10 Tips For Planning a Sustainable Wedding in 2023

Megan Goetz


September 1, 2023

Planning a Sustainable Wedding in 2023

Your wedding should be one of the best days of your life and it should be everything you imagined it to be. But unfortunately, most weddings are a lot more wasteful than they need to be. People often plan their wedding and don’t think twice about paper goods and decorations that are only used once. But I am here to tell you that you can still have the wedding of your dreams without being so wasteful. Ohh and planning a more sustainable wedding can also help you save money which is always a plus.  

As a sustainable wedding photographer and as someone who recently got married and put an emphasis on having a sustainable wedding, I have a few tips that I want to share with you. These are super simple and can make the biggest difference in minimizing waste on your wedding day. So, keep reading if you want to know more!!

sustainable wedding

Tips on How to Plan a Sustainable Wedding

1. Invites/Save-the-Dates

I know, I know, invites and save-the-dates are so fun and exciting to send out but they are one of the easiest things you can change for a more sustainable wedding, And luckily, there are a few different options:

  • Send antique postcards: I love this one so much because I am all about the vintage aesthetic. This is a great way to be more sustainable because rather than get new invites printed, you are taking something that otherwise may never be used and turning it into something really special. And doing antique postcards is also a lot more personal because most likely you will be hand-writing them. You can get antique postcards online and you can even find them in thrift stores. I love this idea because it makes it so that every person’s invite is a little different. 
  • Virtual Save the Dates: This is a super easy and affordable option. If you don’t want to just send a virtual card, maybe send a video invite with a personal message or hire a videographer and do a video for the invite. 
  • Use Seed Paper: If you are really wanting to stick with the traditional invites and save the dates, then I highly recommend using seed paper. Seed paper is a biodegradable eco-paper made with post-consumer and post-industrial paper waste that is embedded with seeds. This is the perfect alternative to using normal paper that is eco-friendly but still traditional. For more information on seed paper, click here. 
sustainable wedding invites

2. Search for Sustainable Wedding Venues

This one may be a bit trickier because not as many venues are sustainable. But it is definitely something for you to look into to see what the options are. Some things you want to look for in a sustainable wedding venue include LEED-certified venues, off-grid, and self-sufficient venues. 

Here are some examples of sustainable wedding venues:

  • Riverbed Farms: This is a fully functioning sustainable urban farm located in Anaheim, Ca. 
  • The Stanford Inn: Located on the Mendocino Coast in California, this sustainable wedding venue offers on-site certified organic gardens and their building materials are all sustainable.
sustainable wedding venues

3. Florals

There are a couple of different things you can do when it comes to making your florals more eco-friendly on your wedding day. 

  • Hire a  sustainable florist who only uses local and seasonal florals.
  • Consider dried flowers, potted plants, or potted flowers. This is a great option because after your wedding you can repurpose them for home decor that also serves as a special memory of your big day! And you can even encourage your guests to take some home to none of them go to waste. 
  • Repurpose as many floral arrangements as possible. Use the flowers you used in your ceremony for your reception. Just have some people spend some time moving them during your cocktail hour. 
  • Donate your flowers after your wedding day.
sustainable wedding flowers

4. Rent Decor, DON’T Buy

This is a great option to help you have a more eco-friendly wedding. Single-use products at weddings are sooooo wasteful so I highly encourage you to rent as much as you can. And then after the wedding, you don’t have to worry about what you are gonna do with all of the decor. Some venues even have decor that you can use so that is something to consider when looking at venues. 

5. Shop Second-Hand

Another option is to shop second-hand for stuff like your wedding dress, suits, and bridesmaid dresses. This could also add a really cool and unique vintage aspect to your wedding. You can always buy a wedding dress second-hand and then take it to a tailor to take away and add things that make the dress more you. And for the bridesmaid dresses, I think mismatched dresses are always so fun. Just try and get dresses in the same color range. 

6. Plates/Silverware

For this, there are a few options you can choose to do. 

  • Skip single-use plastic and instead use biodegradable products only.
  • Rent all of your plates and silverware.
  • Shop second-hand if you are having a smaller more intimate wedding and get some fun and unique vintage plates.
sustainable wedding decor

7. Create a menu that focuses on local, sustainable food

When you are searching for caterers, try to find one that will help you create a locally sourced menu and if possible one with in-season produce. If you book a sustainable wedding venue, odds are that they offer a local and sustainable menu or they know a caterer that does. And if you want to be as eco-friendly as possible, do a vegetarian or vegan menu to cut back on carbon emissions. 

sustainable wedding food

8. Keep the leftovers

Please, please, please if you have leftovers, take them with you or provide biodegradable to-go containers for your guests to take food home. The amount of food that gets wasted at weddings is unbelievable so why not reduce that waste and make sure it gets eaten? 

9. Recycle & Compost! 

See if your venue offers recycling and composting and if they don’t hire an outside company to do it. They can drop off these bins before your wedding and pick them up the day after. This is a super easy way to make your wedding that much more sustainable. 

10. Skip the sparkler or bubble exit

I know these look super cool in photos but there are tons of alternatives that are much more sustainable. Instead, try using biodegradable confetti, dried flowers, or even rice or seeds. The photos will still be just as epic I promise!!

A few more ideas

There are so many different ways that you can personalize your wedding to make it more eco-friendly. So here are a few more simple things you can do that are not only sustainable but also unique:

  • Give away party favors that your guests won’t throw away. Instead of a cookie in a plastic bag, opt for a personalized mug or a funky shot glass. Bonus points if you thrift the items! 
  • Instead of asking people for a physical gift for your registry, ask that people only give money or gift cards. That way you can buy things as you need them. The amount of things that people register for that they never use is crazy!
  • Elope!! If a big wedding isn’t for you, then you’re in luck. Eloping is definitely one of the most sustainable ways to have a wedding! 
  • Buy ethical wedding rings such as vintage or lab-grown diamonds such as Moissanite
  • Hire a wedding planner who specializes in sustainable weddings! 

As you can see, there are endless options when it comes to making your wedding day more sustainable. You obviously don’t need to do every snake thing on this list, but do your best to do the things that make the most sense for your wedding day. The smallest changes can make the biggest difference! 

Sustainable Weddings Vendors in San Francisco

As a San Francisco wedding and elopement photographer, you know I had to share some sustainable wedding vendors in the area. 

Sustainable Wedding Venues

Sustainable Florists

Second-hand dress stores

Sustainable Weddings Planners/ Designers

Meet your San Francisco Wedding and Elopement Photographer

Hi there, I’m Meg, your San Francisco Wedding and elopement Photographer!

I’ve always wanted to be a photographer and to be able to call this my full-time job is an absolute dream come true. Creating captivating, authentic images just sets my soul on fire and I have so much gratitude for this art. I love capturing moments. I’m the girl who takes my film camera everywhere I go because I just want to look back and remember what I was feeling at that moment. I love being able to look at a photo and travel back in time.

Being a photographer has allowed me to find the moments of beauty in everyday life and there is nothing I love more than allowing people to see themselves as a piece of art.

You can Inquire here to learn more about working with me!

 Elopement Photographer

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