How to Plan an Eco-friendly Wedding on a Budget

We all know that planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things to do in life.  It can be expensive, time consuming and wasteful.  When we add eco-friendly to the mix, you might think it’s going to cost more, but it doesn’t have to be! 

Here are some ways to lighten the stress on the planet and your wallet. 

  1. Weddings are all about the outdoors this year.   Backyard weddings are trending hard and the most affordable option and easily available.  Also consider parks or community centers if your backyard is limited in space.        

  1. Go with digital invitations. Save paper and skip the printed save the date cards, change the date cards, and RSVP cards.  The cost of printing each card and postage adds up fast.  No need to obsess over designing an elaborate hard copy invitation when most guests will throw it away after they save the info onto their calendars.   

  1. Setup a wedding website. There are many free options.  Here’s where you can share your amazing love story, important details and FAQs.  Guests can RSVP and let you know of any special diet requests.  You can easily keep track of who has or hasn’t RSVP yet.  So easy!    

 

  1. Skip the one time use cards. This includes programs, menu cards and name cards.  Try reusable signage like chalkboards on an easel or include this info on the wedding website.

 

  1. Name place cards. Be creative.  Paint or write names on leaves or rocks.  Or use recycled paper to print ONE large sign – it’s cheaper than several small ones.

  1. Ditch the balloons – it’s doomed for the landfill or waterways. Try using colored tissue paper to make puffs or flowers.  It’s biodegradable, inexpensive and recycled tissue paper options are easily available.  


  2. Rent or buy used wedding décor. Plates, tableware, linens, chairs covers and napkins can all be rented.  Some florists, caterers, event planners offer this.  You might even be able to save a bit if it’s a package deal.


  3. Upcycled Décor – Upcycled wine bottles, glass jars, tin cans to create centerpieces.



  4. Use plant-based candles for ambiance. It’s inexpensive and sets the mood for romance. 

  1. Use live, potted plants instead of cut flowers for centerpieces and decorations.  At the end of the day, these live plants will be repurposed at home, gift it to your guests or charities. 

  1. DIY Flowers – skip the florist and keep things simple.   Ask a creative friend to help.  Cut flowers in pretty, upcycled jars or wine bottles.  


  2. Confetti – Avoid plastic or foil confetti.  Use dried flowers, real flowers from your garden, leaves.


  3. Ditch the floral sponge. It’s the green squishy sponge commonly used inside of floral arrangements.  It’s made of microplastics, toxic chemicals and does not biodegrade.  1 block of foam is = 10 plastic shopping bags.  Instead, try using pebbles, sand, gravel, clay, or marbles inside of vases or bottles.
  1. Music – Make your own playlist, use portable speakers.  Ask a friend to be the DJ or MC. 

  1. Smaller guest list 
    Don’t invite people because you feel obligated to. Invite friends and family that you actually want to share your special day.   On the bright side, it also means fewer resources used, less expenses and less chaos.      

  1. Cake 
    Traditional tiered cakes are more expensive than flat sheet cakes. You can opt for a small, more elaborate cake for photos and cake cutting plus sheet cakes.  Of course it doesn’t have to be a real cake either - cupcakes, donuts, brownies, etc.   

 

  1. Party Favors – Avoid printing or engraving the specifics of your wedding onto the gift.  No one really wants a cup with your wedding details on it.  You actually want people to use it.   

    Packets of flower or vegetables seeds are great. 
    Packets of bird seeds or bird seed feeders 
    Mini potted plants – succulents are easy to take care of.  
    Tree sapling to plant – these clean 
    Soaps wrapped with twine.  
    Edible treats – make sure the packaging is biodegradable or low waste. 

 

  1. Hair & Makeup 
    It's cheaper when you go to the salon to save on travel fees.  If possible, don't mention 'wedding' to avoid inflated costs.  

  2. Groom & Groomsmen 
    Rent the tux or wear suits and shoes you already own.  Matching colored ties or bow ties can be rented too.  
     
  3. Bridesmaid Dresses – Pick a color and length. Let her choose her own dress, she might even have it in her closet.  If she doesn’t, she can rent one or suggest some sustainable dresses here.  She’ll actually wear these more than once and alterations probably won’t be needed.

  1. Bridesmaid’s shoes – Pick a color and let her decide on the style. She’s likely going to have it in her closet already. 

  1. Bride’s dress – Rent a dress, buy secondhand or go low key with a simple, elegant dress that you’ll wear again. Buying an elaborate dress has other hidden costs.  Alterations ($$$) + dry cleaning ($$$) + huge box in your valuable closet space.     

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