How to find a sustainable wedding venue
Where you decide to get married can have a significant impact on the wedding itself and its carbon footprint.
“I think people are finally becoming more aware of the impact of events,” says Ellen Hockley Harrison, founder and CEO of Greater Good Events in New York and the Pacific Northwest. “As couples in the millennial generation are continuing to get married, they are more acutely aware of how their footprint will impact their future or the future of their families. So, I think that is really influencing what couples are looking for and hoping to achieve when looking for a venue.”
Of course, finding the right wedding venue is rarely easy. So, couples should anticipate doing a bit of extra work when searching for a locale that is also socially responsible.
In addition to doing a bit of independent research, Harrison emphasizes the importance of simply asking questions.
“I think it’s really important to feel comfortable asking questions,” she says. “Even if you don’t necessarily like the answers that the venue has, it will help you pare down and find the right space. And it will help you figure out what your priorities are for a venue.”
Not sure where to start? Here are a few environmentally-focused questions to add to your list when interviewing potential venues.
1. What are your garbage and recycling policies?
While certainly not the most glamorous topic, how a venue disposes of waste is hugely relevant to your event’s environmental impact. Do they have a recycling and composting program, or will all of your wedding’s waste just be headed to a landfill?
“If they don’t have any [policies] in place, ask how they can work with whoever is going to be providing the majority of their items – food or rentals – with options for how thing can be disposed,” advises Harrison.
2. Do you have a donation program?
In addition to recycling and composting, be sure to ask if your venue can partner with a local non-profit to donate leftover meals or offer excess food to venue staff, says Paige McQuillan, owner of Paige Events in Santa Cruz, California.
3. Do you offer any items for in-house use or rent?
One of the big issues with events is they only happen once, which often leads to a lot of waste. That’s why McQuillan recommends inquiring about reusable or rentable décor, furniture and dinnerware from your venue.
“Choosing a lot of different rental pieces or their own in-house glassware and tables and chairs and a lot of reusable items instead of just single-use items is the key,” she says.
4. What is your policy on plastic?
Since plastic is a significant source of pollution, look for a venue that avoids or minimizes their use of single-use plastic, such as plastic cutlery or cups. Instead, ask if it’s possible to utilize reusable, recyclable or compostable items.
5. Where do you source food and florals from?
If your venue offers an all-inclusive package with food, beverages, flowers – the works – then you’ll want to ask where they’re sourcing everything from.
The more local, the better. That way, you avoid shipping in produce and florals from far-flung destinations just for your wedding.
6. Who is on your vendor list?
For venues that don’t do everything in-house, be sure to take a close look at who is on their approved vendor list.
“If the venue has a florist on their list that’s known for sourcing locally, great, then they are already showing a commitment to something eco-friendly. If they’re working with a florist who is known for trashing everything at the end, then maybe it’s not the right fit,” says Harrison.
7. Do you utilize any renewable resources?
While certainly less common, there is an increasing number of venues with features like solar panels or being made with recycled materials. Just know that your options for these kinds of super sustainable venues will be limited, especially in more urban areas, says Harrison.