What is a Zero-Waste Wedding?

You’ve hopefully heard of “zero-waste” by now…but do you know what it means? My friends at EcoCycle have a good article here to explain - and their below graphic depicts how it’s more than just recycling.


But how does the concept of “zero-waste” translate to your wedding? For many couples, planning their wedding is the biggest and most expensive event they’ve ever coordinated. It’s like being a project manager, or in this example, a CEO - that’s right, you are the head honcho of your wedding, and you’ve got some important decisions to make…after all, you probably have more purchasing power now than ever. So now, with your CEO hat on - spend some time reflecting on each component of this graphic.

  1. What are the “Responsible Policies” I want to use as my guiding light? For example, minimize shipping and transportation of goods by sourcing everything locally, or limiting the purchase of anything new by purchasing used or renting supplies and decorations.

  2. How can I make sure I’m purchasing from companies that are environmentally conscious?

  3. How can I encourage my community of vendors and guests to help reduce waste?

  4. Does the venue have a great recycling and composting program available?

Incorporating your answers to these questions into every part of the wedding planning process will set you on the road to a zero-waste wedding. For more tips and tricks for planning a green wedding, check out my post titled “10 Tips for a Green Wedding” …and here’s to you for making it happen!

10 Tips for a Green Wedding

I’ve thought long and hard about the best ways to reduce waste at your wedding…check it out:

Photo credit: Pawel Czerwinski on Updplash

Photo credit: Pawel Czerwinski on Updplash

Tip 1: Venue

Select a venue with a robust recycling program...and ensure all your vendors are on board. Sure, garbage isn't on your mind while touring a beautiful venue, but this one is important. I've worked venues that didn't even have A program, as in, EVERYthing went in the trash 😣...wine bottles, beer cans…it was brutal. I bet the bride and groom didn't even realize it. So, write it down as a question to ask during your venue tour…”How the do handle recycling and compostables?”.

Once you’re settled on a venue, and are farther along in your planning…make sure your coordinator knows the recycling/compostables plan, and informs all the vendors. Everyone needs to know the plan before the party starts. A little forethought, planning, and communication goes SUCH a long way in reducing that average 400 lbs of waste per wedding….seriously.

Photo credit goes to Natalie Walters on  @upsplash

Photo credit goes to Natalie Walters on @upsplash

Tip 2: Food

Ok all...menu planning...challenge your caterer..."What's in season? How can we use the whole food? How can we make it more affordable? What local and organic farms can we source from?" And then? Work with it...they are the professionals, try not to be picky. Simple, fresh, local, organic food will please the crowd, and make your wedding meal meaningful, nourishing, and delicious. 
What local caters love to source seasonally from local organic farms?? Shout out as a comment.

Photo credit goes to Francois Pistorius on  @upsplash . Thank you!

Photo credit goes to Francois Pistorius on @upsplash. Thank you!

Tip 3: Naked Tables

Wooden tables are not only beautiful, they save everyone from having to deal with tablecloths...especially white tablecloths. So, I do have a large tub of white tablecloths in my inventory...why? Because each one can be purchased online for about $10 each...$10! They are so cheap, a couple bought 20 for their wedding day planning to throw them away after dinner. Have you heard of fast fashion? There are so many hidden costs behind this super cheap fabric, I'll just mention a few...the textile industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally...polyester is derived from fossil fuels...garmet workers commonly work in unsafe conditions for low wages and without basic human rights. It's really messed up. So...yes, renting tablecloths is an option...they can be cleaned and used again. But renting beautiful rustic wooden tables? That's where it's at!!! 🌈⭐🙌 Ok Lyons folks...let us all know which venues have wooden tables available in the comments section.

My favorite? @harvesttablecompanyrents along the Colorado front range and in Aspen...good peeps 😊

Photo credit goes to Jasmin Schreiber on Upsplash, thank you!

Photo credit goes to Jasmin Schreiber on Upsplash, thank you!

Tip 4: Reusable Dinnerware

Appetizer plates, dinner plates, dessert plates, cutlery and napkins can all be rented, either through your caterer or from me 🤗 ! Reusables not only squelch waste, they make meals more enjoyable...food not only looks better, I swear it somehow tastes better too.

While there are many new recyclable and compostable products on the market, they all fail in comparison to reusables, hands down. Did you know it takes 8 gallons of clean water to make 1 paper plate? Multiply that times your guest count and reconsider ditching disposables for the real thing. 🌈⭐🌎

Photo cred to  @ginamclaughlin  - thank you friend!

Photo cred to @ginamclaughlin - thank you friend!

