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Creating an eco-friendly wedding doesn’t have to mean giving up the traditions and grandeur that help make weddings memorable. The most sustainable weddings are the ones without excess, but sustainable counterparts exist for almost any aspect of a traditional wedding you could dream of.

Go Vintage

Reusing is a very eco-friendly concept and it’s often seen in weddings, even those without a focus on sustainability, in the form of vintage accessories and décor. Take reuse to the next level with vintage jewelry, including your engagement ring and wedding bands, a secondhand wedding dress and outfits your wedding party already own or will wear again. Eclectic décor from reuse shops and other weddings can be curated in a way that looks intentional. Think glassware, books, and dramatic candlesticks, which make an impact without additional details and can all be used again (or double as favors).

Stay Local

The closer your food, flowers and décor are to your venue, the less fuel they require to get there. Work with your vendors to choose in-season produce and florals that are found in your region.

There are other ways to make sure your wedding benefits your local community. Find a nonprofit venue that uses fees to maintain a park or preserve. Ask your guests to stay in locally-owned hotels (and provide a single shuttle to your venue to cut down on emissions). Build a registry filled with locally-made goods.

Limit Paper and Plastic

Forego save-the-dates and send a slimmed-down invitation to reduce the amount of paper and fuel your wedding requires. Use recycled paper for the initiations and thank you notes you do send. All the extra details that would weigh down your invitation suite can go on your wedding website, including a spot to RSVP.

Plastic is another material that can affect the sustainability of your wedding. Ask your venue or caterer to serve drinks in glasses, rather than plastic bottles or cups. Make sure the beer, wine and liquor bottles (or cans) your guests use are recycled.

Choose a favor that your guests will use and make sure it’s not wrapped in plastic. Instead of do-dads or tchotchkes, donate to a charity in your guests’ names or offer edible treats for the next morning.

Donate Excess

Eco-friendly weddings don’t just limit their initial impact. They also make sure any excess is put to good use. Compost food scraps. Ask your caterer to box up leftovers and arrange for a guest or volunteer to take them to a local homeless shelter. You can also make sure flower arrangements are shared with an organization that will appreciate them, whether it’s a nursing home, hospital or cemetery.

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