My love of ʻāina (earth, land, etc.) from a young age has always pushed me towards sustainability and the importance of living more green. It’s a continuous and lifelong journey that’s always evolving. When I first got engaged I started researching weddings and one of my immediate thoughts was, WOW… the wedding industry wastes a lot of shit. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ways to have a more eco-friendly and sustainable wedding!
Attire Thrift your wedding attire, buy it second hand, wear a family member’s piece and have it altered. Your attire doesn’t necessarily have to be new. You can save a ton of money buying second hand and give a previously used piece a new life.
Invites There are several ways to go about invites, I’m totally a believer in wasting less paper. For my wedding we opted to do Save the Dates as a paper invite to give everyone something tangible (specifically for the older generation), while we collected email addresses and built our wedding website.
Going completely digital is the best option for those who want a sustainable event. However, for those who prefer paper invites, you can opt for seeded (yes, there’s actually seeds throughout the paper so you can plant it after), recycled, or compostable paper invites! These are fun options that are environmentally friendly. You can even buy plantable paper and print your own invites if you want to get creative.
Favors Favors are a weird topic for some people. It’s a tradition, so you think you need it, but of course I always say forget traditions. Truthfully, not everyone does favors successfully. Oftentimes when we are cleaning up events, we’re stuck with tons of little jars of candy, small trinkets, etc. Instead of pouring tons of time, love and money into making favors, you can make a donation in your guests name to a charity or cause that is important to you both. Maybe give a small plant or succulent, or even native seeds they can plant at home. If you must do favors, pick something that everyone will WANT to take with them, or an item you won’t mind having a surplus of if no one takes it.
This is a big area of waste! We’ve seen on several occasions where couples want to give their guests a plethora of food options, but in the end, a lot of food ends up going to waste either because their guests are picky eaters or because they just ordered way too much food. It’s heartbreaking to see how much ʻono (delicious) food ends up being packed up to go home with the couple or tossed out because no one wanted to eat it. Have a plan and talk to your caterer about what you want to do with the excess food. Do you want it packed up to go with you, your guests, donate the food somewhere; find out what your options might be to avoid throwing out food at the end of the night. Also, try to source a caterer who uses locally grown food. This is the most sustainable approach when it comes to this topic!
Photography: Jeanne Marie
Food: TM Custom Catering who uses local farms and growers
This was one of my top concerns as I scanned pinterest, “what the heck am I supposed to do with all this decor at the end of my wedding”. I had no space in my small apartment to house all of the decor and I didn’t know what to do with it all. Well now there are companies out there like WedCyle Hawaiʻi, who have a solution. You can rent beautiful, curated, and recycled decor items or collections to style your day! They’ve made it easy to shop for all sorts of decor you might want to add to your event. The pricing is reasonable and the items are all thrifted, recycled, or upcycled, so you know it’s a more sustainable option than buying brand new to use for just a few hours on your wedding day.
Flowers Flowers, while beautiful, are the silent killer to a budget and also the environment. Cut flowers create a ton of waste and quite frankly for how much money you are spending, it is absurd how many blooms get tossed at the end of the night. Our favorite sustainable option for flowers is actually renting faux arrangements. There are a few companies out there now that rent out different collections of flowers that look pretty darn real. The centerpieces often come with the vases and they include pieces for the arch, bouquets, garlands, boutonieers etc. They even scent the flowers. All you just need to do is pack it all up to ship back once your event is over.
Another substitute for fresh flowers is dried, paper, or wood flowers. There are sellers on etsy who hand make these flowers/ bouquets and you get to keep this piece once the wedding is over. I actually went the paper flower route, because I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to keep postponing my wedding or have a reception later on and didn’t want to have to buy flowers twice. I loved the way the flowers looked and they’re still being loved and used till this day.
If you’re set on having real flowers, try to reuse pieces throughout the day. Your arch piece can be used for your head table after the ceremony is done, the bouquets your wedding party holds can be used for centerpieces throughout the reception, etc. And at the end of the day, consider donating your flowers to a nursing home, or another place for your flowers to continue to be loved and appreciated even after your special day.
Photography: Kenzie Kate Photo
Experience Consider renting dishware, plates, cups, etc. instead of using single use plastics. You could even buy special cups, mugs, or glasses for your guests to use and keep even after the wedding. Compostable plates, cups, and utensils is another option for a more rustic or tropical feel.
Another tempting thing to do is release balloons, lanterns, confetti, or even sparklers for an exit or after you are pronounced, but skip these environmental no-nos and borrow a bubble machine (maybe from your friends' kids) or use biodegradable confetti (but always check to make sure that confetti is ok with your venue). These are more eco-friendly and fun options to cut down on unnecessary waste.
I know this can be overwhelming and a lot to take in, but every little choice you make helps. What’s most important is doing what you can and not worrying about being perfect. Being sustainable and eco-friendly is a lifelong journey and you’re not always going to be able to do everything right or perfectly. Don’t stress about it! Know that every small decision makes a difference and even calling attention and sharing this information with others will help in the long run. I hope this list helps you make at least one eco-friendly decision about your wedding day and gets you thinking about more ways to be sustainable in your everyday life, too!
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