What are sustainable weddings in Michigan?
A sustainable wedding, also can be referred to as a green or eco-friendly event, is any wedding with a decreased ecological impact on the planet. This can include choosing an eco-conscious wedding venue, hiring local Michigan wedding vendors that adhere to sustainable practices, selecting local foods, recycled wedding decor or a well loved vintage wedding attire.
25+ actionable items to plan a sustainable wedding in Michigan
Weddings generate an immense amount of waste. So, let’s start with some reality check stats. Based on Botanical Paperworks, an average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. If you take into consideration an estimated 2.3 million weddings in the US per year, that comes out to approximately 1 billion lbs of garbage and as many emissions as 4 people would produce in a year. In a single day.
All of the wedding waste is contributing to a number of much larger issues, overflowing landfills, ocean pollution and rising carbon emissions. If you care about our planet’s future, here are 25+ actionable items you can incorporate to a sustainable wedding in Michigan to reduce your negative impact on the environment. To help you measure your energy footprint and start to think about what actions might have the greatest impact for you, try out a carbon Footprint calculator.
Sustainable wedding ceremony
Wedding destination in Michigan
The rising popularity of destination weddings leaves an increasingly higher carbon footprint behind, and the majority of it is being used on transportation. You can reducing plane travel and car emissions by booking a local venue in Michigan convenient for as many wedding guests as possible. If you do decide on a destination wedding location, keep it small and choose sustainable accommodations. This could be a tiny house in the Redwoods powered by solar, or a sustainable tree house in the Big Island of Hawaii.
Sustainable wedding venue
Choose a sustainable wedding venue that cares about the environment. But what exactly makes a venue eco-conscious? The most eco-friendly wedding venues in Michigan might be well insulated, use solar power, sustainable building materials and are committed to recycling and reusables. Look for a event venue that combines the most green initiatives. Another way to reduce your impact on the environment is to consider a dual-site. These types of wedding venues can accommodate for both the ceremony and reception, rather than booking two separate locations for your wedding day. This approach will cut down on carbon emissions from guest and vendor transportation. Additionally, outdoor spaces in Michigan such as farms and gardens tend to be more eco-friendly, so hosting your ceremony and reception outside will cut down on electricity usage. Just imagine a gorgeous candle lit al fresco dinner under the stars.
Host a sustainable backyard wedding
If you host a green backyard wedding in your home, you are also gaining more power over your green practices. Some venues have restrictions on bringing in vendors, so if you care about lowering your wedding day carbon footprint and you want to do things your way, this might be the right route for you. From the perspective of keeping everything eco-friendly, you can start with a budget plan to limit overspending on unnecessary things. Once you have a better idea of how your day will look, you can start thinking about setting up your home for a sustainable event, using local vendors, developing a garbage disposal plan and start your energy/water conservation efforts. Check out this Michigan backyard wedding in the Upper Peninsula for some inspiration.
Always support eco-friendly vendors
Use local Michigan vendors for your hair and make-up, photography, videography, bar service, catering, cake, florist and anything else you might need. This will help keep your money in the local communities and reduce the carbon footprint of tens of vendors commuting to your wedding site from afar.
Instead of using sparklers for your exit, that often end up in a landfill after being used, consider dried lavender (amazing fragrance!), flower petals, birdseed, eucalyptus leaves, or bio-degradable confetti. These wedding exit alternatives are 100% natural and also make for beautiful photos.
Sustainable wedding reception
Limit the amount of electricity you need at nighttime by lighting eco-friendly soy-based or beeswax candles by local candle makers. This option doubles as romantic decor and sets the right mood after sunset. Soy and beeswax candles are clean burning (emitting 95 percent less soot than paraffin candles) and often last longer. When burned, these candles release essential oils, which can add enchanting seasonal scents to the air.
Seasonal DIY flower bouquets
If you’re a creative, artsy couple and you’d like to sprinkle a bit of surprise into your day, you might want to venture out to a local grocery store and explore their flower selection. Featuring local seasonal blooms in your bouquet and floral decor is one great way to cut costs and participate in sustainable floral practices. One of my favorite local floral farms that cares about sustainable practices is We Adore Flowers.
