I never wanted a wedding. If I’m being honest, I never wanted to get married. I thought it was an out-dated institution and people were doing it for all the wrong reasons. Especially after meeting my now husband, who had gotten a divorce already, it just didn’t add up to me. And weddings just seemed like one big circus to distract everyone from the fact that they were only getting married because they felt pressured to by society.
Now, I still feel this way sometimes. I can’t say everyone should get married. I believe relationships are individual microcosms that two people exist within and its up to them to build a life around them the way they see fit. I only changed my tune because I met a man who made marriage make sense, for me. Being with my husband (God, I love saying that word!), I understand the whole concept of throwing the big party and celebrating our lifetime commitment. The rings on our fingers, the official contract…it all makes sense to me now. He made the idea of marriage fit into my brand of happy.
But, I digress. This blog is less about my stance of marriage and society and the role love plays in all of that. I can save those insights for a different post. This blog is meant to share with you how I tried to have a sustainable and waste-free wedding.
Once I signed up for the circus and decided I was going to do this whole wedding thing, my first thought was how wasteful weddings can be. So much trash. It made me sick to think about. Printed menus, individual place cards, fresh flowers that get tossed right after (and cost an arm and a leg, I found out!). I was determined my wedding would not be like that.
One of the first places I started was with food. I scoured the community for vendors who provide sustainable, farm-to-table, preferably vegetarian catering. My husband and I were both already pescetarian (vegetarians who eat fish) when we met each other. We each stopped eating meat around the same time, about seven years ago. I mostly stopped because I’m overly sensitive about animals. He stopped more for environmental reasons. The meat industry is incredibly wasteful and unsustainable, along with being awful and cruel and inhumane and disgusting. But, again, I digress.
So, we were hoping to serve food that lined up with our values. And, although I did find some great options, they weren’t big enough yet to serve such a large event. But the caterer we did end up hiring was happy to oblige us! Our menu was entirely pescetarian, with all of the fish being fresh and locally source. He even got us craft local beer to replace the original bar menu of Budweiser and Miller Lite (ick!).
I asked our caterer if we could donate the excess food from the end of the night to a food shelter, but there is a law that prohibits companies from doing that ☹️
I did, however, hire our favorite local vegan restaurant to cater our happy hour the night before the wedding and they were a hit! And, might I add…not only are they vegan, but also gluten-free and refined sugar free! We go there so often (since they’re one of the only vegan places near us #sad) so we have been lucky enough to become friends with the owners. Sure, their food is out-of-this-world good, but Annie and Shane are angels on earth. We’re obsessed!
Once I figured out the food, I moved on to decor. I was dead-set on keeping that ceremony and reception as waste-free as possible. The biggest thing to me was flowers. I could not wrap my mind around the idea of paying all of this money for fresh flowers that will just die and get thrown out afterwards. It seemed so wasteful and uncessary. Albeit, fresh flowers are beautiful and there are so many local shops I spoke to who do amazing work! It just didn’t sit well with me, for my wedding. So I started looking into alternatives. After lots of researching and even more ideas, I came to this conclusion. Like I said in my previous post, I made all of our centerpieces by hand from local thrift finds and succulents. It was way cheap and pretty simple. I’m not a very crafty person, so I’m still in shock about how beautiful they came out. And, they served two purposes! Along with being centerpieces, they were also our favors for the guests. Everyone was able to take one home. They’re super easy to keep alive and now all of our friends and family have a little reminder of our special day in their home.
Along with making the centerpieces for succulents, I also bought dried flowers for our bouquets and boutineers. Probably one of the best decisions I made throughout this entire planning process. First of all, I bought them from an amazing Etsy shop owner who makes incredible arrangements (#supportsmallbiz). Secondly, they looked freaking fantastic (and smelled even better!). And, finally, I get to keep them forever! Forever, people. I have my bouquet sitting on top of our piano and my MOHs bouquets and the boys’ boutineers arranged in a small vase by the front door. I smile every time I see them.
My final obstacle was paper waste. I can’t help but go to weddings and think, “I hope they’re recycling all of this damn paper”. From the invitations, to the menus at each place setting. Programs on each seat, individual table seating cards, wrapping individual favors…the list goes on. I couldn’t stomach it. So, here is what I did to save paper at our wedding.
Although I sent out save-the-date post cards (my rationale was it’s something people can keep on their fridge, next to their calendar, to plan their travels accordingly…and it worked!), our actual wedding invitations were via email. I used the website Greenvelope.com, and it was perfect. More people are confused about email technology than I would have guessed, but for the most part it was seamless. Not only was it a paperless option, but they also provide a system to track who has opened their invite, who has responded, how many guests will be there. Super convenient!
For our seating chart, I bought a large, empty frame from a thrift store for $5 and wrapped some jute twine around it. I printed out a 5×7 card for each table and clipped the cards to the twin with tiny clothes pin. All of the cards came home with me and went right into the recycling bin. I also made sure to buy recycled printer paper.
I printed out one menu for each food station, instructions for the photobooth guestbook, a sign with our hashtag and a sign that said “finders kippahs” next to the yarmulkes for the men to wear (I couldn’t help myself lol). Again, all of those signs were designed by me on Canva.com, printed on recycled paper and came home with me to be recycled.
Thrifting & DIY
I spoke about this a bit in my previous blog, but thrifting and making my own decor was a huge component in keeping our wedding sustainable. Re-using decor I found at thrift stores, making my own from pieces I already had and designing my own signs and invitations online…it all helped us keep our footprint small. One of my favorite pieces was our bride + groom statue on our table. It was the one my parents had on their wedding cake. It now lives on top of our piano, next to a vase of my wedding flowers and copies of our vows.
Bonus: Plus, along with using decor/photos from around the house, I kept almost everything I made and can use them as decoration now. Such a fun reminder of our big day!