Eco-Chic Wedding Invitations

Guest blogger: Kate Harrison, creator of
After planning her own green wedding in 2007, Kate wrote 
the best-selling green wedding book, The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget (Sourcebooks, 2008). In 2009, she founded to help couples use their weddings to promote social and environmental change while supporting the local green economy. Kate has a JD in Environmental Law and a Master's from Yale in Environmental Policy. 

Once upon a time, a letterpress stamped our crests into rich paper, ecru or eggshell. We wrote in calligraphy, each letter a work of art. A wedding required a forest of trees that were felled, ground to a pulp, pressed on a screen, and dried in the sun. Today, the paper making process is industrial and includes cutting machines, duplex board machines, hydraulic head boxes, and pressurized screens. Smoke billows from tall chimneys and from the exhaust pipes of tractor-trailer delivery trucks bound to all four corners of the lower 48. We drive to buy the paper, choosing boxes from piles of boxes stacked to the ceilings of office supply superstores. Then we send it back out on another truck, to another destination. All of this energy — the fossil fuels, the man-hours — turns a wedding into a giant carbon footprint.

My favorite eco-friendly invitation idea is the plantable card. These are invitations with seeds embedded in the paper. The paper and ink is biodegradable, so the recipient can simply stick the invitation in a hole, water it, and watch the flowers bloom — a constant reminder of your love. This invitation is embedded with wildflower seeds:

tropical wedding invitation
Photo Credit: Pais Tropical Invitations, Forever Fiances'

This plantable forest invitation depicts a beautifully hand-drawn artistic representation of an old tree and is printed on luxurious plantable paper. These invitations can come in a chocolate brown color or grass green:

tree wedding invitation
Photo Credit: Plantable Forest Invitation, ForeverFiances’

Recycled paper is another excellent option for eco-friendly invitations, but you may also consider minimizing your impact by sticking to a single envelope. Often, wedding invitations get elaborate: a large envelope contains an invitation card, a card with directions, a card detailing accommodations, an RSVP, a small envelope for the RSVP, etc. Use a single card that contains all of your information, or direct guests to a wedding website, where you can post details about accommodations, attire, themes, and gift registries. You can even ask guests to RSVP electronically.  A wedding website can help you keep your information in one place, and it provides a forum for guests to communicate before the big event. 

These invitations are printed on 100% recycled paper, which comes from most of the paper that is distributed in the “blue bin.” It is also made with carbon neutral energy, which makes it one of the greenest invitations out there. It’s also embedded with wildflower seeds, so in addition to being made of green materials, it can be planted.

purple wedding invitation
Photo Credit: Recycled Paper Invitations, ForeverFiances’

Electronic invitations, though obviously an eco-friendly option, simply don’t carry the same gravitas as an ink and paper artifact. We still think of emails and websites as informal. We’re happy to announce a backyard barbeque in an email, but not a fancy event,and certainly not the most important event of our lives. Still, there must be a happy medium — a way to save the forest while making an impression.  A combination of methods works best.

For more eco-friendly invitation ideas, visit the Green Bride Guide’s Wedding Shop.

—Kate Harrison