Preparing for one of the biggest events in your life requires you to make a lot of important decisions.
From the wedding dress and rings to the venue and the menu…organizing a wedding can quickly become overwhelming. Having a clear theme or set of criteria to work with makes the planning process a lot easier. For example, using sustainability as a key requirement for all the elements of your wedding simplifies your decision-making. It also helps focus your energy on ways to have a more positive impact on the environment.
Try these tips to make your wedding day memorable and environmentally-friendly.
The commitment to ethical shopping doesn’t have to wait until your big day. Shopping for engagement rings and wedding bands is a wonderful place to start when partaking in eco-friendly practices.
Lab-grown diamonds are a viable alternative to mined diamonds. They are structurally identical without any of the negative associations linked to mining practices and their impact on workers and the environment.
Diamonds that are lab-grown can be up to 20-40% less expensive than a natural diamond. However, depending on the 4 C’s—cut, clarity, color, and carat—a man-made diamond may still be as rare and expensive as an earth-mined one.
Diamonds that are extracted through alluvial mining (for example, artisanal mining) are unethical and unsafe. An estimated one million African diamond miners earn less than a dollar a day and work in unsanitary and hazardous conditions where they are subject to horrific treatment. About 25 percent of the world’s diamonds come from these unregulated sources.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Aide-mémoire Jewelry uses recycled precious metals, ethical fair-trade practices, and recycled and lab-grown diamonds and gemstones in a low-impact studio environment to create high quality wedding bands and engagement rings.
Rebecca Mir Grady Jewelry, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an advocate of marriage equality and sustainable practices. Their one-of-a-kind modern designs are made from reclaimed precious metals and ethically-sourced stones.
Ethically sourced stones come from mines that are in compliance with strict environmental and labor regulations. These regulations ensure that workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions, in addition to other measures that protect worker safety and the environment.
Sustainable Wedding Attire
When deciding on the ultimate dress for your wedding, opt for ethical wedding designers that are thoughtful in their process and choice of materials, and contribute to the slow fashion movement.
Slow fashion is a movement that emerged in response to the fast fashion industry. It supports slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and ultimately, a zero-waste fashion world.
Fast fashion, on the other hand, includes brands that imitate runway trends at a much lower cost and quality, often with unfair working conditions and unethical practices.
The fast fashion industry is producing an estimated one billion garments per year. Fast fashion is second to oil as the world’s largest polluter.
Of course, wearing a handed-down dress you inherited from someone you love is the most sentimental and sustainable option for a wedding dress. You can also find stunning and high quality sustainable attire on Etsy. When you’re searching for second-hand or designer dresses, some keywords to search for are ethical, sustainable, organic, eco-textiles, eco-fashion, handmade, slow fashion, and upcycled.
Here’s a list of our favorite ethical wedding dress brands:
Leila Hafzi is a line of luxurious and sophisticated wedding gowns proclaimed as the first high-end ethical and eco-conscious fashion brand to empower women in developing countries and inspire the fashion industry into a global transformation. Classified as bohemian elegance, Leila Hafzi’s romantic dresses are designed in flattering shapes using the highest quality fabrics for a simple and elegant look.
Designed with comfort and simplicity in mind, Celia Grace’s sophisticated dresses are intended to be worn long after your wedding day. The gowns are made with natural fiber fabrics, handmade heirloom eco silks, and locally-sourced dyes and materials. The classic silhouettes, delicate lace details, and natural tones of Celia Grace garments make for an effortlessly stunning dress.
Based in Los Angeles, Reformation is an eco-friendly clothing brand that uses pro-social technologies and practices to create unique and stylish dresses for all kinds of women, including petite and C-DD cup collections. Reformation’s designs are made to make women feel gorgeous and confident in their skin by accentuating natural curves.
Pure Magnolia sustainable gowns are tailor-made to fit the bride’s body, style, and vision, for a truly one-of-a-kind look. Based in North Vancouver, Canada, Pure Magnolia’s designs incorporate European laces, Indian silks, organic cottons, vintage and recycled fabrics, and colorful patterns.
…we didn’t forget about the groom! Here’s a list of formal menswear brands that bring sustainability to the forefront:
Brave Gentleman is an NYC based label that became the first vegan lifestyle menswear company in the world. Founder, Joshua Katcher, ensures that all of his pieces are made in New York City’s historic garment district using materials such as organic cotton, future-silk linings, and Brazilian future-wool made from recycled cotton, recycled polyester, and recycled water bottles. Katcher’s line of made-to-order suits are free of animal fibers, made from 100% Italian-milled Bamboo, and have a plethora of styles that range from checkered patterns to rich royal blues.
Designed and handcrafted in Italy, Culturata is a line of luxurious men’s shirts, sweaters, and ties. Each Culturata piece is produced in fair, safe working environments, and in small batches to preserve its fine quality and hand-finished look. Reflecting the simple elegance of Italian style, Culturata blends modern designs with traditional craftsmanship to create a unique and timeless collection of clothing.
Founded in Zürich, Switzerland, Carpasus combines style, quality, and sustainability in men’s dress shirts. Made with only natural materials sourced from organic farmers throughout Europe, Carpasus’ values rest atop quality and longevity, transparency, eco-sustainability, quality design, respect, and equality. Their versatile collection guarantees a classic and stylish centerpiece for every man’s wardrobe.
