Wedding Blog > Ideas, News & Top Lists

Sustainable Wedding Ideas

Whether you’re fully committed to sustainable living, looking to do your bit for Mother Nature, or planning a wedding on a budget, Tanya Bywater of ABIA Weddings Australia, shares some green wedding ideas to easily reduce your wedding’s carbon-footprint, impress your guests and perhaps even save some money in the process.


Image Simon Bills Photography

Sustainable weddings are fast becoming a ‘thing’, and there’s a lot to love about wedding ideas that consciously consider the planet.

Adaptable to any theme — from rustic weddings to simple modern celebrations — eco-friendly choices not only help the environment, they can also enhance a day’s meaning, up the ambiance, and even offer subtle ways to save on wedding costs.

What’s more, with so many vendors now considering their own impact, planning a sustainable wedding is easier that you think, and there are some simple steps you can take toward a more eco-friendly wedding celebration.


Image Simon Bills Photography

Locate a sustainable wedding venue

You don’t need to pitch a tent in the bush to host a sustainable wedding theses days — stylish and sustainable often go hand-in-hand. Wedding venues everywhere are taking significant steps to improve their green credentials, and some offer an eco-option based purely on their location.

Sustainability can take many forms, so weigh up the environmental factors that concern you most and consider the following points to narrow down the venue that’s the right fit for you and your special occasion.

  • Choose local venues, or settings that are located close to most on your guest list, and you can easily reduce the need for travel, and the emissions associated with it. Wedding venues that cater to your ceremony, photographic preferences and reception in the one location can be an ideal option.
  • Look for a venue with a view, ambience, atmosphere or inclusive decorations that appeal to you, and you’ll lessen the embellishment you need to personalise the space.
  • Weigh up each venue’s inclusions and preferred vendorscaterers, coordinators, entertainment providers and the like — so that you can factor them into your decision-making too.
  • Many venues have gone to great lengths to up their eco-status, and are eager to promote it, so book in a chat and ask questions.


A location, like The Old Dairy Maleny, which accommodates the ceremony, reception and photography, and offers onsite accommodation, can help reduce transport emissions | Image @trentandjessie


Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat offers a spectacular natural location, with onsite ceremony, reception and accommodation options | Image @red_berry_photography


Combining ceremony and reception in a picturesque country setting on the outskirts of Sydney, a well-located venue, like Gledswood Homestead & Winery, can reduce the need for guests to travel | Image Clarity Photography by Krystal Dempsey

Start with a sustainable wedding invitation

There’s no denying that a digital invitation ticks boxes from an environmental perspective, but for most couples, and their guests, there’s still ‘something special’ about sending and receiving a wedding invitation by mail.

It’s also common for wedding stationery suites to include save-the-date cards, RSVP cards, ceremony programs, general signage, placecards, table seating charts, table numbers, menus, favor tags and thankyou cards in addition to invitations, so you’ll likely need to factor in some of these items too.

Fortunately, the eco-options for paper and stationery have come a long way, so chat to your wedding stationery designer about the possibilities available (read our suggestions for what to include on your wedding invitations first, if you need to), and consider these ideas to keep your communication greener.

  • Look for alternatives to virgin materials. Choose recycled paper, cardstock and envelopes or explore reused alternatives like fabric, leather, timber or even glass.
  • Opt for biodegradable or vegetable-based inks where available.
  • Mix your messages and apply a digital approach to some of your communication. Save-the-dates, for instance, are often sent as a digital message, followed later by a formal posted invitation. Digital RSVPs can prove an efficient and enviromentally-friendly way for guests to respond too.
  • Personalise menus to include a name, eliminate the need for individual placecards, and create a lovely keepsake of your occasion.
  • Choose biodegradable trims and embellishments, and add a ‘please recycle me’ message, where appropriate, to cut back on waste.


Recycled papers make a more sustainable option for wedding invitations | Image courtesy Fielding Milligan

Consider sustainable wedding fashion

You should absolutely wear your mum’s dress, or borrow your brother’s suit, if that’s what takes your fancy, but there’s no need to hit the op-shops, craft a dress from plastic bags or go to extremes to make an eco-friendly wedding fashion statement.

Conscious choices can make a significant difference when it comes to selecting your wedding gown, bridesmaids’ dresses, suits for grooms and male attendants and even your styling products, make-up and accessories, so consider these points to find a wedding look that treads lighter on the planet.

