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Going Natural: How To Plan Eco-friendly and Sustainable Weddings

By Rebeccca Padgett


Wedding trends come and go with the seasons, but one that has sustainable staying power is going green. No, we don’t mean the color. While the popularity of eco-friendly weddings on a large scale has increased only within the past few years, we can credit this to eco-conscious couples that have influenced even more eco-friendly companies to cater to weddings. Society is becoming more sustainable than ever, making going natural evergreen.

With eco-friendly weddings becoming all the more relevant, and rightly so, it’s beneficial to know what attributes make a product or service sustainable. Jim Davis is the director of Sustainable Tallahassee, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and educating on environmental, economic and social sustainability, and he provides some insight.

“It may look pretty, but you have to question what it is doing to your environment,” said Davis. “Can it be recycled? Is it from a recycled product? Could this be harmful to my environment?”

Davis pointed to products that are nontoxic, environmentally beneficial, sustainably sourced or grown and often composed from recycled or organic materials. That includes reusing products instead of continuously buying more.

When talking with vendors or shopping for products, remember these keywords: organic, recycled, reconditioned, nontoxic, upcycled, environmentally conscious and natural.

Photo by Casey Grennan Photography

Each year, Sustainable Tallahassee hosts the Recycled Wedding Market, in which previously used decor, linens, dishware, dresses and more are sold to engaged couples to be recycled and reused in a new wedding, in a new way. It is likely your community does something similar and there are many online resources that sell used wedding items.

The goal is not to add to landfills. You can rent or borrow linens, glasses, plates and silverware. There are many brands that carry compostable serving ware options made of birch wood or bamboo, two fast-growing, adaptable trees.

The best way to determine if your vendor is eco-friendly is to ask questions. For catering and bartending services, inquire if they will recycle any container, boxes or glass bottles that are used. Food is another resource that often goes to waste. The caterer might already have a location they donate leftover food to, but if not, you can research local charitable locations that will accept leftovers. Have a plan in place of a family member or friend that will take the food to the location after the wedding.

Putting compost and recycling baskets near food and drink stations is a great and easy way to ensure nothing goes to waste. Many counties loan recycling receptacles for free, all you have to do is pick them up.

You can also donate your remaining flowers to hospitals or hospice houses to ensure days are brightened twice. Ask your florist if locally sourced flowers are an option as nationally and internationally shipped flowers negatively impact the environment .

Tallahassee bride Katie Britt — soon-to-be Britt-Williams — is using native North Florida wildflowers from Azalea Hill Farm. Britt holds a masters degree in natural resources and will be expanding her love of this earth into her wedding by using all local and sustainable vendors.

Photo by Casey Grennan Photography

“Big events just create so much waste, and I knew I wanted a big wedding with a lot of people, which tend to have an even worse carbon footprint,” said Britt. “I knew that I would not and could not be a part of having such a negative impact on the earth for such a joyous event.”

Britt is not alone. Many millennials are adopting this thinking in their everyday life, and their wedding is no exception.

“Young people are in tune with the sustainable movement because they’ve grown up with recycling and environmentally friendly lives that are carrying over into their weddings,” said Jodi Wilkof, a representative with the Recycled Weddings Market. “It has been the perception that going green is more expensive, but with such an increased interest, it has become cheaper to do.”

With increased awareness by couples and vendors, going green is accessible, approachable and achievable. Weddings are meant for creating not wasting. Consider ways to make your wedding go green — as a promise of sustaining love for each other and this planet.

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