Tip 5: Drinks

Let's talk about drinks...the bar is not only a highlight of the reception, it's also the place to make a big difference in waste reduction. Ask your bartender to only serve reusable cups! Even for the water station. Is this a pain? Yes. Will they groan? Yes...but hey, you're the boss, and it matters. 
For all those in the Boulder County area, I strongly recommend @vesselwrks for your drinkware. These stinlesssteel cups are so well designed, they are a pleasure to drink from, and I'm talking wine, beer, cocktails, water, coffee and tea. It's a one stop shop for all your beverages...they are fun, and will make your bartender happy because guests will use the same cup over and over again, making clean up so much easier. And best yet? They don't break and are easy to load in and out. 
Another idea? Serve beer and wine from kegs...yes, beer and wine! 🙌🌈⭐🤗 Think of all the packaging, shipping and recycling you can save...I honestly get excited about this stuff 🙃

Photo credit to Cam Morin on Upslpash

Photo credit to Cam Morin on Upslpash

Tip 6: Flowers

We all love the flowers, right? Here are a few ways to get the most righteous bouquets possible. 
Similar to menu planning, think local, organic, and seasonal. Splurg on your bouquet, but keep the tables simple with bud vases, little potted plants, or a floating flower. When done well, a little can go a long way. And for cases? I rent several different kinds, no need to buy! 🤗

Also, have a plan for your flowers...at the end of the night, what should the tired crew do with all the greenery? Gift to guests? Compost? Nobody enjoys tossing beautiful flowers into the garbage, but believe me, it happens...a lot. 
For those in the Lyons area, comment below if you can provide local, organic, seasonal, or potted plants!



Tip 7: Decorations

And this is how my business started...while doing various jobs at weddings nearby, I so enjoyed to be in the background witnessing beautiful ceremonies and wonderful receptions. I love everything about weddings...except the inevadable clean up. You guys, the amount of things getting trashed and wasted is so sad, it was just such a buzz kill at the end of the night...and I knew it was happening at least 13 times each weekend during warm months around our little town (which is, paradoxically aiming to be a "zero waste model community"). I would come home filled with the warm fuzzies of a wedding, mixed with frustration over the waste, I couldn't sleep at night. I dreamed about what I could do to help fix the problem...and a year later, here I am. I rent out wedding decorations in the Lyons area, and I am working on spreading the green planning tools throughout the wedding scene worldwide! The average 400 lbs of trash per wedding is no joke...let's make weddings beautiful all around, even the clean up 🙃

Photo credit goes to Chinh Le Duc on Upsplash...thank you!

Photo credit goes to Chinh Le Duc on Upsplash...thank you!

Tip 8: Gifts

Whether for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, or your entire guest list, it feels so good to give a great gift...this is a place where it's all about thoughtfulness. Here are a few ideas for how you can make this fun, and green
..all while supporting local businesses and artists...win win! 
If I were to do it all again, I would head to my nearest old town Main Street and find a local shop specializing in handmade artisanal goods. 
For the guest list gifts, I'd look for something super cute, that only needs minimal packaging, and can be used up...like honey, chocolate, soap or beeswax candles. 
For the bridesmaids? A funky accessorie made locally, like earrings or a bracelet. 
For our mommas? Something sweet would jump out at me, I'm positive.

For me and my honey? I would look for something one of a kind that could be used at our wedding, and then serve as a focal point in our home, like a vase, a table linen, a candle or a backdrop. 
Then, on to the local liquor store, or better yet, brewery, or even better, distillery. For the groomsmen? Local craft brews. For the fathers? A fine bottle of local whiskey.
Everyone's list will look different, but I hope this inspires you to support your local businesses and artists, cut back on waste, and feel really great about giving wonderful gifts to your loved ones. ⭐😊🌱🌈

Photo cred to Waldemer Brandt on Upsplash...thank you!

Photo cred to Waldemer Brandt on Upsplash...thank you!

Tip 9: Don’t Compost

What? Don't compost?? Now that I have your attention, let me clarify...only choose compostable disposables IF your cleanup crew agrees to gather them up, and make sure they get to a compost drop-off site (like in Longmont, or Boulder). Otherwise, compostables will either contaminate your recyclables, or end up sitting in a landfill, not composting. In other words, if they don't get separated during clean up, they really don't decompose, and can actually make recycling more difficult. 
A recycling expert once told me that landfills preserve waste...everything is so compacted and sealed that, for example, it can act like a time capsule for old newspapers...no decomposing happening...food for thought. 

Wood Background.jpg

Tip 10: Simplify

From the guest list, to the dessert table...every element of a wedding can be paired down. Keeping your wedding simple not only cuts down on waste, it also reduces expenses, and your stress level. By cutting out excess, you and your guests can focus on what's meaningful, and what you decide to include will truly stand out. So, for each of those planning decisions out there, let simplicity be your guide.