10 Ways to Celebrate Sustainably

Easy, Affordable Eco-friendly Wedding Planning Tips

Engaged couples today have many modern and beautiful options for hosting an eco-friendly wedding. Reducing waste on your big day will only add to the feel-good vibes on your wedding day. Planning an eco-friendly wedding can be just as easy as planning any other wedding! Currently engaged couples have plenty of modern and gorgeous options for details, favors, decor and more that are eco-friendly. If you and your loved one wish to plan a sustainable and environmentally conscious wedding celebration, this guide is for you. From booking wedding vendors to selecting wedding favors, we share tips that are both affordable and accessible. Discover easy and attainable tips, from booking vendors to selecting favors, throughout this blog post. Keeping waste (and expenses) to a minimum on your wedding day will end up feeling just as amazing as your wedding cake tastes!         

Tip No. 1 – Skip the Unnecessary Paper and/or Plastic Products

One of the first and most easily achievable ways to go about eco-friendly wedding planning is to avoid paper or plastic cutlery, plates and other details. Skip the paper or plastic and opt to rent reusable products and decor. Say goodbye to single-use items like paper plates and napkins and hello to reusable rentals like decorative party linens and colorful plates or chargers. Swap water bottles for glassware. Look to your local NC party rental company like Curated Events Rental, Petal & Oak and American Party Rentals, which offer a number of gorgeous non-disposable rentals to choose from. Don’t worry about washing any of your wedding rentals – that service is included in your rental costs!

Tip No. 2 – Book a Sustainable Wedding Venue

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could say “I do” at a North Carolina wedding venue that is beautiful, functional and fostering sustainability? Guess what, you can! Here’s how you can incorporate eco-friendly wedding planning in your venue search.

As you search for your ideal event space, chapel, ballroom or farm, keep an eye out for venues that come fully stocked. For example, The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm is a gorgeous NC wedding venue that also boasts its own on-site floral farm and floral design team. The best part? The Barn of Chapel Hill partners with Bee Downtown to maintain an apiary on its property – providing a home for bees as well as the venue’s own honey! Or, visit Lavender Oaks Farm in Chapel Hill, a stunning and fully functional lavender farm with refurbished historic barns.

Find a wedding venue that is already gorgeous as-is and then you’ll be able to save money on single-use decorations or florals. Bonus points to couples who host their weddings at local wedding venues close to family and friends, limiting travel pollution from transportation exhausts – along with cost!  

Tip No. 3 – Hire Local Vendors Who Use Local Products

Hiring local wedding vendors (in other words, shopping local) is always a good idea. Again, when you hire local wedding vendors located close to your wedding venue, you are cutting down on excess carbon emissions. The same goes for buying local food and flowers. Ordering those exotic flowers that only bloom in faraway regions will result in a massive carbon footprint due to the carbon emissions of shipping and delivering your order. (Not to mention the resources used to grow flowers out of season.) Plus, hiring local wedding vendors will give your wedding guests a taste of your home and an authentic experience of the area. Ask the vendors you’re considering if they use local products. On a whole, shopping local pours resources into your local economy and supports the small businesses based right in your own back yard.

Tip No. 4 – Avoid Food Waste at Your Wedding Reception

There’s few feelings that are worse than tossing food that was carefully prepared but not even touched, whether it’s on your wedding day or a regular weeknight at home. As you conduct eco-friendly wedding planning research and start meeting with caterers, here are some helpful questions you can ask: How much food do you recommend for this number of guests? Which foods are most popular during the season I’m planning to host my wedding? Where are your ingredients sourced from? Asking your wedding caterer these environmentally conscious questions will ensure the least amount of food waste at your wedding and support the sustainability of your wedding. And if you still end up with leftovers on your big day, call your local food bank and ask if you can donate them!

Tip No. 5 – Ask Your Wedding Florist Not to Use Floral Foam

If you’re asking the question, ‘What in the world is floral foam?’ then keep reading! Floral foam, or Oasis, is the green styrofoam material that many florists use as the base of floral arrangements. Essentially, floral foam is a non-biodegradable plastic. Not only is floral foam terrible for the environment, it also contains toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon black that can harm the florist and anyone who handles the stuff. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid flower foam if you are intent on carrying out eco-friendly wedding planning. Ask your wedding florist if they use a new version of floral foam that is biodegradable or if they can use other eco-friendly alternatives.

