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Eco-Friendly Wedding Officiants -- How to Keep Weddings Green From Behind the Scenes

Published Thursday, Apr. 22nd, 2021

Illustration of a wedding officiant performing a wedding ceremony, reading from an open book with the officiant script inside. Behind her is an illustrated design of flowers on a green background representing nature
Illustrations by Jessica Levey

Combine your love of nature with your love of weddings!


In the spirit of Earth Day, make your officiant business more eco-friendly in five simple steps. 


It’s shocking how much waste the average wedding produces. 


Estimates from the Green Bride Guide put the environmental impact of a typical celebration in the neighborhood of 400 to 600 pounds of waste and 63 tons of CO2. Per wedding. With approximately 2.5 million weddings in the US alone each year, the numbers add up, fast. (That’s roughly one billion, two hundred and fifty million pounds of trash per year, all from events that last about 6 to 8 hours total!)


As an eco-minded wedding officiant, the sheer size of these numbers can feel discouraging. On the one hand, weddings are your absolute favorite thing on the planet, and you can’t imagine life without them! On the other hand, there’s the health of the planet itself, and all the beauty and life it provides. 


But what can you do? After all, much of the ‘green’ heavy lifting is up to the couple… They’re the ones choosing invitations, vendors, wedding favors, and venues... Wedding officiants are just along for the ride, right? Luckily, no! 



You can have a big impact on wedding waste by making simple changes to how you work with couples and other vendors.


illustration of line drawn flowers and leaves in front of a green watercolor background to celebrate eco-friendly events

Here are five ways to make ceremonies greener from behind the scenes. 



1. Cut down on your fossil fuel use


It’s true that many areas of the country require a car, and most professional officiants rack up countless hours behind the wheel going from wedding to wedding. If you’re one of these officiants, cutting down on fossil-fuels might seem like an impossible goal. But don’t worry, it’s ok to start small!


Let couples know that you’re able to meet over video-conference or by phone whenever it seems appropriate. Offer to carpool during group planning meetings and rehearsals, and use public transportation options whenever possible. 




2. Embrace working from home 


Embrace your home office! Make it a comfortable, well-lit, enjoyable space so that you’ll want to spend more time there. This will cut down on commuting, dining out, and other activities that contribute to your carbon footprint.


If you’re worried about turning into a grumpy hobbit and losing touch with the outside world (we spend a lot of time working from home, we get it), alternate days at your home office with days spent working in public libraries, cafes, and coworking spaces with other vendors on your team. 




3. Balance your use of digital and recycled materials 


One of the most valuable services a great officiant offers is preparing and printing copies of the wedding script, and making sure all participants have copies of their parts on the big day, too. And then there’s the questionnaire for each couple, service contracts, and notebooks for planning and drafting ceremonies… Over the course of a season, this paper usage can really add up! 


To cut down on waste: Print on recycled paper, recycle or compost old scripts and notecards, make your contracts and questionnaires digital-only. Consider using a digital copy to deliver your script at weddings, but only if you and your couple are all ok with the ‘look’ of holding a tablet




4. Donate a portion of your wedding income to an environmental charity


Supporting environmental charities can make your efforts go even further! Consider donating a few dollars per wedding, or give a set percentage of your seasonal income. Small donations might not seem impactful, but they are. And they can help you feel great about what you’re doing, locally and globally. 


AMM supports two environmental advocacy groups, and Ocean Conservancy, and we’ve also donated to The International Primate Protection League, The West Sound Wildlife Shelter, and the Wildlife Conservation Network. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend any of these groups, or search for an organization that focuses on an ecosystem or region that’s close to your heart. 




5. Advertise yourself as eco-friendly 


Let people know that environmentally friendly services are your thing! Couples love to find like-minded vendors as they begin the wedding planning process, and knowing that you share their values will make their day even more meaningful. Emphasize any specialized services that you offer, such as outdoor elopements or earth-based rituals, such as Pagan wedding rites and tree planting unity rituals.


Research other vendors in your area that also prioritize eco-friendly business models, such as carbon-neutral venues, or caterers and bakeries that focus on local and seasonal ingredients -- and then get networking! Create a local directory of green businesses to share couples so that you can refer them to other eco-conscious wedding vendors. (And chances are, fellow vendors will be happy to refer other couples to you, too!)




Over the course of a season or two, and dozens of weddings, your efforts will help cut down on wedding industry waste, one ceremony at a time! 



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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