Planning a wedding is SO much fun! If you just rolled your eyes thinking about how costly, stressful or wasteful weddings can be, I get it. I totally get it. Before my partner and I got engaged, we were worried about the same things, but once we decided that our wedding was going to reflect our values, we found it was pretty easy (and fun!) to plan our wedding just like we live our lives: as cost effective, eco-friendly and meaningful as possible. And honestly, if we can do it, you can too!
1) Digital Save the Dates & Invites:
We used Paperless Post, but there are a lot of great options out there and the cost is minimal, especially when you factor in the money you save on stamps. Alternatively, you can skip the invitations altogether, and send your wedding guests a direct link to your wedding website instead.
2) Wedding website:
Originally I was going to create one from scratch, but sites like The Knot have beautiful templates ready for the choosing and they’re free! Guests can RSVP and choose meal options, see the details of the wedding, and check out cute bios you can set up for your wedding party.
TIP: Have people submit their mailing address as part of their RSVP so that you don’t have to try to track them down after the wedding if you decide to send handwritten thank you cards later.
3) Editable files on Etsy:
I LOVE Etsy, and I loved them even more once I realized they have digital downloads. I found a designer (Dandy Lion Paper) that had the perfect menus, place cards and favour tags that matched our wedding colours. The items are instant downloads (for under $15) and you can edit the files so it says whatever you’d like and you can choose your printing process. Easy peasy!
BUY IN BULK & DIY!
4) Party Favours:
We made mulled wine spice kits using spices from Bulk Barn and put them in 4oz mason jars. Our goal was to create a low waste gift that people would be sure to use, including the packaging. At the end of the night only 6 were left behind… and they were quickly claimed up by our wedding party.
TIP: Bring your own jars to Bulk Barn to buy the spices. Mesh bags are not ideal when dealing with teeny-tiny spices, and they do not allow you to use Ziploc bags (even if you plan to reuse them), so large jars or glass containers are the best way to avoid the single-use plastic bags they offer in store.
At our wedding, we had harvest tables of up to 30 people, and I wanted a long table runner to make the design look luxurious and cohesive. After checking out some local fabric stores, I ended up buying 18 meters of navy blue chiffon for $175 CAD on Etsy, and then we simply snipped and ripped the fabric to create the look I wanted.
TIP: If you know the length of fabric you will need, talk to your local fabric store in advance to see if it can be ordered. We ended up ordering online (which has a bigger carbon footprint, unfortunately) because the local stores didn’t have the quantity we needed.
I found a floral wholesaler at my local farmer’s market, and ordered all of my flowers through her. I was able to pick up all of the flowers two days before the wedding with minimal packaging, prepped them in my own kitchen, and kept them cool in our sunroom which was at the ideal chilly temp in late October. I enlisted the help of a crafty friend, and we made the bouquets and arrangements the day before the wedding. Unfortunately, we lost eco-points because the flowers were flown in from Latin America, but what would have cost $5,000 – $7,000 CAD ended up costing just under $1,000 CAD.
TIP: If you want to use local flowers and greenery, make sure that your wedding will take place before the first frost. I had planned to use all local flowers, forgetting how early Canadian winter creeps up on us. Since our wedding was at the end of October, the frost was predicted to happen before our wedding date, and that’s why I had to (unfortunately) go with international options which increase our eco footprint.
THINK BEYOND THE WEDDING!
7) Wedding Party Gifts & Accessories:
For our wedding party gifts, we chose items that would be worn after the wedding. The groomsmen chose tailored suits (to maximize for future uses), and were given socks & gold tie clips with their initials. For the bridesmaids, I bought earrings, shawls and robes. I sent out ten different gold options from artisan shops (that were not overly formal), and each person chose which earrings they wanted me to buy so that they could and would wear them again. I also asked for their opinion with the shawls to avoid gifting a fall/winter accessory they wouldn’t use. With the same thought in mind, I surprised them with robes on the day-of, but instead of opting for the silk robes that would rarely be used, I opted for Anne Klein robes that were so well-received that my bridesmaids have sent me pictures while wearing the robes since the wedding.
ALL of the decorations are living a second (or third) life now after the wedding. The greenery became Christmas wreaths, the flowers were given to family members or dried (for bath salts, candles, ornaments and future craft projects), the fabric table runners were sold on Facebook Marketplace, and the repurposed bottles I painted are being repainted for a wedding this summer. Yay!
9) Flower Vases & Planters:
Instead of vases, I chose to use a combination of jars I already had kept from previous food purchases and mason jars that I picked up over a couple months before the wedding, so it was easy to continue using them after the wedding was over. Since some of my family and friends took flowers home with them (in the jars), we just gave them the matching lids the next time we saw them. I also used some of the jars to make the candles and bath salts I mentioned in the previous tip.
When I bought a couple of planters that would be at the front of our ceremony, I chose a couple of pottery pieces that were beautiful (and neutral) so I would be able to re-use them in our home as planters after the wedding. At the time it was nice to avoid the extra work of selling, donating or tossing the vases & planters, and now it’s lovely to have beautiful (and subtle) momentos that we get to see everyday in our home.
10) Thank You Card & Holiday Card Combo:
I love it when I can check off two to-do list items with one task, so it was eco-friendly, efficient and cost-effective to send out a multi-purpose card. We got married at the end of October, got our sneak peek wedding photos by mid-November, and realized that our thank you cards could be printed and delivered by early December. With that in mind, we decided to create a thank you and holiday card combo… two reasons, one card!
Guest Writer: Jennifer Collis is a teacher and dear friend of the Earth Mamas. She shares how she planned her own gorgeous fall wedding with the planet in mind.