Decorate with potted plants, succulents and cacti
If you opt for potted plants, they can live on for years! Potted plants, succulents and cacti will help decorate your space, invite cozy vibe and create a specific visual atmosphere. A gorgeous rainforest or a boho desert? You can really let your fantasy run wild with this one.
Rather than buying all of your decor and furniture, use a rental for reusable items such as linens, furniture, and chandeliers. Buying second hand items is also a great way to repurpose and recycle unique, one of a kind, items. If you have to buy wedding decor, get things that you would love to use in your own home.
If you already own visually interesting furniture that you’d like to incorporate in your wedding, you can create a comfortable lounge area with carpets, poufs, leather camp chairs and colorful sofas. This approach will instantly personalize your wedding space. You can also use it for your portrait session.
Reuse decor at your sustainable wedding
There are so many ways to reuse items at your sustainable wedding. Ceremony backdrop can be transformed into a photo booth, wedding party bouquets can become bar arrangements, dining table decor or food station arrangements. Ceremony chairs can become dinner chairs when it’s time.
Sustainable and local wedding food
Local spreads of antipasti
Grazing tables usually take shape as a charcuterie board or spread of antipasti with assortments of sustainable meats, local cheeses, olives, and artisanal breads. You can give these a seasonal take by adding fruits and herbs. This delicious array lets guests nibble on multiple things from the same display.
Carbon emissions involved with shipping food across the globe have a negative impact on the environment. Choosing an eco-friendly caterer will ensure that your food is prepared in a sustainable way. It’s important to find caterers that not only compost, but source their food from sustainable and local farms, by identifying which foods are in season and locally available. Imported meats (lamb, beef, pork) and cheeses have the highest carbon footprint, so you will get serious eco points if you opt for a vegetarian or a vegan menu for your sustainable Michigan wedding.
When you’re thinking about a DIY wedding, you might be looking for something simple and easy when it comes to table settings. If you use single use papers and plastics for your dishes, cups, or utensils, these items are likely to end up in a landfill. You can have a conversation with your vendors about using sustainable, compostable, or reusable dishware and recycled paper goods. Cutting plastic straws and choosing eco-friendly alternatives can make a big impact. Bamboo plates, corn syrup utensils, and biodegradable straws are all readily available.
Single glass for beverages
Giving guests a new glass every time they come up to the bar leads to a whole lot more dishes to wash, which doesn’t help conserve energy and water. Providing each guest with a glass (or a personalized mason jar wedding favor) throughout the wedding reception keeps things simple and sustainable. The bar produces immense amount of waste, not just from excessive glassware use, but also from serving beverages from cans or bottles. Opt for a keg instead when you can for your sustainable wedding in Michigan.
Natural edible favors
Give guests edible favors served in reusable containers such as mason jars. Consider serving a Michigan jam or sustainable honey purchased from a local farm so the guests can get a taste of the local flavors. Giving out succulents or personalized seed packets is another great and literally green idea. Whatever is left behind can be collected by the couple and used to start a garden.
Donate or compost flowers and food waste
Food and flower waste makes up for a large amount of trash and it often ends up in a landfill, while it could be easily composted or donated. Talk to your eco-conscious caterer about what happens to your food waste after the wedding and make sure there is a plan in place to either donate or compost leftovers. If you have bouquets and centerpieces on every table, that means a lot of flowers will go to waste at the end of the day. They can either be given to guests to take home with them, composted along with your food waste, or donated to people in health care facilities.
Ethical and sustainable wedding fashion
Sustainable wedding rings
Start your engagement off on a green foot with an antique diamond that has been in the family for decades. If you plan to purchase new, make sure your diamond is collected in a socially responsible manner. Diamond and gemstone mining and the use of precious metals means that wedding jewelry has a long negative history for our planet and laborers. That’s why choosing ethical and eco-friendly wedding jewelry should be the first decision you make for your sustainable wedding day. You can also consider ditching the diamond in favor of an ethically sourced gemstone.
