10 Tips for a Totally Awesome Zero-Waste Wedding

November 20, 2019 | Junebug Weddings

photo by Allie Chambers Photography

You’ve been asking for zero-waste wedding ideas — and we’re here for it! An average wedding produces hundreds of pounds of waste and tons (literally!) of C02 emissions.  The easiest way to eliminate all waste is to head to the courthouse and elope with very minimal frills, but if you still want a traditional wedding, there are many ways you can plan to reduce your impact on the environment! Did you create a zero-waste wedding? We’d love to see it!

Bold Type Invitation via Greenvelope


  • Aim for eco-friendly paper options. There are many companies that use recyclable, bamboo, and even seeded paper that you can plant to grow into flowers! Pro tip: Make sure your guests know their invites are recyclable or re-useable.
  • Eliminate all waste with e-invitations. Make things green while saving time! E-invitations are an awesome way to reduce waste and make managing your guest list easier than ever. Check out our post on The Best Places to Purchase Wedding Invitations Online for some awesome ideas!

photos by Julie Pepin Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • The wedding dress: The search for a wedding dress is never an easy feat, but searching for a sustainable design can be even more daunting! Luckily, brands like Reformation, Wear Your Love, and Indiebride London have all made huge efforts to create beautiful gowns without harm to our environment. Pro tip: You can purchase ethically-made wedding rings, too! Here is a list of the best Etsy shops for vintage engagement rings.
  • The wedding suits: Again, searching for sustainable brands is a great way to support like-minded businesses and reduce your footprint. While renting a tux from a vendor such as The Black Tux does add some emissions during the shipping process, you can request your garments be sent in re-useable bags!
  • As a guest: It may be time to thrift shop! If that’s not your thing, we’ve linked a few of our favorite eco-friendly wedding guest styles below.


photo by Love Bears; see more from this wedding inspiration shoot here!


  • Your wedding might be the perfect excuse to invest in new beauty products. The Detox Market and Credo Beauty experts can help you identify which brands also value zero-waste initiatives.
  • If you are hiring a professional to help with your makeup, let them know you’d like to eliminate as much waste as possible. Makeup wipes, plastic eyelashes, packaging, etc. can add up quickly and many of these items cannot be recycled.

photo by Fox & Film Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Say “no” to a destination, unless it’s intimate. Flying dozens of people to another country is a quick way to rack up your C02 emissions. If you do want to host something afar, keep your guest count to a minimum and stay long enough to make a vacation out of it!
  • Ask this: Do you have a recycling and composting option? If not, it’s ok! If your venue doesn’t have a recycling or composting option, you can research local companies who you can partner with for proper waste baskets. Some will even pick up the recycling or compost after the event.
  • Look for a space that already has decor or needs minimal rentals. A space with re-useable decor will save tons of emissions from event rental trucks having to haul decor to your venue!

photo by Alex Mari Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Compostable goods are the way to go. Look for products that are made with compostable materials. Then, make sure you have clearly marked compost bins so guests can easy help with your efforts.
  • Make drink glasses a party favor. We love the idea of gifting guests with their drinking glass — and your guests are sure to love it, too!

photo by Melissa Gayle Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Local, local, local! Support local farmers by choosing locally-sourced food for your reception dinner.
  • Keep your cake small. If there’s one thing that wedding vendors will tell you, it’s that there’s so much cake wasted at the end of a wedding night. Keep your cake minimal and small in size — we promise, guests won’t mind!
  • Nix the plastic water bottles and opt for flavored filtered water. Staying hydrated on wedding day is important. Make sure you have a water station readily available for your guests to hydrate throughout the night. Pro tip: Re-useable water bottles make great (and useful) bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts!
  • Donate the leftovers. There’s often a ton of food wasted at the end of a wedding night. In addition to ensuring you don’t over-order on catering, make sure your venue and vendor team knows you’d like to donate the food instead of throwing it away.

photo by Addison Jones Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Ask your florist to use local and seasonal blooms. By opting for locally-sourced florals, you’re not only supporting a local farmer but also reducing emissions from shipping blooms overseas. You may even be able to meet the source of your beautiful wedding day blooms!
  • Use live plants as centerpieces. This might be our favorite zero-waste wedding tip! Live, potted plants make for fun centerpieces. Bonus: Your guests can take them home as favors!
  • Go for foam-free floral installations. Our professional florists are seeing a trend in foam-free installations, as it’s a huge way to reduce waste from unnecessary foam in floral designs.

photo by Andrielle Photography; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Go shopping at home. You’d be surprised how many things you already own that can be re-used in your wedding decor design! Chat with your planner or event designer about this and make it a collaborative effort.
  • Avoid fabrics that have to be washed (i.e. tablecloths, fabric napkins, etc.). Washing re-useable fabrics is a sure way to rack up your carbon footprint count. Skip the fabrics and look for tables that look great au nautrale.
  • Choose beeswax candles. Many candles are made with harmful chemicals that are released into the air when we burn them. Beeswax, on the other hand, does not. As an added bonus, beeswax candles are said to last longer and drip less!


photo by Wander Love Captures; see more from this real wedding here!


  • Get creative with consumable party favors. If you’ve already been doing your research on local farms, you may have come across a perfect idea to gift your guests with! Popular ideas are honey, salsa, and olive oil.
  • Leave out your wedding date and names. We know, we know. You want everything to be personalized with your wedding date and last name. However, guests are more likely to re-use something they can show off in their home. If you want to personalize the gift, consider putting your info somewhere that’s less likely to be seen.

photo by Lauren Nicole Photography; see more from this anniversary session here!


  • Ask for e-giftcards. Many retailers offer e-gift certificates now (think: Amazon, Airbnb, etc.), which makes it easy for your guests to send you one without the hassle of bringing it to the wedding. Plus, you’re less likely to misplace an e-card!
  • Get creative with your registry. Instead of asking for things, ask for experiences! Maybe it’s a one-night staycation at a local hotel or Airbnb or an anniversary photoshoot to celebrate one-year together.
  • Choose a charity to donate to. If you want to further your environmentally conscious efforts and inspire your guests to do the same, there are many organizations that make it easy for guests to make donations in your name!

We hope these zero-waste wedding tips have inspired you to help our environment while planning your day! For more planning inspiration, we think you’ll love:

The Best Wedding Budget Tips from Top Planners Around the World

5 Clever Ways to Repurpose Your Wedding Decor From Ceremony to Reception

10 Ways to be More Present on Your Wedding Day


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  1. Brides can also register to share flowers with another bride in their area on Bouquet for a Day to reduce floral consumption, import, and waste! If centerpieces were used for Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday weddings, it would greatly reduce the need to import so many flowers. In addition to helping the planet, brides also save money by sharing.

  2. I love this type of tips help everyone

  3. Some of these ideas are so good, but also so simple! Thank you for sharing

  4. This is exactly the post the world needs to read now with an increasingly dangerous climate crisis and people wondering what they can do to make an impact. Weddings are typically over the top affairs where people spend ridiculous amounts of money and create even more ridiculous amounts of waste. All of these ideas are great. My favorites are paperless invitations, using compostable and biodegradable goods, and making favors consumable. One important aspect of eco weddings is to educate your guests on their own impact in the world and to show that a great event can be put together while limiting the environmental impact.

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