the trees I used secondhand paper lanterns and fairy lights.

As our wedding was outdoors there wasn’t really much embellishment needed. When you are choosing decor look for local products, up-cycled pieces, and used items.

Choose sustainable favours

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

Of all the wedding favours you’ve ever received, which ones do you remember? It is the functional favours that everyone can use that come to my mind. One new couple sent us home with little paper bags of handcrafted soap (like these). I also still have a cute little succulent on my window sill from a wedding last year.

At our wedding we gave out wild crafted and organic tea from a local company. It was cost effective, and was certainly low impact. Treat favours as an opportunity to send guests home with a reminder of your green wedding. You can also check Etsy’s DIY Wedding Guide for other ideas on favours, invites, and decor.

Make use of what you already own

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

A wedding is a fun opportunity to go out and get a new stuff. I get it. However, the cost of all the extras adds up. My bridesmaids all wore “natural-colour” sandals that were their own. I used jewelry and makeup that was already mine.  After all, you’ll need something old and something borrowed anyway.

Take this suggestion even farther. Our ring bearer had the rings on a carabiner clip from Mr. M.’s climbing rack. We signed our papers at my school desk that was stored in the basement. We put flowers in jars that were already in my collection.

Get unique with your gift requests

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

Our family attended a wedding last summer where the bride and groom gave their guests the option of making a donation to a specific organization in lieu of a gift. It was a compelling decision on their part, and one that made a definite impression. I have never known another couple to take such a significant and meaningful step with their wedding gifts.

The other suggestion I have (which we did) is to use a registry site that allows you to upload from any source. We used myregistry.com. These types of sites allow you to build a registry from retailers of your choice, so you can choose local sellers (if they’re online), ethical products, handcrafted items, etc. They also allow guests to mark an item as purchased, regardless of where they found it.

Don’t use disposables, or choose compostable items

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding.

When choosing items for your green wedding it’s best to focus on reducing and reusing. However, should you need to use a single-use product you should look for something compostable. If you don’t do your own composting (it’s super easy) then most urban areas have green-bin pickup. We did paper napkins because cloth just wasn’t feasible for us. I’ve been to weddings that used “wooden” cutlery.

Do e-invites and thank yous, or use sustainable materials

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. How to have a beautiful, fun, and sustainable celebration. Budget ideas for an ethical wedding. Sustainable invitations can build towards a green wedding.

I totally understand wanting to send out physical invites. I do, and I did. However, do a little research before you put everything in the mail. Make some calls to local design/print shops to see what sort of green options they offer. If you’re particularly creative and motivated you could make your designs yourself. You can even order beautiful recycled-paper invitations from Etsy. (Seriously, if you’re getting married make an Etsy account).

Save-the-date is a good place to consider sending e-notices. It will also save money on postage. And don’t forget thank yous! Just apply the same standards to these that you did for your invitations.

Have a local, joyous, and green wedding

11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding. Ways to have an ethical and local wedding on a budget.

Of course, having your guests travel less will result in a more green wedding. However, if you have long dreamed of a destination wedding then just use it as an opportunity to pare down your guest list to your very nearest and dearest.

Wherever you hold your wedding, try to host as local and significant a party as possible. There are a million little details you get to plan. Have fun with it! And don’t let your values get lost in the crazy. As long as you have a good time, and make some great memories, your green wedding will be an outrageous success. Even if you don’t, you’ll end up married. So that is success on it’s own!

Now, just a lifetime to look forward to.

Pin: Even on a budget, any couple can have an ethical, beautiful, and joyous wedding | 11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding

May thanks to Quinn Hystad Photography. Quinn took beautiful photos of our own wedding, including the ones that are featured in this post.

This post has been shared on the following linkups: Going Green

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12 thoughts on “11 Gorgeous Ideas for a Green Wedding

  1. Great ideas for a green wedding. There sure is a lot of waste to weddings in a conventional wedding, but your ideas sure cuts the waste down. I have been married for almost 30 years so its not something I am thinking about. I really love the idea about growing your own flowers – it is ridiculous how much wedding flowers costs. Congratulations on being featured on #GoingGreenLinky. Shared on tweeter & pinned. Wishing you a wonderful, happy and long life together.

    1. Thank you, Marla. I’m really happy to have been featured. And thanks for the comment! I hope a few people can be inspired for a greener wedding.

  2. I love all of these ideas. We aren’t married but we are planning on having a Celtic hand fasting next year. These tips will certainly be useful. I particularly like the idea of borrowing the tableware from a local charity, genius idea! I used to run a charity shop and this would of worked really well for us. If I ever go back to it I would definitely start it. #GoingGreenLinky

    1. Using thrift-store tableware was such a fantastic decision for us! Saved us a lot of money and fit our backyard wedding perfectly. Thanks for the comment, and all the best with your hand fastening ceremony!

  3. This is brilliant and reading what people spend on the average wedding these days and the level of waste this should be compulsory reading for all engaged couples! We did another option and just sneaked off and got married without telling anyone!

  4. Kristen and Mr. M’s “Green Wedding” was the absolute best wedding I ever went to! Excellent article.

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