Sustainable wedding dresses
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a brand new wedding dress, but fast fashion is a huge contributor to pollution and water use. Look for local and sustainable designers for your wedding attire instead. There are dozens of designers that are thoughtful about their process, who use recycled fabric and natural dyes. If you’re looking for amazing sustainable and ethical fashion, Leanne Marshall creates wedding dresses made for movement. The company use natural fibers and sustainable textiles packaged in recycled materials or eco bags that completely dissolve in hot water.
Secondhand or vintage wedding dresses and accessories
Wearing secondhand or vintage means you are giving a wedding dress a second life. One of the best places in Michigan to search for a pre-loved wedding dress is Ann Arbor’s Brides Project. They take donations from all across the country. Some are donated by brides who want to see them dance another day. Many are donated directly from bridal salons, so they are brand new! The best part of all is that the money raised from the sale of gowns supports families touched by cancer.
And if you are a vintage lover, I don’t need to tell you that Etsy is full of unique vintage wedding finds. Additionally, antique veils are classic and timeless, and a great way to include a one-of-a-kind accessory in your look.
Rent suits and tuxedos, mix and match bridesmaids dresses
Rather than having the groom and groomsmen purchase matching suits or tuxedos, rent instead. Bridesmaids don’t have to all match either. You can give them a specific color scale to buy a flattering dress they feel comfortable in, rather than spending hundreds on a fast fashion dress they might never wear again.
Faux fur and shawl
If you live in Michigan, there is a good possibility you might be getting married in the winter. Fur coat or a shawl can add unique elegance to your look, but make sure your fur is faux before you buy it. It will help save an animal’s life.
When booking your hair and makeup stylists, ask about their product line choices. Make sure the makeup and hair products aren’t tested on animals.
Eco-friendly wedding stationery
Sustainable wedding invitations from eco-friendly brands
Save the dates, engagement announcements, wedding invitations, and RSVP cards are another source of waste when it comes to weddings. Many eco-friendly stationery brands do everything they can to reduce their impact on the environment. Choose paper products made from recycled materials and try to reduce the number of printed pieces. For example, use one menu per table instead of one for each place setting. Use recycled paper products, email correspondence when possible or try plantable paper for other wedding stationery.
Print your invitations and placeholders on natural plantable paper
If you’re choosing to print your invitations at home, you have plenty of cool options on how to make them more eco-friendly. Natural plantable paper is one of my absolute favorites, because it grows into flowers when …planted! The best part is, that you can buy high quality card stock and print your plantable wedding invitations and guest place cards right at home.
Or skip wedding invitations entirely
If you aren’t paper obsessed, you can also choose to go entirely digital with your invitations for your sustainable wedding in Michigan. There are many options that will accommodate your digital wedding stationery needs, for example Greenvelope.
Choose experiences over things
If you are an adventurer ready to embark on your honeymoon rather than receiving a plethora of wedding gifts, creating a Honeyfund registry might help you receive money for experiences that make your honeymoon absolutely epic!
REAL WEDDING INSPIRATION | Sustainable wedding with locally sourced decor full of vibrant colors
“As a project for Earth Day this year, my very good friend Cara started a 22 Day Earth Warriors Series. It took about 5 minutes a day to show you ways that mindless actions are making huge impacts on the plant and nature all around us,”
Elizabeth and Rob shared with me when we first hopped on a call to discuss the concept for the sustainable eco-friendly wedding she was planning in the middle of Michigan. “It really opened my eyes to all the ways I could make a difference, to heal or harm,” she added. When the wedding planning started, sustainability was on top of Elizabeth’s mind with every choice. One of her bridesmaids nicknamed her Eco-Bridezilla early in the planning process. For each vendor, she made sure to express the importance of sustainable ideas.
