Sustainable Options for Your Wedding Attire, Decor & Details

It’s Earth day this week and while every day is earth day here at Mango Muse Events, it’s a good reminder.

A reminder that the earth is not only our home, but contains all the things we need and love – people, land, water, air, animals, nature.

And if we want to keep all those things and prevent as much of the harmful effects of global warming, we need to make some changes.

And that includes making some changes so that your wedding is sustainable (or as sustainable as possible).

But this isn’t a sad thing. It’s actually a great thing!

Because there are so many things you can do.

We’ve been talking about the many ways you can make difference with your wedding. From reducing your wedding’s travel impact, to working with a sustainable wedding venue and sustainable wedding vendors. In addition to thinking about your decisions with each vendor.

While creating a sustainable wedding takes some work, it’s worth it in the end.

Because you’ll feel so much better about your decisions!

Bride and groom just married fist pump at their Monte Rio wedding by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Bustle and Twine)

So, today we’re going to continue the conversation and talk about sustainable options for your wedding attire, decor and details.

Because of the many parts of a wedding, this is one that creates a significant amount of waste.

But let’s back up a second…

So, when it comes to weddings, for simplicity’s sake, I like to think about the climate impact in two main ways – energy usage and waste.

Energy usage is about what it takes to produce your wedding from both an amount of energy and emissions standpoint.

This affects everything from lighting to cooking your meal, to creating floral arrangements, having a great dance party, transportation and travel, and supply chains (which also affects decor, details and attire).

Every business uses energy and every wedding will require energy to make it happen. But, the basic goals with energy is to try to use less of it, conserve it and hopefully get it from a renewable source.

Then there’s the waste aspect. Think of all the items that are bought and then disposed of at the end of a wedding.

There are so many things!

It’s like single use plastics on steroids.

Seriously.

Because there are so many one time, one day use things in a wedding.

And most of those things have to do with wedding attire, decor, and details.

Times that by the 2 million weddings that take place a year and that is A LOT of waste.

So, the goal here is find sustainable options for your wedding attire, decor and details.

In other words, reduce, reuse and recycle.

If you missed the discussion on the golden rule of sustainable weddings, go and check that out.

But the basic premise is to reduce/eliminate the item if possible first. If not, then choose something that can be reused. And if that isn’t possible, choose something that is made from recycled materials and can be recycled.

With this in mind, we’ll dive into the options and steps you can take to have a more sustainable wedding.

Sustainable Wedding Attire Options

I’m going to start with wedding attire first because it’s the item you’ll think about early on in your wedding planning.

And as it goes on your body, it’s immensely personal.

So finding the right option is naturally, important.

But finding the right sustainable option is even more important.

Option #1 – Buy used or rent wedding attire

When we talk about eco-friendly wedding attire, I bet the first thing you’re thinking, is ew, I don’t want to wear someone else’s wedding dress/attire.

And I get that.

There can be some bad juju around that.

But it’s important to know that utilizing a used piece of wedding attire is a real option to explore.

Much more now than it ever was before.

Because it’s not just old school suits and tuxes that can be rented.

There are tons of places that sell used or rent wedding attire whether that’s for the couple, the wedding party, parents, you name it.

The designer options really run the gamut and you can find some great things out there!

Everything from Rent the Runway to Facebook Marketplace to vintage stores.

And if you rent, this really works the reuse concept well.

Because you’re not only using something that has already been used, but it will have a life after your use as well.

It’s a really good option for your budget and you’ll have access to things you maybe couldn’t afford normally as well.

But, if you’re not feeling that as a whole or for just yourself (maybe the wedding party is fine), you still have some options to make your attire eco-friendly.

Option #2 – Rework an existing piece of attire

If you don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s wedding attire, what if you changed it?

You can consider reworking a dress/suit/outfit that was your parent’s or sibling’s or best friend’s.

Imagine how much meaning it will have!

Or you can buy something used and then get it altered.

You can make it your own, but start with something that already exists.

Or you can take something you already own and tweak it. Adjust the style or lining or accessories.

