How to Throw a Zero-Waste Wedding

Updated: Aug 18, 2020



For most people, finding their person and realizing that they get to spend the rest of their life with them is one of the most exciting times in their life. They begin planning how they want to celebrate their union and start finding ways that feel true to them. And in all the fun of wedding planning, only a few stop to consider how their celebration impacts the world around them.


According to the Huffington Post, the average wedding costs an estimated $28,000 for a six-hour event, averaging about $4,667 per hour. In those six hours, roughly 400-600 lbs. of waste are produced by a guest list of roughly 100-120 people.


Knowing the lasting impacts of throwing a lavish wedding, soonly-weds are exploring a new option - going green! With a breadth of sustainable options already available combined with the plethora of ever-developing alternatives, having a zero-waste wedding is allowing more and more couples to throw the wedding of their dreams without extravagant wastes.

Below we have highlighted a few trusted tips to help you plan your zero-waste wedding:



Forage for Florals

Soon to be wed couples can research florists who use organic and fair-trade flowers, and those who opt not to use floral foams. Also, couples should look for florists who use flowers that are locally grown and in season or those who use forage to add natural elements.

However, before you set your heart on specific florals, consider the various eco-friendly options that preserved flowers present. Dried lavender, pampas grass, hydrangeas, eucalyptus, and palm leaves are some of the best options available both for their beauty, as well as their longevity.

Using potted plants and flowers is also a great alternative to fresh-cut flowers, as they will continue to grow long after your celebration. You can also arrange for your floral centerpieces to be donated to hospitals, nursing homes, or a church after your celebration. This way, your flowers will surely bring joy to others long after you’ve said ‘I Do.’



Rethink Traditional Attire

Whether you’ve been dreaming of a dress, a suit, or a jumper, hunting for your attire is a major step in the wedding planning process. Tradition has taught us that saying ‘I Do’ implies that you say it in a brand new outfit head-to-toe. But, have you considered the sustainable options that are already available to you?

Renting or buying lightly-worn wedding attire can be a unique and affordable option for most couples; gently-used wedding dresses under two years old and in great condition can be found selling for as much as 50 percent of its original retail price.

Sites such as NearlyNewlywed.com and StillWhite.com supply vast options across various price ranges for couples to explore. Alternatively, having a family member’s wedding attire altered to fit your style and personality or reviving a vintage piece from a wedding consignment store are both budget-friendly and sustainable options.

Bridesmaids' dresses can also be vintage or repurposed. Simply give your bridesmaids a couple of rules to follow, such as style or color. You can also show them some options and ask them which among the designs they like the most so that you can decide which would go best with the attire of the other members.

This relieves the stress of trying to find a single style that suits all members of the bridal party and allows them to select a dress they like and they can wear again in the future. This might be a simple act, but it can save them money and it can increase the likelihood of the dress being reused.

Groomsmen can also rent their entire day-of attire from sites such as GenerationTux.com and TheBlackTux.com. Lastly, while a mid-event dress change may seem tempting, it’s best to find something that your heart loves and stick to it. Wearing a single outfit for your wedding isn’t just a practical choice - both your pockets and the environment will thank you for it, as well!



Go Paperless

When you are looking for some creative ideas to lead to zero waste weddings, going paperless can be one of the easiest and most cost-effective choices. There are so many companies that allow you the ability to design gorgeous invitations online such as Minted.com or PaperlessPost.com, as well as fully customizable wedding websites where your guests can find all the needed information like Zola.com and TheKnot.com.

You can also send invites to your guests electronically, as well as track their RSVPs from within the site and/or the app. With these easy steps, you can save from the cost of printing, and postage, not to mention that you can also help save numerous trees that would’ve been cut down to supply the paper.

If you would still prefer to send out physical invitations, find stationers who use recycled and biodegradable paper for invitations. You might also consider switching from individual programs and menus for large format signs that can be placed in view of all guests so they can stay informed but save on paper use.

Other green-thumb planning tips include keeping decorative event elements such as place cards to a minimum unless they are reusable in which case, they can serve as favors, as well.



Keep It Local

Keeping your celebration local can also do wonders for reducing your carbon footprint. Whether it’s having your ceremony and reception in one location or deciding against a destination wedding, your venue can significantly determine the amount of waste that your wedding generates.

Be sure to ask your venue questions such as whether their caterer uses local produce from organic farms, or if they are willing to provide recycling for bottles and cans. You should also determine their willingness to use reusable tableware, as well as their ability to capture food for composting before you book.

Too often, the biggest source of waste in wedding celebrations is wasted food and drinks; and because of this, it is crucial to ask your venue if their caterer is able to assist with the logistics of sending leftover food to homeless shelters and soup kitchens after the wedding. This is something your wedding planner should be able to assist you with, as well.

Celebrating your wedding in a non-traditional venue such as botanical gardens, outdoor theaters, or nature reserve can also provide the perfect backdrop to your special day without requiring you to bring in decorative elements, leaving you to rely on the natural beauty of the space.



Swap Your Gifts for Something Meaningful

In an effort to reduce waste, consider asking your guests to donate to your honeymoon fund or to your chosen charity, instead of purchasing gifts. While receiving gifts is fun, chances are you’ll receive a slew of items that you either don’t need or won’t actually end up using.

Having your guests donate money rather than gifts, reduces waste, and allows them to contribute to a meaningful experience for either yourself as you begin your newly married life or aid in helping a person in need.

Another popular trend for couples looking to avoid waste but majorly invest in their newly-married life together is starting a new home fund in place of a registry. For this, you can use sites such as HatchMyHouse.com. The site acts as a registry and allows your guests to contribute to your down payment or renovation of a house.

If you’d still like to participate in the tradition of receiving physical gifts, be intentional in your selections and register for items that you really want and will actually use even if they are nontraditional. You can turn into sites like Thank­ful.com or MyReg­istry to make this process a breeze.

Another option is to list items that you would be happy to receive either handmade or second-hand, for an added personal touch.



Reflect On Your Ring

An astounding 20 tons of waste is generated when mining enough gold for one ring. As couples become more aware of the impacts of mining gold and diamonds, more and more are opting for more eco-friendly options, such as recycled gold, vintage rings, or lab-grown diamonds in an effort to lessen their negative impact on the environment.

With the quality of lab-grown diamonds rapidly improving by the day, they are both chemically and visually identical to mined diamonds but you can rest easy knowing that they are guaranteed to be conflict-free.

Sites such as TaylorAndHart.com, HelloNoemie.com, and AurateNewYork.com offer chic options with none of the guilt.


Go Small

Looking for an easy way to significantly reduce environmental consequences? Consider eliminating your long guest list in favor of a smaller, more intimate wedding.

By having a limited number of guests, you decrease both the resources used, as well as the waste generated by each person. This also works double-fold to ensure that you are truly celebrating with your nearest and dearest friends and loved ones who have played significant roles in either your relationship or your upbringing.

From where we stand, it’s a win on both sides - you have a more intimate celebration, and you can save money while substantially minimizing environmental consequences.

While we’ve given you plenty of sustainable options to reflect on, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. With sustainability gaining popularity in the wedding scene, there are always new ways to celebrate lavishly without the harsh impacts.


Show your guests your personality but find ways to reduce waste where possible. Take it from us, they’ll leave feeling inspired both by your love story but also by your commitment to zero-waste and sustainability, at whichever level you’re comfortable with.


These simple yet effective ideas can help you save time and money, but most importantly, they help preserve the planet that we all live on. Our team at Brandi Tatianõ Life Events is ready to arm our clients with the best waste-free wedding options to make your special day much more memorable and meaningful!