Tips for Having a Low-Waste Wedding

Even though I am very single and nowhere near close to planning my future wedding, it’s still something I enjoy daydreaming about and reflecting upon. Especially since I became more interested in the low-waste movement and the vegetarian community, I’ve wanted to compile a list of ideas I’ve crafted for my own personal ceremony and reception. I hope you find this article helpful, and possibly even gather a bit of inspiration for your own wedding!

By the way, I like to use the phrase “low waste” instead of “zero waste” because I think it’s impossible to be completely, 100% zero waste in all aspects of your life. “Low waste” is a much more appropriate term to me, because it acknowledges that slow-living and low-waste lifestyles are never going to be completely perfect. Nonetheless, any effort towards sustaining the environment, small or large, is a feat that should be celebrated.  


wedding preparation
Photo by Terje Sollie on

This is actually something I wanted to do before I even got interested in low-waste because I think vintage wedding dresses are absolutely gorgeous. Considering that fashion is one of the most wasteful (and environmentally harmful) industries in the world, it was a no-brainer for me to decide I want to buy my wedding dress second hand. Not only is that more cost-effective, it also means less waste is being thrown into the environment. One of my favorite places to browse vintage wedding dresses is Etsy, but there are also physical vintage shops where you can find wedding dresses as well. In fact, I live fairly close to a warehouse full of vintage clothes, and I know from personal experience that there are TONS of gorgeous 1950s-1960s wedding dresses there. 

Image result for samantha van wie wedding


women s brown and green floral dress
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on

Sending out invitations is one of the most crucial parts of putting together your wedding, but it doesn’t have to be wasteful. One way to go paper-free is to simply send your invitations digitally, using either a graphic designer or designing them yourself using a program (such as Canva, which is free!). Alternatively, if you’re not a graphic designer and you don’t feel comfortable sending out a digital invitation, consider the possibility of sending your invitations on recycled paper. Not only does doing so benefit the environment and reduce waste, it is also very cost-effective for your wallet to opt for recycled paper instead!


pink rose flower bouquet
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You don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to have a beautiful flower arrangement for your wedding. Depending on your personal resources, you may want to consider making your own arrangements instead of going to a florist. Or, if you’d rather go to a professional for your flowers, ask if there is any way you can approach the task in a more low-waste way. For example, since many professional arrangements come with foam in them, perhaps you can ask your florist to skip the foam and plastic to cut back on waste. It would also be ideal to order flowers from a local shop, as this will boost your local economy and result in less gas emissions.


adult birthday birthday gift box
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

This tip is one of my personal favorites on the list, and it’s also possibly the easiest. When you are planning favors guests, bridesmaids, etc., consider giving gifts that promote a low-waste lifestyle. Reusable straws, cups, and bags are all thoughtful, affordable ways to show your appreciation while still sustaining the environment. Even more, these are gifts that will last years (or even a lifetime), if they are taken care of accordingly. If you’re looking for a place to get started, Etsy has tons of customizable options for cups, water bottles, bags, etc. Additionally, little plants or succulents can be a wonderful and adorable gift to give away as a wedding favor! I’ll leave links to some of my favorite shops below.


white and pink floral freestanding letter decor
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For the ultimate low-waste, minimalist wedding, make sure you pay close attention to your theme and decorations, and how you can theoretically cut back on unneeded clutter and waste. For example, why not make your own simple, minimalist flower arrangements for the table and use things you already have your house instead of going out of your way to buy more stuff? After all, you’re probably going to discard all of those decorations anyway after your big day. Another idea would be to have your guests take the flowers/vases home with them, as a memory of the wedding (and that leaves you with less cleanup, too). Not only is this going to be better for the planet, but it will also save you money on your wedding in general.


bowl of cooked food
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Because I am already a vegetarian, this tip was already a no-brainer for me. However, even if you’re normally a carnivore, you may still want to explore the benefits of having a vegetarian menu for your guests. The meat industry is shockingly wasteful and contributes to issues such as water degradation, acid rain, coral reef degeneration, and 18% of ALL human greenhouse gas emissions. Yikes! Even if it’s just a small step, like only serving plant-based dishes at your wedding, you are still taking a positive step in the direction of protecting the earth and her animals. I’ll leave some links to my favorite vegetarian dishes below that I believe would be perfect for a wedding.


top view photo of spoon on cloth
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Depending on how many guests you invite, it’s entirely possible that you will have a ton of leftover food. See how much of it you can divvy up to your guests so you don’t have to toss it out; or, if you’re feeling really fancy, find out if there’s a local business, homeless shelter or organization that you can donate your leftover food to. Not only does it cut back on waste for you, but it also has the potential to brighten up somebody else’s day with some free food!


accessory anniversary band celebration
Photo by Pixabay on

If you’re getting married, it’s probably very likely that you’re going to sign up for a gift registry. My advice would be to put as much research into the gifts/products you want as possible, to ensure that you are supporting brands with the most ethical, earth-friendly missions. For example, if you’re looking for new bedding, plates, or towels, see if your store offers an organic/fair-trade brand for that item. Of course, it’s not possible to find a low-waste option for everything, but it’s at least worth a try.

That’s going to be it for today! I hope you found this list helpful and informative. Regardless of how you choose to execute your wedding, the most important thing is that you’re marrying the love of your life. Everything else will follow in suit.

My favorite Etsy shops for wedding ideas:

Vintage Wedding Dresses

Customizable Water Bottles

Reusable Metal Straws

Monogram Bridesmaid Bags

Vegetarian Recipes for Weddings:

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

Grilled Ratatouille Kebabs

Butternut Squash Risotto 

Blackberry Wine Hand Pies