What to Keep, Toss and Donate After Your Wedding

Written by Marissa Hermanson

Itís no secret that wedding celebrations can have a negative effect on the environment. From food and floral arrangements to the invitations, much waste is created leading up to and during the big day. To keep Mother Nature on your side, you can reuse, recycle and donate your wedding gear to make sure nothing goes to waste.

Flowers and Centerpieces

Ask your floral designer whether they have any plans to repurpose flowers after your big day. If they donít, consider donating bouquets and reception centerpieces to nursing homes and hospitals, where they will lift spirits. If youíre getting married in a church or synagogue, you may be able to leave your flowers in place for other parishioners to enjoy. Wedding blooms can also be delivered to schools and community art centers to be used for arts and crafts.

Or, in lieu of flower arrangements, opt for potted plants and herbs as reception centerpieces. Guests can take home as favors to plant and remember your special dayóand you wonít have to worry about repurposing them.

Leftover Food and Wedding Cake

The week of your wedding, give your caterer a final guest count to ensure that they prepare an appropriate amount of food and not an excess. If you do end up with leftovers from your cocktail hour and reception, donate the dishes to a local homeless shelter. Or, ask your venue if staff (or even your guests) are allowed to take home leftovers.

Make sure you take home a few slices of wedding cake and freeze them so you have them on hand to celebrate your first year of marriage.

Wedding and Bridesmaid Dresses

The likelihood of you wearing your wedding dress after you tie the knot is slim. Consider re-imagining the dress by having a seamstress tailor it into a short sundress or have it dyed another color so you can get more use out of it.

If you are looking to sell your wedding dress, consign it at local bridal boutique, or sell it online on wedding dress resale sites likes Nearly Newlywed or Still White. For bridesmaids dresses, Bridesmaid Trade is an online marketplace where bridesmaids can buy and sell gently used gowns. You can also consider consigning your wedding jewelry and accessories.

Paper Products

Print paper products like ceremony programs, menus, place cards and table numbers on recyclable paper or biodegradable seed paper. If you are using a local stationer, request that your wedding suite is printed on eco-friendly paper with nontoxic ink. Or, if you are designing the stationery yourself through an e-retailer, websites like Paper Culture print on post-consumer waste and wood alternatives, while also planting a tree with every order they receive.

Alternatively, you can find stationary companies like Green Field Paper that use sustainable materials such as hemp, plantable seed paper, earth pigments and soy ink. This ensures your paper products have a useful life beyond your wedding day.

Reception Decor

To avoid purchasing reception decor and supplies such as linens, china, candles and vases, hire an event rental company to handle all the frills. You wonít have to worry about ending up with an excess that needs to be donated or repurposed after the party.


Marissa Hermanson is a lifestyle and wedding writer who enjoys sharing sustainable ideas to carry through the big day and beyond. She currently writes for Larson Jewelers, an online jeweler offering unique wedding bands for men and women.†


Amanda M
Amanda Myesterday

Christine D, when my husband and I got married, it didn't even cost us TEN GRAND! We hired a local historic tour train (actual old railroad in the area; we were their first wedding package deal) that took everyone to a community park along the tracks where the ceremony was held, then we all got back on the train and it continued its run with the wedding party moving up and down the train visiting with the guests-sort of a reverse receiving line. My mom made my dress (she had a cow when she saw that wedding gowns are made of polyester and insisted it had to be silk), the bridesmaids' dresses were from the formal section at JC Penney, the groomsmen wore suits, and my husband wore his dress uniform (volunteer firefighter). We had a Wiccan handfasting ceremony performed by a Unitarian Universalist minister (despite attempts by my mom to override that, as she was VERY hostile towards my religious beliefs at the time), and the ceremony was performed in the local park mentioned above. The reception was held at the AMVETS club where my husband and his mom were members, the flowers were from my parents' yard (except for the bride's side bouquets; those were from a local florist that doesn't even exist anymore), my parents and I made the food, the cake was made by a friend of my MIL's, the invitations and napkins were from a local ARC printing business, and the utensils and dishes were from a local party-supply outlet (fancy plastic, but it looked te

Angela K
Angela K1 days ago

Thanks for sharing

Paula Arias
Paula Arias3 days ago

thank you

Winn A
Winnie A5 days ago


Ruth Rakotomanga

Freeze the wedding cake - didn't think of that one when we got married. I made the cake myself and all the icing started to melt in 30°C+ heat ......

Angeles M
Angeles M6 days ago

Thank you

Angela J
Angela J6 days ago


Anne M
Anne M6 days ago

There was nothing to toss away after my wedding... - It was a very small affair,, got married in a minister's office,, went to a revolving restaurant with our 2 witnesses for dinner,, and we all spent the night at the hotel... - Next day it was business as usual...

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim6 days ago

Well, better to donate, than to waste.

Cathy B
Cathy B6 days ago

Thank you.