While many are willing to spend as much as they can afford on their wedding event, knowing how to balance elegance and luxury with social and environmental responsibility can be a real challenge. For the second part to our post last week on choosing an eco-friendly destination wedding location, today we’ve gotten together ideas to help you create a celebration that you’ll be proud of and your guests will love. And keep in mind that while we may have laid out lots of suggestions here, simply opening the dialogue about sustainable behavior is a really good thing!

Having a Green Destination Wedding

Pure Magnolia via Fly Away Bride


Keep in mind that companies that manufacture dresses in third world countries often rely on factories that exploit their workers. The transport of these gowns back to the first world where they are ordered increases carbon emissions. Research your chosen dress designer and/or shop to see what materials they use for their gowns and where they source these materials. Do they use natural organic and fair-trade fabrics? An even more socially responsible idea is to buy a second hand gown, which is often a more budget friendly option as well. More and more online used dress sites are popping up; try Pre Owned Wedding Dresses, Tradesy, or Once Wed and don’t forget about charity shops- Oxfam even have an online bridal section.


Mining for precious metals and gems is generally not sustainable, and often is interlinked with the poorest working conditions. One answer to this is to veer away from these materials altogether by choosing a synthetic diamond and recycled gold ring: try Green Karat. Another solution is to go for a vintage piece which makes a beautiful, one of a kind engagement or wedding ring. Many antique stores have a vast selection to choose from, and if you choose and an antique ring, it’s very unlikely someone will have the same!

Organic Engagement and Wedding Rings_0004

Organic Rings: Image by Tec Petaja via Once Wed


Nowadays, it is very possible to cut these out altogether by sending e-invites and/or phoning around, and asking for an email or phone call as an rsvp. If you don’t want to break away from tradition entirely, another option is to print your own invitations on recycled paper. There are lots of free printable invitation floating around the web, like these pretty options on Bespoke Bride.


Making sure your ceremony and reception venue are close together will obviously cut down on carbon emissions. Talk to your venue about using organic, in-season, locally sourced food. As an alternative to traditional foil, rice or paper confetti, consider using the Real Flower Confetti Company, whose organically grown flower petals are dried naturally and biodegrade. For more detail on picking your wedding location, ceremony and reception venue and getting there, see our post last week on choosing an eco-friendly destination wedding location.

Green Wedding Ideas

Image: Jose Villa; Flowers: Flowerwild via Style Me Pretty


Blooms from the tropics or out of season mean a lot of carbon emissions are expended getting them to your wedding. Try to keep your flower choice limited to in season and reasonably local if possible. Another idea is to consider dried flowers. Potted plants make lovely table decoration and guest favors in one, but are generally not a good option for destination weddings as they are one more thing for guests to bring home (and most likely won’t be allowed through customs!) The re-use of ceremony arrangements (and your bouquet when no longer needed for photos) to decorate your reception tables will cut down on waste. You can also recycle some flowers as a beautiful decoration for your cake!


Ask that guests give to a charity close to your heart, adopt an endangered animal, purchase your favors from a socially responsible company such as The Heartfelt Project, or check out Oxfam Unwrapped wedding favors. Alternatively forego the favors altogether.


When it comes to gifts, there are several ways you can think outside the box. The Good Gifts catalogue lets guests purchase socially responsible gifts where they are most needed around the world. Registering with an eco-friendly company will support sustainable businesses while also making it easy for your guests to stick to your ‘green’ plan. A few ideas are BranchGreen Nest Guide, Ultimate Green Store or Gaiam. Wedding Green lets guests register to give monetary presents toward gifts specified by the couple (see this registry for an example).

Urbino Resort

 Eco-Friendly Wedding Venues in Italy

We’d love to hear about any eco-friendly ideas you’ve used at your own events or weddings. As we said earlier, opening a discussion about sustainable options for your wedding is definitely a good thing, and going with even one eco-friendly idea is better than none at all. There is a ton of info out there and other blogs such as Eco-Beautiful Weddings that specialize in exactly what we’re talking about: with a little bit of research you can have a really fun and beautiful celebration that doesn’t cost the earth!

3 Responses

  1. Jessie

    Another idea for flowers when you’re done with them at a destination wedding, is to donate them to a local hospital or care center for the elderly. This can be arranged with your venue host and will bring smiles to many a heart. Thanks for all the great ideas on eco-sensitive weddings.


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