Saturday, April 4th, 2020

How To Throw A Green And Cheap Wedding

Published on January 30, 2009 by   ·   15 Comments Pin It

Most the people we know have weddings that cost anywhere from 30G’s to a cool million bucks (yep, we really know people who have spent that much and more on the big day).   We try not to judge, but it’s hard, when there is so much strife and poverty in the world to imagine spending money that way.   We’ve thus far been the proponent of good old fashioned elopements til our girl Laura Little emailed us telling us she was offering full wedding packages (in NYC) that start at $10,000 and end at $15,000.     Offering a new way of thinking about the big day, and applying it to the regular DIY bride makes an eco-friendly, humble, fun wedding seem possible!   That got us thinking about all the possibilities!

Here are some of Laura’s Favorite Tips:

  • Keep it short and sweet. Have your ceremony and reception in the same place, this eliminates travel drama, guests getting lost, and two venue fees!
  • Limit your guest list. Be stringent with your invitations and prioritize your guest list. Use the 2 month rule: If you haven’t seen or heard from the person in 2 months, they are not a priority.
  • Don’t go mad with flowers. If you have to have flowers, put them in key places, and choose seasonal options to keep cost reasonable. Simplicity is key.
  • When it comes to catering, beverages and wedding favors, get creative. Do tea sandwiches, or beer and wine only, maybe write a thank you poem and print it as a giveaway. Remember your guests have come for you – not a luxury meal or goody bag.
  • Forget Designer Labels. Use a personal stylist to help you find the perfect dress, she’ll know where the deals are, and how to find a replica dress for less. You’ll be saying “Vera who?” in no time.
  • Stand your ground and know what you want. It’s easy to make bad choices when we feel pressured or put on the spot.   Before you sign on the dotted line – take your time and think it over. You’ll avoid error and the cost of fixing things later on.

Here are some our *favorite* tips for an ECO Wedding!

Your events should be reflective of how you live our everyday lives, but some people use THE big day to really do something different and take a stand for what they believe in. If you are a green teen, incorporate as many organic, local, and natural options into your big day as you can. Just because you are in love   doesn’t mean the planet should suffer! Weddings can be literal wastelands of food and resources. So as you plan your celebration – use this guide to help you party while lookin’ the globe in the eye. Actions as simple as offering cloth hand towels instead of paper towels in the restrooms at your event can save a tree or 12, and look way more elegant.


For invitations, use recycled paper invitations.   Our dear friend Marisa used beautiful colored hemp pulpy-looking paper and soy ink on her invites, and they were gorgeous! Many stationery stores carry recycled paper products, but try to avoid plastic or heavily coated papers which are almost impossible to recycle. These recycled invitations and stationery are made by hand: Another option is to go totally paper free, and save a fortune and a forest, by sending your guests an evite. Check out or You can funk up your evite with photos and glam text, OR hire a graphic designer to design something gorgeous and email it out as a JPEG! Evite sites also have excellent features to track rsvp’s and send Thank You notes, post-event to save even more needless paper.

Twisted Limb Custom Eco Invitations - made from crushed flowers and seeds

Twisted Limb Custom Eco Invitations – made from crushed flowers and seeds


Instead of renting out a hall, party on a beach, lake, backyard, rooftop, or even an idyllic farm.   Minimize travel with local events. Really, the ideal place to throw a green party is outside (duh!!). There is nothing like an ocean background or starry night to trump any centerpiece!


Bouquets can be handpicked from a neighbor’s garden, or functional centerpieces can be handcrafted by you and your posse. You could even make it a weekly craft fest -girlie bond and create memorable works of art! Candles are cheap, easy, eco (if you buy soy candles), and can brighten any setting, and help keep the bugs away (if you are planning an outdoor event – use citronella candles). You can even rock recycled glass holders for votives. Try stringing LED white lights from Innovative Energy Solutions, which use 80 to 90 percent less energy, if you must use unnatural light.

The most sustainable thing you can do when throwing an event is to use potted plants – guests can take them home at the end of the evening, and they look adorable! That way, you combine the decorations with the favors… like, a luau party could have organic pineapples on the table and the guests get to take them home – yum!

Get ready for the icky truth about flowers: flowers are mostly genetically engineered hybrids and there are no enforced pesticide/herbicide caps. 75% of all US flowers are flown in from SE Asia = a lot of jet fuel. Jet fuel = is the biggest contributor to greenhouses gases in the world. Yikes! does beautiful ORGANIC (pesticide free) flowers State-side if you must go for cut stems. But really, what’s the point in all those dying flowers that cost you a fortune for one night only? Why not at least let a planted flower go home with a guest to brighten up their days for weeks on end! Another option is a dried flower centerpiece – they can be taken home too and will smell up the joint something gorgeous!

Another idea: get theme decorations for FREE from, instead of buying new. Most party items will sit in closets or garages forever. It’s really easy to find everything you need from people who’ve had their fill of the item!


It’s nice to offer a little memento of your event that people will actually use. A keychain of you and your dog isn’t something people want… sorry. However, a beautiful champagne flute that they can drink from at the event, and then take home would cut down on washing, and offer a reusable and realistic gift. I once went to a wedding reception where they used little antique-y picture frames as name cards – once the event is over you can bring home a pretty little frame! Good Luck Gardens in a Bag, Windowsill Herb sets of starter pots, or precious Tree in a Box kits, are all super adorable and as green and cheap as they come!


