Waste Management Program fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Kyra Moore
Recycled glass containers holding native flowers on a table at a wedding reception

Many brides-to-be dream of a white wedding. The average cost of a traditional wedding is $20,000, and generates a lot of waste through the process. Eco-friendly weddings can provide couples a cost savings and can be just as beautiful and creative as traditional white weddings. Consider making your big day a more environmentally friendly event by following these tips. Adopting even one of these tips for your big day can make its impact on the environment much smaller.

Wedding Rings

Wedding planning usually begins with a search for just-the-right rings. Consider looking at antique and flea markets or in the family jewelry box for heirloom engagement and wedding rings. These can usually be reset or redesigned at a local jeweler to become an original for the wearer. It’s also a bit of history resting on the fingers of the new couple.

Wedding Party Attire

For brides and grooms the next logical step is selecting the wedding attire. For men in the wedding party, a tuxedo or suit rental is a practical solution. The men could also purchase a nice suit they can wear again after the wedding.

Brides and their attendants usually purchase their gowns to keep. Brides can check in their mother’s closet and decide if her wedding gown is suitable. Seamstresses can work wonders to make dresses more modern, while still retaining the fabric of the original dress. If mom’s dress simply will not do, consider vintage or second hand stores or donate your new dress to a charity after the big day. Consider letting the bridal attendants choose a dress they will likely wear again so it doesn’t waste space in a closet or a landfill. 


When looking at locations, think local. Transportation accounts for a large amount of all greenhouse gas emissions. A trip to an island might sound like fun, but taking a wedding party and family members to exotic locations will consume a lot of energy and money. Missouri offers many beautiful indoor and outdoor locations for weddings, including Missouri State Parks and historic sites.

For the reception, arrange for reusable plates and utensils and cloth napkins and tablecloths if they fall within your budget. Have your caterer look for locally grown produce and meats. Ask the venue or caterer to put out some recycling bins for bottles and cans, or whatever materials are accepted in your area. Make arrangements to have any leftover food donated to a local food bank. If you are really ambitious, arrange to have any food waste taken to a compost pile after the wedding.  


Consider sending electronic invitations, which are the most environmentally friendly and can be created by the do-it-yourselfer. If you plan to use traditional printed invitations and thank you cards, look for printers that use recycled content paper and soy based inks. In the invitation, couples can encourage their guests to carpool to the special day, saving your guests money and reducing fuel use and air pollution.

Flowers and Decorations

Brides may want to consider flower arrangements that include locally grown flowers or plants that are in season to minimize the energy used to ship flowers across the country. Any flowers or floral arrangements not usable after the event can be composted. If brides have a green thumb, try growing flowers or centerpieces that can be replanted after the party and might be a bit more cost effective. Brides may also want to consider pairing up with another couple and reuse wedding decorations or even silk flowers for the big day. 


Weddings can generate all sorts of well-intentioned but unwanted gifts, wrapping paper and tissue. Consider setting up an eco-friendly wedding gift registry, which is a wish list of earth-friendly products. Couples could suggest a monetary donation toward their honeymoon, a tree planted in their names or a gift basket of environmentally friendly products. If couples are providing wedding favors to their guests, consider making those earth-friendly too. Guests could reuse decorative gift bags for their gifts or use decorative tins or boxes instead of throwaway wrapping materials to reduce waste.

Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.

For more information