This week, my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary, so I thought it was the perfect time to talk about how we made our wedding as environmentally-friendly as we possibly could.

As with my bridal shower, we wanted to create as little waste as possible on our special day because we realized how wasteful weddings could be and wanted to do better with ours. Of course, there was still waste, but we did our very best.

Here are some tips on how to make your wedding low-waste, while still being affordable.

  • Plan ahead and anticipate the amount of waste that could be created. While you are planning and creating a rough timeline of your wedding, make sure to consider how much waste there could be and where you may be able to come up with a solution to lower the waste from the event. For example, if you are having a bar where your guests can get bottled or canned drinks, insist that the venue put out a bin labelled “recycle” so that folks will be less likely to throw away their recyclables with their food waste.
  • DIY as much as possible. Instead of buying decor or signage brand new, consider going to your local thrift stores or hitting up Facebook Marketplace for the things that you might need. For example, we printed out all of our signage at home and bought secondhand frames, which we then spray painted white for our centerpieces.
  • Utilize reusable or recyclable decor. Choosing decor items that you can reuse, recycle or sell is going to help you lower your waste immensely. As I mentioned in my low-waste party post, my mom bought fake flowers new and then used them at my bridal shower, at my wedding and now every spring as a part of her Easter decorations. (Pictured below.) We also were able to reuse the frames and mason jars from our centerpieces and the slabs of wood on every table heated the fireplaces of our venue in the days that followed our wedding.
  • Don’t buy real flowers. I can hear people shrieking as I write this. Those flowers are first and foremost, expensive, and secondly are going to end up dead in a very short period of time. I am so happy to say that we had all wooden flowers at our wedding and we still have them all to this day. (Check-out Little Snapdragon Designs to buy wooden flowers just like ours. Pictured above.)
  • Use reusable china. It may sound easier and cheaper to use single use plates, cups and cutlery for your wedding, but the amount of trash that will be piled up at the end of the day, will not be worth it. Most venues have china that you can use or rent and if your wedding is being hosted at a non-traditional venue, like someone’s home, borrow china from your loved ones, rent it or find sets secondhand.
  • Stray away from wedding-themed apparel and decor. I know this is hard because the stuff is so darn cute, but please don’t buy a bunch of wedding themed stuff because you are only going to wear it for a short period of time and then it is going to end up in a keepsake box or at the thrift store. When it comes to wedding-themed decor, it’s usually not that easy to sell and it is usually lower quality. Try to use decor that is not wedding-branded.
  • Be specific with your head count, so you can buy smartly. This seems obvious, but if you have a pretty set head count, you won’t over buy invitations, gifts, food or drinks that will end up going to waste.
  • Give out edible gifts. One of the best things that we could have possibly done at our wedding was to give out edible (or drinkable) gifts because we knew that they would not end up in a junk drawer somewhere collecting dust. We gave out coffee and tea to our guests and, not only did everyone love the idea, we were able to support and promote a local coffee shop. (Pictured above.)
  • Buy your outfits secondhand or rent them. You are quite literally going to be wearing these specific outfits one time, try to buy them secondhand or rent them. If you do buy your gown, suit and/or shoes new, try to shop as if that item will have a future beyond your wedding day. Can you dye your dress? Can you shorten it and wear it as a cocktail dress? Can you wear your suit for formal events from now until eternity? Do those shoes go with any other clothes in your closet?
  • Encourage your bridal party and any special guests to buy or rent outfits that they will wear again or, better yet, wear something they are already have. This is a really hard thing to do, but it is worth a try. We did not have a bridal party, outside of my brother and my cousin, because I didn’t want our loved ones to have to spend money and I didn’t want them to have to purchase something they weren’t going to wear again. But, on my wedding day, with no instruction from me, my friends and family members all showed up wearing purple, which was my wedding color. They all wore different styles of dresses and in different shades of purple to suit their specific styles, but nothing made me happier than to see them all looking and feeling their best. In hindsight, I would have told them to do just what they did.
  • Shop small, ethically and/or sustainably for your wedding rings. The jewelry world, specifically the rare stone industry, is frought with unethical practices. Take the opportunity to support ethical and sustainable brands for your wedding rings and bands. We were lucky enough to have my husband’s grandfather hand make our rings and we love how unique and special they are.
  • Encourage gifts to your Honey Fund. Lastly, instead of encouraging physical gifts, ask for money towards your honeymoon. We went this route and we loved having our friends and family be a part of our honeymoon adventures.

If y’all thought I wasn’t going to include a photo of my maid of honor, you don’t know me very well. I mean, just look at that face. Oh, and my husband is cute too.

In any situation, any attempt at lowering your waste is a positive thing. You don’t have to be perfect and there is actually no way that you can be. Zero waste is unattainable, friends, so just do your best and have fun! It is your wedding day, afterall.