This is another great way to utilize the reuse concept.

You’re not buying something new, but you’re making something new.

Not only will it be unique, but it will fit perfectly to your body.

Because good tailoring always makes you look good (wink).

And you can go even one step further and create a dress/outfit you’d wear again.

This obviously doesn’t work for all styles and outfits, but if you can make it work, why not?!

It will get to live on after your wedding as a special garment and always remind you of your wedding, which is pretty cool!

Option #3 – Purchase your wedding attire from a sustainable business

If option 1 and option 2 don’t work for you for one reason or another, consider purchasing your wedding attire from a business that focuses on sustainability.

That could mean they use recycled materials and fabrics.

It could mean they utilize low impact fabrics from sustainable resources.

It might mean that they utilize eco-friendly dyes.

Or they make everything to order to reduce waste.

Or perhaps their whole supply chain, production and shipping is intentionally designed to keep both people and planet in mind.

A sustainable wedding attire business can take many forms.

And before you ask, it doesn’t have to be expensive!

The important point is you’re avoiding buying fast fashion or from a company who doesn’t care about sustainability.

And by doing that, you’re not only buying a better product, but you’re supporting a business who is doing good work.

And that makes a difference.

*Pro Tip: Reuse or recycle your wedding attire

No matter which route you choose, you’ll also want to think about what happens after the wedding.

If you’re able to reuse the outfit, do it!

Whether that’s altering it to make it more usable, dying it or rewearing it as is.

And if not, consider recycling your wedding attire.

That could mean reselling it.

It could mean passing it forward to someone else to reimagine it for themselves (whether to a friend or to a charity).

Or it could mean giving it to an organization that can repurpose the materials and turn it into something new.

Giving your wedding attire another life means it prevents new items from having to be made, and reduces both waste and energy.

3 Steps to Eliminate Disposable Wedding Decor & Details

Orchids and tropical greenery centerpieces and candles at a destination wedding in Anguilla
(Photo credit: Savanah Willow)

Wedding decor and details is a broad category, I know. It spans everything from stationery to flowers to candles to favors to wedding party gifts.

But all of these items have a similarity.

It’s one time use, and many times has a high emission supply chain, isn’t made sustainably and ends up being a throwaway.

So, when it comes to all matter of wedding decor and details, eliminating disposable items is the goal.

Because eliminating disposable items means less waste.

Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle!

Step #1 – Think about the need

So, first when you’re considering an item whether that’s candles or placecards or a envelope box, think about the need first.

Ask yourself, do you actually need this item?

The answer might be yes, but the answer might also be no.

Maybe you don’t need place cards and escort cards. Maybe one can do the job of both.

Or maybe you don’t need candles because the venue, caterer or florist is providing some.

Or maybe you don’t need a custom gift box and a different vessel you have will work fine.

Think hard about the need first before you do anything else.

And a good way to think about wedding decor and details is around functionality.

Yes, pretty is the name of the game in weddings, but not all pretty things are functional.

The items to focus on are the items you need for the wedding to function well. Which means items that help guests, provide information, create a happy and comfortable environment and fulfill the goals of the wedding.

These things can still be pretty, but by focusing on function and need instead of superfluous items, you can reduce your climate impact.

A wedding menu sign printed on a upcycled window pane
(Photo credit: What a Day! Photography)

Step #2 – Consider your options

(hint: there are many!)

If you decide you do need an item, then it’s time to consider your options.

And the goal is to try to pick a sustainable wedding decor option. Luckily, there are lots of options!

You can use something you already own (or someone you know owns).

This could be anything from a table linen overlay for an accent table to frames for table numbers or a basket for programs.

The nice thing about using something you (or someone you know) own is that it gives the item more meaning.

And it will be something you keep after the wedding or could be your something borrowed!

Another option is you can buy the item used.

There is a never ending mass of items that are being bought for weddings all the time.

And those couples many times are looking to get rid of it after the wedding (ahem, here’s the waste we’re talking about).

So, if you need something chances are someone has already purchased it.

