We are so lucky to live in a part of the world that loves to do good and give back. The ethical wedding movement is growing. I’m delighted to bring you these ethical wedding ideas.

Check out what my friend and fellow photographer Praise Santos is doing with Ethical Weddings.

San Francisco has a huge ethical conscience. So why would your wedding be anything but an opportunity to serve others, and at the very least to minimize waste?

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Donate to charities instead of buying wedding gifts

These days a huge majority of couples getting married already live together.

A gift registry is a hangover from a bygone age in which couples only moved in together after they were legally wed. If you are all set for toasters, bread-makers and bedding sets, it’s easy to have guests make contributions from the money they would have spent buying your his n’ hers bath towels.

Find the donation page on your chosen charity’s website and add this to your registry page.

You can also make it easy to give through justgiving.org and firstgiving.com.

Or, a charity registry like Give lets couples select a charity and choose what percentage of gifts will be donated to that organization.

table of wedding gifts and honeymoon fund

Trade you and your guests’ time on the bridal shower

How about something really different instead of the traditional wedding shower?

If you have all the luxuries you need, maybe you could incorporate a visit to the food bank as part of the wedding shower.

This is a really norm-challenging one that will put some of your guests outside their comfort zone.

Reuse and donate leftovers

Leftover food might be able to be donated to a homeless organization.

Likewise leftover flowers that are worthless at the end of the wedding could be taken to an old folks’ home or hospital.

Make sure to organize this in advance! Then the day after a wedding enlist a helpful friend to make deliveries.

Utilize local non-profits’ spaces

There are so many beautiful non-profit venues in the Bay Area. They might be owned by the City, State, farm, educational facility or charity.

The money you pay (often considerably lower than a conventional space) will be used to further the good work they do.

As so many people are searching for something a little different, a non-profit’s space could be just the ticket.

muir beach community center wedding set up

Pair up with ethical vendors

There are so many wedding vendors plying their wares to you.

When you choose them, make sure you are selective about those who make certain pledges. That might be related to:

  • sustainability
  • human rights
  • environmentalism
  • minimizing waste
  • using Fair Trade or organic raw materials
  • sourcing locally made products
  • community-based vendors
  • those that give back.

There are so many that a quick search will pull up. Working with these vendors will ensure that your good intentions will be seen through to the final conclusion.

fake flower wedding bouquet at ethical wedding

Have a low-carbon wedding

On a similar note, if having an eco-wedding appeals to you, make sure everything from your wedding is locally and ethically sourced.

Flowers are the big one here – often shipped or should that be flown – from all over the world without a second thought.

Great for the bride who wants peonies in December, bad for the planet.

Consider partnering with a florist who specializes in seasonal blooms and will be able to plan ahead and advise what will be in bloom on your day.

Similarly, insist on a cake-maker and caterer who can source their ingredients and specializes in local only.

To cut down on miles for wedding invitations, scrap them and go with a wedding website and/ or a wedding email address where guests can RSVP without having to mail anything physically.

Carpool or take public transit

If you are having a wedding off the beaten path, facilitate ways for guests (even those who aren’t already friends!) to travel to the venue together.

It’s a great way for your guests to start the fun early and get to know one another!

Perhaps you could put people who live in the same neighborhood in touch so they know where to start. If your wedding is more of an urban affair, ask guests to travel by public transport, taxi or ride-sharing apps.

Parking is often limited anyway at all but the largest of venues, so it will also help minimize the stress of all concerned! Another hint: have the ceremony and the reception at the same spot.

people riding to wedding on public bus

Rent, beg or borrow rather than buy

In the course of our everyday lives we’re used to buying shit. But for a wedding, we are often talking about a one-time use dress, accessories, decorations, bridesmaids’ dresses, centerpieces, linens, lights, etc.

Do we really need to buy all of that? Could they be rented or ‘something borrowed’ from local vendors or individuals?

Or could things you already own be used instead? How about a wear-again dress?

Go plastic-free and ban all disposables!

A lot of plastics and other disposable resources are needlessly wasted at weddings.

For example, do you really need plastic drinking glasses and paper plates when you could just as easily have glasses made of glass, ceramic plates and stainless steel silverware?

This will eliminate a huge amount of resource waste which would otherwise be disposed of or thrown in the recycling – and probably make for a more pleasant, grown-up dining experience too.

spirited mature woman cheersing champagne at wedding

Make a charitable donation with all the money you saved!

A lovely idea is to donate the money you would have spent on for example wedding favors, to a charity or a range of different charities!

Your guests will be pleased to know that others in need will be on the receiving end of such generosity.

The list of things you can do is endless and limited only by your imagination! If you are considering hosting an ethical wedding,

Hope this gives you some ethical wedding ideas!

This article was featured on Equally Wed, the country’s leading LGBTQ+ wedding ideas guide

featured on equally wed blog

Pin this to your wedding Pinterest board!

Practical ethical wedding ideas for your wedding! No clue how to do something that gives back on your wedding day and want to know where to start? This is the perfect jumping off board to help you plan your ethical wedding, and choose what ideas work well for the type of wedding you have in mind. #weddingplanning #ethicalwedding #weddings #ethicalweddings #bayareaweddingphotographer | Zoe Larkin Photography

elegant wedding display of hanging bottles overlooking pacific ocean

elegant white wedding place setting

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Ethical wedding ideas for your SF Bay Area wedding

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