5 Ways To Have An Eco-Ethical Wedding Without Breaking The Bank

The babes keep bringin’ it! These photos are from eco-warrior Anne Therese Bengsston and Arthur’s San Fancisco civil ceremony. She is a huge advocate of the ethical weddings movement and let me share the story of the movement on an episode her mover & shaker podcast Hey Change. It was perfect to pair her photos from the team led by my soul sister on the East Coast Ellen of Greater Good Events, the ethical event company that makes sure brides & grooms have the time of their lives all while making socially-conscious choices. Read on as she lays down her wisdom for easy tweaks to make your wedding ethical:

Today, we’re talking about what it means to plan an eco-friendly, or ethical wedding? These buzzwords are often confusing and sometimes misused. There are so many ways that a couple can contribute to having a more eco-conscious wedding, without breaking the bank.

ethically dressed bride and her husband on their wedding day with champagne in San Francisco

Before we dive in, we wanted to give you a little background on us – we’re Greater Good Events, (GGE) a boutique sustainable and eco-conscious wedding/event planning company based in the NY Metro area (but we work all over the world!). Our founder, Ellen Hockley Harrison, has been working in the events space for almost 15 years, and started GGE as a way to work with and educate people about being more mindful when planning their events.

We work with couples across the globe, to help them understand a myriad of options for being more aware of their environmental and community impact during their wedding planning process.

We’ve picked out our top 5 (but there are plenty more!)


This can be both the easiest and most complicated way to make your day a little more sustainable. More and more, caterers and venues are allowing couples to donate the remaining food after their reception. We suggest identifying an organization that is important to the two of you, learning about their donation practices and working with them (or a local donation service, here’s another good one) to ensure the remaining food items will fit their needs. Just because your reception has 5 pounds of shrimp cocktail left, does not mean that the shelter you volunteer at will be able to use it. As a note, most seafood cannot be donated due to allergies and freshness. Even if you think there may not be leftovers, we suggest having a plan in place, just in case. We’ve often worked with couples where the only remaining food item is the cake, and soups kitchens, shelters etc, LOVE cake. I’ve donated dozens of wedding cakes and they always bring a smile their faces. When thinking about food recycling, ask your caterer what their policies are, if they are willing to help you with the process, or if they have specific organizations they may work with. If repurposing the food is not the right option for your reception, we suggest checking in with your caterer about their composting and overall recycling methods. Even choosing vegan cuisine like Anne Therese and Arthur did greatly reduces your wedding day’s carbon footprint. There are also a few wedding planners across the country (including us!) who have some online resources for donation services.

Flower Recycling

We have only recently begun “formally” recycling flowers – for many years we’ve worked with clients to donate their flowers to friends and family after their events, but recently we have started working with our couples to donate their flowers and decor to communities that may not have the opportunity to enjoy fresh florals. We work with Old Age Homes, Hospitals, Hospice Organizations to pass along the beauty of the wedding flowers. Just note, not all facilities will take florals (due to allergies or health regulations), but those that can, cherish them. Depending on the amount of flowers you have, we also work with a service that will pick up all the flowers, repurpose them into smaller more manageable arrangements and donate them on your behalf.

ethically dressed bride on her wedding day in San Francisco

Ethical/Locally sourced flowers/growing your own

On the topic of flowers, donating after your wedding day is wonderful, but thinking about how and where the flowers come from also contributes to your impact. We work with local florists who source their flowers locally, using seasonal available options, ensuring limited impact on the environment. We’ve also worked with couples who grow their own flowers, but we don’t always recommend that option – as planning a wedding can be stressful enough. Ask your florist where they source their flowers from, what types of items are they using for making the arrangements, how are they storing their flowers and are they certified sustainable?

Susi Heels - ethical wedding

Dress and Suit

Ethical wedding clothing can mean many things. We work with couples who prefer to go the vintage or repurposed route, and that is absolutely considered sustainable, and eco-conscious. You’re reducing waste by utilizing something previously made, this can be done for both a dress or suit! For new options, there are some amazing designers and brands (like eco-friendly Reformation that Anne Therese is wearing paired with her vegan Susi shoes) as well as dedicated dress shops focused solely on creating beautiful minimally impactful clothing. Working with recycled yarns, or ethically farmed silks etc. There are also a few exceptional tailors producing suits this way too!

Wedding Jewelry

This is an often highly contested subject. There are many many ways to reduce your impact, a vintage ring (like Arthur gifted Anne Therese) means new gems and metals do not need to be mined, but they do not fit everyone. There are a few really wonderful resources to help couples find conflict free stones, metals that may have formerly been something else. Lots of couples are also opting to go ringless – getting a tattoo in place of a ring or not feeling the need to be committed to the “tradition” of rings. You made your commitment to one another and it’s up to you to decide how you want to show/share it.


The above are only a few of the ways that couples can be more mindful while planning their wedding, reception, shower, etc. One of our favorite parts of wedding planning is helping couples navigate the amazing ways they can give back to their friends, family, community and environment during the process. We hope this sparked a little light in you, and you’re excited for the future possibilities of your ethical wedding!

ethically dressed bride and groom on their wedding day in San Francisco at City Hall


P.S. Here are a few more ideas; Plant-based plantable wedding invitations with seeds, working with only local and sustainable vendors, purchasing carbon offsets, asking for donations to your favorite organizations instead of wedding gifts. providing alternative transportation options, opting out of single use wedding items (no straws!) We could go on for hours, but we won’t bore you. Follow us on the ‘gram for more tips, tricks and awesome events we’re working on!  

P.S.S. A robust guide from our friends at Less Stuff More Meaning put together a guide with ideas like this plus about 100 more on their e-guide which we sell right here on the blog!


Writing: Greater Good Events

Photography: ComePlum

Dress: Reformation

Hair & Makeup: Green Twig Salon

Shoes: Susi Studio

Flowers: Le Bouquet

Purse: Est/Wst Collective

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