Since earlier in the month we devoted a lot of time to tallying up the ways to figure the carbon footprint of a wedding, today we thought we’d be more helpful and give you some alternatives to big, costly, over-the-top weddings that will help you be more kind to the planet. It’s not necessarily that less is more, it’s that a well thought-out wedding that focuses on all the truly important people, values and purpose can ultimately be more meaningful. You need to find your own comfort level between your dreams and what feels right to you, but as you’re making those decisions here are some alternatives to consider.

  1. Going to the Courthouse, and We’re Gonna Get Married

Who says a courthouse wedding can’t be romantic? We know plenty of people who got married at a courthouse and then met up with their nearest and dearest at the closest bar or restaurant to celebrate. It’s really the best of both worlds. You can still get dressed up in your favorite wedding dress for your courthouse ceremony and have your closest loved ones in the room with you. And then you can have a throw-down of a party somewhere that’s already efficiently set up to serve large groups without the excess carbon footprint. And, honestly, you’ll have great pictures.

  1. Cake and Punch Keeps it Kind

There’s nothing that says that your reception has to be a massive plated or buffet dinner with a huge open bar. Opt for a cake and punch reception or a dessert only reception. You’ll cut down on the food prep and leftover food waste and your guests will still get to eat sweet, sweet treats.  Plus, you’ll be more budget friendly.

  1. LiveStream the Wedding Itself

If the issue is that you want to share your special moment with your loved ones and nearest and dearest but you don’t want to invest in the waste of a huge event or reception, then technology is your friend. For a reasonable amount, you can livestream your wedding from just about anywhere on the planet and others can tune in and share the day or moment with you while drinking a champagne toast in the comfort of their own living room. And before you say it, it’s not the same as just having a video of the ceremony because the people you’re sharing it with get to see your event in real time.

  1. Eco-Travel Destination Weddings

We concede that in many ways eco-travel isn’t entirely eco-friendly. But destination weddings when the destination is somewhere that’s known for being eco-friendly can reduce the overall carbon footprint of your event. Not only will the event itself be earth-conscious, but typically the guest list will be small. Small guest list means small carbon footprint. Yes, there would be some calculation to do to determine if the carbon footprint of the travel itself is really more or less than having a local event with a big guest list, but we suspect that in most cases you’ll find the destination wedding more planet-friendly (unless you are heading to a big, commercial resort).

  1. Very Intimate Guest Lists

Speaking of small guest lists, controlling your guest list is one of the best ways to control your carbon footprint (not to mention your budget). The fewer guests you have, the less “stuff”, travel miles and food waste you’ll generate. Remember that it’s not about having the most people there, it’s about having the most important people there. That may not include your mother’s friends from high school that you’ve never met or your fifth cousin twice removed. Take a look at your guest list and contemplate whether it really supports your values for your big day.

  1. Elope. It’s Fun and Eco-Friendly

Do it! And preferably do it to some place that cares about keeping it green. But no matter what you do, the most eco-friendly part of this is that there’s no huge event wrapped around it. Yes, you are absorbing travel miles, but you’re getting to see someplace amazing and you’re significantly decreasing the overall carbon footprint (and the headache).

  1. Skip the Gifts. Make Sure It’s Known

Go and ask some people who recently got married how many of their wedding gifts they use regularly (or at all) and chances are good they’ll admit that most of them are packed away somewhere and that many of the off-registry ones went the way of goodwill. But there was a ton of carbon footprint associated with those gifts. It’s not just the “stuff” itself, it’s also the wrapping and in many cases the shipping packages (four boxes for one item!) that add up. Skip the gifts if you don’t need them, and then make sure that your guest list knows that you really, really don’t want gifts.

  1. Does Your State Self-Unite?

There are a few states out there (Pennsylvania comes to mind) where you can self-unite in marriage. Basically this means that you sign your marriage certificate yourself and then have two witnesses sign it and, bam, you’re finished. Then you can get everybody together for dinner or an outing without the big fuss and “stuff” fest. You can even turn it into a bigger event by signing your self-uniting form at your event. Easy, no fuss, great for the planet and also perfect if you’re not excited about the massive headache of wedding planning.

  1. Just The Two of You … and a Wedding Announcement

When it comes down to it, the only people who need to be at a wedding are the two of you. Keep it simple. Take yourselves to a beautiful dinner afterwards. Snuggle up in bed to celebrate (or do more than snuggle). Then send out a wedding announcement. You’ll bypass waste and stress.

  1. Throw the Big Party – Just Make Wise Decisions

You can still throw the big party. After all, the most important thing is that the day feels special to you. But if you want to make sure that you’re at least thinking about what will be good for the planet, then make wise, thoughtful decisions as you plan regarding where you are, and aren’t, willing to generate waste. You might be surprised how a few small changes can really impact how earth-friendly or not your overall event is.

Did we miss an eco-friendly alternative to a traditional wedding that you want to share with us? If so, just tell us about it on one of the social media channels below.

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