Eco-Friendly, Ethical Weddings: 10 Tips to green your white wedding


Ethical, low waste weddings…is it possible to have the wedding of your dreams and be environmentally responsible?

A question that savvy, socially conscientious couples are asking as a global pandemic and climate change rock our world and challenge our traditional ways of thinking and doing.


Did you know that the average wedding produces 63 tons of carbon dioxide and generates 400-600 pounds of garbage!

When multiplied by the pre-Covid number of more than 150,000 weddings per year in Canada and 2.5 million in the United States, its enough to make you consider donning a burlap sack and eloping in a forest!  As the summer approaches and pandemic restrictions begin to lift, weddings will be back on the menu and wedding planning will commence again.

How can we move forward to create weddings that are both safe and sustainable? Here are 10 quick tips to consider that will reduce the ecological footprint of your wonderful day, and avoid the burlap sack.  😉

1. A selective guest list

The first on my list is easy to achieve as the Corona virus pandemic has made slimming down your guest list a must. Now you have the perfect excuse to be more selective with you you invite.  Having a smaller wedding will have a directly beneficial impact on your carbon footprint. With fewer people travelling to your event, you’re going to naturally have a smaller impact on the amount of CO2 emitted as a result.

2. Eco- chic Invitations.
Seemingly, much of the wedding planning process involves paper—save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, seating charts, menus, gift cards, thank you cards, and more. Papermaking is an energy-intensive process that creates a large amount of waste and uses harsh chemicals such as bleach.  Recycled and post-consumer waste paper, tree-free paper, soy inks, and digital correspondence all offer stylish and less impactful alternatives.

Many innovative couples are finding ways to eliminate the use of paper in their wedding planning by choosing to present all the important information on a wedding website.

Wedding rings and large bills of money

3. Use Eco-friendly Local Vendors.
Not only are you supporting the local economy, but it’s a sure means to keep transportation impacts down.  Ask the vendors your are considering what they do to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Environmentally sound strategies save businesses money in the long run. Many companies realize this and are already making positive changes to the way they operate.  As a couple, you can use the power of your choices to accelerate this transformation by seeking out and rewarding those businesses with green ethics and putting pressure on those who do not.


4. Photography—go digital.  
The simple fact is that digital photography is much less harmful to the environment then film photography. No harsh chemicals, wasted paper, rolls of film, and throw away prints. Green photographers also go further by using rechargeable batteries, non-toxic inks, LED and CFL bulbs, low energy consuming computers, and packaging made with recycled materials.  If you’re a film purist and just love the look of emulsion-based images, post-production editing can make digital images look like they came from a film camera.  Ask your photographer if they know how to do this for you.

5.. Food and Beverage. 
The average North American meal travels 2,200 kilometers. No matter how you choose to design your menu, using in-season local and/or organic foods will decrease the carbon footprint. Organic caterers and green restaurants create tasteful, low impact menus exploding with fresh, seasonal foods. Further, offering locally made wine, beer, and other beverages adds some local flavor.


Check out the tasty offerings from Canmore Organic Chef, Oscar George Bayne, one of the Bow Valley’s green caterers.

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6.. Seasonal, Locally grown flowers.
How do they get those flowers to look so fresh? Sadly, with pesticides and fungicides, and/or by trucking/shipping/flying them in. Wherever you’re getting married, chances are there’s an organic florist. Using local, seasonal and organic flowers lowers fuel consumption and is often less costly than ordering exotic species. You can also work with your florist to design simple arrangements that use less flowers, or consider using faux flowers that won’t get thrown away. For an even more natural look, abandon flowers altogether and use pinecones, stones, or driftwood to decorate your venue.

This sapling is presented on the day of graduation to serve as a reminder of the connections between the graduate, the College and the world. The saplings are white pine (Pinus strobes) and a gift of Athena Tsakanikas-Phillippides Õ86.

7. Gifts and Favors.
By registering with an eco-friendly company like the Green Bride Guide, you can support sustainable business while educating your guests about eco-friendly products. There are even organizations you can register through that donate a portion of the sales from your items to a variety of ecological groups and social causes. Favors are a style component of any wedding, but are often left behind or easily forgotten by guests. Again, if you have a cause or organization that you feel strongly about, donate the money you would have spent on favors instead. You can also choose from a variety of sustainable favor options like recycled canning jars filled with organic honey or jam for the “Love is Tasty” vibe.  Or, have guests “Plant a Memory” of your wedding day by sending them on their way with packets of seeds or seedlings.


8.  Decor. 

Think vintage where you can.

Reusing vintage items like tableware, the dress or decoration cuts out the need to have something new produced just for your big day.  Going Retro adds character, provides a unique opportunity to tie in family traditions and personalizes your wedding in meaning ful ways.  Retro decor also makes for great photos ops.

9. The Ring.
Edward Zwick’s movie, Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio introduced the world to ‘conflict diamonds’ and how modern day slave labor and strip mining are being used to put that shiny diamond on your finger. If you’re at all social and environmentally conscious, it is paramount that you request certification and proof of origin. More and more jewelers are using conflict free diamonds as ensured by the Kimberley process, as well as recycled gold and fair trade gemstones. (

10.  An Eco-friendly Honeymoon.
There’s a word for low impact, socially conscious travel—‘Ecotourism’; defined by the international ecotourism society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” A quick glance at their website will tell you where to go, and where to avoid. (


Burnett Photography strives to promote an eco-friendly ethic in our business.  We use rechargeable NiMH batteries in all our lighting equipment & package our products in materials made from sustainable, recycled products.

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Learn More! Check out  “The Guide to Sustainable, Zero-Waste, Ethical Weddings”

This guide contains useful information such as:

  • An in-depth look at sustainable and ethical weddings – why they are important and how choosing a green wedding helps reduce the strain on the environment.
  • Eye-opening statistics about the carbon footprint and waste generated by weddings and the wedding industry as a whole (did you know that around 4,910 tonnes of unrecyclable plastics are used up by weddings annually?)
  • How to plan a sustainable wedding – including plenty of tips on finding green wedding planners and suppliers, eco-friendly wedding venues, organic and zero-waste food and catering, and other helpful resources.
  • Other useful green wedding resources, organisations, and zero-waste tips and advice to help make weddings more ethically-conscious and environmentally friendly.

What are your thoughts on Eco-friendly weddings?  Join the conversation! Leave a comment below with a tip or suggestion of your own, We’re all in this together.