Ten ways for an eco-friendly wedding

For many people, a wedding is one of their most magical and unforgettable moments. The marriage vows deserve to be celebrated just how you want them to be. Yet, gathering many guests, decorations, and food is not only an organisational challenge but also - let's not be afraid to say it - a high environmental cost. You should know there are alternatives to reduce your carbon footprint and organise a glamorous but sustainable, eco-friendly wedding. All the best to the bride and groom, and bless to planet's health!

4 min read


Ksenia Pisera

Journalist, popularizer of knowledge about environmental and climate protection

If, for example, your chosen significant other is a prince or princess and you are planning a royal wedding, the emissions from the ceremony could amount to more than 6750 tonnes of CO2. Indeed, that was the carbon footprint of Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding.

Whether in front of the altar or on the beach, in a white dress or a colourful sari, with all guests together or separate, the wedding ceremony marks the new beginning for the bride and groom. Ideally, the ceremony should be planned according to your true self. If climate and environmental concerns are close to the bride and groom’s hearts, it is worth sticking to them! It’s an excellent opportunity to share your knowledge and commitment with your loved ones, to be an inspiration and above all, to be proactive. An eco-friendly wedding is a way to match the joy of the marriage with the satisfaction of doing something good for the planet.

The carbon footprint of weddings

There is no denying that a wedding and reception can be a massive contributor to waste and carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Estimates show that 14.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted from one typical wedding in the UK. In the USA, we are talking about as much as 56.15 tonnes of CO2 emissions per event.

For comparison, the annual carbon footprint of a Brit is 5.4 tonnes of CO2, and for a US citizen, it is about 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.

Of course, these are only averages. The details depend on the scale. If, for example, your chosen significant other is a prince or princess and you are planning a royal wedding, the emissions from the ceremony could amount to more than 6750 tonnes of CO2. Indeed, that was the carbon footprint of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding.

Royal weddings do not happen daily, but all the other ceremonies add up to big numbers. In the UK, around 279,000 marriages take place each year. In the US, however, up to 2.5 million wedding ceremonies are expected to take place this year!

An eco-friendly wedding – numerous possibilities

According to Buckingham Palace officials, the royal couple cared to reduce the environmental costs of the ceremony. Even if you don’t plan to build your media stands out of certified wood, there are plenty of feasible ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly.

  1. Something borrowed or something old

    A wedding dress, a suit or jewellery – by planning well in advance, you can find “the one” second-hand. In this way, you significantly reduce the emissions and waste involved in producing new clothes or valuables. Renting your wedding clothes or jewellery is also a way to save money. After all, how many times can you wear the same wedding dress?

    Interestingly, it was Prince William who decided to do something like this, giving his bride the engagement ring of his mother, Princess Diana.

    It would be best if you also thought about rings melted down from gold you no longer wear. A necklace from your grandmother? A pendant from your aunt? On the one hand, this reduces the emissions and environmental costs associated with gold mining. On the other hand, you create a wonderful family remembrance!

  2. Close to home

    When you live by the sea, it is often the case that you miss the mountains. And vice versa. Weddings in villages, barns and inns are also trendy. However, it is much simpler (and environmentally friendly) to hold your wedding ceremony close to home. This reduces many of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transport.

    When choosing a wedding venue, consider a venue that supports the environment. There are many ways for wedding halls to do this, from waste reduction and sustainable energy use to recycling. So it’s worth asking the hosts of your chosen venue if they care about the environment. That way, you can choose (and financially support) those who really do.

  3. Recycled stationery

    Recycling 1 tonne of paper saves 17 trees and 26,500 litres of water! Using recycled paper is in line with boho and rustic style, but, at the same time, it is very environmentally friendly.

    Invitations made from crushed paper are also impressive. This type of paper is produced from the production residue of coffee, citrus, kiwi, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, cherry stones and grapes. Often, 100% renewable energy is used exclusively to produce this type of paper. This reduces CO2 emissions by around 20%.

