Melissa is a wedding, elopement, and lifestyle photographer specializing in photographing candid and emotion filled moments with her clients.

 Based in Sonoma, Napa, and San Francisco Bay Area. Available for travel worldwide.

How to Host a Sustainable Wedding

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to chat about a subject close to my heart: sustainability. Now, I LOVE weddings, however, weddings can also be incredibly wasteful, with extravagant décor (love the decor!), a lot of disposable items, and really high carbon footprints. Hosting a sustainable wedding is not only kinder to the environment, but can also be a more thoughtful and earth-friendly option. I’m a big fan of finding ways to incorporate sustainability into our lives, so it’s no surprise that I also love the idea of finding different ways to host a sustainable wedding.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no saint when it comes to sustainable living, but I am doing my best and constantly looking for new ways to make a smaller footprint on our home, Earth. I hope you take some of my thoughts below into consideration in how to host a sustainable wedding…I hope it comes in handy when thinking about your own wedding!

Choose an earth conscious venue

When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, there are plenty of options that prioritize sustainability. Look for venues that have environmentally friendly practices such as solar panels, water conservation systems, or use renewable energy within their space. You can also consider outdoor locations, such as parks or gardens, which are naturally beautiful and don’t require much decoration. When a venue prioritizes their own carbon footprint, you know it’s a keeper.

time cove wedding, mendocino, jenner, elopement, intimate wedding, pacific coast

Opt for eco-friendly invitations

Invitations can be wasteful, with paper invitations often ending up in the trash after the wedding. When creating your own invitation suite, consider using recycled paper invitations. I am all for an elegant and thoughtful paper suite, they are DREAMY, but you could also include a request for guests to RSVP online, which can reduce the number of paper invitations needed. It also cuts back on the amount of return mail going through the USPS and therefore, reducing the carbon footprint as well.

wedding invitation suite, sustainable paper

Choose sustainable catering options

Food is one of the best parts of any wedding and there are plenty of ways to make the catering sustainable. Consider choosing a caterer who uses locally sourced and organic ingredients, and think about a vegetarian or vegan menu. I know people love to have meat as well, so think about how your caterer can source a more sustainable and local option for the meat. You could also minimize waste by opting for family-style or buffet-style dining, rather than individual plated meals. I know creating an elevated and luxury style dining experience may be top of mind, but there are definitely ways to help reduce waste.

Perhaps your caterer also knows of ways to donate unused food to a local shelter that they partner with to help eliminate the excess waste of food from the wedding day.

family style meal at yokayo ranch, girard's paella, ukiah, sustainable food, farm to table
beltane ranch wedding menu for family style meal, kenwood, sustainable food, farm to table

Use sustainable décor

Décor can be a significant source of waste at weddings, with flowers, centerpieces, and other decorations often being discarded after the event. Some great ideas to reduce waste could be to choose décor options that are reusable or recyclable. Items such as potted plants, fabric drapes, and vintage or repurposed décor items are a cool place to start.

When it comes to florals, you can also consider asking someone to help deliver your post-wedding florals to local places around that would benefit from having them on-site. Places like local hospitals, women’s shelters, or even Senior Living Homes will happily accept your donations. There’s also companies like Repeat Roses that will take all the work of bouquet donation off your hands for you! They take your leftover flowers and repurpose them into arrangements that they deliver to hospitals and nursing homes. What’s even better than that? They return to pick up their donated blooms once they’re used and will compost them. Heck yeah for Mother Nature!

yokayo ranch, ukiah wedding, sustainable table decor, reusable decor, recycle florals, greenery

Encourage sustainable transportation

Transportation is another significant source of emissions at weddings, with guests often traveling long distances to attend. You can consider suggesting that guests carpool if they can and consider offering a shuttle service to and from the venue. Typically wedding clients will have a hotel selected for their guests to stay at and then will offer a series of shuttles at different times to and from the venue and hotel. It’s a great way to help limit cars and traffic, along with helping non-sober friends find their way home safely.

Offer eco-friendly favors

I really couldn’t tell you if wedding favors are in or out. I haven’t seen them for awhile at my own weddings, but I imagine they will make a swing back onto the scene. While wedding favors are a nice way to thank guests for attending, they can also be wasteful (both environmentally and on your wallet). Perhaps you could opt for eco-friendly favors, such as seeds, reusable water bottles, or locally made products. Another beautiful way to honor your wedding guests could be to make a donation to a charity of your choice in each of your guest’s names. How perfect to give something back that is impactful vs. something your guest may throw away or lose the second they get home.

honey jars, wedding favor, sustainable, earth friendly

Hosting a sustainable wedding is a beautiful way to reduce waste and minimize your carbon footprint. By choosing sustainable venues, invitations, catering options, décor, fashion, transportation, and favors, you can create a thoughtful and environmentally friendly celebration of your love. Remember, small changes can make a big impact. No matter what you choose to do, I hope this gave you some great ideas to mull around.

I love talking about sustainability and do my best to constantly check in with how I’m doing in my own life and practices. If you loved this post on different ways to host a sustainable wedding, be sure to check out more wedding content here.

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