9 Tips and Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Plan a wedding that aligns with your values, and you'll probably save a little money in addition to saving the earth.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we knew it had to be low-key, casual and preferably outdoors. To this day, years later, I do not regret one thing about how we chose to say and celebrate our vows. And included in my list of non-regrets are the choices we consciously made to have as eco-friendly a wedding as we could. So as another anniversary approaches, I'm sharing those choices with you.

The pavilion at our local nature preserve in Birmingham, Alabama, turned out to be a wonderful location for a casual wedding reception.

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

The pavilion at our local nature preserve in Birmingham, Alabama, turned out to be a wonderful location for a casual wedding reception.

1. Location: Reserve a Preserve

After much deliberation, we decided to have our wedding practically in our own backyard at a nature preserve. Many city and county parks will allow weddings, especially if you plan the particulars, as will state and national parks. The “What if it rains?” question was ever-present (as it is with any outdoor wedding), but at a certain point, we just relaxed, left it up to Mother Nature, and in the end, it all worked out. Choosing a park or preserve not only gives you a beautiful spot to get married, but it also contributes financially and gives exposure to a place devoted to environmental stewardship.

Friends created simple arrangements of sustainably grown tulips in vintage Mason jars. 

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

Friends created simple arrangements of sustainably grown tulips in vintage Mason jars. 

2. Arrange Sustainably Grown Flowers

I would like to say that I used a local farm or gardener for our flowers, which is an excellent idea, but I did the next best thing that I could afford and purchased our flowers through the floral counter at Whole Foods (who sources sustainably and ethically grown blooms) and asked a very talented friend to arrange them for us using vases (mainly vintage Mason jars) that I’d collected over the years.

More Wedding Floral Arrangement Tips

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Use Expensive Sparingly

For a rustic-style table, look at mixing bright and fresh-picked blooms. A mixed arrangement can also save money. Kathleen Hyppolite, owner of Kat Flower, suggests mixing expensive flowers with less expensive ones. "If you love peonies but can't afford heaps of them, use them sparingly. Bring in affordable flowers like roses, carnations and lisianthus. The peonies will still shine and elevate the other flowers."

©Kat Flower

Go Bold With a Single Color

For a wedding with a faraway feel, stick with bold colors. Dominant shades of pink can remind you of tropical beaches, while deep red can whisk you away to the Far East. Using a single type of flower to create arrangements can also cut down costs. "Stay with one or two types of flowers and let them carry through the entire wedding," says Janie. "A floral designer is sometimes able to get a better price if they are ordering boxes of a single type of flower. Plus, one or two flowers can make an impact, especially if they are in a bold or complementary color combination."

©Kat Flower

Find a Designer You Jive With

When working with a specific cultural aesthetic, identify a floral designer who can help you create the perfect look. "Before meeting with a floral designer, do your research. Does the designer's style work with the look of your wedding concept? What elements do you need designed? Once you determine your needs, a floral designer will help create areas of focus and impact that will demonstrate your concept and work within your budget," says Kathleen Hyppolite, owner of Kat Flower.

©Kat Flower

Use Greens to Stretch Your Dollar

Think small and loose-style arrangements for a rustic, organic feel. "When choosing your design, don't go for extremely tight, compacted styles that use tons of flowers. Pick lower arrangements that feature lush greeneries, like seeded eucalyptus, bear grass and plumose. The greens will help stretch out the size of the arrangement," says Janie Medley, owner of Janie Medley Flora Design.

©Kat Flower

Try the Local Market

This charming spring bouquet is tied with a swath of lace and an antique pin. For the DIY bride, "Purchase flowers from the local farmers' market. I would suggest you plan your wedding around the time when flowers are in abundance (like the spring season)," suggests Janie.

©Janie Medley Flora Design

Provide the Florist With Containers

Antique silver, Mason jars and even tin cans can be upcycled into vases. "Provide your florist with containers. You can save money if you find a comparable container yourself, but be sure to take measurements. A container with a larger opening will call for more flowers," according to Janie Medley.

©Janie Medley Flora Design

Go Seasonal

A blushing white bouquet will look elegant at a wintry white wedding. If you are getting married during the winter holidays, look for flowers that are in season. "Regardless of the season, brides looking to save money should always opt for seasonal flowers. Though this does not guarantee rock-bottom prices, it always helps when flowers are readily available and abundant," advises Kathleen.

Photo By: KT Merry ©Kat Flower

Expect to Pay More Around the Holidays

A holiday wedding may call for an arrangement of red and green flowers to accessorize cocktail and reception tables. When planning a wedding around Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day and New Year's, be sure to include extra room in your budget. Janie says: "The quality of flowers at these times is not as high, as the flowers are forced to bloom. Flower growers charge more for flowers around major holidays due to supply and demand."

