10 Easy Ways to Have a Green Wedding
Less Stuff, More Meaning
Martin and I started discussing our vision for an eco-friendly wedding a long time before we even got engaged. We knew that in case of a party we wanted an intimate affair, with only close friends and family. But as we sat down and really crunched the numbers of what our dream wedding would cost, we were quickly overcome by a feeling that the amount of money was just too much for a single day of good food and partying with our loved ones. So much money in fact, that we could go traveling for three months, jumpstart our side project or cross something else big off of our bucket list.
It wasn’t just about the money though. We were also worried that a party would mean us focusing on our guests and the planning of it all rather than the connection between the two of us and the ritual of binding our lives in a mindful and conscious manner. All things considered, a party just didn’t feel right to us. I do think that having your loved ones there has its own meaning and can be wonderful and very emotional. It just wasn’t what we prioritized for our ceremony.
We definitely still wanted to celebrate the affair! So we thought why not have all the perks of a party but just for the two of us? Hence began the planning for our intimate wedding. We considered sustainability, sufficiency, and mindfulness in every aspect of that day and it made for a wonderful event and an unforgettable moment. And isn’t that what a wedding is supposed to be?
So let’s look at the different aspects of our wedding and how they put our love front and center as well as honoring mother nature.
1. The Dress(es)
You can read all about my two altered thrift store dresses in my previous post.
2. The Makeup
Planning a wedding, even a conscious one, can be stressful. My body decided to tell me to slow down by giving me a blister on my lip 3 days before the wedding. It stayed with me until our big day. I decided to stick with my regular beauty look and make-up because I really didn’t want to camouflage my face on a day like this. I used all my favorite green beauty products except for the waterproof mascara I bought last-minute the morning of our wedding. Thank God for that because the floodgates were opened all day! None of our wedding pictures are photoshopped (as in removing wrinkles or skin impurities etc.)
I like the subtle reminder that nothing is perfect, that flaws are part of even the most beautiful day and that the body always knows best. The pictures do however have a filter and are brightened to have a more uniform look across the different locations we shot in.
3. The Rings
We wore custom-made wedding bands. I agonized over the cost and the exact type of ring for quite a bit. Since I’d be wearing the ring every day I wanted something timeless, ethically made and unique.
After much research, I decided against conflict-free diamonds because the transparency of those labels just wasn’t cutting it to me. Instead, I opted for a moissanite emerald cut engagement ring and a matching moissanite recycled white gold band from Do Amore. Moissanites are lab-made gems that rival diamonds in their brilliance and hardness but carry a significantly lesser cost. There’s no mining involved in creating moissanite, it has a very small carbon footprint, and every stone is traceable. I chose a Charles and Colvard Forever One moissanite and moissanite side stones. Do Amore produces in the US and the owner, Krish, provided me with excellent support throughout the process. Each ring supports the building of a water well for a community in need of clean water and Do Amore works in collaboration with Charity: Water to achieve this goal. You can check your exact impact with your order number which is pretty cool! The rings come in a lovely wooden box made from sustainable Jarrah wood.
Martin wore a recycled white gold wedding band from a local goldsmith. That way we both got our sustainable and unique bands and couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.
4. The Flowers
We chose to use seasonal, local and fairtrade (where possible) flowers for our boho style bouquet. I wanted a huge bouquet and couldn’t have been happier with the result! We went to a local florist and talked everything over in detail and I provided some of the satin band we used for binding our vow booklets.
– Donate them to a retirement or nursing home
– Let them dry out
– Give them away to your guests
– Place them on a lost loved one’s grave
I let them dry out and made a table wreath out of it. Just hang them in a sunlit room upside down and wait for the magic to happen. They dried out beautifully after just a few days and the bouquet, now wreath, has that lovely dried eucalyptus smell.
5. The Cake
We made sure that all ingredients for our wedding cake by Linda’s Art were organic, local and seasonal (if possible). We chose a semi-naked cake with a lemon sponge, local organic strawberries and a citrus-green tea flavor. It had salted caramel flavored macarons that were colored with raspberry juice. Wherever possible birch sugar was used instead of refined sugar.
We decorated the cake on site using dried flowers we already owned as well as a white peony from our local farmers market. The small roses were fairtrade and also used in our wedding bouquet.
6. The Stationery
I found a template for a DIY vow booklet from Pipkin Paper Co. had them printed onto recycled paper at the print store and adorned with a ribbon. We loved the size and look of it!
Consider choosing recycled or fsc paper for your wedding stationery, making your own or going the e-invite route. There are literally hundreds of DIY templates online.
E-invites are definitely the greenest option but they somehow break with ‘traditional’ wedding etiquette so beware it might put some people off. I think if you let people know your reasoning behind it, most guests will appreciate it and if not, it’s your wedding anyway so just do what feels right for you.
7. The Decor
Just because we decided to have an intimate wedding between the two of us we weren’t going to skip having a celebration with cake and some bubbly Moscato! We were super excited about throwing this little party for two.
