Certainly one of the most fun and creative parts of wedding planning is choosing the decor. After all, the decorations you select help show off who you are as a couple. Whether you’re looking to create a boho-chic vibe, compliment an elegant, traditional aesthetic, or something in between, you’ll be relying on decorative details to help your vision come to life.
Unfortunately, wedding decorations often end up in the trash, helping to contribute to the 400lbs of waste that the average wedding produces. Rather than spending your time, energy, and budget on decorations that you’ll only use once and throw away, we’ve selected our top 15 tips to help you select eco-friendly wedding decor!
Note: Finding eco-friendly wedding decor can seem overwhelming, especially with so many other decisions you’ll have to make! You don’t have to do everything on this list to have a more sustainable event. Choosing the tips that work best for you is a great step in creating a more sustainable world, and every eco-friendly decision you make, no matter how small, helps!
1. Choose a beautiful venue
What is the easiest way to cut down on waste related to wedding decor? Reducing the amount of decorations you’ll need! A simple way to eliminate the need for lots of decorative items is to select a venue that is beautiful on its own. Whether this is an outdoor venue with stunning views, a historic hall with lots of character, or a modern location with amazing architecture, venues with a strong visual appeal on their own will require fewer decorations to set the tone. For more tips on selecting an eco-friendly venue, check out this post!
2. Consider going minimal
We’ve all heard the expression “less is more” and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to wedding decorations…at least when it comes to your budget and our planet! By choosing to include fewer decorations on your special day you’ll save money and time (especially if you plan on incorporating DIY projects!). Fewer decorations also means less potential waste after you’ve tied the knot, which is definitely a win when it comes to our environment. Minimalism doesn’t have to be sparse or boring-oftentimes it can look incredibly tasteful and elegant. That being said, if minimalism isn’t to your taste, we’ve got so many other ideas to make your decor as eco-friendly as possible!
3. Rent your decor
Another great way to choose eco-friendly wedding decor is to rent as many of your decorations as possible. Thanks to the internet, it is easier now than ever to find wedding rentals that match your theme, taste, and style. You can find everything from basics like linens and chairs to decorative arches and centerpieces. For bonus points, try working with local rental companies as close to your venue as possible to cut down on transportation emissions!
4. Shop secondhand and sell your decor after
A budget-friendly and eco-friendly wedding decor tip we love is shopping for decor secondhand. Resources like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and even your local thrift store are a great place to get started, although there are a few wedding-specific resale sites worth checking out! Read this post to discover all the best places to search for the perfect secondhand decor options for your special day. Your wallet will thank you and our planet will too.
Bonus tip: After your wedding, sell your beautiful decor so another bride can use it to celebrate. It’s always nice to keep items in circulation, and get a little return on your investment while you’re at it!
5. Incorporate decorative items you already own (or would like to)
Have any items you already own that you think would make a great centerpiece? Don’t be afraid to look around your space and see what items you already have that could be used to decorate your venue. You can also consider if there are any decorations you’d love to add to your home after your wedding. Chances are that your wedding style is similar to your home decor style, so you might be able to repurpose some items. Mason jars make excellent food storage containers, coordinating vases scattered throughout your venue may work perfectly in your home, picture frames on tables could become an amazing gallery wall. Not only is this a great way to prevent waste and save money, but you’ll have lovely reminders of your wedding day sprinkled throughout your home.
6. Let your decorations work overtime
Can any of your decorations be multi-functional? If your ceremony and venue are being held in different locations, what items can be brought from one location and used to decorate the other? Can any decor be repurposed from your bridal shower? What about your rehearsal dinner? Having decorations that are multi-functional saves time, money, and resources.
7. Use eco-friendly materials when decorating
When purchasing new items for your wedding decor, consider which materials are the most eco-friendly. Swap plastic for glass, polyester materials for organic cotton or linen, and opt for natural solutions as much as possible. Ditch balloons and other single-use items that are harmful for our planet and don’t biodegrade.
8. Say no to plastic items and packaging
Do your best to avoid plastic when it comes to your wedding decor. This not only means avoiding plastic items themselves, but also avoiding items that come packaged in plastic. Before purchasing decor items, do your best to research what packaging the items will arrive in. If purchasing items off of Etsy or a similar website, try finding sellers who advertise eco-friendly packaging!
9. Select eco-friendly paper and ink for place cards, menus, or printed signs
We’ve written a whole article about choosing eco-friendly wedding invitations, but why stop there? Keep the trend going by choosing a sustainable option for all of your wedding day’s paper needs. We love plantable seed paper, vegetable dyes, and 100% post-consumer paper.
10. Choose soy or beeswax candles
If you’re planning on using candles as decorative items or lighting, be sure to choose eco-friendly options. While paraffin candles are usually the cheapest option, they are not very clean-burning and contain carcinogens. Instead, opt for a more natural candle made of soy or beeswax, and avoid unnatural dyes and fragrances. If you can, try sourcing your candles from a small, local, eco-friendly candle maker-you’ll support a local artisan and avoid shipping costs and waste.
11. Make your floral decor as sustainable as possible…
Flowers are often an integral part of wedding decorations, making up centerpieces, backdrops, and providing decorative touches throughout the venue. That being said, not all flowers are sustainable. Some quick tips for making your floral decor more sustainable are selecting local, in-season blooms and working with a florist that does not use floral foam. For more tips when it comes to choosing eco-friendly wedding flowers, click here, or consider these wedding flower alternatives.
12. …or decorate with potted plants
If there aren’t many seasonal, local flowers available to you, potted plants can make excellent centerpieces and wedding favors! The best part about potted plants is that they will live long after your wedding day, and guests typically love bringing a plant friend home!
13. Source eco-friendly confetti
If you plan on using confetti during your wedding day, skip the rice in favor of an eco-friendly alternative. Rice isn’t meant to be eaten by birds, so consider an alternative like dried flowers, birdseed, or biodegradable confetti. The local birds and creatures will remain happy and healthy, and you’ll still be able to enjoy a picture-perfect exit.
14. Don’t forget the wedding favors
Remember to make sure that your wedding favors are eco-friendly too! If you can, try using some of your decor as wedding favors. Take home centerpieces, potted plants, or other wedding details make excellent favors. You can also consider purchasing fancy glasses to give away, or go a more natural route and give out seed packets for guests to plant. Perhaps consider working with a local artisan to provide eco-friendly natural candles, soaps, or other favors your guests will be sure to use.
Follow us on Instagram @petalsforhope for more eco-friendly wedding tips!
After your wedding, be sure to give your decorative flowers a second life by donating them to Petals for Hope. At our nationwide nonprofit, we keep your flowers out of a landfill and instead redistribute them to nursing homes, homeless shelters, schools, hospitals, and more! After your special day, we’ll collect your flowers to recut, rearrange, and repurpose them before delivering them to those in need. Your beautiful decorations won’t go to waste, and will bring joy others in your community as well as your guests.
Here at Petals for Hope, we are passionate about reducing waste from weddings and events and helping our communities. To learn more about how our nonprofit can help you recycle your wedding flowers and distribute them to those in need, click here!
For more great tips on planning an eco-friendly wedding, check out these posts: