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10 Small Ideas for a More Sustainable Wedding

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Sustainable weddings are trending and a trend that I hope is here to stay!

At M/K Studios, we’ve seen our fair share of weddings–both attended and photographed! Lately, we have noticed an upward trend in sustainable weddings! An eco-friendly wedding can range from a small two-person elopement to an eco-friendly ballroom wedding that was crafted to reduce waste & support a local charity. When it comes to sustainable weddings in 2022 it’s all about locally sourced and seasonal food or flowers. Natural materials over plastic are a must! We love seeing a rise in recycled paper and goods, for decor or eco-friendly and all-inclusive venues, and mindfully choosing decorations. Reusable is preferable and nature can always outshine anything store-bought! Listed below are 10 small ideas or changes I have seen that I would recommend to future clients!

1. Keep it Small - Micro even!

While it may seem tempting to invite everyone you know to your special day, the smaller the guest list, the less waste you will produce. There has been a wider acceptance of elopements and micro weddings since the pandemic and this is a trend that should stick! It's not for every couple, but a smaller party or two-person elopement can allow for more intimate emotions and memorable experiences. It opens the doors to adventure and lets the couple what they want on their wedding day.

2. Save the Dates & Invitations

Endless to cut down on waste with invites or save the dates. Opt-in for electronic options or social media posts. Many couples rely on a wedding website to share information. If invites are still for you there are a few options to be more environmentally friendly. It’s easy to find invitations made from recycled paper, upcycled fabric, leather, or wood. Some organizations also give back with every purchase. Paper Culture offers recycled paper options and plants a tree in honor of your purchase! Botanicals Paperworks prints their invites on seed-infused paper that you can plant and turn into flowers - an invite that keeps on giving!

3. Get Married Outside

One of my favorite and best pieces of advice! Get married outside! What better way to be one with nature than to tie the knot surrounded by a lush forest or stunning Lake Superior shoreline. Outdoor venues typically have built-in decor, making them easy to work with and often less trendy.

4. Check Facebook For Wedding Decor

Whether it be Facebook groups or Facebook Marketplace, you can find everything from linens to glassware to lighting. Michigan offers a few bridal advice and resell facebook pages for locations like Traverse City/ Northern MI or the Grand Rapids area. Often you can find trendy pieces at discounted prices from other brides.

5. Opt for Alternative Flowers

There is no doubt that flowers are one of the most stunning ways to dress up a venue and honestly one of my favorite spectacles of the day! Fortunately, there are a few ways to get the most out of your flowers without sacrificing some of the planet. I have seen brides simply opt-out of flowers or keep it minimal to just the bride and groom. I have seen others get wooden flowers to not only keep the items forever but also eliminate environmental harm. My favorite option I have seen more and more is sticking to local flowers and seasonal items. Wood flowers from ETSY are pictured below

6. Donate Leftovers & Decor

Too much food? See if you can share the love with local shelters or organizations! Extra decor? Rather than trashing it try and resell or donate the goods! I love hearing of brides saving decor for their friends or sharing items amongst cousins. Another fun solution is to give your guests the option to take food home in to-go containers. It's a great alternative favor and can allow guests to enjoy their wedding cake comfily at home!

7. Skip the Confetti or Rice Toss

While rice or confetti looks great in photos, it’s not very environmentally conscious. There are so many great alternatives that are just as beautiful! If you still are dreaming of a send-off before your reception, go down the natural route with dried flowers, seeds, lavender, rose petals, etc. Champagne pops or spray photos are less intrusive than a confetti send-off and arguably more enjoyable!

8. Cut out Balloons & Floating Lanterns

Balloons and floating lanterns have become increasingly popular for dreamy night photos. Balloons are simply an environmental nightmare! Its plastic waste often drifts away or is eaten by animals. Floating lanterns can not only be a fire hazard for you and your guests, but they can also spark forest fires if in wooded areas. Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula forests do not need our wedding waste and havoc - opt for something else! A great grand exit is often a sunset over the lake ;)

* An honorable mention to those brides who opt-in for shoes that they can wear again! We love seeing practical & comfy footwear like Chaco's!

9. Rethink Your Wedding Favors

I have seen a wide range of wedding favors and truly am confused about where this tradition even began. The couple just hosted a lovely party, do we also need a small gift? Tasty edible gifts are popular for a reason and also kind for the planet! Guests will look for a midnight snack after a night of celebrating and dancing with you. When it comes to favors, really think about your friends and family! Would it bring joy to the day and experience? What would they enjoy!

10. Rent!

An oldie but a goodie! Renting is better for the environment and often your wallet as well! Tuxes just are not frequently worn or needed! Save your party the cost and simply rent. Another option I have seen is allowing the party to wear a suit of the same color. This gives a fun favorite its cuts and texture plus ensures your groomsmen will wear the item again.

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