A simple way to minimize waste in preparation for your wedding day is to opt for e-invites. Greenvelope is an exceptional online resource that helps you easily create and email custom digital wedding invitations. Their mission is to provide the elegance of traditional invitations without any of the waste.
If you’re choosing to print invitations, selecting stationery made of plantable paper is a creative and environmentally-friendly option. Bloomin is an online website that offers a full line of handcrafted papers infused with wildflower seeds. Once you are done using the stationery, plant it in the soil to create a vibrant garden!
Rainforest Alliance works to solve urgent environmental and social challenges in some of the most biodiverse, threatened, and vulnerable habitats.
Earthjustice is the legal backbone for the environmental movement, basing their activism in the courtroom, as they fight for environmental justice.
One of the simplest ways to conserve energy on your wedding day is to get married outdoors, where the sun will provide natural light. There are a plethora of breathtaking outdoor venues nestled in botanical gardens, natural rock formations, hilltops, and refurbished barns.
Hosting your wedding at a national park helps keep the park alive and provides funding for its restoration. Another positive aspect of outdoor venues is that the scenery serves as built-in décor, which saves you money and natural resources of cut plants and flowers.
Here Comes the Guide offers a list of states that helps you locate outdoor venues near you. All outdoor venues are accompanied with an indoor facility that has sinks and toilets.
If you’re opting for an indoor wedding, there are still many ways you can make it eco-friendly. The Green Building Information Gateway connects you to event spaces that value sustainable practices and run their facilities in accordance with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). Selecting venues with many windows can help conserve energy by using natural light from outside instead of artificial indoor light.
Capiche Custom Events is an incredible resource for custom eco-conscious wedding planning. Their wide range of services helps you find the optimal location, vendors, florists, photographers, and more.
A large part of the wedding experience is the endless rounds of hors d'oeuvres, platters, cocktails, food, and of course, cake! Sourcing everything locally is an extremely impactful way to support farmers and contribute to the local businesses within your immediate community. The shorter time between the food’s harvest and your table also makes for nutrient-packed produce that is full of flavor. In searching for caterers, look for companies that specialize in seasonal, organic, and local cuisine.
For sweet tooth lovers, tasting a variety of wedding cake flavors will definitely be a highlight in planning your special day. If you don’t already have a baker in mind, punch your zip code into Thumbtack, and find a list of wedding cake designers near you. Supporting mom-and-pop bakeries and freelance wedding cake designers is an eco-friendlier option than ordering a cake from your nearby supermarket.
Something to consider when deciding on your wedding cake flavor is the season your wedding takes place in. If it’s a summer wedding, opt for a Strawberry Shortcake inspired flavor. Winter time? Choose a Peppermint & Double Chocolate or Chai Tea & Honey Buttercream flavored cake.
Scientists and health experts have found that eating with the cycles of nature, choosing to eat seasonally, is not only better for your health, but also promotes balance with the earth’s resources. Even though we’re talking about cake, opting for seasonal elements allows you to get the best ingredients available and support local farmers who are choosing to farm sustainably.
Make sure you have fun and take a light-hearted approach when deciding on the perfect flavor and design for your wedding cake… after all, you can’t go wrong!
Gifts that Give Back
Gifting wedding favors is a thoughtful way to show appreciation and gratitude to your loved ones for joining in celebrating your special day. Here are some wedding favor ideas that reflect a commitment to sustainability, all while serving as a wonderful memento of your special day.
Seed packets or flower bulbs are an easy travel option for out-of-town guests, and an excellent eco-friendly gift for those with their own yards. Customize the seed packets with a special design that marks you and your soon-to-be-spouse’s names, wedding date, and a personal message to your guests.
Potted plants are a wonderful and clever wedding favor for local guests. You can purchase fragrant herbs that can be used for cooking and garnishing; low-maintenance plants, such as succulents; or potted flowers, like azaleas or daisies, at your local nursery. Cute, tiny air plants are another option that can improve the air quality of any living space. For a fun DIY activity, paint the pots with your guest’s name and a special message.
Customizing a reusable bag made from earth-friendly materials is a useful wedding favor for all kinds of guests. You can even fill the custom wedding bags with little goodies, such as a personal jar of local honey, a customized koozie for drinks, a locally-crafted copper mug, fine-quality herbal teas, or all-natural facial products.
No-Waste Clean Up
Even after your efforts to minimize the amount of waste created by your wedding, there may still be leftover waste to discard. Instead of tossing decorations, extra party favors, and DIY supplies into the landfill, donate any items you do not wish to keep to a local thrift store, such as Goodwill or Housing Works.
If there are any other decorative items, like candles, jars, lanterns, or mirrors laying around after the wedding, search for fun upcycling ideas to transform these items into a new centerpiece for your home. If you aren’t interested in keeping any décor, gift them to the staff and team that helped make your magical wedding day come to life.
Weddings are meant to symbolize a celebration of the love between you and your soon-to-be-spouse. By taking the time to make responsible choices with your money, efforts, and the Earth’s resources, you are doing your part to have a positive impact on the world, while still ensuring that your wedding is as memorable as it can be.