Photo By: Wendy G Photography ©Kat Flower


Soft flowers like roses and ranunculus are a wonderful way to celebrate romance. If you need to be budget-conscious, repurpose flowers that were used during the ceremony. Janie suggests you "repurpose flowers from an arch or gazebo to work elsewhere when the ceremony is finished. Lay the bouquets of your bridal party around the cake table, or use the flowers from the aisle for the sweetheart and cocktail tables."

Photo By: KT Merry ©Kat Flower

Think Beyond Flowers

A romantic flower arrangement can also be accentuated with unconventional elements. Here, light and airy feathers complete an ethereal bride's bouquet. For eye-catching bouquets, centerpieces and all your floral needs, Kathleen gives a final word of advice: "Choose vendors that you like and trust. And trust in them to realize your vision so that you can enjoy your beautiful day." See 27 Floral Alternatives >>

©Kat Flower

3. Buy Booze in Bulk

Rather than buying lots of individual bottles or cans for our beer-loving friends, we chose kegs instead, which greatly reduced the amount of trash or recycling (or cleanup!) needed for our fiesta. We did use plastic cups, but luckily, the recycling opportunities available caught most of this un-eco-friendly clutter. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could ask friends who brew to make the beer for you.

My sister-in-law made our cakes, which were perfect. Choosing local vendors, including family and friends, is both budget-friendly and eco-friendly. 

Photo by: Vandiver Chaplin

Vandiver Chaplin

My sister-in-law made our cakes, which were perfect. Choosing local vendors, including family and friends, is both budget-friendly and eco-friendly. 

4. Hire Local Vendors

Our rehearsal dinner and wedding reception were both very casual, and we chose local vendors — individuals who were friends or friends of friends — to provide the food for each. We had barbecue and sides for our reception from — get this — a gas-station BBQ joint that was amazing, and so many people asked for the pit master’s business card that he ran out. We also asked my now-sister-in-law, an avid baker, to make our cakes, which were fantastic. All these choices kept our radius of influence and purchasing small, which is a great eco-friendly practice in general.

5. Choose Compostable or Recyclable Dinnerware

Like I mentioned before, we went casual (better known as Rustic Chic) for our wedding vibe, so it wasn’t a stretch to use compostable paper plates and compostable flatware for our BBQ dinner. I ordered mine here (and so over-calculated the number needed that we are still using them for parties nearly three years later!). Bonus: Our eco-friendly location already had bins in place for recycling and composting, so that next step was already taken care of for us. If your location doesn’t have recycling bins, you could dress up a few and scatter them about with a friendly reminder to guests.

The locally grown heirloom tomato plants we gave as favors were a big hit. 

Photo by: BOB FARLEY/F8PH0TO.ORG, Bob Farley


The locally grown heirloom tomato plants we gave as favors were a big hit. 

6. Grow Plantable Party Favors

While I didn't source our flower from local farms, we did get our party favors — heirloom tomato plants — custom-grown by good friends at Maple Valley Nursery. They were nice enough to customize the plant tags for us, too. The best thing about this was seeing friends post pictures of their plants and tomato harvest later in the season, so it was like the joy of our wedding day was living on in our friends’ gardens all over the country. You could find a local grower to do the same for you, or opt for custom wedding seed packets, such as these wildflower seeds from American Meadows.

More Green and DIY Wedding Favor Ideas

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Mini Succulents

These hearty plants are pretty, inexpensive and practically unkillable. For a special touch, pot in colored gravel or sand to match your wedding theme. Not sure where to buy succulents? Buy them in bulk for cheap by clicking the link below.

DIY Fancy Dipped Strawberries

These homemade dipped strawberries are simple to make and to embellish. Plus, they're delicious!

Photo By: Heather Baird

Pie Party Favors

Send your guests home with petite pies to indulge in. Instead of spending money on boxes, wrap the desserts in vintage handkerchiefs they can keep after the sweets are gone.

Air Plants

Even easier to care for than succulents, air plants make a great wedding favor (and place holder) even for those without a green thumb. You can find these rustic beauties on thisfineday's Etsy shop.

Photo By: thisfineday

Dipped Fall Apples

Rustic yet refined embellishments like a sprig of gilded greenery and a leaf-shaped kraft paper tag make these candy-coated apples a casually elegant, yet affordable DIY favor.

Photo By: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

DIY Gold Wedding Bubbles

Add a sophisticated look to dollar store wedding bubbles by covering the bottom with stunning gold brush strokes. All you need is liquid leaf paint (found at the craft store), an artist's brush and clear plastic containers of bubbles (bought in an eight-pack for one buck!).

Photo By: Sarah Busby

Homemade Soap Bars

Homemade soap is a great DIY favor to treat your guests to. Wrap in brown paper and seal with a personalized wax seal for a decorative touch.

