Eco-friendly Weddings for the #Lazygirl


How can your #sanewedding reflect your values?

by Najva Sol, Brand Manager

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Eco-friendly wedding. Green wedding. Sustainable wedding. Are all these terms the same? My guess is, all of these (and the countless other synonyms that exist out in the world of wedding blogs) basically mean one thing: a wedding that cares about its environmental impact. As someone who’s been in the business of event-prep for a while, let me tell you in no uncertain terms: big events cause waste, and lots of it. There’s almost always leftover food, trashed party favors, plastic decor, gas for shipping, all the packaging, and cheap versions of things that break easily (but you didn’t have the budget to buy the fancy version).

Thankfully, lately, as things like climate change and unsavory labor conditions become common knowledge, there’s been a shift in our collective conscience. It’s no longer thought of as “fringe” to be intentional about your footprint, or care about the world at large. In short: this shift is awesome news. But it’s no secret that being eco-friendly can require extra foresight: research, planning, and funds. Have you ever looked at the budget needed for local, organic catering or ethically made outfits? It can easily feel like there’s no easy way to care about the world… and keep the planning process low-key.

But around APW, we’re always coming across tip, tricks, and hacks that our savvy readers have pulled together to lower their impact. And there’s even certain weddings that have their values woven into most planning decisions, like this one (vegan food), or this one (public transportation and local vendors), by our own copy editor Kate. In fact, some of the #lazygirl green wedding methods are already staff faves.

There’s an endless number of small (and big) ways to have an eco-friendly wedding, and the way we figure, lots of you have probably figured out one or two of easy ways to lower your impact (intentional or otherwise.) So now’s the time to tell us how you did it!

Did you try to make your wedding eco-friendly, ethical, local, or green? What worked surprisingly well? What wasn’t as awesome? Is there a #greenwedding struggle you’re currently facing? 

Najva Sol

Najva Sol is a queer Iranian-American writer, photographer, branding consultant, artist, and ex-poet.  She’s the token staff Slytherin and—while formally based in Brooklyn—tends to travel as much as possible. Storytelling is her life, but making chicken broth is a close second.
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  • Laura C

    Rehearsal dinner, not wedding, but had compostable plates, cups, utensils, and used a service that allowed for composting of all our food scraps.

    • Lauren from NH

      Okay so I had wanted more info on this. Do you then need to send them somewhere special to compost? or do they just break down better than typical mixed trash?

      • Laura C

        You need to find a composting service, and for it to take your full meal scraps it has to be better than the typical one that just takes fruits and vegetables and the like. I didn’t have much trouble finding a place online.

      • Sara P

        Our regional waste/water treatment set will take compost of all varieties – it’s the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District – is there something similar in your area? I don’t know how common this sort of place is, but that’s my current plan (they even have a waste-free party kit).

      • Greta

        Yes, to compost the special “compostable” plates, silverware, glasses, and other items that are traditionally made out of non-compostable items you need a special composter that uses heat and bacteria. My city, Seattle, collects compost and has a massive composting center where all of this stuff goes. A compostable fork and a banana peel are very different items and the fork will break down eventually, but it will take a really long time, compared to actual food items. Industrial size composters are designed to break this stuff down in large quantities.

      • Another Lauren from NH

        Depending on which part of NH you’re from you should check out Mr. Fox composting!

      • AK

        Compostable items (including food scraps) DO NOT break down in a landfill. They essentially become fossilized, stagnant contamination.

        “Biodegradable” items are different than “compostable.” Biodegradable means it will break down more easily into little pieces of (awful) plastic. Compostable means it will break down into organic matter that can actually re-enter the life/energy cycle.

        Mileage varies on compostable items like cups, forks, etc. Different facilities have different standards based on how long they typically process the compost, and so may not accept all compostable items. You have to call and ask.

        • clairekfromtheuk

          Actually food waste and other biodegradable material releases methane when it breaks down in landfill, which is 25 times more potent as a GHG than CO2. So yes, if your area doesn’t have a separate collection for these things, regular servingware is prefereable

          • AK

            That is definitely true, and landfills are responsible for a huge percentage of methane emissions in the US – but the breakdown process is severely inhibited. Decades-old, recognizable foods have been dug out of landfills, and compostable products (designed to break down in heavily managed aerobic systems) will take much, much longer.

      • Essssss

        If your community doesn’t have a municipal/large scale composting service my understanding is that you are better off going with recycled dishes and utensils, and recycling them when you’re done. Compostable dishware is only compostaible under special heat conditions and it doesn’t add much benefit to just put them in the landfill or have them incinerated.

  • jubeee

    My big, green contribution is using a food truck that only uses local and seasonal food. I feel like this reduces our carbon foot print.

    My question though for others is disposable dinnerware. It seems like we won’t be able to do china because of our more rustic venue. Has anyone done compostable disposables before?

    • annlynn

      Yup! They are great! You can get bamboo plates which look nicer than the paper ones.

    • AK

      Just know that compostables have to actually be composted and not landfilled – they won’t break down in a landfill anyways

  • Bethany

    Our biggest struggle is well-meaning relatives who look at us like trying to be eco-friendly, local-focused or workforce-aware is just us being crazy East Coast snobs.

    We’re trying to make as many of our decisions true to us as possible. The company printing our invites is doing so on 100% recycled paper and it’s a company that fosters cats-in-need in their office (CatPrint.com). The candles for our reception are being bought from our friend who makes eco-friendly candles for a living (Handmade Habitat on Etsy, https://www.etsy.com/shop/handmadehabitat) and she’s using containers thrifted from the nonprofit thrift shop where my fiance and I volunteer. Our coffee is fair trade coffee sold through a small shop owned by two sisters who have been a huge part of our lives. Our food is pescatarian because that’s how we eat, despite some guests’ comments about needing meat.

    We’ve found that a lot of smiling helps…

  • susan

    I would love to hear people’s advice on this! So many ways to cut costs (purchasing cheap linens and reselling v. renting overpriced linens) result in buying new things from online vendors and shipping tons of stuff across the country made from cheap and synthetic materials, and methods of cutting effort result in using disposable materials.
    A couple of specifics –
    We’re hosting a large, weekend-long shebang at a camp, and we’re trying to find graceful, fun ways to encourage our guests to recycle & minimize their impact all weekend long. This is easy with friends, with whom we share environmental values, but I worry that family members and older guests are already shocked that we won’t be purchasing pallets of bottled water, or using disposable plates all weekend and instead are signing folks up for shifts loading & unloading the camp’s industrial (easy!) dishwasher.

