Five Ways to Reduce Your Wedding’s Carbon Footprint

Once upon a time, if you mentioned an eco-friendly wedding, people tended to think of something like this:

You know, obviously hand-hewn, crunchy granola, unfashionable, and probably reeking of patchouli.

In short, even a lot of people who admired the commitment these couples made to living lightly on Mother Earth wouldn’t be caught dead in a ditch looking – or smelling – like them.

But times have changed. You don’t have to be a card-carrying hippie to care about the environment anymore. and you don’t have to completely reject both tradition and fashion to follow your convictions.


To start with, think about decorations that are consumable. For instance, the centerpiece on this reception table not only looks gorgeous, but feeds your guests at the same time. Bowls of fresh fruit, small platters of appetizers, pretty jugs or pitchers of beverages, candies, or even an attractive cake for the table’s dessert… any of these things will look fabulous, taste great, and save on your budget for fresh flowers and non-organic decorations.

Alternately, consider putting live plants in pretty pots on the tables for decoration.

Really consider how many paper goods you need… and forget about the rest.

Yes, you’ll need invitations and RSVP cards. You’ll need thank you cards of some sort. But think hard about whether you really need ceremony programs. Decide whether you would rather have your guests decide their own seating, eliminating the need for place cards. As for menus, doing without entirely, making only one per table to be shared, or setting up an attractive chalk board for the whole room are all viable alternatives to one at each place at each table.

Oh, and never forget that you can find invitations and all the rest printed on recycled paper.

Second hand doesn’t have to be second best. Maybe someone close to you has the most gorgeous wedding gown just hanging in her closet. Maybe you find a fabulous veil in a consignment shop. Perhaps your aunt has some serving pieces she’s ready to let go. You might even find the perfect ring pillow in a garage sale. Why let these wonderful things go to waste? Give them a home and a second chance.

Remember to check for natural fibers. Cotton, linen, silk, and wool are natural fibers. Rayon is a synthetic fiber made of natural materials. Nylon, polyester, acetate, and so on are not natural fibers by any definition. If you’re going green, synthetic fibers are not what you’re looking for… though if they’re being re-used I won’t tell anyone!

If you have leftovers left over, try to find a green way of disposing of them. In some cases, you may be able to donate leftover food to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. If your meal won’t meet the legal requirements, then set out Chinese takeout boxes and invite your guests to take some food home with them. Mr. Twistie and I did this one (though I wish I had thought of the boxes at the time!), and it was a big hit. In fact, we’d seriously overbought food for fear of people leaving hungry, and a couple of our friends lived on leftovers from our wedding for days afterwards.

Keep it real, my friends… but feel free to forget about patchouli and incense. Unless that’s your bag, man.

One Response to “Five Ways to Reduce Your Wedding’s Carbon Footprint”

  1. Lisa in Berlin March 23, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    oooh, those Chinese takeout boxes are a great idea! At my wedding that would have prevented a tragic “chicken tikka masala spilled in the back of a rental car on the way to dropping it off at our friends’ house” fiasco.