Indulgent Breakfast Kit

After the after-party, your friends and family will be thankful to open up a box of ready-made breakfast. Wrap biscuits and a jam jar in waxed paper, then tuck into a white pastry box and adorn with a strip of burlap, raffia ribbon and a sprig of greenery.

Cocktail Creations

These rose and mint champagne cocktails make an elegant signature wedding drink and an even better party favor. Fill mason jars with dried rosebuds, attach a tag with the recipe and send guests home with some happy hour inspiration.

Homemade Caramel Corn

Caramel corn wedding favors make a yummy thank-you gift for your nearest and dearest. Show off the scrumptious golden color by packaging the corn in clear boxes.

Photo By: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Savory Treat

Having an intimate, rustic affair? Invite guests to break bread (literally) with fresh walnut-rosemary olive loaves tucked inside paper bags featuring the recipe.

Infused Sugars

For something really sweet, consider giving infused sugars like the ones shown here by Eden Passante of Sugar and Charm. Just layer sugar and the dry ingredient of your choice in a sealed container for a few days to let the flavor set. Try dried fruit, vanilla beans, coffee beans, lavender or all of the above!

Gold + Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

These dipped marshmallows make a fun fall wedding favor for your guests. Offer them with a hot chocolate bar if the weather on your special day is cool and crisp.

Photo By: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

To the Happy "Pear"

As a fun surprise at the end of your garden-inspired wedding, send guests home with this fresh, edible favor.

Macaron Morsels

Decadent and delicious, bite-size Tiffany-blue macarons are the perfect sweet treat to give guests for the drive home.

Sparkler Send-Off Kits

Complete with a personal matchbook, this adorable, easy-to-make kit pulls double duty as both a favor and wedding send-off. MAKE THIS

Photo By: Tori Watson, Project By: 17Apart

Giant Cookies

Kim Stoegbauer of The TomKat Studio used a CD envelope as a clever wrapper for a giant homemade cookie. Attach printable tags and seal envelopes with decorative twine for favors that both music lovers and cookie monsters will appreciate.

Gourmet Chocolate Bars

Remove the outer wrappers of store-bought candy bars and cover in gold crepe paper. Then wrap our printable wrappers around the bar and secure with double-sided tape at the back. Embellish with paper rosebuds from craft stores for an unexpected 3D touch.

Puppy Treats

Don't forget the fur kids! Send your pet-loving guests home with a pretty bag of custom dog treats. For your friends who don’t have dogs? Put some human goodies out for them to take home.

Photo By: Leigh Hayward Photography

S'more Kits

S’mores are easy and budget-friendly wedding favors that are perfect for a wedding any time of the year. Combine the classic s'more ingredients of a marshmallow and chocolate bar sandwiched between two graham crackers and place in a cellophane bag for a treat your guests are sure to love.

©The Photo Love

Tins of Lip Balm

Whenever your friends and family clink glasses at the reception, it's customary to kiss. Make sure your lips — and the lips of your loved ones — are smoochable by giving out DIY lip balm as a favor. You can make a plain version for the gents and add a little pigment for the ladies. Add custom stickers to tin lids and they're ready to go.

Pass the Preserves

For a Southern affair, skip the candy bar and opt for sweet jams and other preserves. Peach jam was a major hit at this Georgia wedding.

Photo By: She-N-He Photography

After Dinner Coffee

When the reception is over, send guests on their way with your favorite coffee beans. Bonus? These darling free downloads from Something Turquoise really up the cute factor. MAKE THIS + GET THE FREE PRINTABLE

Photo By: Something Turquoise

More Cowbell

Get more bang for your buck with favors that double as a send-off! Adorn cute cowbells with a DIY tag featuring your new initials and a thank you note for guests on the back.

Photo By: Amber Lowe Photo

Painted Wood Chip Coasters

Instead of dropping tons of cash on personalized coasters (because who wants a coaster with your name and wedding date on it?), make stylish versions that your guests can and will want to use again and again. All you need to make these pretty wood coasters is a dead tree branch, a table saw and paint.

Some Like It Hot

Spice things up by giving your guests the gift of hot sauce. Get five delicious hot sauce recipe ideas, plus these adorable (and free!) printable labels HERE.

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Sunflower Seeds

Kick your nuptials off with a sunny start by sending friends home with bags of sunflower seeds. Get the free printable label and instruction card below.

Photo By: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Hot Chocolate To-Go

For a fall or winter wedding, treat guests to a hot chocolate kit on their way out the door. Bulk packets of Swiss Miss can be presented in a variety of cute ways such as in disposable coffee cups, cellophane baggies or paper sacks with peppermint sticks and marshmallows.