    The main strategy we’ve developed so far to minimize impact: no individual anything! menus, programs, escort cards, welcome bags, etc. are all by group or will be printed on bigger paper for everyone to share. Some people might chafe at the idea of filling a cup from the tap or sharing their welcome snacks out of a big bag instead of being able to take their individual bag of chips with them, but for this concern, I refer you to this post: https://apracticalwedding.com/2013/05/wedding-guest-expectations/

    And one more thought – we’re working to acknowledge that, like in the rest of our life, sometimes a “practical” and “feminist” existence does not equate with a cheap one, especially if your definition of practical also includes a concern for the future of the planet. Our budget is one that most people would roll their eyes at, and not something i ever thought my feminist, practical self would ever embrace, but we’ve hired vendors whose practices with respect to food, waste, and employee payment & treatment are ones that we not only can live with, but that we stand behind (the fact that it’s a luxury to make these kinds of decisions is not limited to the wedding planning world & is another issue entirely, & one that I totally think this community probably has a lot of great things to say about).

    • Sara P

      ‘sometimes a “practical” and “feminist” existence does not equate with a cheap one, especially if your definition of practical also includes a concern for the future of the planet’ – THIS is so true, and so unfortunate :(.

      • Yeah! I hear that.

        Although, it’s not always unfortunate, right? Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re paying farmers in your community a living wage. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings.

        • Sara P

          That’s the fortunate part :).

    • Lauren from NH

      On the subject of “graceful, fun ways to encourage our guests” on green initiatives; I am trying to figure out a nice way to word a sign asking our omnivore guests not to scarf all the vegan food out of curiosity. This is what I have currently, “Out of respect for our vegan guests, please do not “sample” the vegan pizza. Thank you!”

      How does that come off? Any suggestions?

      • Juliet

        We had our vegan sandwiches labeled “Vegans only, please.” I think some vegetarians got in on them, but that was fine because we had a few more than needed. Also, we let vegans and vegetarians go through the buffet line first.

        • Greta

          I like this a lot. Short and sweet and to the point, without being rude. I wouldn’t think twice about seeing a sign like that.

      • Eenie

        I’m gluten free. I don’t understand why people want to eat the gluten free version of something when the “real” version is right next to it. It does not taste the same. I like the idea of letting people with dietary restrictions have at the buffet ahead of time. Then you don’t need to worry about guests sampling vegan stuff! And you never know, you might open up someone’s world.

        • Sarah

          Hear hear!! I’m on the low FODMAP diet for IBS, which is basically gluten free plus a bunch of other restrictions (including no onion, garlic, apples…) http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/
          It drives me crazy that people think gluten free is code for healthy. Unless you are coeliac etc, there is nothing wrong with eating gluten!

          • Sarah

            Also, on the subject of dietary requirements and buffets, it’s also helpful to remind people not to use the same serving spoon for different dishes to avoid cross contamination. Nothing worse than your friend with coeliac disease/nut allergy/etc getting sick at your event because someone put the spoon for the pasta salad/satay curry into the gluten/nut free dishes.

          • Eenie

            Honestly for allergies you should just keep all the allergy free food separate. If I had a severe allergy I would not trust a buffet ever unless all of it was allergy free or my plate was separate.

      • Bethany

        Letting the vegan guests get to the food first is definitely awesome. It always annoys me when all the veg food gets eaten first and only meat is left by the time my table gets to go.

      • Kayla

        How many vegans are you expecting? Our caterer made separate plates for our vegan guests, which worked well. But there were only four of them, so it was easy.

        If you do use the sign, I would take out the scare quotes. They imply that, when you say sample, you don’t really mean sample, which will make people wonder what you actually mean.

        • Lauren from NH

          We might have as many as 40 and as it is a pizza food truck, it is likely to come out in batches, further more we are doing cocktail tables so control first access probably won’t work.

          Thanks for the note on the quotes, I wasn’t sure if they were helping or hurting. Trying to be nice and clear are a bit of a balancing act with this sort of thing.

          • Eenie

            If it’s coming out in batches that makes it easier. I would honestly ask your caterer for some suggestions in how to best serve the guests so the vegans will get pizza they can eat (maybe put it on a separate table?).

          • Clare Caulfield

            I think its important that the dietary restriction food comes out at the same time as other food, not before, especially if guests have been waiting and are likely to be hungry. I went to a function once where, when the food finally did come, servers brought trays around for the vegan/nut free guests first and other people ate it all because they were ‘starving’

      • Kayjayoh

        I just made sure to order extra vegan pizza. :) I figured that while I only had one vegan guest, I also had some who were dairy-free. And the vegan guest was never going to discourage folks from eating vegan if they were interested.

        Great if that is a possibility. Less helpful if that is outside your budget.

        • Kayjayoh

          (Also, the name of the pizza was “The Vegan Destroyer.” How can you not just order a bunch of those? “You choose original or spicy fireworks sauce, and we top it with spinach,
          toasted pine nuts, green olives, red onions, red pepper puree & fresh
          basil.”)

          • CP

            Roman Candle! Mmmmm. Now I want pizza.

        • Lauren from NH

          That’s a good point. The caterers will probably notice too, what is being eaten more quickly and can adjust a little.

          • Kayjayoh

            I always figure that the meat eaters totally will eat the vegetarian things, but not vice versa and the vegetarians will eat vegan things, but not vice versa. As such, I always err on the side of getting more of the most restricted things.

          • Bethany

            Yes so many times to this! Buy more of the vegetarian items than the meat items. Most meat eaters will want a slice of veg, but the veg’s can’t have the meat ones.

      • CMT

        It looks like this isn’t going to make me popular, but you did ask for opinions, so here’s mine: I think a sign like that would be rude. If you want to quietly usher those people to the front of the line, or put some food aside for those with allergies or dietary restrictions, fine. But calling attention to it, and dictating the behavior of your other guests like they’re school children seems like too much to me.

      • Natalie

        When announcing dinner, we asked all guests with dietary restrictions to go through the buffet line first, then announced table-by-table. That way, the vegans could grab all the vegan food they wanted first, and then we didn’t have to worry about carnivores scarfing up all the delicious vegetables.

      • KimBee

        It can also be helpful to locate the vegan option in a different space than the meat options…that way people won’t just grab it since it’s right there. They have to make an intentional choice to go to the food.

    • Greta

      This isn’t specifically wedding related, but there’s an eco-lodge we do a weekend work retreat at every year that has some awesome solutions to this. They ask everyone to reuse coffee mugs and water glasses, and leave out blue painters tape and sharpies for people to write their names on. Then they have a specific spot where people can leave those mugs waiting for the next meal. They also use all cloth napkins, and ask people to reuse those if they aren’t dirty for each meal – they have a wide variety of different napkin rings, so everyone picks out their favorite and holds the napkin in the ring holder on the napkin table. It works perfectly!