If gifts are part of the spiel – definitely register. It’s eco-evil to get gifts you will never use. Don’t be embarrassed to put a toilet bowl brush on your register if that’s what you need, it’s certainly better than those disposable jobbies! Make sure to give back, after all, how many divas are as lucky as you to be so privileged and loved! Register on, you can select from over 500 wonderful organizations who can benefit from your love. Really, who needs another Steuben vase?


Go recycled fabrics, or a borrowed a dress from Mom. Vintage is so the way to go, if at all possible. There are also tons of chic places to rent couture gowns for the night. You are never going to re-wear that $5,000 gown, so why buy it? Wasting = not very green! If you do go for new – try and make sure your designer uses organic fabrics.   Go to a local tailor and have her copy that Monique Lhuillier you’ve been dreaming about for a fraction of the price.   Better yet order a “green” gown from custom designer Olivia Luca, who is not only affordable, but has tons of silk-free options for the vegan fashionista.


It’s always greenest to use washable linens, napkins, cutlery and dinnerware. When you must use paper, buy recycled, like Seventh Generation’s paper plates, which are made from 100-percent recycled paper, with a minimum of 83-percent post-consumer materials and whitened without chlorine bleach.   Make recycling easy for guests, not just the obvious things like bottles and cans, but name cards, bottle caps, etc. Things guests would just take home and eventually toss.


First of all – be sure to find out where your local shelter is located and be sure to arrange that ALL leftovers get brought directly from the event to the shelter. Half eaten plates can be donated to an animal shelter if you call and arrange it in advance. There is NO need to waste hefty bags full of perfectly decent food as long there are people and animals starving. Try and serve locally grown organic food to support your local farmers. If you can’t find everything organic, don’t beat yourself up! Little steps make a huge difference! There are eco-friendly and organic catering companies around the country.   As for cakes, use this fantastic list to craft your organic dream.

NEW YORK CHICKS: Want to learn more about throwing a wedding for 10K with Laura? CONTACT 212 244 4464 OR

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Readers Comments (15)

  1. themessenger says:

    Fantastic tips as always. Thank you for your wonderful work!

  2. snugglebunny says:

    Thank goddess I know I’m on the right track…we’ve been trying to plan something low cost and in line with our eco-lifestyle. I had no idea that I could find someone who could help me plan for my event for under $15k. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Laura Little!

  3. Tamara says:

    How about affordable wedding rings using recycled metals and ethical stones, handmade by a vegan? :-)


  4. emily says:

    NOTHING bothers me more than big budget weddings!!!! it is truly infuriating. classy weddings CAN be inexpensive and that is classy in itself. i love these ideas. eco weddings should be the only way…. thanks for posting about this GGA

  5. I just love the “green” wedding ideas! Not only is it economical, but since we are all stewards of the earth, it certainly is a wonderful thing to do!

  6. Great post!!! So much useful info. :)


  7. […] Another fellow blogger placed an observative post today on ***The GirlieGirl Army*** » Blog Archive » How to throw a Cheap …Here’s a quick excerptBLOG. January 30th, 2009. How to throw a Cheap and Green Wedding. Most the people we know have weddings that cost anywhere from 30G’s to a cool million bucks (yep, we really know people who have spent that much and more on the big day). … […]

  8. I’m delighted that you seem in favour of eco-friendly weddings … and that you see how they can save money too, which right now is especially helpful.

    As such, you may be interested to know about my blog:

    where readers can post questions about how to make their weddings and other celebrations more eco-friendly, or they can email them to me, and I respond with the answers.

    The blog is based on my latest book, How To Get Married In Green: have an eco-friendly wedding without compromising on style, which was published recently.

    You can read more about the book here:

    although of course it’s available on all Amazons, not just the UK version, and is in most good book stores worldwide.

    With all good wishes


  9. kristina says:

    thanks for the post! chloe, you’re engaged, no? are you planning an eco affair for yourself?

  10. Ilona says:

    I had a DIY wedding for $1,000 (including rings). Ten grand is a down payment on a home or the cost of a car. Think about the vacation you could take with that money. While I appreciate the eco-consciousness of the tips, it’s so silly to even spend this much on a wedding.

  11. tughababila says:

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  12. kimsy says:

    Ilona: I completely agree. $10,000 for a wedding (even for the entire cost of a wedding) is insane! Besides, I think DIY weddings are a lot more fun, not to mention cheap and memorable :)

  13. Lots of great suggestions! I’d love to hear what folks have found out regarding the trade-off between the field wedding location versus a historic building. From what we’ve been able to tell the impact of bringing an event with temporary facilities is actually more harmful than using a multi-use building.

    I agree – the hotel wedding didn’t resonate with us at all. We are really looking forward to the historic house we are using…

  14. […] on how to throw a GREEN and CHEAP wedding?   Check out some our *favorite* tips for an ECO Wedding HERE. AND: Check out the top 5 ways to save on your wedding (via the author of “The Tax Deductible […]

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