How to Have a Sustainable Wedding: 11 Achievable Ideas

How to Have a Sustainable Wedding: 11 Achievable Ideas

We’ve previously talked about breaking the stigma around wedding budgets and managing other people’s expectations for your big day, but we also wanted to address the question of how to make your wedding more sustainable, and bring you achievable ideas for a guilt-free day. As much as we live for the excitement of a big ol’ celebration, weddings can rack up quite a carbon footprint, between the travel required to gather everyone in one place, the food waste produced by the meal, and the optional extras. One of the One Fab Day team even left a wedding in the wee hours just as the staff were disposing of 180 empty plastic boxes that once contained wedding favours. That’s certainly food for thought.

Photo by Raphaël Melka via One Fab Day

One site that we visited while researching this post suggests that a wedding can produce as many CO2 emissions as five people would in an entire year! But the last thing we want is to send you into an aimless shame spiral, so instead, we’ve come up with a constructive list of ways you can reduce the environmental and ethical impact of your wedding. With a little bit of planning and thought, it’s possible to have an epic celebration while minimising your impact on the environment. Interested? Read on…

Sustainable wedding, ethical wedding, eco-friendly wedding, zero waste wedding
Photo by Couple Cups via One Fab Day

But first, a disclaimer: in the same way that there’s no such thing as a perfect wedding, there’s no such thing as a perfectly ethical wedding. The moment you popped that first bottle of bubbly, you kissed that idea goodbye (“Why didn’t we have a locally-sourced bottle of wine?!” a little voice in your head cries out!) The prospect of planning an sustainable, eco-friendly or fairtrade wedding can be overwhelming to the point of paralysing, so cut yourself some slack. The very fact that you’re reading this to find ideas means you’re more conscientious than most about throwing a sustainable wedding, and we applaud you for that.

Photo by Andrew O’Dwyer Photography via One Fab Day

You probably won’t be able to use all of the sustainable wedding ideas on this list, so choose one or two points that leap out at you, and start there. You can’t solve all of the world’s problems with a wedding, but you can strive to make more ethical and eco-friendly choices, and you never know, you might just inspire other couples to do the same.

11 Ideas to Make Your Wedding More Sustainable

biodegradable confetti
Photo by Lima Conlon Photography via One Fab Day

1. Choose your location wisely

Airplane and automobile emissions are among the top contributors to environmental damage, so it’s a good idea to think about how you and your guests will travel to the wedding venue. A destination wedding means air travel, and a venue in a remote location means car travel. We’re the first to say that you should get married wherever you want, but if you’re torn between a few options, take a second look at the guest list and figure out which requires the fewest plane and car journeys.

Sustainable wedding decor, ethical wedding decor
Photo by Weddings by Lee & Edyta via One Fab Day

2. Grill your potential wedding venues

How sustainable your wedding can be depends hugely on how your venue operates. Some may be just getting to grips with recycling, while others, will be way ahead of the game. Like Co. Clare’s Hotel Doolin, which offers a vegan package and has been awarded Carbon Neutral status, and Horetown House in Co. Wexford with its ‘grown not flown’ policy which sees all flowers grown on site. We list of to ask your wedding venue here, but if you’re concerned about reducing the environmental impact of your big day, there are a few more to add: How do you dispose of food waste? Where do you source your ingredients (if they’re catering the meal)? What is your plastic policy? What kind of cleaning products do you use? Are you involved in any green or charity initiatives?

Photo by Chris Copeland via One Fab Day

3. Make your menu eco-friendly

Whether your venue is providing the wedding meal, or you’re hiring a separate team, you should be able to find a catering company with a sustainable ethos, which sources organic, local, Fairtrade and ethically-produced ingredients where possible. One Fab Day favourite Orla McAndrew Catering has gone one step further and now offers couples a five-star zero waste wedding meal using rescued surplus produce. Vegan or vegetarian menu would also reduce the environmental impact of the wedding meal, but if that’s too drastic for you, aim for a menu that’s 50 per cent vegetarian.