I am obsessed with interior decor and table decor so it was a total treat to be able to style our wedding table myself and turned out to be one of my favorite creative parts about our wedding.
I quickly realized that what we already own would look perfect for what we wanted! Not to mention that it meant not having to buy anything new, saving money and the environment in the process.
We had found the chairs and the table on separate occasions out on the street with a ‘for free’ sign. Steal! They were in good condition but the table needed a lot of TLC. I sanded it off and stained it and it is now a real eye catcher!
The ribbons for the Coop Naturaline cloth napkins were one of the very few things we bought new.
I made sure to choose one to double as flower bouquet ribbon and decor ribbon. This little piece of the puzzle literally had my design mind up at night because I just couldn’t find the color I wanted. Luckily, at my last stop Globus I finally found the perfect green hue! If you are lucky to have a local naturally dyed ribbon (on organic silk or cotton) manufacturer, great! I didn’t, so I opted not to order some from the US and instead buy regular ribbons.
We used dried berries and eucalyptus that we kept from our Christmas table decor. They are both great to use over and over again!
Overall, we put together a table that reflected our home and felt very familiar, close to our hearts and that made our day truly unique. We lit some palo santo and felt like we had all our comforting things from home right there with us.
If you plan an elopement with an intimate ceremony, why not shop your home first for the decor? I get it: Wanting to recreate a Pinterest boho decor you are swooning over is tempting. But if it means buying all kinds of props that you won’t use afterward or you need to buy new it is hardly worth it nor very mindful.
You will likely have plenty of stuff in your possession already that you truly love and that #sparkjoy to create a wonderful table!
8. The Location
For the civil wedding, we went to our local city hall. It is situated near the river Aare and it was a beautiful Saturday morning with grand views of the Cathedral St. Urs and the old city.
It was a quick but moving affair with just our two witnesses.
For our little ceremony, we scouted the surrounding area of our hometown in search of the perfect, peaceful, quiet and serene spot in nature and found a magical place in the middle of nowhere.
Still, it was only 10 minutes away from where we had our civil wedding, so it was easy to reach yet very secluded. We wanted to have our intimate ceremony in nature, preferably under a tree and with lots of beauty surrounding us. We could not have wished for a more special place!
Though destination weddings are special they entail a huge footprint due to everyone having to travel, often by plane.
Staying local saves you and your guests (since some/many likely live close to you) massive travel time and expenses and is the more sustainable route to go when choosing a location. Ask your guests to consider taking public transportation and further lessen their impact.
9. The Ceremony
Our vow ceremony was absolutely magical. It was just the two of us standing under a tree, in a meadow with grass that came up to our hips, the sunlight shining through the leaves, a soft breeze and the sounds of birds and animals all around us. I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect setting to say yes to a life together.
We didn’t want it to be about a big party or expensive gifts. It was simply about us being fully present in the moment and opening up to letting our vows take center stage. For us, that is what mattered.
Still, I can’t remember half the things Martin said because I was trying to keep it together.
We were both very emotional and time stood still for a while. After five years together, we are not ‘in love’ 24/7 but we instead have many moments of pure love for each other and this was one of those.
Weddings aren’t about extravagant locations, beautiful gifts, the tallest cake or even the nicest dress (though wedding dresses rock!). They’re about the human connection, the moment you merge your lives together and bare your soul.
10. The Extras
I had looked for a matching clutch (ethical) for a while but had no luck online (either too pricey or too sparkly) or in thrift stores. So I foolishly thought, screw it, I don’t need a purse!
Uhm, yeah, you actually do need one because of tissues, lip gloss, ID, etc. duh! So I bought a new makeup bag in a matching color on the morning of our wedding on my way to pick up our wedding flowers. It was neither sustainably made nor used. But it worked nicely for what I needed it and I actually use it a lot now when I go on vacation. So it’s not a total waste. It ended up being one of the very few items I bought for this wedding.
Moral of the story: Don’t try foregoing a purse/clutch but try asking a friend to lend you one or look at unconventional options like makeup bags, kids purses etc. Nobody will notice the difference anyway.
Zero Waste Fails
So, let’s have some real talk: Those of you who know me, will be able to tell that these are not my natural nails. I have been biting my nails on and off since I was a little girl.
It’s a soothing mechanism that I have never really managed or wanted to get rid off strongly enough to make a real effort. So I wear fake plastic nails on very special occasions or when I know my hands will be photographed. I used to wear them all the time but I am a lot more conscious about it now because of the waste they create. I hate acrylic nails because of the smell and thickness and the cost involved so those are not an option.
This is to say, that I am far from perfect in this zero waste, sustainable journey but I try to do the best I can. This is an area where I can still make changes. More meditation, less biting I guess. Nail polish by Benecos.
What Really Matters
I hope this guide inspired you to create an eco-friendly and conscious wedding day. Whether you plan an intimate affair or a huge party, there are many ways to incorporate green options such as buying a pre-loved dress, using your own decor and focusing on the