NEW YORK (AP) – The wedding industry remains fraught with waste, but a growing contingent of brides and grooms is pushing for more sustainable changes, from the way they invite guests to the food they serve and the clothes they wear.
The wedding resource The Knot estimates that more than two-thirds of about 15,000 site users did or planned to incorporate eco-conscious touches, including secondhand decor, minimising food waste and avoiding one-time use products. Nearly one in three said vendors should be more proactive in leading the way.
After two chaotic years for the wedding industry, searches on Pinterest for thrifted weddings have tripled, and they’ve doubled for reuse wedding dress ideas, according to the site’s 2022 wedding trends report. The online resale giant Poshmark said demand for secondhand wedding dresses is at an all-time high, especially for those costing USD500 or more.
Executive editor of The Knot Lauren Kay said more venues, caterers and other vendors are taking notice. “A lot of vendors are really educating themselves on ways to be more sustainable in an effort to meet the demand,” she said.
“We’re seeing across the board much more interest and recognition around sustainability.”
For example, Something Borrowed Blooms offers silk florals rather than fresh cut flowers, which often travel long distances and are arranged using non-recyclable foam. Nova by Enaura rents bridal veils. VerTerra sells bowls and compostable plates made of fallen palm leaves, while Pollyn, a plant shop in Brooklyn, uses biodegradable nursery pots as more couples turn to plants in place of cut flowers.
If paper goods are a must, Paper Culture makes invitations, save the dates and reception cards using 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper. The company offsets its manufacturing and transportation carbon footprint through credits that put resources back into the planet, and it plants a tree with every order.
For 28-year-old Anna Masiello, getting it right for her wedding is an extension of a more climate-friendly lifestyle she embraced several years ago after moving from her native Italy to Portugal to earn a master’s degree in environmental sustainability.
“I really started to learn about climate change and the real impacts of it. We hear so much about it but sometimes it’s so overwhelming that we decide not to learn more or to understand it,” she said. “I just said, OK, it’s time to act.”
She took her journey to social media, using the handle hero_to_0, in reference to zero waste, and has amassed more than 70,000 followers on TikTok and nearly 40,000 on Instagram for her regular updates on her life and wedding planning.
Masiello’s naturally dyed lavender wedding outfit of a long skirt and matching top is made of deadstock linen (material that factories or stores weren’t able to use or sell).
The trousers and shirt her fiance will wear are secondhand. The rings they’ll exchange belonged to two of their grandparents.
Her fiance carved her engagement ring out of wood from a tree her parents planted when she was born. Her video about it has been viewed more than 12 million times.
The couple’s 50 guests at the outdoor ceremony in an uncle’s yard will throw confetti punched out of fallen leaves, and the decor will include wood, used glass jars, and plants from the garden. In place of paper goods, they went digital. And no favours will be handed out. To help take the carbon sting out of some guests’ plane travel, the couple plans to plant trees.
Not all of Masiello’s feedback on social media has been positive. Some have mocked her efforts. But she has embraced that conversation.
“When I started sharing and I saw that it was impacting so many people, and also so many people were having a very negative reaction, I was like, OK, this is really stirring people’s emotions. I have to talk more about it, and I’m very glad I’m doing it,” she said.
In Los Angeles, 31-year-old Lena Kazer has thought about it, too, for her May 21 wedding in her backyard with 38 guests.
“Both of us are a little disgusted by the extravagance of the wedding industry,” she said. “We agreed we would use the resources that we have and avoid buying anything that we won’t continue to use.”
They are using compostable or recyclable utensils, cups and plates. They’re batching drinks to reduce waste, and are using their own furniture for seating. Kazer’s bouquet will be made of real flowers, but she has kept flower purchases to a minimum.
“We’re buying almost all decorations at thrift stores, and I’m wearing my sister’s wedding dress and my mom’s veil,” she said. “We told everyone they could wear whatever they wanted after hearing about people spending thousands of dollars on new outfits for weddings.”