  • Chat to your wedding boutique or designer about locally-sourced designs and fabrics to cut down on transport emissions.
  • Look too for natural fabrics, made using ethical and sustainable practices.
  • Consider hiring where you can.
  • Seek out quality garments and accessories that you, and your attendants will wear again and again. Adopt the latest trend toward mismatched bridesmaid dresses, or infinity styles that can be worn a multitude of ways, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.
  • Donate, or resell, any outfits that won’t be worn after the wedding, to avoid contributing to landfill.
  • Chat to your hair stylist or make-up artist about the products they use and aim for brands that take packaging and animal-testing into consideration. Check ingredients too, and go for healthier options, and natural fragrances, that will prove better for you, and the environment, in the long-term.
  • Seek out jewellery and accessories sourced ethically, and manufactured fairly.


Able to be worn a number of ways, infinity dresses from The Gown House will almost certainly be worn by bridesmaids again | Image The Storytellers Wedding Co.


Suit hire offers a sustainable solution for grooms and groomsmen | Image courtesy Black Jacket Suiting


Embrace the mismatched bridesmaid dress trend and attendants will be more likely to wear their outfits again | Image Days Like These Events + Photography

Choose environmentally-friendly confetti

The tradition of tossing confetti at weddings can be traced back for centuries as a way for guests to bestow luck and prosperity on newly-weds, and it’s a ritual that can be easily celebrated in a sustainable way, provided you choose your confetti thoughtfully. Consider the location of your wedding, and any animals that frequent it, and select a biodegradable confetti that complements, such as one of these eco-friendly confetti alternatives.

  • Flower petals
  • Leaves — small or hole-punched
  • Bird seed
  • Eco-confetti — generally made from edible ingredients
  • Bubbles ­— made with a non-toxic mix


Freeze dried rose petal confetti, from Simply Flower Petals, is eco-friendly and biodegradable | Image courtesty Simply Flower Petals

Put thought into your wedding flowers

From buttonholes to wedding bouquets, ceremony arrangements and table decorations, flowers play a significant role in most wedding celebrations, and there are abundant ways to incorporate beautiful blooms into your special day more sustainably.

  • Chat to your wedding florist or floral designer about sustainable flower options to find out what they can offer, and what’s available in your area. Many will go out of their way to source sustainable blooms and potted flowers and plants if requested.
  • Discuss ways to make the most of your flowers too. Many wedding florists will happily arrange to move arrangements from the ceremony space to the reception, for instance.
  • Pick local blooms that will be in season for your occasion and you’ll save the transport emissions associated with exotic, imported florals.
  • Go faux! Faux flowers have come a long way, and high-quality artificial flowers today look and feel almost as real as their freshly-picked equivalents. Easy-care, wilt-free and completely reusable, they’ve become a popular choice at weddings and you’ll find a host of highly-qualified floral designers now specialising in bespoke faux floral creations.
  • Put a plan in place for your flowers once your wedding is over — invite guests to take them home, make advanced arrangements to donate them to a hospital or nursing home, or look at preservation options, to spread the joy for longer.


Quality faux flowers, such as these from Elana K Weddings, look spectacular and can be used again | Image Inlighten Photography


Many florists will happily provide double-duty ceremony arrangements that can be moved to the reception | Image courtesy Raising Flowers


Many of today's faux flowers, like these from Silkflora, look and feel like real blooms | Image @hipstermumphotography


Advanced preservation techniques, like those offered by For Keeps, allow wedding bouquets and arrangments to be enjoyed indefinitely | Image courtesy For Keeps

Go green with your wedding decorations

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a blank canvas or adding just a touch of personality, the furnishings, decorations and embellishments you introduce to your ceremony and reception spaces can have a significant environmental impact. Choosing venues that need little enhancement can reduce waste and consumption concerns, but there are a multitude of other ways to improve the sustainability of your wedding decorating too.

  • Wedding stylists and planners offer a wealth of knowledge and useful contacts, so brief them on your green goals from the outset.
  • Look to hire, rather than buy, everything from marquees to furniture, signage, linens, lighting and table centrepieces and you’ll save on costs and avoid contributing to landfill.
  • Check out local suppliers and manufacturers for any necessary purchases, and support those with a sustainable ethos and ethical approach.
  • Seek out reusable decorations, made from natural materials like linen, leather, timber or glass, or opt for those that are easily biodegradable.
  • Ensure your decorations get reused again by selling them on or donating them.