Buying it used means you’re giving the item another life and that’s great.

Or you can also rent the item and save yourself time and labor.

Renting is a great option not just for sustainability, but because you don’t have to deal with anything!

You don’t have to store it, transport it, clean it, figure out what to do with it after, etc…

It really does save you time and effort.

Now the last option of course is you could purchase something new.

If you need to go this route, make sure you’re getting it from a sustainable company or you’re buying something that’s made from recycled or low impact materials.

Or if what you need can’t be found with those parameters, then at the very least, make sure it’s an item you’ll keep and use afterwards, so that the use goes beyond the wedding day.

Brown bottle bud vases with wildflowers served as centerpieces for a Stanley Idaho wedding
(Photo credit: Christine Marie Photo)

Step #3 – My item will go on and on…

The last piece to consider is what happens to that item after the wedding.

Remember we’re talking about waste here.

So if you’ve gotten to this point with an item, what happens after the wedding?

If you’ve chosen well, perhaps you picked an item that you will keep and use in your home for years to come.

Or you might have a plan to give it away as a gift because you know it’s something a friend would like.

Or you have a plan to resell, donate, recycle or compost it.

The question is, does this item end up in the trash?

The answer you’re looking for is NO.

Like the Celine Dion song, you want your item to go on and on and on…

But if the answer is yes, then it’s time to rethink it (start with step #1 again).

So, if virgin paper boxes and little ribbons for your favors are going to get thrown away, you switch to recyclable/compostable paper bags instead.

Instead of buying random props for the photobooth on Amazon, scrounge around your friend’s houses for old costumes.

And maybe you choose an item that can fulfill multiple needs like a live plant that is both an escort card, place card, favor and decor instead of 4 different items.

Understanding the life cycle of the item you’re choosing to incorporate into your wedding is helpful in assessing whether you’re making a sustainable choice or not.

Don’t do it for the ‘gram,

do it for the earth!

Before we wrap up today’s post, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the elephant in the room.

Or perhaps I should say the devil in the room.

Social media and wedding media.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s even more relevant to wedding attire, decor and details than almost anything else.

Because so much of what you see about weddings focuses on how things look.

The emergence of the flat lay made stationery ever more important.

Images of matching robes, accessories, special signage, dessert displays, wedding party gifts, custom welcome bags and favors, and huge floral displays swirl all around us.

Now I’m not saying that these are “bad” things per se. They are lovely to look at for a reason.

And I’m not saying you need to abandon what you care about, your vision and what is important to you.

And I’m not saying that social media and wedding media is Satan.

What I’m saying is that you can easily get into a mindset of what a wedding should look like based on everything you see on social media and wedding media.

You can get into a mindset of all the things you “need”, when you don’t actually need it.

It can be the devil on your shoulder.

When that devil is on your shoulder, all the “stuff” becomes SO important.

And you end up with all this stuff you’ve bought just for the wedding with no real reasoning behind it. With zero intention.

And the climate impact of the media affects both energy usage and waste for your wedding and that adds up!

All for ONE day.

All for the ‘gram.

Now of course this might sound crazy coming from a wedding planner and designer, but it’s 100% true.

I’m telling you right now, you don’t need all the “stuff”. You really don’t.

Some stuff will be needed no matter what, but how you go about that and the decisions you make can really have an impact on the earth.

So, what I want to encourage is don’t do it for the ‘gram, do it for the earth and for yourself!

Make decisions not only for your wedding attire, decor and details, but for all things wedding with a focus on the earth and not the image.

Your wedding can and will still be beautiful and your images will still be lovely to share.

But when you’re not making decisions for the image alone, you’ll make more intentional decisions and that helps not only your wedding (and making it yours), but the world too.

And given how much we all love this earth we inhabit, it’s worth the time to really consider your options.

Choosing sustainable options for your wedding attire, decor and details can really make an impact (in a good way!) on your planning, your budget, your wedding and of course all of us humans too.

And we can help! You don’t need to go at this alone.

Please get in touch and we can help you create your sustainable wedding.

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