Elizabeth works as a corporate event planner, so she was well aware of the immense waste traditional weddings produce each year. For their wedding, the couple envisioned a guilt free eco-friendly event and came up with a comprehensive strategy to reduce their negative environmental impact. Elizabeth made sure the wedding party wore clothes they already owned and she purchased a wedding dress by Leanne Marshall, who is one of the best known sustainable wedding attire trailblazers. Wedding invites and stationery were completely digital and the seating assignments were written on leaves foraged from the couples’ garden. Instead of wedding favors, the guests could choose from 2 local charities for the bride and groom to donate on their behalf. The bride hired a local organic flower farmer to provide the wedding florals from her sustainable garden and all the blooms on the tables were placed in recycled glass jars, collected from friends and family to reduce wasteful purchases. The food was plated on eco-friendly palm leaf plates and served with compostable plastic ware. The couple mostly eats a plant based diet, so they wanted their caterer to avoid beef and pork (these meats have one of the highest carbon footprint) and focus on organic and sustainably sourced ingredients across the whole menu.
Sustainable wedding attire
When the couple asked their bridal party to stand up with them on the wedding day, they made the request that they wear something they already own. The bride says, she couldn’t give them too much of a hard time knowing that she was going to be purchasing a new dress, though she wanted it to be as sustainable as possible. “I stumbled upon Leanne Marshall and after a bit of research, I was impressed with her sustainable practices and recycled dresses! I was lucky enough to catch a rare sample sale and snagged her perfect dress in a unique champagne color.” Elizabeth says. The dress already existed so she did not have the guilt of the waste from a custom wedding dress. Rob wore a dark grey suit that he already had in his closet. He purchased a new button up shirt, to fit the floral theme, and a navy tie to bring it all together.
Local wedding florals
The bride loves flowers that support native species of pollinators. Her mom got into a local butterfly conservation group a few years ago and now the whole family is involved! When selecting a florist, Elizabeth knew she wanted someone that would use the flowers she loves in her own garden. Lindsay Hufford, the owner of Peck and Petal Farm, is a local flower farmer whose vision for her purpose, met her own “spreading joy and connection in our local community through the beauty of locally grown, sustainable flowers”. As for the vases, she wanted the tables to look like a garden, so a collection of small vases made the most sense. Elizabeth was able to collect spice, baby food, mustard, and salad dressing jars, on their way to the recycling bin, from friends and family to use as tiny vases on her wedding tablescape. The secret recipe for removing the label glue: baking soda and olive oil!
When it came to the invitations, Elizabeth’s experience as a corporate event planner has shown that electronic invitations make the most sense. She found a website, Appy Couple, that could manage the RSVPs, wedding website, and invitations. Planning a Covid-wedding meant multiple guest communications were necessary to keep everyone up to speed on the latest guidelines and expectations for the day. Starting with an email invite kept them expecting to see her in their email inbox instead of the mailbox.
Seating charts and other collateral
For the day of, Elizabeth wanted to keep the collateral to a minimum. The seating chart was one poster, affixed to a recycled cardboard box. The table numbers were made from extra thank you cards, why waste good cardstock!? For the guest favors, we knew early on that we wanted to make donations in the names of our guests in lieu of a physical favor. Elizabeth mentioned that it would have been much easier to print a card for everyone, which she thought many times during the creation process, instead they went completely eco! The bride’s fellow flower lover and good friend helped her collect leaves from her garden a few days before the wedding. They wrote each guest name on their own leaf in gold or silver sharpie, being sure to select the milkweed leaves for her fellow Monarch conservation friends! Elizabeth stored them in a tupperware container with damp towels to keep them fresh and green until the wedding. Elizabeth’s parents used the existing decor items to make the leaf boards for the guests to find their names on and chose the charity they wanted to support: Humane Society of Huron Valley or Monarch Watch.
The next guest interaction was with the food, and they loved it. The chef is a close friend of the father of the groom and the in-house chef at the local headquarter for the food distributor US Foods. The couple knew he would keep the guest safe, he was on the cutting edge of all the latest food and beverage service regulations from the CDC. While Rob and Elizabeth eat mostly a plant based diet, many of their guests were looking for some traditional proteins. They asked Chef Randy to avoid beef and pork while focusing on only organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, across the whole menu. He created a unique and adaptable menu that was delicious while taking all of our guests dietary restrictions into consideration.
To read more about this eco-friendly wedding, click here.
I would love to hear from you and help you plan your sustainable wedding! Send me a note below.