Beautiful Fresh Cuts

These sweet mini arrangements can be used as place settings or as extra wedding decor. Just be sure to let your guests know they can take them home when they leave.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Heart-Shaped Tea Bags

This DIY from HonestlyYUM is one gift that your friends won’t be expecting. Inexpensive, inventive and useful, these coffee filter tea sachets are hand-cut and sewn, and filled with your choice of loose tea. GET THE STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Photo By: HonestlyYUM.com

For the Kids

Small packs of crayons and sturdy clipboards are in abundance at the dollar store. So why not transform them into kid-friendly favors with the help of some twine and our free, downloadable coloring sheets? Place a basket full of these fun coloring packages on the kid's table or favor display for instant fun.

Homemade Simple Syrup

These sweet treats are a great way to punch up any beverage and will look super pretty on the favor table.

Photo By: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland

Apple Butter Jars

Spread the love with tiny jars of homemade apple butter. You can even include the recipe as a sweet bonus.

Musical Memories

Guests can remember your special day with a playlist loaded with songs from your reception or songs that hold special meaning to you and your S.O. Load songs onto a CD or USB drive decorated with a custom label.


Infused Liquor

As easy as mixing together a few common kitchen ingredients with standard liquors, these three festive flavors make delicious party favors. For guests 21 and over, of course.

Family Recipe

Make your guests feel like part of the family by gifting them an heirloom recipe. Leave one at each place setting, or include in a gift bag with another small favor.

©She-n-He Photography

Make Your Own Essential Oils

Due to their many health, beauty and culinary uses, these fragrant oils are all the rage right now. Make your own from olive oil and plants from the garden and adorn with a tag customized to your wedding.

Spread the Love, Plant Some Seeds

For a rustic wedding, store your seed packets in an old wheelbarrow with a cute sign as seen here.

Photo By: Gracie Blue Photography ©Gracie Blue Photography

Magnets for Your New Adventure

Use old, unused maps to make these cute and easy map magnets. For a personal touch, make them from a map of the bride and groom's hometown or state.

Photo By: The Happy Housie

Sew Cute

These delightful DIY sewing kits are so simple to make, and they are great to keep in a purse or car for fashion emergencies. MAKE IT

Photo By: Something Turquoise

I'm Nuts About You

Make custom trail mix packaged in mason jars. Depending on your type of party, include healthy, savory or sweet ingredients. One mix could include yogurt-covered pretzels, jelly beans, raw cashews, walnuts and white chocolate popcorn. Another could be a mix of roasted almonds and walnuts, caramel popcorn, M&Ms and peanut-butter filled pretzels. Download the fun labels and print them on colored paper. The template perfectly fits a 16-ounce jar. One label reads “It’s time to get nuts” and the other reads “I’m nuts about you”.

Cotton Candy

Send guests home with a nostalgic treat. Simply string a clothesline with bags of delicious cotton candy and a sweet note. Photo courtesy of Tim Robison Creative.

Photo By: Tim Robison Creative

Mini LP Coasters

Share your love of music with your guests by turning mini LPs into drink coasters. Search for small vinyl albums or toy albums approximately 4 inches in diameter. Choose an assortment of colors for a playful look, or choose albums with the same coloring for a more cohesive feel. Go one step further and print custom sticker labels featuring the couple's names and wedding date.

Champagne Flute Cookies

If you want your cookies to ooze subtle sophistication, bake these champagne flute-shaped treats for your black-tie soiree. The whimsical cardboard tags might even help get the party started.

Photo By: The Kitchen Prep; Featured on Palm Beach Lately

Treats for Tots

Don't forget the kiddos! Send little ones home with a personalized to-go box full of goodies.

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Herbal Lotion Bars

Use the fresh herbs growing in your garden to make these lush herbal lotion bars. Wrap the finished bars in tissue paper, twine and fresh herbs for a tasteful presentation.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Mocha Magic

For a favor your guests will be anxious to use, make your own mocha latte mix in super cute test tubes. MAKE THIS + GET THE FREE PRINTABLE

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Candy Kit Bottles

Give just the right amount of something sweet by filling small glass vials with various candies. Nerds, Sour Worms and Snowcaps are great options for catering to different candy preferences.

Bubbles for Kids

While adults get the alcoholic bubbly, regular soap bubbles with custom labels will keep young ones happy. Bubbles are also a popular alternative to messy rice, confetti or streamers for the couple's send-off.

Bubbles for Adults

Mini champagne bottles make adorable adult-only favors. Wrap each bottle with a rectangle of printable scrapbook paper and add a personalized tag to the front. Just download our templates and add your text using word processing software. And don't forget the paper straw!

Beer Pong Favors

Make these beer-tastic favors in a snap using: one beer, three red Solo cups, three Ping-Pong balls, a cellophane bag and electrical tape. Print our free beer pong kit labels onto sticker paper, cut out and place onto the cup.

Dahlia Bulbs

Green up your party guests' thumbs with these take-home surprises that truly are the gift that keeps giving. Following the free, downloadable instructions, your guests can plant these pre-packaged dahlia bulbs for an abundance of beautiful blooms.