    • Meg Keene

      Having done a shit ton of research for the book, I’m HUGE fan of renting your linens. (And really anything you can rent). The prices actually are really reasonable, when you realize they also take care of them for you (rentals arrived washed and ironed, and are removed dirty. This is actually a pretty huge deal when you factor in how much time it takes to iron 15 huge tablecloths, for example.) And they’re re-used over and over. So I really think that rentals tend to offer both the best price AND the best in terms of practicality and green-ness.

      Not everything is that easy! But. When it comes to rentals, research tells me it’s a pretty A++ plan.

      Otherwise, I’m a fan of just REDUCING. You don’t need favors, for example. Not hard to give up usually, much less waste, much less cost, etc.

      • Amy Elizabeth

        YEP! Reducing waste is all about applying the 5 R’s. And the first R is REFUSE! (and then reduce, reuse, rot & recycle). Its important to think of them as a hierarchy, rather than options as the first has the most impact on lessening waste production and the last option on the list (recycling) actually does use resources. Also, applying the principle of refuse means honestly evaluating ones needs which I think is especially difficult but also especially necessary when so much of the wedding narrative still says we need All The Things or we will “regret” it and “ruin” our “perfect day.” The things I need will be different than the things someone else needs, and that is a good thing! Using only what we need is how we respect the earth!

        Also – thanks for the recommendation on rentals. I’ve been going back and forth on this… I could theoretically borrow all the linens I need from all the aunts in my giant family, but the work involved has given me pause. But of course rentals will add to the budget…. Its a tough balance between budget, ease & zero waste but its worth it!

        • Meg Keene

          I did a whole lot of interviews and research on this, and rentals now fall into the category of a wedding choice I feel like I can just wholeheartedly recommend. Other than there being some cost* (though usually pretty reasonable), it’s really mostly upside. And what I learned is that the amount of work from borrowing (between organizing and caring for the objects) is just much more than you would assume. So this is me and six months of research voting for rentals ;) Take that as you will!

          *And in the end with weddings, time is money. Or, they take it out of you one way or another… I really think the best thing we can do is spend money on things we care less about emotionally, and spend time on things we care more about emotionally. Tablecloths are usually the former category…

          • susan

            thanks SO much for this insight, Meg. Our rental linens are pretty pricey (3x the crappy ones I found online, which adds up fast with a huge wedding) and I’m happy to take some expert, unbiased advice when I see it and cross that one off my list. I am sure when I am doing something important/fun 3 days before the wedding and NOT hunched over the ironing board crying I will be saying thank yous to you in my head :)

        • Essssss

          I love how you put this. The first R is refuse. Green for us in an invitation to do less instead of do it ourselves

        • susan

          I love adding refuse to the beginning of the typical Rs, and of thinking of it like a hierarchy. Great mantra to share with my future mother-in-law when she asks *again* about individually packaged snacks & beverages.

      • HannahESmith

        THIS. Trying to get the wrinkles out of my tablecloths a few days before my wedding was THE WORST. It is actually one of my only regrets about my wedding. I second this advice. Rent the damn linens.

    • CP

      You made so many great points! We were probably more socially conscious than eco-friendly (obviously a lot of overlap there), but it was expensive. Our flowers, food, cake, and beer were all locally sourced by locally owned businesses, and we repurposed our flowers by having a friend take them to a hospice the next morning. Our caterer provided salvaged china, and we rented glassware and linens. But we also skipped a lot of stuff that I group in my mind as “wedding detritus.” No save the dates, programs, favors, or guest books. One or two menus per table since people didn’t have an entree choice. We also chose a venue with a social mission we supported, so our venue fee (which was pretty modest) went to a public library rather than a hotel or country club. It was important to me that we give our money to locally-owned (and woman-owned!) businesses wherever possible. With the exception of using CatPrint for our invites, my husband’s suit, and a few random things purchased here and there, I think we used all locally-owned businesses. Like a lot of wedding things, it’s hard work juggling all those competing priorities!

  • Amy Elizabeth

    I’m planning a zero waste wedding! It is mostly about logistics and simplifying. We already live a zero waste life, so we are just applying the same principals on a larger scale. I’m seriously on the fence about compostables… they would make the whole thing so much easier, but they actually have a pretty huge foot print, aren’t always actually compostable, and there is a lot of “greenwashing” happening in that industry… We will see where we land on that one since it is sort of a battle between simplifying and logistics! The site isn’t up yet, but I’ll be blogging about how we are making our wedding zero waste at crunchychicliving.com.

    • guest

      Yes, anytime you buy something new, no matter how green it claims to be, itis almost certainly less sustainable than re-using something. Rentals are more expensive, but probably almost always greener.

      • AK

        1. Reduce
        2. Reuse
        3. Recycle (or compost) :)

  • Alexa

    Honestly, in my opinion one of the most “green” things you can do at a wedding is reduce the impact of flowers. Traditional cut flowers have fairly extreme environmental costs (http://wapo.st/1F96wdp). We couldn’t afford flowers from the local farm and florists (and our late fall wedding put us out of season for most things). So, we went with paper and fabric bouquets (picture below), which were a huge hit! People hardly noticed they weren’t “real”, and now I have my bouquet on our mantle! Of course the use of paper wasn’t “green” per se, but trade-offs…
    We also minimized waste as much as possible. To cut down on water used for dishwashing, we rented the bare minimum of glassware from our caterer, and provided markers and sharpies for guests to mark their drink (and we instructed wait staff to not clear glasses as rapidly as they usually do). We had no paper programs, seating charts, favors… and no complaints about any of that being “missing”.
    Our menu was vegetarian, which also seemed to go over well (at least no one said anything, although there is a rumor that one family member snuck in McDonalds).
    Lastly, we purchased carbon offsets to mitigate the impact of our multiple trips home for wedding planning (wedding was in home state and we live across the country).
    I’d be happy to share the carefully-crafted wording we used on our wedding website to describe all of this to our guests.

    • Kayjayoh

      Indeed. I didn’t have many flowers, but I was very happy to get the ones I needed at the farmer’s market the morning of the wedding. They were fresh, beautiful, and in season. I was able to get the bouquets I wanted while also supporting local, organic growers.

    • marie h

      Your bouquet is gorgeous. Did you buy paper flowers, have the bouquet made, or do the whole thing yourself?

