Say “I Do” Sustainably: A-Z Eco-Wedding Guide

My nephew is getting married this summer and my sister-in-law called in a mother of the groom frenzy, and asked me to send her everything I knew about creating a more sustainable wedding. Green weddings are not the norm, and the statistics show that our planet pays a mighty price for wedding extravagance:

“There are 2.5 million weddings a year in the United States, with an average of more than 150 guests each.  When you add up all of the stuff that goes into weddings (single-use bleached white dresses, chemically-treated imported flowers, toxic makeup and skin care products, mined gem-based jewelry, individual packets of rice, etc.) you see that the environmental impact from these events is enormous.” Read more from The Green Bride Guide.

I sent my sister-in-law a link to my post, I Love You and the Planet Too, which provides a general approach to green weddings, and a few ideas on starting a marriage off on an eco-friendly path. Here is a more comprehensive wedding guide that provides fabulous inspiration for creating sustainable weddings.

How much do I love thee?  Let’s recite the ways:

A to Z Green Wedding

For the most sustainable choices in eco-wedding fashion, buy local, used or vintage. Or, better yet – make a wedding dress. Here’s a comprehensive wedding dress guide from Inhabitat.

Not everyone would consider an alternative to natural flowers, but here are three more sustainable choices than traditional flowers - handmade bouquet, a button bouquet, and an edible flower bouquet.

Now that’s a strange wedding item. The Wedding Company has organized a worldwide DIY project called, The Crane Chandelier for cancer research. The Wedding Co. is building a chandelier from origami cranes signed by brides and grooms from around the globe. Read more about the project here.

Martha Stewart is the queen of wedding decorations. Her main site provides loads of wedding décor inspiration. Her wedding site, My DIY Wedding is jam packed with ideas.

Eco-Wedding Planners
For those who choose to hire a consultant, personal wedding experts come in shades of green. Green Weddings offers professional services.

Consider giving small potted plants from your garden or local nursery. Make decorative plant covers.

Put out an old fashioned typewriter for guests to write notes to the couple (scroll down to find image).

What’s so funny about being married? My friends, New Yorker cartoonists, Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin think everything is. Liza and Michael’s book, Cartoon Marriage: Adventures in Love and Matrimony is the perfect favor to start the wedding party off on a humorous note.

Since announcements can set the tone for a wedding, green choices save money, trees and time. There seems to be two eco-friendly choices: evites (the greenest choice), or invitations made from 100% recycled paper or tree-free papers. Read about some sustainable options here.

Green Karat make rings by reusing gold from worn jewelry that can be acquired by friends and family.

After the wedding and honeymoon, go through your wedding keepsakes – magazines, decorations, invites, etc., and make a keepsake memory book.

A tip for avoiding unnecessary travel for guests is to use the same location for the ceremony and reception. Send a message about your love for the environment by picking a favorite outdoor spot. Read more about eco-friendly wedding locations in Inhabitat’s wedding guide.

Continue for M-Z…

Go unplugged with live acoustic music. Here are 100′s of top wedding songs.

Make your own reusable cloth napkins and napkin holders. Displaying an eclectic mix of vintage napkins creates a beautiful table.

Nothing says green wedding like celebrating outdoors. Daytime weddings save energy on lighting and cooling. Here are a few tips for outdoor weddings.

Place Cards
Simple twig place card holders cost nothing. Here are DIY custom place cards.

Quit Worrying
Staying calm, cool and collected during the wedding planning process is no easy feat. Deepak says, “Disorder is unpredictable and out of our control, therefore it makes us feel stressed out. Almost always these events work themselves out; there is no real harm done to your existence, just minor inconvenience.”

The Alternative Gift Registry will help you find eco-friendly gifts. Here’s a list of shops that are committed to green standards.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed for your Table (this is S & T)
Old – Deck the table with heirlooms – vintage plates and serving pieces can be supplemented with thrift store finds to create a festive and meaningful table display.
New – Organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, or linen tablecloths can be reused or passed on to a soon to be married friend.
Borrowed – Ask friends and family to lend their tableware or rent reusable dishes.
Blue – How about considering a non-traditional wedding color?

Eco-friendly lingerie makes the personal statement that even underneath it all, the bride is green. Here are 14 Sustainable Skivvies from Ecouterre.

Vegetarian/Vegan Menu
Vegan and vegetarian menus are becoming the new standard in wedding fare.

Wedding Car
The hoopla doesn’t end until the couple drives (or bike rides) away with these DIY Custom Wedding Car (Bike) Cans.

X-tra Food
Leftover food can be sent home with guests in DIY Reusable Food Wraps. Don’t forget to feed the band and servers too.

For inspiration, check out these funny YouTube wedding videos.

Simple, clean and peaceful (Are we still talking about weddings?) are the touchstones of a Zen wedding style. Here are 13 ideas about keeping your wedding simple from Zen Habits.


Stephanie W
Stephanie W2 years ago

Amazing wedding guide. Thank you for sharing. As I'm a busy professional planning the party by oneself is very difficult, hence my friend suggested me to have a look at service providers for my wedding arrangements. I will definitely ask the professional to follow your wedding guide to plan a successful ceremony for me.

Elisa F.
Elisa F6 years ago

So many fabulous ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Amanda S.
Amanda S.6 years ago

Good article!

ii q.
g d c6 years ago


ii q.
g d c6 years ago


Darya Tumanova
Darya Tumanova8 years ago


Aoife O Mahony
Aoife O Mahony8 years ago

Good article, with good ideas =)

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p9 years ago

some great ideas thanks.

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat9 years ago


Jennifer A.
Jennifer A.9 years ago

We used tin cans as vases for our centerpieces tied with a silver/gray ribbon. Our colors were White and Gold and Gray so this went really well. :)