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia: Styling by H. Camille Smith

Love Letters

Create several gifts from one vintage license plate with cut metal keychains. Search antique stores for old steel plates ranging in different letters and numbers. Use metal snips to cut out the letters and numbers, then sandpaper the edges. Add a hole along the top with a drill and a 1/8-inch drill bit, then attach a metal key ring into the hole.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Pretty Homemade Candy

Who can resist a candy buffet? Stock apothecary jars with homemade truffles and provide take-out boxes to transport the treats. Decorate each box with a sweet printable tag and ribbon to match.

Double-Duty Terrarium

A charming place holder that doubles as a sweet party favor, this DIY terrarium place holder via Green Wedding Shoes is the perfect, easy craft that is sure to impress your guests.

Photo By: Green Wedding Shoes

Souvenir Favor

For this travel-inspired wedding, the couple repurposed vintage cast-iron airplanes into double-duty place cards and favors for guests. Simple card stock was attached to the planes with baker's twine to indicate where each guest would sit.

©Courtesy of AphroChic.com, Photography by Sungold Photography

A Little Glitz

Send guests home with a little sparkle. Glitter-dipped cooking spoons are a useful, glam favor that will remind guests of all the fun they had at your wedding every time they cook! MAKE THIS

Photo By: Something Turquoise

Bring on the Birds

This biodegradable birdseed ornament by Down in the Boondocks will have your guests remembering your unique wedding every time a new songbird stops by for a visit.

Pick a (Plaster) Posey

Dip inexpensive faux flowers and succulents into plaster to create delicate mini sculptures that look like pricey porcelain.

Photo By: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

DIY Mug Cakes

Cake in a mug makes for a delicious and thoughtful gift. Include the recipe as a sweet bonus and top with colorful lids for a bright display.

Photo By: Diane Homan

Candy Holders

Place cards are inserted into Ferrero Rocher candies for a tasty display. To create your own, simply affix labels with the name and table number to coffee stir sticks, then push the stick through the center of the candy.

©Courtesy of Tracie Strahan-Elvi

Sugar and Spice

These infused spices are a custom treat that will make it past the ride home and into some of your guests' favorite dishes.

Photo By: Buff Strickland ©Buff Strickland

Summer Sprays

Get bitten by love — not bugs. If you’re getting married in a warmer month or live in an insect-prone region, fashion a handy bug-spray station to help guests ward off those pesky bugs. Fill with mini bug spray cans for your guests to take home afterwards and enjoy all summer long.

Photo By: Daphne and Dean Photography / daphneanddean.com

Hot Chocolate Spoons

Great for a colder-season wedding, these delectable coconut chocolate spoons are a delicious way to say, "Thank you."

DIY Hand Warmers

You can't go wrong with a favor that doubles as a cozy gift! If your wedding is in the winter, keep your guests toasty with these thoughtful hand warmers.

Photo By: Jason Kisner

Burgers + Fries To-Go

After a long night of festivities, your guests might need a snack for the road. Mini sliders with shot glasses of french fries will give guests a quick energy boost for the ride home. You can even throw in tiny milkshakes!

©Picky Palate- Courtesy Image

Garden Markers

Upcycle utensils into herb markers for your guests' garden with help from a letter and number stamp kit.

Sweet Orange Ginger Tea

Combine your favorite spices in adorable glass bottles to create a custom tea blend for wedding guests.

Personalized Matchbooks

If you’re a crafty couple, these plain matchbooks have endless possibilities. You can customize them with washi tape or calligraphy.

Photo By: Clara MacLellan

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Homemade peanut butter and fresh jam make a sweet, thoughtful "thank you."

Photo By: Mikkel Paige

Mini Evergreen Trees

Leave guests with a gift that they can plant and watch grow. These evergreen seedling favors will grow into full-sized Christmas trees in the right conditions. DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE TAG

Fuse Bead Drink Covers + Coasters

Keep bugs out of drinks during your summer wedding with these fun fuse bead drink covers that also double as coasters.

Photo By: Jason Kisner

Get Your Game On

For a fun gift your guests can use after the wedding, fill a small burlap bag with dice for everyone to gather around and play with. Stamp your initials on the front for a cute accent to the otherwise plain bag.

Photo By: Danielle Evans

Fresh Fruit

Great for a summer wedding, fresh fruit is a healthy treat everyone can enjoy. For an extra-special touch, package seasonal goodies in cute color-coordinated boxes, like these ladybug boxes from PartyPail.

Photo By: PartyPail.com

Place Card Journals

Save money by combining your favors and your place cards. You can buy inexpensive blank journals in bulk and add stamped labels bearing each guest's name. Voilà, a terrific two-in-one gift.

DIY Bath Bombs

These favors may look like sweets, but they're actually sweets for your bathtub! Make bath bombs in a muffin tin as a quick-yet-thoughtful gift for your guests.