      • Alexa

        Thanks! My mother is a talented craft goddess… very much a DIT project. She and I made the flowers (a google search for paper flower tutorials will yield a ton of helpful results), my sister needle-felted the yellow “billy balls”, and we supplemented as little as possible with fabric greenery (and other doo-hickeys for texture) purchased from Michaels.

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          How long would you say it took all-in? Fascinated by the finished product.

          • Alexa

            Thanks, Maddie! It’s hard to estimate time, as it is for any project, right? My mom took on the task of learning how to make the flowers, practicing, working out the kinks… And I’m not sure how many hours that entailed. By the time we had the process down, I would say it took about 1 hour for each of the big flowers in the bouquet (“roses”, “peonies” and “dahlias”). All told, maybe 20 cumulative hours of work?? And I think our estimate for the cost of my bouquet (including paper, floral wire, a floral foam ball to shove the sticks into, and a little holder ) was around $30!

          • Maddie Eisenhart

            Lassst question. Did she teach herself? Or did she find tutorials that helped? Because your bouquet is SEXY and I don’t think most people would think of THAT when they think of paper bouquet (I tend to think of more…crafty?)

          • Alexa

            Three aspects that took some figuring out were 1) making the flowers themselves and 2) attaching them to thick wire 3) assembling a bouquet with some sort of grace.

            The first two were pretty easy after finding good tutorials. The ones we settled on mostly came from this website: http://liagriffith.com/craft/weddings/paper_flowers/

            Bouquet assembly skillz were learned via youtube videos designed to teach people about real flower bouquets, not paper, but same things apply. Also this contraption was very important: http://www.consumercrafts.com/store/details/catalog/bridal-wedding-floral-accessories/vl3391?gclid=CL2t6MjczsUCFdgOgQodch8Abw

            I had never ever assembled a bouquet before but it really only took an hour or two, and since it’s not real flowers wilting with every touch, it was easy enough to move things around if they didn’t look good.

            It’s absolutely my favorite physical memento of the wedding (until we get an album printed).

          • Georgina Siddall

            Maddie, the ultimate #lazygirl version is to have someone make them for you ;-) I commissioned Songs From the Garden on Etsy to make my bouquet of silk flowers https://apracticalwedding.com/2012/12/london-wine-bar-courthouse-wedding/

      • Alexa

        We used a number of different tutorials, but the most helpful ones were from this website…
        http://liagriffith.com/making-paper-mums-with-plum-purple-and-orange-metallic-papers/

    • Lauren from NH

      I am planning to do drink markers. Possibly making these…

      https://www.etsy.com/listing/129385493/beer-bow-tie-for-kentucky-derby-party?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=beer%20markers&ref=sr_gallery_9

      Makes for a fun cheap favor/keychain keepsake for dual purpose.

      • Alexa

        Those are great! I wish we had seen them.
        The tricky part was coming up with labels that would work equally well for both wine glasses and cocktail highballs. That’s why we went with stickers and had markers out for people.

        • Lauren from NH

          How did stickers work with the condensation?

          • Alexa

            They worked well, actually! I’m trying to find the ones we used on Amazon but can’t remember…

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      WAIT. These aren’t real?!

    • Sara P

      Those are GORGEOUS

    • SamiSidewinder

      Yep, we skipped buying fresh flowers and opted for dried bouquets and boutonnieres from etsy and fresh flowers from my garden for my bouquet.

    • I would love to hear your wording! Please and thank you :)

      • Alexa

        We had a “Green Wedding” tab on our wedding website. Here is the text:

        “We believe in our responsibility to minimize our impact on the earth, while providing an unforgettable experience (and throwing a great party) for our friends, our families, and ourselves. To be authentic to the values we hold in our daily lives, our intention is to minimize the “footprint” our wedding makes on the planet. In doing so, we have made a few choices that you may be unaccustomed to. These include:

        Going paperless. We invite you to gather information about our event here, on our website. If you would like to receive a paper (rather than email) invitation, please let us know.

        Catering sustainably. We’re thrilled to have found a caterer, Catering Consciously, who uses local, seasonal, and organic foods. We have also chosen a delicious vegetarian menu, which we are confident you will enjoy and find approachable.

        Minimizing wedding day waste. Our selected venue will have exciting decor in the form of paintings, and we will be minimizing the use of cut flowers and other disposable decorations. Cut flowers can be quite destructive to the environment due to pesticides, preservatives, and fuel to ship them in refrigerated containers from the far reaches of the planet. As an alternative, we’ve made lovely paper flower bouquets. Yes, this conflicts slightly with our “paperless” efforts described above, but there are lots of trade-offs to be made when thinking ecologically!

        Purchasing carbon offsets for our travel to the wedding and honeymoon. If you are interested in what it means to offset your own carbon footprint, check out this great calculator: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx. An offset might not cost as much as you think!

        We’re excited for our wedding day to reflect our day-to-day ethics, and we hope you find it unique and exciting!”

        • Thank you! It’s great that you communicated about these details ahead of time, so as to manage your guests’ expectations.

          The part about trade-offs = so true! It’s tempting to frame this conversation as all or nothing, but… Let’s be realistic.

  • Kayjayoh

    One thing we did was make sure that the venue was within walking distance of the hotel, and also within walking distance of a lot of fun downtown activities for out-of-town guests. I’d originally loved the idea of a rural wedding, since we are at the edge of Wisconsin’s gorgeous “driftless” region, but as I though about all those people having to drive and drive to get to the countryside, then drive and drive to get back, it made less and less sense.

    Our venue and our caterer both had commitments to recycling and composting. The children’s museum was already set up with compost/recycle/etc bins on every floor, which made things very easy.

    And, while vegetarianism isn’t necessarily going to save the world, having all the food be vegetarian (for my husband) and much of it local went a long way toward reducing our footprint.

  • Ashlah

    Lane County, Oregon has a really cool waste reduction program that allows you to rent (for free!) durable silverware! They also offer plastic picnic dishes and cups, but we went compostable for those (making sure they followed the guidelines of our local compost place). We set up compost bins (also provided by the county) with detailed signage and a bucket for used silverware. It was a little extra work (someone had to wash and return the silverware, and take the bags of compost to the compost place afterwards), but it made me feel a little better about the impact of our wedding.

    In the grand scheme of things, we did a lot of not-so-environmentally conscious things, mainly ordering nearly everything online to be shipped to us, and often from probably-questionable manufacturers. Unfortunately that’s also one of the main ways to cut wedding costs, so it wasn’t much of a choice to go local for everything. But if we’d had greater funds, I like to think that’s how we would have spent our efforts (and dollars).

