How to Plan a Zero Waste, Budget-Friendly Wedding

As some of you might know, Max and I are getting married late this June! We decided to get hitched in Sooke, British Columbia for a few reasons. First, Max is Canadian and has family on Vancouver Island near Sooke. Sooke is also where we took our first vacation as a couple, and holds sentimental value. And finally, the place we are getting married, Sooke Harbour House, is magical and is known for their amazing food that they source from local farmers and foragers as well as their own garden.  

With a date and venue selected, we’ve been hard at work planning the wedding...while juggling our new business and buying a home (deep breaths). Throughout the planning process, we’ve had to grapple with the difficulty of planning an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime event while cutting back on wasteful, unsustainable practices that are all-too-common in weddings.

We’re going to share photos from the wedding in a future blog post, but for now, I’d like to share a few tips for sustainable, zero waste wedding planning.

The dresses. As I hunted for the perfect dress, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of spending thousands of dollars on one dress for one day. Why is it that anything with the word “wedding” attached to it costs 50% more than usual?! Originally, I wanted to find a vintage dress, but there were few stores that carry vintage dresses and the one store I did find, the dresses were not my style.

So, I went the unconventional route. I found a fabulous evening gown online that makes me feel glamorous, that I could see myself wearing again for a future special occasions (you know, all the galas and balls I will be invited to in the future). It feels better to have a dress that I can re-use, rather than letting it sit in some air-tight bag in the closet to gather dust. And, I saved so much on the gown compared to a wedding dress that I felt ok treating myself to a pair of new shoes.

I DID however find an amazing 1960’s vintage gown that I will be wearing to the rehearsal dinner. And, my friend offered to lend me shoes to go with the dress. Pictures to come!

The rings. I am not a jewelry wearer and wearing a ring on my hand everyday feels foreign. So, I knew for my wedding band that I wanted something simple, classic and comfortable. I found a wide vintage gold band on Etsy that I love. It’s old, scuffed and feels great. I like that I can do anything I want—cooking, gardening, exercise—and not worry about whether it’s getting damaged or have it be in the way. Max will be wearing a family heirloom classic gold band, which I love. Max and I updated our rings by having personal messages hand engraved on the inside of our bands.

zero waste wedding

The invitations. We sent out one save the date with an RSVP through the online invitation service, Paperless Post. I customized our invite by creating original artwork of Max and I paddling on a canoe. It was low-cost, sustainable and made it super easy for the majority of our guests to RSVP. Best yet, they have an option to print paper invitations for your non-tech savvy guests. We only ended up sending 5 paper invites to our guest list of 150. That’s a lot of paper savings.

The extras. We’ve decided to cut out the extras that don’t feel important to us and create waste. That means no party favors. We could spend a bunch of money and effort creating tiny, precious souvenirs for guests to take home (likely having many of them leave them behind). Or, we could skip the favors and invest that budget into the event to make sure it’s amazing. We are going to create welcome packages for our wedding party, which does sound a little extra-y. But, we are going to do it with items bought in bulk—such as sweet and salty snacks in glass mason jars.

We look forward to sharing more about our wedding and how we’re trying to minimize the waste involved. Did you attempt to reduce waste during your wedding? We’d love to hear some tips as we approach our date!