Photo By: Jason Kisner

Seed Starters

A trio of seed-starting tubes are adorned with a sweet message to create a unique and memorable wedding favor for your garden-inspired event.

Mini Pinecone Firestarters

For your guests who have fireplaces or love camping, these homemade firestarters are quick and easy to make. They smell yummy, too, thanks to pine and eucalyptus essential oils. Fill a glass jar with the dried, wax-covered pinecones and tie on a hand-lettered label with twine.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups

Give guests a warm, sweet drink to enjoy during the holiday season, plus a felt drink sleeve they can use all year long. Add peanut butter and chocolate chips to a disposable coffee cup, then guests just add steamy milk and enjoy!

Shrinky Dink Charms

Dress up your drinks with shrinky (but definitely not dinky) charms that your guests can take home as a wedding favor.

Photo By: Jalynn Baker

Bee My Honey

Harvest honey from your own beehive or buy locally and divide into small, adorable jars for the yummiest gift your guests could ask for!

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Sugar and Spice Pecans

Perfect for winter weddings, these easy, on-the-go snacks make great favors that your guests can enjoy (and appreciate!) on their ride home.

Photo By: Andrew Purcell

Cookie-Cutter Candles

Repurpose inexpensive cookie cutters that fit your wedding theme into charming candles by melting blocks of crafting wax in a pan on a stovetop, pouring the liquefied wax inside of the cookie cutters and adding a wick before the wax hardens.

Treats To-Go

Send guests home in style with neatly packaged "to-go" boxes. White bakers' boxes lined with parchment paper are the perfect containers for filling with treats. Print and cut out these festive tags, hand-stamp guests' names and string onto red-and-white kitchen twine.

Photo By: Sweet Louise Photography

Allergy-Friendly Nut Butter Cups

If peanut allergies are a concern for some guests, these treats can be made using a variety of nut and seed butters that are just as delicious as the real deal. Package in cellophane bags adorned with a bow for a gorgeous display.

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Rose Body Scrub

Make your own rose body scrub that your guests are sure to appreciate. Mix together equal parts coarse sea salt and almond oil then stir in two tablespoons of dried rose petals. Place the mixture into small jars for guests to take home.

Pickled Produce

Do you love to garden? Try pickling your produce to give guests a charming country treat and ensure none of your bountiful veggies go to waste.

7. Pick Wear-Again Clothes

My bridesmaids might beg to differ, but overall, my husband and I tried to pick clothing for our small bridal party that would be wearable for many years and many occasions. He chose khakis and a simple navy sportcoat, along with white Chucks that he actually caught one of his groomsmen wearing before the wedding. I picked red dresses (that may or may not be considered wearable again) and let the ladies pick shoes they would be comfortable in and would definitely wear again. I actually wear my wedding shoes all the time and it always makes me think of that day (and how I flipped them off post-ceremony and danced barefoot most of the night).

Eco Idea: Restore a Vintage Wedding Dress

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The Dress Today

Wearing my mom's wedding dress made my most-special day that much more personal and beautiful and honestly, it was so much easier than I expected to make it my own. All you need is a bit of optimism — and a few thousand dollars.

©Daniel Krieger

The Dress in 1975

My parents (Neil and Helen) were married on May 17, 1975 — almost 39 years ago. After I got engaged in October I came home to Philadelphia, and my mom and I dug out the box with the dress inside. When we pulled it out for examination, it was a wrinkly yellow mess with purply-brown wine stains on one of the sleeves and torso.

Before Alterations

Luckily my best friend Jess works in fashion and is intimately familiar with the proper care and cleaning of couture. She recommended I take the dress to Madame Paulette, "the only people we trust at work with our gowns." I immediately called and made an appointment. There, the woman told me that it would go through a month-long cleaning and whitening process. She couldn't promise me anything except that "it will definitely be whiter than it is now." She also told me that since the fabric is a strong one, it would most likely hold up well during the process. There was hope! Still, I was a bit nervous that it would only become ivory when I wanted white. If I hated it, I'd be out $750 and I wouldn't have much time — only three months — to find a wedding dress. (Did I mention we were planning a wedding in four months?)

Step 1: Cleaning

When I returned in December, I was ecstatic: The dress was sparkling white and the wine residue was gone. If Madame Paulette isn’t viable for you, I’d look for a cleaner that specializes in couture and/or wedding gowns. This is important so they understand the proper care for the fabric. I was lucky that my mom's dress was thick and sturdy; other delicate lace dresses don't hold up as well.

Step 2: Alterations

But our work wasn't done yet; the dress still needed to be altered. Enter Jess, once again, who recommended I take it to Lars Nord, a tailor to the stars. His work isn’t cheap -- we wound up paying him over $3,000 — but damn if it isn't the best. He told me we could do whatever I wanted to make it my own — but suggested slicing off the arms and adding tiny lace cap sleeves to make it more modern. He pulled in the bodice to make it slimmer all the way down and added a small train in the back for more drama.

