Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life, but it can also be one of the most wasteful. We're not saying to skip the party, flowers, gorgeous invites, or delicious meals—we're talking about seemingly small changes that make a major impact. In honor of Earth Day, we rounded up eight simple ways to host a eco-friendly wedding. Try one (or all) of these changes to do some good for the environment on your wedding day!
Ring Shop Responsibly
When picking out your engagement ring and wedding bands, make every possible effort to track the origins of your diamond—you don't want to unknowingly use a blood diamond as the symbol of your eternal love. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is a great resource for tracking your stones, but don't hesitate to ask your jeweler if they're committed to conflict-free jewels, too.
You can also switch up your approach to finding a ring. Instead of hitting up your nearest jeweler, consider reusing or recycling a ring. For this you can use family heirlooms (like Prince Harry did for Meghan Markle's engagement ring!) or gold that has been melted down and refined—yes, that's a real thing, and it's sustainable!
Choose Eco-Friendly Invitations
As wedding vendors become increasingly environmentally conscious, it's easier than ever to find invitation suites that are printed on recycled paper. But companies like Paper Source are taking it one step farther. In addition to printing all of their customizable wedding suites on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, Paper Source also plants a tree for every order they receive.
Their sustainability efforts won't cramp your style, though—you can choose from ultra-luxe, single-, double-, and triple-thick paper, plus some beautiful layouts. They also throw in free design services to help you get your colors, text, and wording just right.
Create an Eco-Friendly Registry
Get your guests in on the eco-friendly fun by registering for items that will support a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. As they browse your registry, they might be inspired by your commitment to only accepting gifts that keep sustainability top of mind. Plus, you'll get all the super-cute stainless steel straws, silicone cupcake liners, and metal tea bags you could ever want.
Pick an Eco-Friendly Venue
The easiest way to shrink your wedding day carbon footprint? Choose a ceremony and reception site that takes sustainability seriously. One great resource to start your venue hunt: the Green Building Information Gateway. You can search for hotels and event spaces with LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certifications and Energy Star ratings. And with so many beautiful venues going green, you won't have to sacrifice on style in order to be sustainable.
You can also opt for an outdoor space. First of all, this will be a great way to be one with nature on your wedding day—a lush forest, rolling hills or a picturesque vineyard are all stunning spots to get married. Plus, you'll cut back on your energy usage by cutting down on the amount of lighting you'll need. Bonus points for a brunch wedding that can rely solely on daylight.
Don't Waste; Donate
Ask your bridesmaids or planner to bring your wedding flowers to a hospital or senior center post-party, so others can enjoy their beauty, too. We suggest calling ahead to make sure the venue accepts flowers—if they don't, asks guests to take them home at the end of the night. (Your colorful decor becomes a fresh favor!)
Don't want to saddle your family members with additional post-wedding tasks? Local nonprofit organizations, like Seattle's Floranthropy, will do the work for you. As a bonus, donations are tax deductible, meaning you'll save on what you spend. Also, if you're hosting a buffet dinner, speak to your caterer about saving leftovers. If regulations permit, you can donate excess meals to a food bank or shelter.
Do Edible Favors
Tasty gifts are one of the most popular favors—and for good reason! Traveling guests will always appreciate a midnight snack and often prefer something sweet over a frame with your wedding date. Another option? More and more couples opt to nix gifts entirely and give to charity in their guests' names. Announce the good deed on your menu cards or with a single elegant sign by the escort-card station.
Don't Litter With Your Exit Toss
It may seem like a small thing, but throwing rice or bits of paper around the lawn of your church isn't the most environmentally conscious way for guests to celebrate your union with additional flair. Don't worry, though: there are alternatives that are just as pretty (prettier?) and don't wreak havoc on the local ecosystem.
As an alternative to paper confetti, you can purchase bags of biodegradable, water soluble substitutes. Take it a step further and go with a plant-based approach. Lavender, rose petals, fresh herbs, and a mix of micro flowers are also biodegradable and offer stunning natural colors for the exit toss. Make them available to your guests in kraft-paper bags that can be recycled.
Go on an Environmentally-Friendly Honeymoon
This doesn't necessarily mean you have to go deep into the rainforests of a far-away country (although that is always an option, just not for the faint of heart). Instead, start with resorts that practice sustainability.
The booking site Kind Traveler donates (on your behalf) $10/a night to causes like Global Green, Project Aware, or WildAid. This way, you're not only embracing sustainable travel practices; you're also actively contributing to charities that seek to mitigate humans' effect on the Earth.