Sustainable weddings 101

By Kaleigh Stock

Eleven affordable ways to make your wedding better for the environment

Weddings create waste. A lot of waste. According to Yale graduate and environmental law expert Kate Harrison, each wedding in the U.S. creates about 400 lbs. of waste and 63 tons of carbon dioxide. This means that with more than 2.2 million nuptials every year, nearly a billion lbs. of waste and 140 million tons of carbon are created annually by weddings in the U.S. alone. What can be done? A lot, actually. Let’s look at some options.

  1. The Invitations: Send “Save the Date” invites by email. For invitations, use recycled paper, and if possible vegetable ink. There is even recycled seed-embedded paper that can be planted and grown into small flower, herb or veggie gardens. What a fun surprise for guests!
  2. The Rings: If buying, buy “previously owned” (you can replace gems if needed), or buy from an ethical and sustainable shop. There are many options online for buying uniquely melted, reshaped and recycled rings. Look for alternative gems that are all the rage today to replace diamonds. Morganite, for example, can be a show-stopping stand-in that still has a diamond look.
  3. The Registry: Thank the stars it’s 2019 and no longer tacky to ask for what matters: Experiences always trump stuff,—that is, unless you really do still need towels, candlesticks and woks. Check out honeymoon registries like Honeyfund, or register for skydiving lessons, take an improv class or get a massage with your partner through sites like Vebo (your married life will thank you). Another great option: ask guests to donate to a green or any other charity of choice.
  4. The Dress: Dresses from consignment shops or grandmothers are ideal, but living in the internet age there have never been so many options for finding used dresses. Utah’s only bridal consignment boutique, Utah Bridal Consignment is located at 2225 S 575 E, Ste. E2, right by TRAX. (
  5. The Pre-Party: Non-gendered events are just as fun and more progressive than business as usual, and they give the wedding party more out-on-the-town options. Bar hopping, drag shows, and EDM shows are a few options always happening in Utah.
  6. The Venue & Transport: Consider getting married outdoors. Not only do outdoor venues waste less energy, the natural beauty means you can save on decor. Hold the reception and wedding in one place to save on driving. Of course, carpools and shuttles are tops!
  7. The Flowers: Be flexible, buy local. There are so many beautiful flowers in our own backyard. Talk to your florist and ask for fresh, local and seasonal flowers, or go with a rustic look with local dried flowers. Lastly, talk to your florist about avoiding foam in floral centerpieces. Beehive Floral ( and Wasatch Blooms ( are both committed to local and seasonal floral designs.
  8. The Vendors: Have I said it enough times? Go local and do some background research on the business’s sustainability practices. Once you have a great vendor, they will do the sustainable thinking for you. Nuff said! Utah Organic Weddings (UtahOrganic Weddings. is a local wedding planning organization that will help you make sustainable decisions, and Millcreek Inn (5802 Millcreek Canyon Rd.) accommodates green wedding requests.
  9. The Decor: Plan ahead and thrift away! A layer of biodegradable paint can do wonders for found items. An essential matter: Think about where all this “stuff” will end up after the event. Consider centerpieces that can also be given away as gifts to guests or used as home decor. Some people pleasers include potted plants such as succulents and chunks of crystal. Other sustainable gift options include donations to charity or edibles.
  10. The Dinnerware: Thrift, borrow or rent. Mason jars or mismatched glasses will give your wedding a fashionable rustic or eclectic look. If for some reason reusables are not an option, beautiful compostable plates made of bamboo, palm leaves or sugarcane are purchasable at
  11. The Send Off: Sparklers, balloons and glitter may be pretty, but they wreak havoc on the environment. Organic confetti made from flowers and herbs can be found in a variety of colors on Etsy and other shops, or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, make your own with dried flowers and a hole punch. Now that the wedding is over, make sure that that any leftovers get taken home or donated.

Kaleigh Stock is a soon-to-be bride who is implementing all the things described in this story.


This article was originally published on April 29, 2019.