How to plan a plastic-free wedding

Etiquette & Traditions >

Weddings are all about going over the top with food, fun and family. It is, after all, a celebration. Unfortunately, all that excess means plenty of waste – especially single-use plastics.

This kind of waste can be a real damper on what’s meant to be the happiest day of your life. That’s why many couples today are looking for ways to rid their wedding of plastic.

“Couples today are more interested in having plastic-free weddings because more couples are living more conscious lifestyles knowing that their choices affect their communities,” says Praise Santos, founder of Ethical Weddings, an online resource for sustainable wedding planning.

The recent rise in popularity of plastic-free weddings has also been driven by celebrities like Princess Eugenie, who made headlines last October with her decision to eliminate plastic from her royal nuptials.

Of course, wedding planning is already stressful enough without adding this extra challenge. So why should couples consider keeping their event free from plastic? Santos says one big reason is currently drifting in the Pacific and is twice the size of Texas.

“Right now, there is a patch of garbage floating in the ocean that is 60,000 square miles,” she says. “Weddings are short events that produce heaps of waste, much of which is plastic.”

Luckily, there are some easy steps couples can take to minimize their contribution to the plastic problem. Here are a few ways to get started, according to Santos.

1. Work with a sustainable wedding planner.

Start your wedding planning off on the right foot by hiring a local planner who specializes in environmentally ethical events. A professional planner will have better knowledge of eco-friendly resources and limitations in your area, which can ultimately save you time, stress and money.

2. Choose sustainable vendors.

Your vendors, too, can make a big difference in reducing the use of single-use plastic. To find ethical and sustainable vendors, Santos recommends using a directory from Plan with a Purpose (

Also, ask potential vendors the following questions about their practices:

• How and where are your products produced?

• Does your company or venue recycle?

• What happens to items after the event? Are they recycled, reused or composted?

3. Bring reusable garment bags.

Remind everyone in your wedding party to bring their garment bags when picking up their dresses and suits. That way, they don’t have to use plastic covers to keep their clothes pristine.

4. Use non-plastic dinnerware.

The reception is arguably the biggest culprit when it comes to plastic use. While it may be slightly more expensive, it’s better for the environment to rent items that are washable, such as glassware, aluminum straws, metal flatware, cloth napkins and reusable plates.

“There’s even an idea to reduce paper waste and water by having customized glasses for your guests that they use throughout the evening and also serves as their seating assignment,” adds Santos.

5. Discuss deliveries.

With rentals, though, comes plenty of packaging. Rather than having deliveries arrive wrapped in plastic, Santos recommends asking vendors about alternatives like cloth or blankets.

6. Donate your wedding gifts.

Rather than registering for traditional wedding gifts, ask guests to instead donate to an organization that plants trees or restores the wetlands. Plus, this is a great way to help offset carbon emissions from other wedding-related items, like travel or food.

7. Educate your guests.

Extend the impact of your wedding beyond the day itself. Use your “wedding as a platform to educate your guests about how it’s possible to reduce plastic in their daily lives,” says Santos.

Tags: Brides365, wedding, eco-friendly, going green