Sourcing your alcohol from local wineries, distilleries and breweries is another great way to reduce your carbon footprint. We also recommend you check out The Nude Wine Co. for truly delicious sustainably produced and organic wines.

sustainable wedding cake
Photo by Lilly Red Creative via One Fab Day

4. Feast on a sustainable wedding cake

This is one of the more attainable things on our list. Ask your baker if they can source organic, local and Fairtrade ingredients, and incorporate seasonal fruits in the recipe. Depending on where the ingredients are sourced, a vegan option may have less of an environmental impact, and it’s also a good idea to source reusable décor like ribbons and rustic log plinths.

sustainable wedding
Photo by The Fashion Wedding via One Fab Day

5. Limit your stationery to one knockout piece

Many sustainably-minded couples choose to do all of their wedding correspondence digitally to avoid paper wastage, but personally, we’re too much of a font geek to forgo stationery altogether. A nice alternative is to keep one gorgeous paper element, such as bespoke wedding invitations, and ask your stationer to provide coordinating graphics for printing on signage instead of hard copy table plans and menus. It’s also worth asking if your stationer can print on recycled paper.

Photo by Annie Kheffache via One Fab Day

6. Support an ethical bridal, bridesmaid or groomswear designer

There are a few different ways to approach ethical bridal fashion and we have a whole post on where to find sustainable wedding dresses here. But below are some great ideas too;

sustainable wedding decor
Photo by Rock’n Brides via One Fab Day

7. Ask your florist to shop local and seasonally

Environmentally-minded folk often suggest you forgo cut flowers on your wedding day in favour of potted herbs or greenery, but if you’re as obsessed with flowers as we are, you won’t want to ditch them entirely. Depending on the time of year, your wedding florist will have lots of sustainable ideas and may be able to source locally-grown flowers, suggest some seasonal alternatives or provide living plants. It’s also worth having a chat with them about what happens to the arrangements after the wedding – they may be able to arrange for them to be donated to a local hospital or hospice. We have a post with great ideas of how to repurpose your wedding flowers here.

ethical wedding decor
Photo by Louise Scott Photography via One Fab Day

8. Dress your ceremony and reception spaces with reusable décor

When it comes to wedding décor, some trends are have a larger impact than others. As much as we love them, balloons and sky lanterns can be quite harmful to the environment, and to local wildlife, depending on how you dispose of them. For a more eco-friendly wedding, you should try to focus on recyclable or reusable items like glassware, bunting, macramé, ribbon, books, and vintage candlesticks, some of which you can hire. It’s also a good idea to source non-toxic candlesbiodegradable confetti and biodegradable glitter for the big day. Check out our post featuring 11 sustainable confetti alternatives.

sustainable wedding makeup, cruelty-free beauty
Photo by Sean and Kate via One Fab Day

9. Give your beauty drawer an ethical makeover

If you haven’t already, try adding some cruelty-free, zero-waste or locally-produced products to your pre-wedding skincare routine. You can also ask your hairstylist and makeup artist if there are any cruelty-free substitutes that they’re happy to use on the day. One of our favourite sources for easy-to-follow information on this is Cruelty Free Kitty. Consider this if you’re putting together a bathroom basket for your guests as well.

Photo and print by Swell and Grand on Etsy

10. Use gifts to give back

We love the idea of charity wedding favours, and we’ve seen lots of couples asking for charitable donations instead of gifts, too. There are lots of environmental charities who could use your support, including Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and The International Fund for Animal Welfare, as well as organisations who work to resolve issues in the garment industry, like Anti-Slavery, Care International, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Stop the Traffik, and War on Want, or a child marriage prevention organisations like Plan International or Too Young To Wed. You could also encourage your guests to plant a tree with seed wedding favours. or DIY your own sustainable favours. We have five fabulous suggestions to grow your own in this post.

Essential beauty for your honeymoon bag Pic: Getty

11. Plan an ethical honeymoon

Your honeymoon is an opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, so we’re not going to tell you to spend it on a farmstay 100km from your home (unless that’s what you want, of course!) Research is key for a responsible honeymoon, so do a little bit of homework before you settle on a location, consider a travel agent that specialises in responsible holidays, like Jacada Travel, and try to support locally-owned hotels, stores and attractions when you get there. You can also make a donation to offset your travel carbon footprint at

Looking for a supplier with ideas to make your sustainable wedding dreams come true? You’ll find lots of them in our Wedding Book directory!

Related Articles

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *