Hosting outdoor weddings, your guests will feel more connected to nature and reduce energy consumption.
Because events are inherently wasteful, stress can rocket up when considering their environmental impact. The only way to minimize that is to be conscientious, intentional and thoughtful.
The best part? They can be opportunities to show your guests the benefits of hosting and attending events that care about them AND the planet!
As you start event planning, ask yourself a few questions to ensure you start off on the right footprint. The International Association of Event Hosts says “decisions made at the early planning stages can significantly influence the types of environmental impacts that arise from the event.” So, when looking for event partners, ask yourself and potential suppliers:
• Do your values align?
• Can they help with a zero waste or low-impact event?
• Where do all the “things” come from?
Once you’re in the zone, your creativity will flourish and you’ll find many ways to reduce the event’s environmental footprint without compromising everyone’s enjoyment of the reason for gathering in the first place.
• To minimize travel, choose a one-stop facility that meets all your needs, e.g., that can accommodate the ceremony, reception, cocktails and dinner for a wedding.
• Tell venue staff you’re planning a low-impact and/or zero waste event. Find out how they can assist in your recycling and composting plans.
• If possible, host outdoors. Your guests will feel more connected to nature and you’ll reduce energy.
• Hire a caterer that aligns with your values (e.g., has composting arrangements and will donate surplus food to shelters or suggest guests bring reusable containers for leftovers).
• Emphasize a plant-based, vegetarian and/or a less-meat menu (e.g., instead of two meat or fish proteins, choose one and a plant-based dish).
• Choose local, seasonal food, beer, wine and spirits. Look for natural and organic products.
• Ask your guests about food allergies, dietary restrictions and other sensitivities.
• Send e-invites instead of paper. You can personalize them by adding pictures, music, graphics and/or video messages and send reminders.
• If you must use paper invitations, choose 100 per cent post-consumer, recycled, non-bleached paper products printed with natural inks.
• Be strict with RSVPs. Knowing the number of attendees means serving the right amount of food and helps eliminate waste.
• Provide accessibility and sustainable transportation information.
• Remind guests to avoid using products containing fragrance, in consideration of attendees with scent sensitivities and because those additives are often bad for the planet.
• Rent as much as you can. Glassware, plates, cutlery, serving platters, utensils, linens, décor. Rental companies have the ultimate supply of reusables!
• Bonus: rental companies do the cleaning. They can do large batches of dishes in short periods of time, which minimizes the amount of water and cleaning products.
Décor and flowers
• Choose natural decorations. Seasonal and abundant plants and flowers are a beautiful addition to tables and centrepieces (e.g., pine cones and leaves for autumn events, potted herbs and plants in spring and summer, and potted spruce or pine for winter).
• Use local, seasonal, pesticide-free flowers. Try to buy in bulk and in water buckets (rather than bouquets already wrapped in plastic) from a wholesaler or local supplier.
• Forage from nature what you can harvest responsibly. (Remember: never take more than one-third – leave one-third to other species and one-third to maintain natural cycles.)
• DIY with what you already have at home — tablecloths, cloth napkins, fabric scraps or unconventional materials. Search online for DIY ideas! Borrow from friends and family or through a buy nothing group. Mine thrift stores and online marketplaces to avoid buying new.
• Choose a venue that already has beautiful views, architecture or art. Surrounding visual interest minimizes the need to “decorate.”
• Consider minimizing scents for people with environmental sensitivities, and because fragrances are often bad for the planet.
• Give natural things, e.g., native tree seedlings or non-invasive, native seeds for guests to plant.
• Give to a charity in their honour.
Information sourced from the Living Green team with contributions from Susan Johnston. Posted on Instagram by the David Suzuki Foundation