Don’t want to pay for delicate flowers that will eventually wilt and die? FauxReal Flowers rents out gorgeous bouquets, centerpieces and other decorative items. You’d never guess that FauxReal’s blooms aren’t the real thing, and you don’t have to worry about the sustainability of your floral designs!

Tip No. 6 – Ask Your Stationer to Use Recycled Paper Products

Choosing a wedding date and sending out save-the-dates and invitations is one of the first tasks that should be on your wedding planning timeline. This is also an easy time to prioritize eco-friendly wedding planning. Ask your stationer to use recycled paper for your custom wedding invitation designs. Odds are, you won’t even be able to see the difference in recycled paper from traditional paper product options. All of the paper that goes into wedding invitation suites, ceremony programs and reception menus adds up quickly. Bonus points to any couple who skips paper products entirely by creating a wedding website online or by sending e-invites!  

Tip No. 7 – Choose Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors

Give your guests the gift that keeps on giving! Here are a few ideas for eco-friendly wedding favors that are both fun and creative: a packet of flower or plant seeds, local charity donations in your guests’ name, repurposed mason jars filled with homemade treats or personalized reusable glassware that your guests can take home and enjoy! Eco-friendly wedding favors send an important message to your wedding guests about being environmentally conscious and may inspire them to do the same! If the thought of planning an entire wedding around eco-friendly practices seems like a hardship, choosing eco-friendly wedding favors is a small, simple step toward sustainability.

Tip No. 8 – Buy Used or Rent Your Wedding Fashion

The popular adage says it all: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Since global over-production of clothing contributes incredible amounts of waste and fuels climate change, choosing a vintage or lightly used wedding gown or formalwear is a green wedding trend we can get behind. Say “yes” to a dress that looks just as good used as the one hanging on the rack. While we love the idea of updating the dress or attire worn by your parent on their wedding day simply for sentimentality’s sake, it’s another great way to reuse rather than buy new. Ask your grandmother to try on her gorgeous, vintage bridal gown or ask your dad if he still has the cuff links he wore on his wedding day.

Another eco-friendly option is to rent your wedding fashion. Stop by Bernard’s Formalwear in Durham, NC, to browse through through top of the line suit and tuxedo rentals. Take a step down the aisle toward being environmentally conscious.

Tip No. 9 – Reuse and Recycle Your Wedding Day Products or Decor

If you buy your wedding decor or products, don’t throw them away when the day is over! Save your wedding decor for future use. You never know when you might be able to reuse those elegant drapes or romantic mercury glass votives. Repurpose decor in your home or pass it on to others who are planning a wedding or event. Reuse and recycle all of your wedding products for any future occasions. Who knows, maybe your future children or neighbor might want to borrow all of those pretty glass vases! Reducing waste on your wedding day by saving, donating, lending or reselling your wedding products is an easy way to help protect the environment and boost the sustainability of your wedding.

Tip No. 10 – Say No to Sparklers and Confetti

Of course, sparkler exits look fun and amazing in photographs. But, if you’re dedicated to eco-friendly wedding planning, there are alternatives that look just as photogenic without the waste. Skip the harmful smoke that comes with sparklers or throwing confetti (or opt for biodegradable confetti!) for more sustainable celebration techniques. Try swapping for bubbles! Bubbles look amazing on camera and won’t add to your carbon footprint. Another option is throwing birdseed or fresh or dried flower petals in the air! Throwing rice can be harmful to birds and other animals who ingest the leftovers. Birdseed will be just as adorable in your wedding photos and healthy for nature’s critters.  

Share Your Sustainable Wedding With Us!

Our team here at Heart of NC Weddings believes that it is our responsibility to share environmentally conscious and sustainably minded wedding content. We hope you found our eco-friendly wedding planning guide helpful. We can’t wait to see the savvy and creative ways you plan your big day! Think your sustainable, eco-friendly wedding should be shared with our readers? Submit your wedding story here to be shared on our wedding blog!

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