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NOW How To: The Eco Friendly Wedding

Engagement Rings on a bed of moss | photo: Dudaieva
Gold wedding rings tied with twine on a moss cushion with a leaf of fern. Photo: Alona Dudaieva

Written by: Jessica Burke

April is Earth Month and we can’t think of a more perfect time to talk about ways to make your life (and wedding!) more conscientious. For some this could be making eco-friendly decisions, for others it’s going vegetarian or vegan, and for still others it could mean being more socially responsible.

There are so many ways to make an impact and making your wedding conscientious doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Small changes add up and if everyone does just one thing, we can make huge changes in our world! We hope to inspire you with an abundance of ideas! 

A bride wears a lab-created diamond engagement ring from Brilliant Earth. Photo: Dgass Photography
Brilliant Earth offers a stunning selection of lab-created diamonds. Photo Dgass Photography

Let’s start with the bling.

For years diamonds have been seen as the gemstone of choice for engagements.  Unfortunately, due to the demand created by marketing, the history of diamond mining has been fraught with conflict and human rights violations including using slave labor to mine the precious stones. 

Fortunately, socially conscious couples have options. Lab grown diamonds are physically the same as mined diamonds and reduce both environmental and social impact; also man made diamonds are typically less expensive. That means you often can get more carats at a lower cost!

Brilliant Earth offers a stunning selection of lab created and recycled diamonds. Charles & Colvard, a North Carolina-based company, also offers lab grown diamonds as well as moissanite, a stunning diamond alternative that is also man made.

Choosing vintage and heirloom jewelry is also a great option.

Flowers on the courtyard fence at Race & Religious in New Orleans.
Kim Starr Wise Florals created this beautiful floral entrance at Race & Religious without the use of Oasis Foam. Photo: Dark Roux

Earth Friendly Florals

One easy way to reduce your environmental impact is to ask your florist to use traditional arrangement techniques (such as chicken wire for structure) instead of Oasis floral foam. Oasis foam is the green blocks that many florists use to create arrangements, but the foam contains known carcinogens that are dangerous to breathe in and that are not biodegradable.   

Another option is to use potted plants that can be reused as decor. Potted orchids are a beautiful option, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Fresh herbs or succulents in pots can make lovely centerpieces and can even double as favors for your guests to take home! 

Locally grown flowers are also an option to not only help support local businesses, but reduce carbon emissions.

Wedding reception table set with real china. Photo:
Ask your caterer to use china, flatware and glassware to cut down on waste. Photo:


It’s easy to get carried away when planning your wedding. Commit to mindfulness for your wedding. Think carefully through your wedding purchases (Do you REALLY need programs for your wedding?) and cut items from your list that aren’t necessary.


Renting decor or buying previously used decor items in Buy/Sell/Trade groups online or even thrifting and upcycling is a great way to save money and create less waste (plus if you purchase the items you can sell them after your wedding too!). 

You can also ask your caterer to use china, flatware and glassware to cut down on waste. If it’s not possible to use real china or glassware at your venue, there are many eco-conscious items such as bamboo plates and cutlery that you can use instead of plastic. Ask your caterer about these options. 


This one is pretty simple. Commit to reducing waste at your wedding by asking that your vendors recycle anything that can be recycled. Ask your caterer to donate leftover food to a local shelter and ask your florist to donate floral arrangements to a nursing home to brighten up the residents’ day! 

You can also ask that your invitations and any other printed necessities be made with recycled paper.

Wear a “green” wedding gown

No, we’re not suggesting your gown be the color green (unless that’s what you want!). Your wedding fashion can be eco-conscious too. 

Made with Love Bridal and Emmy Mae Bridal offer vegan dresses and Wear Your Love uses organic cotton and bamboo in their gowns.

Reformation and Katherine Feiel offer sustainable fashion for weddings.

For vegan accessories, Lee Coren and Urban Expessions offer vegan clutches and bags and Beyond Skin offers vegan wedding shoes. Lulus allows customers to sort by “vegan” for even more options!

Vegetarian Fettuccine by Toulouse Gourmet Catering. Photo: Jessica Burke
Vegetarian Fettuccine by Toulouse Gourmet Catering. Photo: Jessica Burke

Go Gourmet Vegetarian or Vegan

Even if you don’t want to go fully vegan for your wedding, substituting just one menu item for a vegan alternative is a great step in the right direction. Ask your caterer what vegan or vegetarian options they offer and what menu options can be made without meat or animal products. 

A few ideas include portobello mushroom ravioli, jambalaya with meat alternatives, and pulled jackfruit sliders! Vegan can definitely be gourmet! If you’re looking for great vegan restaurants, Breads on Oak and Sweet Soulfood are two of NOW Creative Director Rena Sweeney’s favorite local vegan establishments. 

Cakes are already vegetarian, but did you know even your cake can be vegan? Local cake artists can make vegan cakes and treats that you’d never know are vegan – ask about your options.

Give back

Many couples find they don’t need a traditional gift registry. If you have everything you need for your home already or just would rather to give back, you might consider setting up a “charity registry” and have your guests donate to your favorite charity instead of giving you a gift. 

You might also choose to make a donation to your favorite charity instead of giving out traditional favors. Your guests won’t mind not receiving a favor, especially if they know the money was spent to help others in need.

If you need ideas, here are some of our favorite local organizations you can help!

Humane Society of Louisiana empowers individuals and communities to create a no-kill state where the lives of all animals matter.

House of Tulip is a nonprofit collective creating housing solutions for trans and gender nonconforming people in Louisiana.

Opportunities Academy is Collegiate Academies’ rigorous, full-day program for  college-aged students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Liberty’s Kitchen provides pathways for New Orleans young people to create and achieve their vision of success. Food–at the heart of our city’s economy, culture, and future–is their chosen vehicle for change.

There are so many ways you can make your wedding sustainable, eco-friendly and/or socially conscious. How will your wedding make a difference?

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