How to Make Your Wedding Less Wasteful

It all begins with a conversation with your vendors

Updated 04/22/19

Photo by Taylor McCutchan

We should always be mindful of how important and precious our environment is—not just on Earth Day, but every day! Thus, we should all be striving to be eco-friendly and sustainable in every aspect of our lives. Of course, baby steps are reasonable—we can't all go completely plastic-free overnight, for instance. But one huge way you can be sustainable is by making sure that your wedding creates as little waste as possible. Ready to learn how to make your wedding less wasteful? First things first: It requires a lot of cooperation and thoughtfulness from your vendors.

One of the biggest ways your wedding can be more eco-friendly is by working with a florist who practices sustainability through a variety of ways that cut down on waste and, most important, is foam-free (because foam is extremely harmful to the environment). To get the scoop on how to make your wedding less wasteful, we turned to a couple of vendors who are experts on the subject. First up we talked to Liza Lubell of Peartree Flowers, who recently started Garbage Goddess, an eco-cleanup service for events. We also spoke to Lynn Fosbender, president of the Green Wedding Alliance, a collaborative network of over 50 member vendors who strive to grow and inform their responsible business practices.

Together, they explained how to make your wedding less wasteful—a process that begins and ends with your vendors, according to both Lubell and Fosbender.

About Garbage Goddess

"Garbage Goddess composts all organic material, separates out all recyclables, and reuses florist mechanics like water tubes, chicken wire, and frogs in an effort to reduce landfill waste to almost nothing," explains Lubell. "After years of frustration with the waste created by events (in large part due to florists like myself), I founded Garbage Goddess as an environmentally supportive solution to the problem. I had adopted composting and recycling programs for my own events with Peartree Flowers, but quickly realized we needed this offering on a larger scale to shift the industry in a more mindful direction."

Sustainability Starts With a Conversation With Your Vendors

As Lubell explains, "When designing a wedding, it’s helpful to think about how to create a vision from a sustainable lens. Talking to your florist and caterer about where they source their flowers and food respectively and then embracing those parameters is super helpful. And making sure your vendors know not to incorporate single-use plastics is huge."

Find Vendors Who Are Eco-Friendly (Beyond Just Recycling)

"If you're using a planner, hiring one who specializes in green weddings will be the easiest way to be guided through the options for balancing being eco-friendly and being practical," explains Fosbender. "If you aren't using a planner, when researching vendors, ask them if they are taking any steps as a business or with their client work to be eco-friendly."

"Vendors who have sustainability as a core value will have a ready answer that is deeper than saying that they recycle (not that recycling isn't important!)." For example, says Fosbender, "For eco-friendly flowers, look for florists employing sustainable practices, like using alternatives to floral foam...using locally grown flowers, composting, using soy wax candles, and/or donating their post-event flowers." Even Meghan Markle donated the flowers used at her baby shower after the event!

Fosbender continues, "Once you find one wedding professional who is eco-friendly, that person will likely be a great resource for finding vendors in other fields who also share those values. If your venue is one that is eco-friendly, they will have a lot of experience with a range of vendors, and may be a good place to start."

Why Florists Are Going Foam-Free

"Floral foam is a big problem in the floral industry," explains Lubell. "It never biodegrades and is made from toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon black, so it's also carcinogenic. With the trend in floral installations, floral foam has become even more popular over the last few years. However, there is growing awareness about floral foam's dark side and more and more people are designing impressive installations without the nasty stuff."

Eliminate Waste in All Your Wedding Details, Including Your Favors

"Couples planning their weddings can minimize the amount of petroleum consumed for their wedding by choosing favors that are consumable (like chocolates or coffee), using alternatives to paraffin candles (like soy candles), and using compostable or rental tableware," explains Fosbender. Divine Chocolate treat bars for instance are a sweet (and tasty!) consumable favor, with each purchase benefitting Divine Chocolate artisans and farmworkers of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghan, according to Lauren Conrad's fair trade company, the Little Market. (Shop for them here!)

Related Stories