  • emmers

    We did the cheap/eco step of skipping save-the-dates. I emailed some out-of-towners the date in advance, and we sent our invitations maybe 2 months out. No regrets!

    • Alexa

      Hear hear. One thing we also don’t regret is skipping paper invitations (almost) all together. We used Glo for our wedding website and 95% of our guests got their “formal” wedding invitation by email. We sent paper invites (same design as the online version, no fancy envelope inserts, etc.) to the oldest and most traditional members of our families.

  • MeganW

    This is definitely a focus for our upcoming wedding as my fiance is an organic vegetable farmer and we try to live a sustainable life anyway. We’re providing our own vegetables (but you could ask your caterer if they are willing to work with a local farm!), growing our own flowers (again, farmers’ market!), compost and recycle buckets instead of just trash, thrift store for silverware and decorations, and no bottled water. We are using free pallets to make signage for guests and trying to repurpose things we already own instead of buying new for wedding decor. Using recycled paper or doing an evite, or even just online RSVPs, can cut down the amount of paper that eventually winds up in the trash.

  • Leah

    I think the comments posted thus far really speak to the fact that there are so few magic tricks for sustainability, etc. – few brilliant ‘omg I never thought of that!’ – type hacks. (someone prove me wrong! please!).
    We both work in the environmental realm, and this stuff is important to us. For our wedding, we tried to tackle the low hanging fruit, sustainability-speaking, which meant:
    • All flowers from local farms
    • All food from local farms (In Montana, it turns out meat is one of the most sustainable things you can get from your neighbors)
    • No bottled water (instead we rented some big glass bev dispensers and had some friends keep them full of water + mint, cucumbers, etc)
    • No programs, save the dates, etc.
    • No disposable or wrapped favors
    • Our favors were glasses with people’s names on them, which allowed them to re-use them all night, resulting in less glassware in need of washing.
    • Family-style rather than buffet or plated service, which I think reduces the amount of food thrown away
    • Recycling of glass, cans, etc. (which there wasn’t much of).
    • Almost all the decorations we had (and we didn’t use many) were re-used/recycled from other friends’ weddings – twinkly lights, shepherds hooks, etc. – and we immediately passed them on to other friends who had a wedding the following month.
    We could afford to rent dishware, glasses, etc, which obviously helps.
    I’m sure we missed some other things we could have done as well!

  • Sara P

    My biggest dilemma so far is what people are going to drink out of – any great ideas? We’re renting plates and utensils, but I’m really reluctant to shell out for glasses, since we’re planning on water/non-alcoholic and wine, but beer will be served out of bottles, and I guess I’m afraid that we’ll have to rent two different kinds of glasses for everybody, and then not everybody will use them…

    • Lauren from NH

      I just rented 100 wine glasses/water goblets for our 100 person wedding. Basically 1 glass per person, rinse it if you are switching beverages. There should be lots of beer drinkers who will make up for those who might end up using more than one glass. We’ll see how it turns out. Good news is renting glasses isn’t too too expensive.

      • Sara P

        Did you find a size that could work well for both wine and water? I guess that’s the other part of it, for me, too. Otherwise I might just buy a ton of mason jars – those will definitely get used eventually :).

        • Lauren from NH

          Our wedding is not till August so my method hasn’t been tested. But as for the glass size, I think they only had one size of water goblet/wine glass and then other types (flutes and maybe pint glasses), which I figured weren’t necessary. People drinking water and soda can look and feel a little fancy drinking them out of wine glasses, a little less volume, but shouldn’t be an issue.

          • Sara P

            A little fancy sounds alright ;).

    • Greta

      My friend did canning/mason jars for everyone, for everything. They had bottles of beer and wine, and then lemonade and water. She bought a bunch of mason jars, wrapped twine around them and had a blank circular tag on the twine, and then had sharpies for everyone to write their name on the tag. Most people drank beer out of the bottles, and drank everything else out of the mason jar. At the end of the night you could keep your jar, and turn it back in. I know the bride then had all the leftover jars cleaned and used them for canning with her mom! It worked great, no one had any issues with it, and canning jars are pretty cheap!

      • Sara P

        Sweet! That’s basically what I was thinking – it’s so good to hear it worked for somebody!

      • Leah

        Very similar to what we did, but we put the twine + tags on the jars in advance, with people’s names AND table numbers, and so they doubled as ‘escort cards’ as well.

    • Alexa

      I also did what Lauren is suggesting here. As much as the caterer tried to say “You really should plan on 2 wine glasses per person and 2 water glasses per person and 2…” we just ignored them. We just chose sort of a goblet-shaped glass from the rental place, and it was used for both wine and water. We ordered just enough for 1 per guest, plus maybe 10% extra… and it was fine!

    • HannahESmith

      We had my Mom thrift wine and champagne glasses, and we rented mason jars. We used this sign to encourage people to use one glass for the night. I think having a drink table instead of glasses at the tables also helped.

  • Kelly

    We did a lot of thrifting and saving of recyclable items in order to try to cut down on buying stuff that would go to waste. (Ex: we saved wine bottles to use as water bottles on the tables, and at the end of the day they were recycled). We also made our own flower confetti, and it was SUPER easy and looked awesome. We just went around our neighborhood/public spaces and collected various flowers (mostly rhododendrons), hung them to dry in a closet, then chopped them up. Eco-friendly, beautiful, and FREE. We also made seed bombs for place cards/favors (very cheap and easy) and wrapped them in some thrifted fabric. Any leftovers could still just be used as seed bombs…

  • annlynn

    Our green/ in line with our values touches were-
    Using Paperless Post for invitations, only printed and mailed about a dozen to older relatives
    Having the wedding in San Francisco so out of town guests did not have to rent a car to drive out of the city
    Minimal flowers (also b/c Husband is allergic)
    Used real plates borrowed from a local church etc (someone else tracked them down, washed and returned them) borrowed linens from friends.
    Had the reception at the same site
    Stayed within driving distance for the honeymoon

  • HannahESmith

    A few things we did for the environmental impact of our wedding:
    * Renting most decor from a local rental agency that specializes in reusing vintage pieces, this included plates, glasses and flatware. (Bonus: I didn’t have to find a home for all the decor when the wedding was done, and I pretty much let them make decor decisions after some general chats, which was so much easier.)
    * My Mom thrifted 100 or so wine glasses, and we encouraged people to use one glass throughout the evening.
    * Purchasing cloth napkins and table cloths used on craigslist, and reselling them after
    * Picking all the flowers from a dahlia farm that was two miles from the venue
    * Buying my wedding dress used and then giving it away to someone on the internet who wanted it
    * Getting ice cream and pies from local places, with pies that featured local fruit

    What not worth it:
    * The tablecloths were such a huge pain because they wrinkled easily and it was near impossible to get the wrinkles out. If I could do it over, I would just rent tablecloths from the caters.

