An Eco “I Do”

How to save money, your marriage and the planet!

Writer: Hailey Allen

Let’s be honest here: Weddings are expensive. According to the Knot, the average wedding held in 2022, including both the ceremony and reception, cost $30,000. Multiply that by the estimated 2.4 million weddings that take place each year, and the total adds up to a whopping $72 billion.

Of course, that’s just the monetary cost. The goods and services used in many traditional American weddings rack up quite a bill in terms of labor and materials. Think of all the pounds of paper save-the-dates, the single-use cutlery and stemware during cocktail hours, or the disposable table linens tossed after dinner. It’s no wonder some soonlyweds are scoping out more environmentally conscious ways to celebrate their big day.

ABOUT 2 GALLONS of confetti are recommended for 100 wedding guests to each toss a handful. If every wedding used plastic confetti during sendoffs, that easily adds up to a few tons of plastic floating through our waterways and ecosystems. To minimize that ecological disaster, swap plastic confetti with a biodegradable version or natural flower petals.

1. That’s the number of times most couples wear their wedding attire. For brides, there’s still a superstitious taboo about wearing a second-hand dress even though many grooms rent a tux that’s been worn by dozens of others. Let’s chalk that up to sexism. Save some money and loads of fabric waste by renting a gown or shopping for one at a vintage or consignment store. Many Gen Z brides are combining creativity and sentimentality by altering a wedding dress passed down from their mom or grandma.

20 TO 500 YEARS is how long it takes for plastic to break down, so even small decisions — like limiting plastic decorations or using reusable glass or ceramic drinking straws — can help shrink an event’s carbon footprint. Most restaurants use their own dishes, but it’s a good idea to confirm that other venues use reusable dishes and silverware.

116 MILLION CARATS of diamonds were mined in 2021. That’s about the same weight as a fully loaded garbage truck. While there’s no shortage of diamonds underground, for now, the ethical and environmental impact of extracting them has many people second-guessing the practice. The diamond industry is struggling to avoid exploiting workers, polluting the water and air, degrading the soil and taking over animal habitats. Lab-grown diamonds are a cleaner and often cheaper alternative.

$2,000-$10,000 is typically spent on wedding decorations. Decor budgets often include flowers, centerpieces, ceremony decorations, dinnerware, linens, backdrops, indoor or outdoor lighting and more. Most couples don’t use much of this stuff for other parties or events. So rather than spend so much on new products, it never hurts to browse Facebook Marketplace or eBay for rare finds. Rental companies are springing up to offer entire wedding packages, complete with decor, furniture, lighting and table settings. That way, couples can return everything at the end of the night and don’t need to find a place to store 200 battery-powered tea lights.

200 MILLION TREES are cut down each day to make paper. Paper wedding invitations, save-the-dates, place cards, thank-you cards and other paper products can pile on excessive waste. In the age of the internet, digital invites are becoming more common, but couples who still prefer traditional paper cards can order recycled, biodegradable, compostable or even plantable alternatives at local print shops or online at Etsy.

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