10 Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding in Colorado
Being eco-friendly is all the rage...and for good reason. You really love natural things like sunshine, blue skies, and fresh air. And perhaps you’ve already made some changes to the way you live in order to create a better world. For the most important day of your life, you want it to reflect your values in every way.
We’re not perfect, but a few years ago Open Heart Ranch was named Colorado Rancher of the Year for our water and conservation practices. We care about the community we live in, and we know you do too. We have good news for you—an eco-friendly wedding is totally doable. Your wedding can be gorgeous AND easier on the environment. Here are some of our best tips on how to do that.
1. Support Local Businesses
Local businesses, like flower farms, breweries, and distilleries, often source their own products and don’t depend on big-scale manufacturing and long-distance shipping operations (and lots of carbon emissions). Look for local farm-to-vase vendors who grow flowers organically. Or breweries that utilize solar power and sustainable water flow systems. If you do your shopping within a few miles of your home, you can also reduce your carbon footprint by walking or bicycling to a local business.
2. Rent Your Flowers and Accessories
Having your wedding in an exclusive location that’s a distance from the florist? Or having your wedding on the hottest day of summer? No problem. You can rent your gorgeous bouquets in advance, transport them in an airless box, and get them out just hours before you need them. There’s no need to water them or to resuscitate wilted flowers on your special day. Look for a company like Something Borrowed Blooms that produces flowers that look so real even your bridesmaids won’t know they’re actually silk! Plus, silk flowers can be enjoyed after the wedding (especially if they’re rented) instead of ending up in the trash as most bouquets and centerpieces do.
Other accessories can be rented too. Rent the Runway and Happily Ever Borrowed are two of our favorites. You can rent anything from veils and headbands to sashes and clutches. You’re unlikely to wear these things again so renting them prevents them from collecting dust in a corner of your closet.
3. Ask your Caterer and Venue to Help you Recycle and Compost
Nearly a third of the world’s food goes to waste, but your wedding can be the exception. Ask your caterer or venue if they can provide separate bins for recycling and composting, or if they’ll allow you to bring your own. Let your guests know that you would like them to join you in your efforts to reduce waste by disposing of their items in the correct bins. We did this for Annie and Johnston for their wedding at Vista View Events. They brought the bins and we made sure the recycling and composting happened. With a plan like this in place, you’ll enjoy your wedding more knowing that plastic bottles and aluminum cans are headed off to the recycling plant instead of the landfill.
You can also offer leftover food to your guests or arrange for it to be donated to a local charity. Your wedding guests might be delighted to rid you of extra food!
4. Use Real Dinnerware and Flatware
And of course, the next thing on your mind is the tableware that will be used for the food and drinks. For this, you’ve got several options. You can rent real tableware. Or if you’re going for an eclectic vibe, you can collect real tableware from garage sales, thrift shops, or maybe even Etsy. Glass stemware can be used as drinking glasses (you’ll save if you buy these in bulk!) If you have to or really want to use paper products, use an eco-friendly brand that offers biodegradable options.
5. ASK Guests to Donate to a Charity IN LIEU OF GIFTS
Don’t particularly need (or want) gifts? Nix the wedding gifts entirely by having your guests donate to your favorite environmentally-friendly charities. You won’t have gifts to transport or return—instead, you’ll have a clean, simple way to celebrate your day and give back to the environment.
6. Invest in Bulk Guest Transportation
Instead of having everyone drive to your wedding separately, arrange for transportation that can pick up your guests at a designated location and bring them to the venue. If your venue is in a private location (say, a Colorado mountain wedding venue like ours), your guests will thank you. Rent a party bus for the wedding party and close family and a regular minibus or van for the rest. Or simply arrange for your guests to carpool. If you’re going for a vintage vibe, you could even get a retro bus! Shuttling your guests will cause less of a carbon footprint overall. Plus, it will be safer!
7. Skip the Wedding Favors
How many guest favors have you kept from weddings you attended? Probably very few, because wedding favors typically get thrown away. Instead of opting for useless monogrammed gifts, invest in something reusable, such as our canvas totes. Or give your guests a little edible treat.
8. Don’t Use Bottled or Canned Beverages
Cut down on environmental waste by keeping your beer in kegs and setting up a hydration station for water and other beverages. Provide your guests with reusable glassware to quench their thirst as often as they please.
9. Cut Your Guest List
Do you really need to invite all of your distant cousins and acquaintances? Consider crossing off relatives you rarely see, coworkers (unless you’re close with them), plus-ones, and kids (yes, it might be disappointing for some of your guests, but do kids really enjoy weddings anyway?) Keep your wedding to an intimate gathering of people close to you and enjoy less waste overall!
We’ve saved the most daring one for last. Couples elope for a variety of reasons. Some want a small, intimate setting with just the officiant and maybe a few family members. Others want to forgo all the expense and complicated dynamics of a traditional wedding. And still others just want to get married sooner rather than later (and skip all the wedding planning). Our friends, Dave and Shanna of Summit Mountain Weddings, plan elopements that go off the beaten path to remote locations in the Colorado mountains. How romantic!
An eco-friendly wedding doesn’t need to be expensive, boring, or complicated. It just might be the best way to express your commitment to each other in a way that is both unique to you and complimentary to the environment. Make it a day you love!