Rockin' That Dress

There are tailors who will do it for less, but I didn't have the luxury of time to shop around... plus I knew Lars would do the best job. Again, make sure you are clear about your wants and expectations for the dress and that this tailor has altered wedding gowns before.

©Daniel Krieger


Mine turned out even better than I ever could have imagined; it transformed from 1975 beauty to 2014 perfection.

Jamie Shupak Stelter and Brian Stelter know TV: She's the traffic reporter for NY1 in New York City and he's CNN's senior media correspondent. Now the two are bringing their talent to ulive with two original series: TV Dinner with Friends and TV Weddings .

©Daniel Krieger

8. Register for Give-Back Gifts

I hear some version of this from brides in their 30s and beyond: “I don’t feel like registering, because I already have all the dishes I need.” One bit of advice is that people are going to get you gifts no matter what, so you might as well pick some stuff you want. In our case, we did register for some nice kitchenware, but we also registered at REI for camping and outdoor gear we needed or wanted. Unconventional, I know, but our guests actually really enjoyed buying the random backpacking egg holders, headlamp batteries and such on our list, knowing they’d be a part of our adventures to come and would help us enjoy the outdoors, which is a major part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. However, we also asked for donations to various charities in lieu of material gifts, including donations to the river conservation organization through which we met.

9. Make a Mindful Exit

When thinking about our getaway after the reception, my friend, naturalist and fellow blogger Michelle was adamant that we not throw birdseed, as the mixes can often contain seed for non-native plant species. Instead, she created a mix of native seed that guests could scoop up and toss (only in designated areas) to preserve the native-planting plans at the preserve. You can buy bulk seed from places like American Meadows and do something similar — just check with your location to make sure you’re not seeding anything they’re trying to keep out. You want your wedding to be part of the solution, not the problem.

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Rustic Charm in the Mountains

Virginia, Managing Editor for Special Projects, and her husband Chris were married at a charming bed and breakfast in the Highlands of North Carolina. Maddie the dog just came along for the ride.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

An evergreen backdrop sets the stage for the happily-ever-after. The bride and groom recited their vows under an archway lined with pretty white hydrangeas.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

The late summer affair was held outdoors. A garden wedding can be a gamble, especially in the summer. Fortunately, Virginia and Chris didn’t have to resort to a plan B, the rain held off.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

Virginia’s bouquet was comprised of baby blue hydrangeas, soft pink roses and baby’s breath. A navy satin ribbon was a nod to the traditional “something blue”.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

After the ceremony, guests made their way up to the main house for cocktails and hor d’oeuvres. A simple and refreshing spiked Arnold Palmer made of sweet tea vodka and lemonade was served. There’s something about a signature cocktail that adds a festive flair to any event.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

The juxtaposition of the formal script on a burlap surface helps create the rustic-chic look.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Rustic Charm in the Mountains

A menu card was tucked inside the elegant table setting.

Photo By: Heather Anne Thomas ©Beall + Thomas Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz, our Production Coordinator, and her golf-loving husband Bobby said their vows over looking the 18th hole on a picture-perfect June afternoon. Liz’s mom made the elegant aisle runner with a bolt of satin fabric and 3-foot-tall sticky decals.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz is an ardent fan of University of Tennessee’s football team (Yay, go Vols!). So much so, she paired the team’s color, bright orange with a pretty pink fuchsia.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

The vibrant wedding colors add a big pop of personality to the country club’s Tudor-style setting.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Silver water pitchers and vintage teapots were used to hold bright bouquets of summer hues.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

The golf theme was carried throughout the wedding. The drink cozy favors reiterate the couple’s promise of eternity by stating “no mulligans” (if you don’t speak golf, that means no do-overs). Liz and Bobby also tweaked their wedding vows a bit and replaced “for better or for worse” with “through birdies and bogeys”.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

For additional decor, the bride’s aunt covered big books in the wedding colors and then used her excellent penmanship to personalize the book spines.

©Temple Photography

Golf Clubs and I Dos

Liz and Bobby didn’t forget a single detail, they even made sure the bathrooms were properly adorned with their wedding colors.

©Temple Photography

Farms and Fields Forever

For farm-girl Karli, our Corporate Marketing Manager, sparkling wedding bands looked even more radiant on top of a rusted tent pole.

Farms and Fields Forever

Karli's bouquet combined succulents, calla lilies, peacock feathers and ranunculus with a beautifully-wrapped grapevine. All flowers were grown locally on a farm in Corryton, Tenn.

Farms and Fields Forever

The mothers of the bride and groom wore stunning corsages made of deep purple calla lilies and colorful peacock feathers, a nod to the bride's lovely bouquet.