    • Alexa

      The one-time-use dress thing is the aspect of our wedding that made me squirm a bit, from a sustainability perspective. How did you find someone to take it off your hands? Did you get it dry cleaned first?

      Any other ideas for dress donations?

      • HannahESmith

        I tried looking into more formal ways of donating a dress, but many had high fees associated with them. I first posted the dress on APW, but ended up posting it on Offbeat Bride, when no one on here was interested. I didn’t have it cleaned or repaired before sending it (a small snap broke on the day of the wedding), but I was upfront about both of these things. The person who wanted it also paid for the shipping (after I wasn’t able to find a local person who wanted it).

        I felt good about my dress going to someone who wanted it at no additional cost to me. The person who received the dress got a wedding dress for the cost of shipping, cleaning, repairs and alterations, which was still probably much less than they would have paid for even a used dress.

  • Lisa

    One of the things we did partially because we were cheap but also because I like to recycle is use recycled bottles when bottling our homebrew for favors. We collected the bottles over the course of a year at friends’ parties (I took a box with me and encouraged everyone to put the beer bottles in there instead of the trash), and then we sterilized them at home. Plus, our drunk friends loved the idea that they were contributing to our wedding in some way, and the different bottle shapes were fun and eclectic!

  • Erin

    We used wine and pears as centerpieces. We put a bottle each of red and white in the midde of the table. Then we alternated pairs of green and brown pears with tea lights. I wanted something modern, sustainable and inexpensive, and the pears totally worked. I called our grocery store in advance and ordered crates of each type of pear and picked them up the day before the wedding (in total, they were roughly $70 for a wedding of 150). We encouraged guests to take pears home, and we took home and ate what was left. We rented everything else — linens, place settings, etc. — so basically the only things we had left over were the tea light holders, which we plan to pass along to friends who are getting married. I bought flowers for my bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets from the farmers market the day before the wedding, but those were the only flowers we used. We also went with a caterer who uses mostly locally sourced food.

  • SamiSidewinder

    We tried to do a few things that were manageable for us without spending a ton (money or sanity) on being ‘green’. We used potted herbs and flowers as center pieces (the pots were from thrift stores). We made my bouquet from flowers I grew in my garden over the course of the summer (sunflowers mostly, plus some early tomatillo pods and dried lavender. Wedding party had dried flowers. We did an online RSVP to save some paper and postage. We used all compostable cups and serveware. Our favors were flower seeds in wax paper pouches. The extra got spread around our friends and our gardens. Kegs and growlers instead of bottles or cans of beer. No linens, just bare picnic tables.

  • Marie

    I’ve found that environmental choices can be either frugal or expensive. The best way to save money (and the environment) is to go in order: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Spend hella cash on a consumer solution. Most people seem to go backwards and never make it to the “reduce” part.

    Here’s what we’re doing:

    Reduce: No flowers, decorations, menus, save the dates, programs, favors, honeymoon, photographer.

    Reuse: The men are wearing suits (or kilts) that they already own. The bridesmaids are wearing dresses that they already own.

    Recycle: nothing really.

    Spend hella cash on a consumer solution:
    Our venue is an organic farm which is doing four weddings per weekend this summer (we booked the last spot), and provides linens, plates, organic local food, all that jazz. I estimate that food and venue will run us about $9000 for 100 guests for lunch without alcohol in a low COL area. We had envisioned getting married at the community center where we go dancing, but picking an all-inclusive wedding venue saved us a lot of time and environmental impact. Plus with the ceremony in a garden and the reception in a 100 year old ball room, there’s no need for decorations.

    These are the things that we’re being wasteful on:
    *Invitations, my family is pretty traditional, and several friends said that they love to save invitations; they’ll be getting a paper invitation and paper RSVP postcard in the mail.
    *large wedding – lots of our people are coming in from out of town
    *Groomsmaid and both mothers bought new dresses.
    *I (bride) am making my dress.
    *We’re giving gifts to attendants, officiant, parents.
    *The Registry. We try to never buy new things, but in an effort to avoid 85 toasters, we’re registered for some spanking new kitchen appliances in addition to a charity registry. I’d be interested in other people’s approaches to environmentally friendly registries while balancing family expectations. I’m not sure that registering for my own set of canning supplies so I don’t have to drive 4 miles to borrow my parents’ counts as environmentally friendly.

  • Eliza

    I wouldn’t say that we specifically set out to have a “green wedding,” but a couple of our decor choices are relevant to this conversation:

    Our biggest centerpieces were saplings wrapped in burlap (there were LED votives hanging from the branches). We did work with a florist to set up and arrange the centerpieces, but we bought the saplings ourselves from a local nursery. After the wedding we planted them in our yard! I love looking at our dogwood tree and azalea bushes every day. We also had low arrangements of potted pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale that were planted in our yard after the wedding. (We rented lovely silver containers from the florist for these.)

    This isn’t a #lazygirl tip, but it worked for us: We rented plain white tablecloths, but then we bought our own fabric and cut/sewed square-sized overlays for the tops of every table. That sounds like a big project—and it was—but it was also a labor of love and the tables looked beautiful. There was so much gorgeous color in the reception space, and it didn’t come from live blooms. That was not a small initial investment, but since the wedding my entire extended family has used those overlays as tablecloths at a bunch of events: from Thanksgiving dinner, to my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party, to a brunch for a friend’s wedding, to a welcome home party for my sister. (They’re made from a thick fabric that doesn’t wrinkle very easily, which makes storage easier to manage. They have some heft to them.)

    I love these elements because they looked great on the wedding day and they continue to “live” in our lives today.

    • FancyPants

      I love that you were able to plant the bushes afterward!

      We had potted Maidenhair ferns on all the tables- and that was the extent of our decorations! We then gave the ferns as ‘thank you’ presents to everyone who helped with the wedding.

      The only cut flowers were from my mother and very good friend’s yard in some old big water jugs/vase thing (except for ~$20 worth of other flowers from local market).

