10 Helpful Planning Tips for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Planning a wedding is a thrilling and joyous experience, but it can also be quite overwhelming, both for the couple and for the environment. Traditional weddings often generate a significant amount of waste and have a sizable carbon footprint, which can be tricky to navigate if you value being eco-conscious. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Having eco-friendly wedding is a fantastic way to celebrate your love while minimizing your impact on the planet.

In this blog post, we’ll share ten helpful planning tips to make your wedding day more sustainable, from choosing eco-friendly vendors to reducing waste and embracing nature. Here at The Gardens, being eco-conscious is very important to us. Scroll to the bottom to find out how we ensure that our venue is as green as can be!


Start with Invitations

First thing’s first – invitations! Your invitations to your guests – both save-the-dates and formal invitations – set the tone for your event. So, begin your eco-friendly wedding journey by selecting sustainable wedding invitations. Consider opting for digital invitations, or creating a wedding website where guests can see your invitation and RSVP all in one place. If you’re set on printed invitations, choose ones made with recycled paper and that have minimal or no foil/plastic coatings. You can even buy invitations that are embedded with seeds, so your guests can plant them after receiving them! This small change can significantly reduce paper waste and energy consumption.

When ordering your save the date cards & wedding invitations, consider using recycled or compostable paper……better yet, go 100% digital with a wedding webpage that offers an RSVP option. Photo Credit: Kelsey Bellows Photography


Choose an Eco-Conscious Venue

Selecting a mindful venue can have a big impact on the sustainability of your wedding. Look for venues that promote green practices, such as solar or wind-powered facilities, natural landscapes and native plants, or LED-certified buildings. Outdoor weddings in natural settings can also minimize the need for additional décor and lighting!

With acres of natural environment, Mother Nature is the chief decorator at The Gardens of Castle Rock.  This couple is surrounded by the Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) a Minnesota native plant. Photo Credit: Rachel Lahlum Photography


At night The Gardens turns into the most magical place. With thousands of LED bulbs, we use only a fraction of the electricity non-LED bulbs use. Photo Credit: Shane Long Photography


With this much gorgeous natural décor, who needs anything else? Photo Credit: Nygaard Photography


Sustainable Catering and Bar Service

Find a caterer who focuses on using locally sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients, and ask about their policies and procedures to minimize food waste. Plan to have dishes, glassware, and utensils that are reusable, and consider opting for a plated or family-style dinner to further reduce single-use plastic waste. Another option is to offer a vegetarian or vegan menu option to further reduce your carbon footprint. For your bar service, find a company who works to ensure that all bottles, cans, and single-use plastic cups are properly recycled, and who does does not use plastic straws (The Gardens has a strict no plastic straws policy).


Choosing a eco-conscience caterer with a zero-waste policy, like Gastrotruck, is a terrific way to ensure your wedding day is also eco-conscience. Photo Credit: Lily & Lime


Did you know catering and bar waste is the biggest category of waste on a wedding day? Using sustainable plates, silverware & glassware with linen napkins is an excellent option to minimize waste……and class up the whole experience. Photo Credit: Jeannine Marie Photography


Eco-Friendly Décor

Opt for reusable or recyclable décor items like potted plants, candles, or fabric banners instead of disposable decorations. Consider shopping at second-hand or thrift stores for things such as glassware and candlesticks/votives, or check out wedding planning Facebook groups in your area – people frequently use them to pass along décor items after their own celebrations. Another option is décor rental – we can recommend several amazing vendors who can help bring your dream to life while also reducing waste. When looking at flowers, consider choosing a florist that works with seasonal and locally grown blooms, and then donate or compost them after the wedding.

Instead of purchasing a one-time paper aisle runner that you most likely with throw away, how about going for the boho look of rugs? Not only are they sustainable because you’ll use them again or donate them to a charity, but they just look so cool.


Guest table assignments on terracotta pots check all the boxes of being eco-friendly. The terracotta pots can be reused and the flowers are compostable. That’s smart thinking!

Wedding Attire

Consider renting your wedding attire or choosing pre-owned dresses and suits that can be passed along after your event. Alternatively, select outfits that can be worn again for other occasions, such as classic suits and cocktail dresses. If you do buy new attire, opt for designers who use sustainable and ethical practices.

Classic suits & bridesmaid dresses that can be re-worn is a thoughtful way to reduce waste on your wedding day. Don’t think you’ll ever wear that suit or dress again? Donate it to a local non-profit that accepts apparel. Photo Credit: Whitney Anderson Photography



Eco-Friendly Favors

Show your guests appreciation with eco-friendly wedding favors. Give them reusable items like bamboo utensils, cloth bags, or personalized seed packets that encourage them to embrace sustainability in their daily lives. Additionally, ensure that your favors contain only packaging that is recyclable to cut down on landfill waste.