  4. Collective transport

    Transport is usually the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. So if you are already in the middle of writing out your wedding invitations, you can encourage your guests to travel together by car or choose public transport. In this way, you can save many tonnes of CO2 emissions!

    Arranging collective transport from one location would also be a solution that guests appreciate. Greenhouse gas emissions from one bus are significantly lower than from a dozen cars!

  5. Local suppliers

    Using local suppliers’ services helps reduce transport emissions and supports local businesses. After all, local products have a much shorter travel route to your wedding, and you can be more confident that the food is suitable for consumption, as it does not have to ripen in transport.

    Choosing local suppliers also means you can check them out better. You can find out what standards of cultivation or breeding they adhere to. This way, you can make a conscious choice about who you entrust with your special day.

  6. Prolong the life of flowers

    Celebration venues, cars, halls and other wedding spaces are usually filled with flowers. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of flowers, are used to decorate a single event. It is, therefore, worth ensuring that they can be made to last as long as possible.

    Unless you plan to take flowers with you or give them to your guests, it is worth looking for an NGO. Some NGOs collect such flowers to make the day more pleasant for their guests in hospices, hospitals or care facilities. It may also be that the flowers go to a farm where animals munch them. This, of course, depends on the plant species.

    However, the easiest way to do this will be to talk to the venue hosts. The floral decorations that have been prepared might be used for the next one or more celebrations held at the venue. By choosing this solution, you can also save money.

  7. Colourful menu

    An increasing number of people worldwide are switching to a plant-based diet permanently, so there’s a good chance that this will be the norm for your guests. For others, introducing vegetarian or vegan options to the menu offers variety and an invitation to try something new.

    Any plant-based meal chosen instead of one with meat helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the wedding. The most ‘carbon-intensive’ type of food is ruminant meat (cows and sheep). The production of one kilogram of vegetables emits 0.4 kg of CO2, 1 kg of fish or chicken meat is about 3.5 kg of CO2, and 1 kg of boneless beef generates at least 26 kg of CO2. With a good cook, no one will be short of anything!

  8. Eco gifts for guests

    A fridge magnet with the newlyweds’ photo or a yo-yo can be adorable and fun gifts. But they can also quickly end up in a drawer or the bin. Think about eco-friendly wedding gifts for your guests. For example, some sweets or tea bags work great and can be used with pleasure.

  9. Seeds instead of doves or confetti

    It used to be very fashionable to let out white doves at the end of a wedding ceremony. It still has many supporters today. However, you should remember that these animals are kept in captivity, often in unfriendly conditions. Doves involved in such ceremonies often have their wings clipped so that they do not fly too far away. They quickly settle to the ground and are then caught and placed back in cages. Not very wedding-like, is it?

    The lower the interest in live decorations, the lower the supply. Choosing seeds to sprinkle on the newlyweds is an alternative that is sure to please the birds. The seeds left over after the ceremony will be a tasty snack for birds and rodents that live in cities. Indeed, it is a better idea than raw rice or plastic confetti.

  10. Calculate carbon footprint and offset emissions

    Once you’ve lowered your wedding’s carbon footprint, you can still do more. Zero out the emissions completely! This will make your celebration entirely environmentally neutral.

    Use the TerGo event carbon footprint calculator for this. This is a tool that allows you to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of your event accurately. It will tell you how many emissions remain to be offset.

Offsetting is a mechanism that offsets all or a part of CO2 emissions by paying the equivalent of emissions reduced in another part of the world. This is made possible by carbon credits, which are generated from the activities of offsetting projects, i.e. projects that absorb more CO2 than is emitted. One such project is our agroforestry project in Belize. Hence, you can quickly and transparently offset your emissions from your wedding with TerGo.

Wishing a long and happy life to the newlyweds!

Embarking on a new life journey is an excellent time to reflect on the condition of our planet. It’s where our future lies. If you are looking for practical tips on being more environmentally friendly daily, read the TerGo blog. Join the community of people who are changing the world for the better!