  • Essssss

    I love this! Avoiding creating more waste with our wedding was the thing
    that my fiancé cared most about and has helped guide a lot of the choices when we get caught up in the WIC. We are both ecologists and so our family appreciates and understands our choices and
    so far hasn’t been fazed (we’ll let you know in Sept.). Bottom line is that for
    us, doing something green has primarily been an invitation to do less, rather
    than to do more DIY or DIT, just to say yes to less “stuff” overall. I surprised myself by really wanting flower
    centerpieces, so that’s been the exception, we’re DITing that. Accepting the invitation to do less in the
    name of greenness has also been a great way to gives ourselves a little space with well intentioned family
    with style really different than ours. We can just say, “we’re
    trying not to generate more stuff from our wedding” when they suggest
    confetti/bubbles/toys for kids/whatever and that’s pretty clear.

    Some specific choices we made with a green ethic in mind:
    -Picked venues that looked nice on their own (an outdoor field with mountain
    views for the ceremony, and a nice banquet hall with fireplace and fun lights
    for the reception) that didn’t need to be decorated with more stuff
    -We’re using a local jeweler to make our rings out of recycled gold, and used
    a family ring as our engagement ring in acknowledgement of the ecological impacts of mining
    -Flowers are local from the farmer’s market and grown in our garden and we’re
    using old glassware that my MIL has as bud vases
    -Favors are homemade treats in recycled paper boxes (hooray for crafty MIL)
    -Save the dates were emailed, invites printed on recycled paper
    -The night before the wedding, we’re having a picnic and using
    recycled/compostable utensils. I found a bunch of serving dishes at Goodwill
    that will go back when we’re done. We’re serving my family’s home-caught salmon
    and asking people to bring a potluck dish.
    -Across the board, no new plastic things! No bubbles, plastic garlands, cups.
    etc.
    -We’re registering for minimal things that also follow our values (e.g. organic cotton sheets), and suggesting a donation to a few social and environmental NGOs we love as an option too

    On another note, we have some friends in Alaska who purchased carbon offsets
    for everyone traveling as their wedding favor. That was a pricier endeavor than
    we are up for but I loved the sentiment.

  • LNC

    Technically, the concept of sustainability means achieving economic, social, and environmental equilibrium, such that the state is sustainable long-term. It’s become a buzz-word for “green” in the last few years, but they aren’t at all the same thing. I’d argue that you could, potentially have a wedding with all these factors in “balance”, but that a wedding by default is inherently unsustainable, since it’s an event that, by design, only happens once. I realize I’m missing the point, but the I think the distinction is important.

    • Lauren

      The event can either be a part of the wedding industrial complex or not, though, and therefore can be unsustainable (WIC) or a part of creating an economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable wedding /industry/

  • Maggie

    We’re getting married this summer. We’re crowdsourcing our tablecloths, renting our dishes + napkins, and giving out little packs of sunflower seeds that grow in our climate as favours – so we’re really hoping we’ll have very little garbage from the reception. We’re looking into getting compost set up for people to scrape their plates into. We’ve given sunflower seeds to a lot of local friends, who are growing some for us in their gardens; we’re planning to crowdsource some extra flowers from our friends’ gardens to decorate our reception hall.

    In our faith tradition weddings are usually potluck, so we’ll have lots of good home cooking and avoid most of the extra packaging that can come with bulk Costco or other bulk self-catering options. My dress is being made by a local eco-friendly designer but is still affordable because it’s a gorgeous tea dress instead of a traditional wedding dress. We’ve provided transit and bike rental information to our guests, although we do have people travelling from other continents, which will be a major part of our footprint!

    We’re fortunate to have a community that expects these kinds of efforts rather than being surprised or put off by them.

  • Dawn

    My mom grew about half of our flowers, focusing on those within the natural rainfall for the area; we re-used glasses and vases (borrowed or purchased from re-sale shops); we ate the leftovers for brunch the next day; we used paper invites from a local, environmental-alert co., and did digital RSVPs…we also caused a lot more trash than we would have preferred — including the accidental throwing out of a bunch of decorative paper lanterns chosen specifically because I wanted them!

  • neighborhoodmap

    Folks in Chicago in need of limos, town cars, etc. (for weddings or other events!) but concerned about the environmental impact should look into Going Green Limousine (http://www.goinggreenlimousine.com). We used them and they were not only really great to work with, their vehicles are mostly hybrid and if they use one that’s not then they make a donation to off-set the carbon footprint from their profits.

  • Elena

    I love this thread! big things we considered:
    1. Locate the weddings nearest the most guests possible to reduce travel emissions (and cost of course!
    2. Renting a bunch of decorations instead of buying! We’re renting all our tabletop glass bottle vases and I’m finding it’s the same price and so much easier than if we collected and bought them ourselves – plus they definitely get reused!
    3. Registry! Don’t register for stuff you don’t need and only register for things made to last. And of course eco friendly products / materials / companies
    Also some other stuff: we’re getting our flowers from a local organic farmer florist, doing online RSVPs, botanical paperworks plantable seed paper invites, having our wedding at a farm to table venue where most people can stay over, homemade local jam favors, DIY dried flower confetti (thanks APW for that!) and my dress is a vintage remake!

  • KH_Tas

    We try to live consciously (especially me), so a lot of things we did I didn’t think of as green until they turned up here. Wedding was weekend before last, btw. Also, not all of these things are #lazygirl (wall of text upcoming):

    Reduce: Single A5 for paper invites (partner was worried they’d look cheap, pinterest had gotten to him a bit. They turned out fine, and didn’t fall off fridges from sheer weight as a bonus). Online RSVPs, texted Save the dates, no programs or menus.
    No favours.
    Most of the tables didn’t need tablecloths, and chair covers were just ignored even though ‘apparently’ you should cover theater chairs for weddings.
    Venue was pretty enough that it didn’t need much decoration.
    Any thought of disposable cameras was quickly cut off; these are things I don’t like at all; instead a sign was put up for a photo sharing app which a few people have used so far.
    Very few live flowers, all from our and MIL’s gardens, the remainder were fabric, mostly made by me from scraps and a few skeins of yarn (not necessarily lazy) – to be used as decor.
    Not lazy – when I made my dress I cut it so economically I used 25% of the fabric estimated by pattern backs (being 5’1 helped a bit there).
    Cocktail starters meant dishes were only needed for mains.
    I used shoes, stockings and jewelry from my cupboard
    There were a lot of other ‘wedding’ things we nixed, not all of which i can remember

    Re-use: Vases for flowers and lollies were from my bottle collection (retained for home use) and old jars
    Tealight holders: the box that has been passed around the community for years now. Sent on to their next wedding after ours.
    3 tablecloths from people’s collections, I made 2 and they’ll all be used for parties from here on.
    Most glasses and bowls rented from caterer. Special glasses for VIPs gifted to them for home use
    In theory, everyone should genuinely be able to re-wear their clothing (including me).
    The christmas light collections of bridal party members were pooled for the lighting.
    Pretty sure my petticoat started out its life as lace curtains at my parent’s old house.
    Pot plants instead of floral centrepieces, to be planted in our and MILs gardens.
    Coffee & tea: the cups were from our house, the spoons borrowed off the caterers and all the leftovers went into our pantry

    Recycle
    Bottles and some of the jars post wedding
    The metal in our rings was either post-consumer recycled or recovered from tailings

    Probably a few other things but this post is getting too long

  • Alice

    I’m late today, but this is something we both really cared about. Our actual wedding was tiny, so aside from carpooling to the national park and choosing a restaurant that sourced local ingredients, there wasn’t much more to focus on. My dress was handmade in Bali by workers being paid fairly, but wasn’t a wedding dress, so still came in around $300. My flowers were dried from a friend’s garden, since live plants weren’t allowed in the park, but before learning that I was going to pick up a boquet of seasonal farmer’s market flowers.