A fun and sustainable favor for your guests….little succulents in a variety of cute little pots! Guests will remember your amazing wedding day each time they look at it on their kitchen windowsill.


Minimize Transportation Impact

Reduce transportation emissions by choosing a location that’s convenient for the majority of your guests. Encourage carpooling, provide shuttle services, or suggest using ridesharing apps for guests who need transportation. Additionally, choose a venue that allows you to have your ceremony and reception at the same location, eliminating the need for guests to travel between the ceremony site and reception venue.

Make transportation easy breezy for your guests. Arrange a shuttle to pick them up at the hotel and bring them back at the end of the night. Not only does it ensure everyone gets home safety, but you just reduced the carbon footprint. We can that a win-win!


Waste Reduction

Minimize waste by using reusable tableware and cutlery. If disposables are necessary, opt for compostable or biodegradable options and ensure they are clearly labeled recycling and composting stations to encourage guests to dispose of their waste responsibly.

While it’s not the prettiest or most exciting thing on your wedding day, The Gardens works to ensure all items dropped in the big blue recycling bin are recyclable. Photo Credit: Laura Brenden Photography


Let’s go full “Where’s Waldo” mode on this photo, except it’s the recycling bin edition. The Gardens cares about the environment, so naturally we care about recycling. If you’ve been to an event at The Gardens you can attest to seeing multiple blue recycling bins scattered throughout the venue. Photo Credit: Jamie Hiner Creations


Be Mindful With Favors for Your Wedding Party

It’s a common tradition to give the members of your wedding party one or more gifts when asking them to stand with you on your day. Let this be a reminder that less is more – one thoughtfully chosen, unique gift is a better choice than giving multiple gifts that are more generic. Additionally, when planning bachelor or bachelorette parties, be mindful when selecting decorations and outfits to ensure that all items can be reused and/or recycled.

Doing double duty! Providing a personalized Mason jar mug not only cuts down on the use of plastic cups, but for this couple, it acted as a way for guests to find their seat too. Photo Credit: Andrea Dobbs Photography


Donate and Share Leftovers

Coordinate with local food banks or shelters to donate any excess food from your wedding. Similarly, arrange for the proper recycling or donation of décor items, flowers, and other wedding elements to prevent unnecessary waste. Here at The Gardens, we will happily take your leftover flowers and greenery and add them to our onsite compost pile – just ask us for a bin!

If you are faced with leftovers, consider donating them to a local charity who provides meals (should be planned in advance of your wedding day) or talk with your caterer to find out if they allow couples to take leftovers home with them as long as they provide containers and coolers with ice to store the food in. Photo Credit: Bellagala


Eco-Friendly at The Gardens

Being good stewards to the Earth is one of the most important values that we hold here at The Gardens. It’s our goal to minimize the carbon footprint that our venue has, and we keep that in mind in our day-to-day operations. The vast majority of the lights on our property are LEDs, which both last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. When we build new structures around the venue, we use reclaimed and salvaged materials as much as possible, which not only keeps materials out of the landfill but also also helps us achieve that unique Gardens charm. We encourage the use of shuttle services, especially for events with a larger guest count. Additionally, because we host both the ceremony and reception on our property, it eliminates the need for transit between a ceremony site and reception location. We personally recycle aluminum cans, and work with local facilities to recycle glass and certain plastics. We also compost all organic waste produced on-site, from leaves to garden clippings. And as mentioned above, we’ll happily compost any leftover flowers or greenery after your event – one less thing for you to worry about! We also work hard to curate an environment that lets the beauty of nature shine, so you can celebrate your love in a genuine, authentic environment.

See all those logs in our log yard? While we do use some for firewood in The Gardens Natural Stone Fireplace, the majority is salvaged and turned into the impressive structures that make The Gardens so unique. Plus, the logs make some really terrific photo ops. Photo Credit: Jeannine Marie Photography.


Your wedding day is an opportunity to not only celebrate your love but also to make a positive impact on the environment. By keeping in mind these ten eco-friendly planning tips, you can significantly reduce your wedding’s carbon footprint and inspire your guests to adopt more sustainable practices in their own lives. Remember, every little effort counts, and an eco-friendly wedding can be just as beautiful and memorable as a traditional one, with the added bonus of knowing you’ve done your part to protect the planet.


*Photos without photo credit were taken by a Gardens Team Member.

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