Environmentally friendly events have a curious reputation for being too “homey” or DIY. In fact, many of my favorite sustainable event tips are both elegant and eco-friendly. One of my favorite wedding and event planning projects is helping my clients design sustainable yet elegant and creative events.
In our April blog, we talked about 5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Event and eco-friendly ideas so your next event is kind to the environment. This month, I’m going to get more details and resources for planning a wedding or special event that is not only visually stunning, it’s stunningly sustainable! You likely won’t be able to incorporate every one of these ideas so choose the ones that will create an amazing experience for you and your guests.
35 Tips and Resources to Make your Event Stunningly Sustainable
Pre and Post-Wedding Events
Pre and post-wedding events including wedding showers and bridal brunches are a smart time to introduce sustainable planning.
1. My #1 favorite sustainable tip is a flavored water station using real stemware – and avoiding single-use paper products. Be creative by using local seasonal fruits and herbs to infuse the water.
2. Real stemware is elegant and green. If you are hosting your event at a private home, consider hiring some help with dishes and cleaning up afterward.
3. Rental dishes and stemware is an environmentally responsible choice with many options to fit your decor or theme.
4. Vintage stemware and dishes can be purchased at very affordable prices and are guaranteed to be noticed – and unique! After the event, you can gift the pieces to the bride and groom – or re-sell them to an antique dealer.
5. Repurpose flower petals from an earlier event to make beautiful floral ice cubes.
Event Venue Sustainability
When choosing your event venue ask questions about their practices and policies to #GoGreen.
6. Schedule your wedding and reception at the same venue to cut down on transportation needs – and your carbon footprint.
7. Don’t hide the trash: place recycling bins in spots at the venue where guests can see them – and use them!
8. Choose restaurants that offer sustainable and eco-friendly menus and service. Look for seasonal, local foods; suppliers who follow green practices; environmentally conscious decor and lighting and waste policies that promote recycle and reuse.
Select a caterer who supports your event sustainability goals and can contribute their own ideas for ethically sourced foods.
9. Request disposable and biodegradable serving pieces. Bio & Chic specializes in eco-friendly dinnerware and disposable catering supplies.
10. Source your alcohol from local wineries, distilleries and breweries as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and feel great when you #ShopLocal.
11. ONEHOPE Wine gives back with every bottle of their Napa wine purchased. Each glitter bottle provides 15 meals to children in need. We all can drink to that!
12. Find a local bakery that sources local, all-natural ingredients such as seasonal berries and edible flowers and uses eco-friendly practices to prepare and deliver wedding cakes and deserts.
13. Food waste from events is a tragedy considering the number of families that are hungry. Plan your event based on local food donation guidelines and find a way to safely donate leftover foods such as Feeding South Florida’s MealConnect app.
14. Choose a meal caterer that supports local farmers.
15. Sustainability can be fun! Here in South Florida (where plastic straws are banned) a cocktail looks better with a sugarcane straw! Cookie or chocolate straws are also fun green options to serve event drinks.
From weddings to special occasions, pre-worn couture is a family tradition that is also sustainable!
16. For decades family traditions have included passing a cherished wedding gown from mother to daughter to granddaughter. Baby baptisms often feature christening outfits worn for generations.
17. Something borrowed, something blue… jewelry is another opportunity to reuse and repurpose. Engagement rings are often redesigned for a new bride-to-be by setting an existing stone into a new band.
18. Estate jewelry sales offer one-of-a-kind antique, vintage and jewelry pieces. A nationwide favorite place to buy estate jewelry is the annual Original Miami Beach Estate Jewelry Show that is held every January – a perfect time to enjoy South Florida weather!
19. A pre-loved or vintage wedding gown that is ready for a second walk down the aisle is easily sourced online at shops like Stillwhite or from local vendors.
21. Consignment shops are also a great place to find veils and bridal accessory. Online marketplace Etsy has many vendors who sell vintage bridal accessories.
22. After your event, consider donating your dress to brides against breast cancer or a special occasion dress to an organization that provides prom dresses for high school girls who can’t afford them.
Wedding Gifts and Favors
Many couples who are getting married simply don’t need more things – but care very much about those who are in need.
23. For your wedding registry, sign up for the I Do Foundation where your guests and loved ones can help you celebrate generously and make a charitable donation in lieu of a gift.
24. In lieu of gifts, consider asking guests to volunteer their time and participate in a beach clean-up, at a local food kitchen or Habitat for Humanity.
25. If you receive a duplicate wedding gift, local half-way houses are always in need of home goods.
26. Create a biodegradable cloth menu that doubles as a napkin and event SWAG or wedding favor.
27. For guest Welcome bags use fabric totes rather than paper bags as a charming memory of the wonderful time they had at your event.
Flowers and Decor
Cut flowers don’t last long – but they will last far beyond your event and can give pleasure to others.
28. Research local organizations such as Petals with purpose, Random acts of flowers Rebloom and Repeat roses that will pick up your post-event arrangements and donate them to local hospitals, police stations or senior centers.
29. Select a sustainable florist who composts flower trimmings, re-uses vases and recycles leftover arrangements and trim.
30. Choose seasonal blooms that are grown locally.
31. Design your event recycled paper menus or made of Plantable Paper flower seeds.
32. Skip the rice or birdseed and cheer the wedding couple with eco-friendly send-offs biodegradable confetti, custom floralfetti, sproutfetti or coconut flake confetti.
Gifts For The Bridal Party
A special gift from the bride and groom to their wedding party is even more thoughtful when it is kind to our planet.
33. Choose environmentally-friendly spa and self-care products.
34. Select tasty local specialties sourced from your local farmers market. South Florida’s Delray Beach Greenmarket offers everything for a fabulous destination- themed gift basket from soaps to honey to doggie treats to gourmet products – and everything in between.
Events The Give Back
Adding a charitable component to your wedding or corporate event lets guests donate to a cause that is close to your heart.
35. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events can benefit local or national non-profits with activities such as silent auctions, in-kind or matching donations, bridal money dances or money trees and other ways to benefit your designate charity.
Sustainable Event Management
However you decide to celebrate your special event, the extra time and effort required to design a sustainable event makes Mother Earth a better place for all of us. Sustainable Event Managers can guide you in making eco-friendly green choices that make a difference and have a long-lasting impact. The benefits of sustainable practices that minimize your environmental footprint are very doable for your wedding or special occasion.