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A rundown on sustainable weddings
Sustainability is having a moment, and couples can embrace the practice when planning their wedding.

Wedding trends come and go, but an emphasis on sustainability is one practice that could exhibit some staying power in the years to come. As the world confronts climate change, sustainability is gaining steam as a sound and vital practice.

Modern couples recognize the significance of sustainability. In fact, a 2022 Sustainable Wedding Alliance poll of couples planning their wedding found that 78 percent of respondents identified sustainability as important to them. As couples plan their big day, they can keep these sustainability practices in mind to ensure their wedding reflects their desire to protect the planet.

Repurpose for the big day. Repurposing is a tenet of sustainability, and that pillar is easily applied to weddings. Brides can repurpose wedding gowns used by family members, which can add a touch of sentimentality to a sustainable wedding, particularly if the dress is being handed down from a previous generation, such as a parent or grandparent. Furnishings and decor also can be repurposed after the wedding. For example, couples can encourage guests to take centerpieces home after the reception so they get a second life and are not simply discarded after a single use.

Focus on reducing waste. Weddings are not the first event to come to mind when pondering eco-friendly affairs, and waste contributes to that less than environmentally-conscious reputation. But there are plenty of ways to cut back on wedding waste. When shopping around for a reception venue, prioritize those that do not use single-use plastics. Cocktail hour plastic utensils might be convenient for venues, but they contribute to a substantial amount of ocean pollution. For instance, the Ocean Conservancy notes that volunteers removed nearly two million plastic knives, forks and spoons from the world’s waterways in a single day.

Arrange for leftover food to be donated. Food waste is another notable area where weddings tend to be less eco-friendly. When discussing reception plans with their wedding venue representative, couples can express their desire that any leftover food be donated to a local organization catering to those in need. This is an especially effective strategy, as the organization Feeding America notes 92 billion pounds of food are wasted annually in the United States. Donating leftovers ensures that all the energy that goes into planting, harvesting, transporting, preparing, and serving food is not for naught.

Host a local wedding. Destination weddings appeal to many couples, but those focused on sustainability may want to stay closer to home. Doing so decreases the likelihood that most guests will have to travel great distances to attend the wedding. That can help lower the carbon footprint of a couple’s big day by lowering guests’ overall fuel consumption in relation to the wedding.