Ten Top Tips for a sustainable wedding

Weddings are wonderful, full of joy, full of love, full of waste! With a typical wedding creating 1/3 metric tonne of solid waste and 14.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, it’s time we started celebrating nuptials in a more planet positive way.


Here’s my top 10 tips for a more sustainable wedding in 2021


  1. Send digital invites rather than physical ones. If you do opt for printed invites choose recycled paper and avoid non-recyclable embellishments like jewels, glitter, plastic tape.
  2. The most sustainable wedding dress is pre-loved and with plenty of specialist pre-loved weddings shops to choose from it’s easier than ever. If you do want new, aim to buy from a brand that is fairwear accredited or manufactures in Europe.
  3. In order to avoid diamonds mined under violence seek out conflict-free or, better still, vintage or synthetic diamonds when buying gems. Also make sure your gold or platinum is fairtrade or fairmined or recycled.
  4. The Reception can be a huge source of waste but a few simple questions to the venue or caterer can help reduce it. Ask them, to use reusable napkins, tablecloths and avoid single-use items, to use compostable versions where reusables aren’t possible, to minimise food waste, to give food waste to a local charity, to compost any organic waste left over.
  5. Asking for local seasonal food at your wedding reception is a fantastic way to boost sustainability. Not only will it have lower air miles, it’ll be more nutritious and you’ll be supporting local businesses to boot.
  6. Ask your hotel / caterer to serve draft beer etc and wine by the glass or 750ml bottle. This will generate far less glass waste than serving individual bottles of beer, wine, cider etc. It might also be possible to serve soft drinks and mixers by way of a soda gun instead of bottles, which would cut down waste even more.
  7. When it comes to decorations it’s far better to borrow or buy pre-loved than new. These are widely available on buy-and-sell websites, or in dedicated Facebook groups. If you do want to make some of your own decorations aim to use locally sourced reusable, recyclable or compostable materials and avoid using glitter, and other plastic, to decorate.
  8. Avoid balloons. They’re single-use plastic so very wasteful, and whatever you do don’t have a balloon or lantern release. Both of these are deadly to animals.
  9. Buy Irish grown flowers. Not only are they typically grown with less chemicals and transported with less plastic, they definitely have less air miles than imports.
  10. If you can’t bring yourself to ditch favours completely then go with something plastic-free or ethical like native wildflower seeds, or organic flower bulbs, or fair trade vegan chocolate, or locally made soap, or organic Irish-grown lavender filled pillows, or reusable make-up pads or vegan or beeswax lip balm, or samples of organic Irish whiskey.

For lots more tips visit my website livinglightlyinireland.com, and have a fabulous celebration knowing that your starting your new life off on the right foot.


Photo credits Alasdair Elmes, Beatriz Perez Moya

Elaine Butler

Elaine Butler runs the website Living Lightly in Ireland, a sustainable living guide with all the information needed to live a greener life; from where to shop, to what to cook. In order to maintain objectivity she doesn't do sponsored posts and the website is funded by readers.

WeddingDates Contributors
From Bands of Gold to Silverware, this couple won big!

They won big on a mild, early December day in 2022.