Plan to hire, rather than purchase, everything from marquees to linen, furniture and decorations, from specialists like Maple Weddings & Events | Image @artographyweddings


Choose a visually spectacular venue, such as QAGOMA, and you’ll reduce the need to add decoration | Image Studio Impressions Photography

Choose clean wedding catering

The food and drink you serve at your wedding plays a significant role in the guest experience and, when chosen and served with care, can significantly reduce the environmental footprint of your celebration.

If meals, beverages and a wedding cake are provided by your short-listed reception venues, enquire about their catering approach from the outset, so that you can factor it into your decision-making before booking. And, if you’re sourcing cake designers and wedding caterers independently, consider these ideas to help make your festivities more eco-friendly.

  • Talk to potential vendors about their sustainability standards, and gauge their willingness to accommodate any special requests that are important to you.
  • Aim to serve food that’s locally-sourced and in season — it requires less transport, and therefore produces less emissions.
  • Consider ingredients grown and produced with thought for the environment and animal welfare, such as organic, free-range and wild-caught produce.
  • Take food waste into account when choosing between buffets, plated menus and cocktail service, and put a plan in place for any leftovers.
  • Ponder packaging too. Bulk options — ingredients sourced in wholesale portions, wine poured from magnums and tap beer — tend to produce less waste than individual servings.
  • Avoid disposable single-use serving ware, tableware, glassware and the like, by opting for real plates, linens, cutlery and glass, or using biodegradable or compostable alternatives.


Beverages served in glass, and on tap, can reduce waste | Image courtesy Kombi Keg


Hire crockery, cutlery and table linen to avoid the need for disposable servingware | Image courtesy Infinity Weddings and Events


Food that's locally-sourced supports the local economy and requires less transport | Image courtesy Fabulous Catering

Get creative with sustainable wedding guest favors

Put some extra thought into your wedding guest bonbonniere and you’ll easily come up with ideas that both the planet, and your guests, will appreciate.

Look for gifts that your guests can consume — such as edible treats and bathing luxuries — or seek out items they’ll genuinely treasure as a memento of your wedding day.

Donating to a charity, in lieu of favors, is becoming a popular wedding trend too. Mention the contribution on the menu, in the speeches, or in a prominent place, to make guests aware of how you’ve chosen to show your gratitude.


Edible treats, such as these personalised cookies from With Style Weddings and Events, double as a sustainable placecard and thank you gift | Image Life and Love Photography


A monogrammed tumbler will be treasured by guests, and they’ll think of you every time they sip from it | Image courtesy Personalised Favours 

Suggest a sustainable wedding gift

Register with stores stocking eco-friendly items, or go with a digital registry, such as Hitchd, which allows guests to contribute to experiences from flights to holiday accommodation, spa treatments, tours, tickets and one-of-a-kind adventures.

Plan an eco-friendly honeymoon

With increasing interest in sustainable tourism, many travel companies and accommodation providers have moved quickly to enhance and promote their commitment to the environment, so seek out those taking measures that genuinely align with your ethos and throw your support behind them — the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Eco Tourism Australia's Green Travel Guide are great places to begin.

By honeymooning closer to home, you’ll notably reduce your environmental impact by eschewing long flights and high-emission transport too, so check out our suggestions for the Best Honeymoon Destinations in Australia, and plan the perfect eco-friendly honeymoon.


Enfolded in national park on an island in Queensland's Whitsundays, Elysian Luxury Eco Island Retreat boasts Eco Tourism Australia certification and offers an indulgent, yet off-grid, eco-honeymoon location.


Luxe safari tents, perched on the beach overlooking Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef, meet Eco Tourism Australia's certification standards and promise a memorable, meaningful and sustainable honeymoon experience at Sal Salis.

For further wedding inspiration, or to research your wedding planning options visit the ABIA Wedding Directory. It’s a comprehensive resource offering a one-stop-shop for engaged couples looking for everything weddings — from venues to celebrants, MCs, musicians, cars and transport and unique wedding ideas. Use it to search for wedding vendors in your local area, keep up-to-date with the latest wedding trends, and read ratings and reviews left by recently married pairs who’ve already paved the way for you.