    For our big party a week later, we held it at my parent’s house, which gave us a lot of control over things. We rented a small tent and tables, chairs, and tableclothes. We did use disposable plates (it was an informal picnic-style lunch and party) and utensils, but we bought rapidly biodegradeable ones made of potato starch. My dad prepared and cooked the food on the charcoal grill, using meat we had pre-ordered from the farmer’s market (the biggest expense besides the tent). And, because it was at their house, we could compost all of the food waste after the party, which was great.

  • april

    Hooray for this thread! Our wedding definitely had eco-friendly components (I do natural resources/environmental policy for a living – so it’s something I really care about). Here are some of my top suggestions:

    1. Choose a gorgeous, natural setting for your wedding. We had our reception at the visitor center of a local arboretum. The space was so beautiful – with giant windows looking out onto the forest – that we didn’t have to spend a lot of time or money on decorations. It meant less waste too, since fewer decorations = less stuff to give/throw away at the end of the night.

    2. Choose an eco-conscious caterer. They will likely be a little more expensive, but if it’s something you care about, then it’s probably worth it. We chose a caterer who specialized in sourcing local products. It meant having to leave some of the details of the menu sort of sketchy (there was a lot of – we’ll do a salad with X vegetable! … Provided Farmer Joe still has some that late in the season.”). But it also meant that our food was really fresh and most of it hadn’t been flown half way around the world. Our caterer also used really beautiful, compostable plates and utensils made from pressed banana leaves. And they arranged for all our food waste to be composted!

    3. Source flowers locally. This may involve a little more effort, particularly if you want to DIY it. Our caterer (have I conveyed yet how awesome our caterer was?) actually gave us her account number for the local flower mart, which usually only sells to florists and other professionals. My aunt went there a couple of days before our wedding and just bought a bunch of seasonal flowers – then did the arrangements and bouquets herself. I’ve also heard of people asking flower sellers from the local farmer’s market to supply flowers, which also sounds like a good idea.

  • Natalie

    I think it’s important to remember that lots of green choices can be cheaper (and sometimes easier!) choices, too. Options that reduce *things* tend to be both cheaper and better for the environment. We served only vegetarian food, because we’re both mostly vegetarian and we couldn’t afford grass fed, antibiotic free beef for 140 people (and anyways, vegetarian is still better for the environment that environmentally friendly meat). I think that was the biggest green thing we did. We also made our own pesto aioli as an appetizer dip from basil from our home garden. We emailed save-the-dates and had online rsvp’s to save paper and mailing (both cheaper and better for the environment! yay!). Flowers were a big compromise between our desire for tons of fresh flowers everywhere and the fact that flowers can be really bad for the environment. We purchased cut flowers only for bouquets, boutineers, and corsages. Instead of cut flowers on the tables, we grew our own plants from seed in terra cotta pots. We then sent them home with guests as favors. The pots are all being reused by our friends in their homes and gardens, and it makes me happy in use.

  • jubeee

    Oh I should add that our honeymoon will be at the most sustainable resort in Costa Rica, the only resort that has a 5 star sustainability rating. Yes, we will be using fuel to fly there but once we are there, we will be spending 6 nights in a completely self sustained environment that creates its own energy, food, etc.

  • I love this topic! Here’s some of the choice I made in attempting be eco-friendly.
    -Renting dishes/glasses/silverware (Decided against compostable because it would have been hard to “police” the process and make sure it all actually got composted. And renting was about the same price.)
    -Buying my dress used
    -Buying (vintage) jewlery and (new) shoes that I was 100% certain I would wear regularly after the wedding (and I had to reclaim them, but still wear them now too).
    -Using things I already had in the ceremony or on the day- baskets, picture frames, candles and candle holders, trays, etc.
    -Borrowing “silver colored” trays to supplement what I had
    -Buying 2 or 3 black Ikea sheets to use as tablecloths (for the long serving tables) and borrowing a few black tablecloths for the rest of the serving tables. I kept the sheets and have reused them.
    -No tablecloths for the café tables that guests sat at. Just used some vintage glass bottles that had been given to me with a few cut flowers (very, very minimal) and tea lights (bought from a co-worker who was selling them after her wedding). Dim lighting and candles do wonders. No one even knew that I used sheets as tablecloths on the serving tables!
    -Ceremony and reception in same venue, in the town where the most people lived. This was more a practical choice, but resulted in the least travel possible for that group of guests.

  • KimBee

    We did a lot of the things folks have already mentioned, and we found a DJ who purchases renewable energy certificates to offset their electrical use and their travel.

    Also, for our favors, we gave our guests hand made cloth napkins both to use at the wedding at to take home. We put a basket out for anyone who didn’t want to take one with them. So, we’ll be able to keep using them for years. This worked out so well – everyone ended up wearing their napkins as ascots, headbands, etc. So many great pictures and unique napkins styles!

  • EF

    all paper at our wedding was recycled, plates were palm leaf, cutlery was birch, etc, etc.

    We had almost nothing in the trash at the end of the night, but some very full recycling bins.
    LINKS FOR UK PEOPLE:
    recycled pocket fold envelopes that looked aaaahmazing: http://www.pdacardandcraft.co.uk/pocketfold-cards/140x140mm-pocketfold-cards-en/recycled-card-pocketfolds-en-2.html
    where we got the rest of our paper and outer envelopes, along with stickers for our monogram: https://secure.eco-craft.co.uk/
    Table settings: http://www.littlecherry.co.uk/

    Everything was really affordable, too.
    Like others, we minimized flowers (used only baby’s breath) and used collected bottles in centrepieces (along with books). It’s not too hard to green your wedding once you decide to do it!