Zero Waste Weddings

by | Jun 4, 2021

“Waste not, want not”

Image via BorrowedBlooms

Amid our first serious lockdown, this saying was top of mind as we thought twice about throwing away leftover food and lived off the land. There was zero waste. reports that the average wedding in the U.S. produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2 (according to Green Bride Guide). Convert this to terms we understand, and we are looking at 181kg of garbage. That’s a lot of waste.

No surprise then that “Zero waste weddings” is trending – if this pandemic has done nothing else, it has turned us into more responsible human beings.

In this month’s wedding blog we look at ways to have a zero-waste and perhaps more eco-friendly wedding:

  1. Paperless invites/ Sowing the seeds of love.
  2. Think carefully about your wedding venue choice.
  3. Sustainable Flowers.
  4. #supportlocal and food saving ideas.
  5. Donate your food leftovers.
  6. Edible wedding favours.
  7. Wedding gifts.
  8. Dressing up (or down) for weddings.



1.      Paperless invites/ Sowing the seeds of love

The zero-ist wedding invitation is of course the email version – no post doves involved, no petrol wasted, and no carbon emissions. But don’t you just love paper with seeds inside? The promise of new life and growth always excites us. Handcraft your personalised wedding invitation with the knowledge that you are contributing to the earth’s wellbeing. Once planted, this invite may render some wildflowers or herbs.


Growing Paper is a proudly South African company that produces 100% hand-made, recycled, plant-able, and biodegradable paper products.  Not only does it grow into beautiful living herbs, vegetables, or flowers when planted, but it also results in zero waste. Roxanne, founder of the company says the idea for their recycled seeded paper products came about in 2009 when she was at a family wedding and started thinking about all the lovely stationery going to waste.


Image via GrowingPaper

There are so many applications for plant-able paper products, but having your personalised wedding placemats, coasters or gift tags are all grand ideas. Insider’s tip: print your menu on your placemat and save on menu printing costs.


2.      Think carefully about your wedding venue choice

Umthunzi Hotel Chapel

If you are hosting a wedding with a conscience, then choosing a venue with similar values is a good idea. Check if your venue is recycling and composting. Maybe they even have their own little veggie or herb garden or use flowers from their own garden. What happens to all those empty bottles of wine and beer cans? Recycle, recycle.

CO2 emission is a buzzword when we are talking about eco-friendly weddings. Look for a venue that requires minimal rentals – if your venue has its own tables, chairs, and linen, you are already saving loads of emissions from event rental trucks having to cart decor to your venue!


3.      Sustainable Flowers

Image via Venuelust

Thousands of rand are spent on flowers at every wedding – this is possibly the one item that goes to waste the quickest. While we all adore the beauty of floral arrangements, zero waste weddings offer some alternatives:

  • Make a centerpiece of microgreens or potted flowers. Add a name tag to each pot and your guests can then take this little gem home.
  • Make sure all the flowers find a loving family at the end of the night.
  • A big no-no is out-of-season flowers or exotic flowers – can you see the price tag on these?
  • Share wedding flowers with another bride.
  • Water-based centerpieces

Ever thought of sharing your wedding décor costs with another bride? Chat to your venue to see if they have another wedding booked right after yours. If you have an open-minded bride with similar tastes the next day, chances are that you may be able to share costs on décor and perhaps even flowers.

Is it possible to rent your wedding flowers for a day? Although we couldn’t find a local SA supplier, it certainly is possible in America.  Somethingborrowed rents out beautiful silk flowers – one really can’t tell the difference. All you budding entrepreneurs or struggling florists, keep this idea in your inspiration file and let us know if we can add you to our wedding suppliers list!


4.       #supportlocal and food saving ideas

Image via Priscilla Louw/ Unsplash

Wedding planners and venues all agree on one thing: There is so much wedding cake left over after a wedding. So what to do? You have two options: keep it small, or come prepared. Have little personalised cake boxes on standby and encourage your wedding guests to take a bit of cake with them for tomorrow’s tea at ten.

These elegant cake boxes from Fancy Parties with gold foil come in packs of ten:

5.      Donate your food leftovers

When serving a buffet there is always food left over. If you want to donate the food to a local charity, make sure to assign the task to a willing family member to save the food in large containers, keep it refrigerated at home and then deliver it to the chosen charity the very next morning. Let your venue know beforehand so they can assist in the process. Even certain bones can be taken to an SPCA the next day for doggie delights.

6.      Edible wedding favours

We are all a bit over the branded champagne glasses as wedding favours, right? Get creative with wedding favours and scout around your local area.  How can you #supportlocal? Are there any olive farms, beekeepers, or organic farms?  Check in with your local farming community for ideas.

We love these handcrafted biscuits from Fancyparties which will make a beautiful wedding favour – almost too good to eat:


Image via FancyParties                                                       Image via PopSugar

An edible wedding favour will never go to waste and you can have fun with quirky packaging while at it.


Image via OffTheBeatBride

We love the idea of birdseed as wedding favours. This can easily be made at home and is super eco-friendly.

Image via  TinyHoots                                                              

7.      Wedding gifts

We live in the age of excess. Try and sway your wedding guests in the direction of eco-friendly wedding gifts.  Ask for e-gift cards – this will eliminate unwanted or unneeded gifts.

Instead of asking for things, rather ask for experiences. Perhaps you have always been really keen on high tea at the Oyster Box Hotel?  Or a massage at their exquisite Spa? Believe us when we say that there are vouchers for anything under the sun.

Image via OysterBox                                                            


8.      Dressing up (or down) for weddings

Unlike our counterparts overseas, we don’t have nearly enough thrift stores to make us happy. Our local charity stores are often cast-offs and not really your Sunday best. But do look online for previously loved wedding dresses. It’s bound to be dry cleaned and only has a few hours of wear behind it. And it is likely to be half the price of a brand new dress. We made a shortlist of the websites with pre-loved beautiful dresses:

And then, of course, we have Facebook Marketplace. A quick search for wedding dresses will bring up loads of choices. The upside is that Facebook has you geo-tagged and will bring up wedding dresses within your immediate area. All you need to is to arrange a fitting and you are a few steps close to your dream wedding dress, at a fraction of the cost.

Image via Ali Choubin/ Unsplash                                                        

Are you up for the challenge of a zero-waste wedding? Or even just an eco-friendly wedding?  An old Indian saying takes us to the heart of the matter:

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

  • Cree Prophecy

Umthunzi Hotel offers amazing all inclusive Wedding Deals just for you and they will throw in a stunning view for free! With a professional wedding team there to make your wedding a personalized, special celebration your dream wedding can become a reality.



She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.

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