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How to Plan a Low Waste Wedding

05-25-2022

Read time: 6mins

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When it comes to eco-friendly weddings, there isn’t a whole lot of guidance out there. However, with more and more people choosing to live a more sustainable lifestyle, the need for inspiration and recommendations has never been more important.

What makes a wedding truly green? How do you go about it? What are the costs? What are the stereotypes and false information about having a low-waste wedding?

We asked two experts in the green wedding industry: Emily Thomas and Maria Karagiannis, Co-Founders of the Green Wedding Guild to help you set sail on your dreams of hosting the greenest wedding ever!

“We believe that we can all do more to reduce the waste generated by weddings and that sustainable choices are within reach of all vendors and couples.” - Green Wedding Guild

Why do we need to focus on the wedding industry? It's just one day.


You may be thinking... organizing a low-waste wedding can't make that much of a difference. It's only one day. Right?

If that’s what is on your mind, you’re going to be surprised!


Emily & Maria shared some surprising statistics with us:

It is estimated that the average wedding produces 400 lbs of trash and 63 tons of CO2.

With an average of 2.5 million weddings happening per year in the United States alone that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day - that’s a lot of waste!

"It became quickly apparent that the wedding industry I loved did not line up with my low-waste lifestyle, so I started thinking about ways to change that. Now I specialize in eco-friendly and geek chic events!" - Emily Thomas, Wedding Planner & Emily Katherine Events.

Debunking 5 stereotypes about green weddings

The gals at Green Wedding Guild helped us to debunk some of the most stereotypes about green weddings:

“I don't want to compromise on one of the most important days of my life.”

Low-waste wedding is not about compromising! If you think in order to reduce your waste you’re going to have to scale back on your celebration, don’t worry!

Less waste doesn’t mean less party! It just means being more intentional about your choices.

“Green weddings mean earth-toned rustic outdoor weddings”

Eco-friendly weddings are not limiting in terms of aesthetics. In fact, green weddings get to be as conventional or extravagant as you like.

Your green wedding doesn’t have to look green to be green and eco-friendly!

“Green weddings are more expensive”

You set the budgets, there will always be a sustainable option to choose from. Greener weddings are no more or less expensive than a conventional wedding because, as with any event, it’s about your own personal choices and priorities.


It is entirely dependent on choices, just like any other wedding. For example, you can purchase a brand new wedding gown made by a sustainable designer for thousands of dollars, or you can rent or purchase a secondhand dress for a few hundred dollars. Both are eco-friendly choices, but with very different price points.

“Green weddings look cheap”

With amazing sustainable options these days you can have the elegant wedding you’ve always wanted!

Look at SellSage compostable tableware for example. They have a natural and elegant look that works great for a wedding reception!

Photographer: Copper Key Photo

“Green weddings have to be all-or-nothing”

You’d like to reduce your waste but you fall in love with a dress that isn’t really sustainable. It’s alright! Even if you make just one meaningful effort, it still matters!


The low-waste movement is made to inspire you not to shame you. Start where you can!

After planning my own green wedding, I saw how challenging it could be for most couples to find information and plan an eco-friendly wedding, and I wanted to become a resource for couples striving to reduce the environmental impact of their event and be a part of the movement toward a greener wedding industry. As a sustainable planner, I educate my clients on green options and alternatives, and I create a waste management plan for each event. - Maria Karagiannis- Wedding Planner, KaraMia Events

5 easy swaps to make to plan your low-waste wedding:

Ready to make your wedding less wasteful? Check out these 5 easy swaps that the Green Wedding Guild advises us to start with.

While there can absolutely be a lot of plastic waste and carbon emissions from travel, we’d venture to say that the most common and biggest waste created on a wedding day is organic waste. This can be mitigated by working with your caterer to avoid preparing a surplus of food, composting food scraps, as well as leftover flowers and greenery, and donating leftover food to those in need.

The wedding industry as a whole can (and urgently needs to!) adapt to promote a more planet-friendly way of celebrating! After all, weddings are all about love - so let’s bring more love of the planet into it too!

Some simple swaps you can make on your big day can range from big to small.

VENDORS

For example, it’s not commonplace for caterers to compost food waste, but if that were to become standard practice, think of the impact it would make! Green weddings could be a struggle if your vendors are not supportive of your efforts and ideas, and it does require looking at things through an additional lens, which may not come as easily to all couples or vendors. Planning is important and requires patience, give yourself time to find the right vendor for you. Work collaboratively with your vendors ensuring you think each decision through with a green lens, and ask your vendors how they can help you make sustainable decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask loads of questions if you are unsure.

A starting point is to simply be open to sustainable ideas and alternatives Emily and Maria mention. Ask your vendors questions about their processes and practices.

FOOD

When it comes to food, you don’t just need to consider the amount of food but also where it’s coming from. Find a vendor that works with local farmers and suppliers. Farm-to-table food at a wedding is a brilliant plan for really committing to going green.

FLOWERS

Even something as simple as opting for dried flower petals as confetti instead of plastic makes a huge huge difference. Also, consider your flower choices, opt for flowers that are in season in your local area instead of imported flowers. You might be in love with peonies, but outside of late spring/early summer, getting them probably means the florist is shipping them in from overseas.

GIFTS

Another idea is to consider your wedding gifts, why not ask your guests to make a small donation to an environmental charity of your choice instead?

DINNERWARE

Aside from the obvious benefits to the planet, the decisions that help you go green are often better for your health too, and they can even save you money according to Emily. Opting for compostable tableware will help to reduce waste heading to landfill and also aids in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Compostable tableware is an especially useful option for events at venues that do not have a facility on-site for rinsing off rental plates or if there is concern about breakage, for example, and in some cases may be a more economical option than renting.


“We’ve seen folks opt for compostable plates most often for pre-wedding events such as a getting-ready brunch, or for late-night snacks after the reception where breakage is more common or guests may wish to bring their plate with them.”

Picture by @gatheredplatter


Check out our entire collection of compostable dinnerware, the perfect addition to your magical day! Any question? Contact us here.


Ready to plan your green wedding?


Don’t be afraid to ask! Asking questions is the best way to get the answers you are looking for! Couples can have an active role and make a difference simply by being open to sustainable ideas and alternatives for their wedding day and asking their vendors questions about their practices.

Need additional support?

The Green Wedding Guild is a great resource for couples planning their wedding! Their online vendor directory can help you find vendors who are excited about making sustainable decisions for your wedding. Check out their blog and social media for additional inspiration.


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