Farms and Fields Forever

Fresh greenery lined the tables and added to the natural, outdoorsy feel of the farm wedding. Each centerpiece was composed of vines, twigs and ivy all found on the florist's personal farm.

Farms and Fields Forever

A couple of love birds donning a veil and top hat adorn the three-tiered amaretto wedding cake.

Farms and Fields Forever

Upon their grand exit, the bride and groom walked down a shimmering path as guests lined the sides waving sparklers and wishing them farewell.

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Marianne, our Productions Coordinator, and her southern gent Aaron were married at Castleton Farms in Loudon, Tenn. Aaron's unique groom's cake featured a bronzed cowboy boot that once belonged to his grandfather.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Marianne's wedding gown was already stunning, but she had a few alterations made to make it truly one of a kind. Her dramatic cathedral-length veil was made of Italian lace and completed the look beautifully.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

A beloved bride, Marianne was surrounded by friends on her big day. The 12 bridesmaids looked gorgeous in periwinkle gowns, carrying bouquets of white hydrangeas and peonies.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Because she wanted a classy southern vibe, Marianne chose to skip the popular tulle flower girl dresses and instead opted for classic white smock dresses. The flower girls carried simple moss baskets made by the florist, Brian Davis.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

As Brian is the featured wedding florist for Blackberry Farms, it is no surprise that his work is simply stunning, particularly this jaw-dropping table runner made of hundreds of hydrangeas. "I showed him a picture but didn't think he would really make it," says Marianne. "I was in tears when I saw it. It couldn't have been better."

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

To feed their almost 400 guests, Marianne and Aaron had a seven-tiered wedding cake covered in hydrangeas and peonies. It was so large that a stand had to be made, because they couldn't find one big enough. The delicious cake had layers of almond, lemon and almond with a raspberry glaze.

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Sophisticated Southern Affair

Since their wedding had an open bar, Marianne and Aaron wanted to make sure guests had something to eat before driving home. The caterer asked if they would rather have mini gourmet burgers, but the couple opted for Krystals on a silver platter. They were passed out on the dance floor, and Marianne and Aaron even took a sackful for the road!

Photo By: Leslee Mitchell

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly, our Programming Manager, and her husband, Derek, were married at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in Birmingham, Alabama. Friends, family and easy DIY projects made their budget-friendly wedding and reception possible.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly and Derek adapted an outdoor classroom area at the nature preserve to become their ceremony site. Simple touches made it prettier and more comfortable, and friends chipped in to decorate all day before the afternoon ceremony. For example, friend and Made + Remade blogger Michelle Reynolds framed the ceremony focal point with grapevine and native plants.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Here, a friend (Elizabeth Brooke) covers the rustic wooden benches with fabric to make them more comfortable and to indicate that they’re reserved for parents and grandparents.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly and Derek held their reception in an open pavilion at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. Basic folding tables were dressed up with inexpensive canvas dropcloth (available at big-box home and garden stores) and handmade burlap table runners. Kelly also made a pennant banner to denote the bride-and-groom table.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

Kelly’s own collection of blue and clear Mason jars served as centerpieces filled with tulips ordered through the local Whole Foods floral counter, which proved to be a budget-friendly way to source fresh flowers.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

For wedding favors, Kelly and Derek asked friends who run the local Maple Valley Nursery to grow out heirloom tomato plants. For the summer months, after their late April wedding, friends sent reports about and pictures of their tomato plants and harvests.


A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

The groom’s older sister, an avid baker, made cakes for both the bride and groom. For Kelly’s cake, she experimented with gluten-free recipes until she got one that was just perfect.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

A Budget-Friendly DIY Wedding Day

The centerpiece of the wedding decor was a quilt that many friends and family members contributed to and a close friend coordinated. Each quilt square represents a special memory or message. The group, many of them first-time quilters, presented the keepsake to Kelly the morning of the wedding. Throughout the reception, guests lingered around the wedding quilt to share stories about the couple.

Photo By: Vandiver Chaplin ©Copyright: Vandiver L Chaplin

1975 Revisited in Vegas

This is Watson — in the three-piece blue denim suit — he's our Programming Manager. He and his beautiful wife Kelly said their vows not back in the 70s, but just a few years ago at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

1975 Revisited in Vegas

The ceremony was presided over by a divine holy man dressed in a white, bedazzled jumpsuit and sacred Hawaiian neckwear.

1975 Revisited in Vegas

If you’re planning a throwback wedding, don’t ignore tradition. Watson adhered to the longstanding custom of wearing “something old (the Disco shirt); something new (the boutonniere is fresh); something borrowed (Elvis called, he wants his platforms back); and something blue."

1975 Revisited in Vegas

Getting married can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Watson and Kelly announced simply "We're getting married in Vegas," and extended an open invitation knowing any excuse is a good excuse to fly to Las Vegas. What better way to celebrate than to get wild and crazy with your friends and family?

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