10 Tips for Modern Jewish Eco-Friendly Wedding Planning

It’s Tu B’Shevat!  The New Year for Trees!

To celebrate we’re posting some tips you need to make sure your Modern Jewish Wedding is good for you and our environment.

We are blessed to live on a planet that provides us with clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, and nourishing soil to live on and grow food.

This article printed in 2007 from the Sierra Club is full of the best ideas on how to plan a “Green” wedding–which by its very definition is a Modern Jewish Wedding.

According to the Laws of Moses…

A green wedding begins where any engagement does: with a ring.

modern jewish wedding bling

Photo by Kristen Chalmers Photography

Don’t start off on a sour note. The beautiful alternatives to diamonds that originate from war zones :

  1. vintage rings, whether a family heirloom or an antique find (you can even have old gold melted down and refashioned)
  2. lab-created diamonds (greenKarat‘s are set in recycled gold too)
  3. diamonds mined in peaceful Canada or Australia, like those from Brilliant Earth, Cred Jewellery, or Leber Jewelry’s Earthwise line
  4. diamonds certified as “conflict-free” under the Kimberley Process, an ongoing effort to reform diamond mining in Africa (ask your jeweler the questions in Amnesty International’s buyer’s guide)
  5. one-of-a-kind wooden bands

Location, location, location

Your choice of venue sets the tone for your wedding day–and accounts for a big chunk of the money you’ll be laying out. Spend it wisely!

jewish wedding venue_green jewish wedding venue

Photo by Debra Gulbas Photography


  1. choosing a setting that’s convenient to the most guests to minimize travel impacts
  2. having the ceremony and the reception at the same place, or providing ecofriendly transportation between them
  3. picking a unique local spot–like an art gallery, nonprofit space, organic restaurant or farm, green hotel, botanical garden, or green-roofed building–that supports a cause you believe in
  4. an outdoor setting that will infuse the whole event with a natural sensibility (and require less decorating too!)
  5. arriving at the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage, cycle rickshaw, or hybrid car
  6. offsetting your guests’ travel (or asking them to do it as your wedding gift)

You’re Invited

Your invitation is the first impression guests will get of your green wedding.

recycled jewish wedding invitation

Photo by Viera Photographics

Look for:

  1. recycled, handmade, or plantable papers processed chlorine-free and printed with vegetable- or soy-based inks
  2. tree-free paper made out of hemp, banana stalks, bamboo, kenaf, or organic cotton
  3. a printer who will use paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content
  4. papers that aren’t metallic or plastic-coated, characteristics that make them hard to recycle
  5. opportunities to reduce paper use, like sending a postcard (instead of multi-enveloped notes) for your save-the-date, or using online invitations and a wedding blog to let people know about the bachelor/ette parties, rehearsal dinner, and gift registry

The final fling

Plan bachelor and bachelorette parties that will keep the green theme going:

Dress the part…

When it comes to outfitting yourself & the bridal party, green options abound.

vintage wedding dress and DIY chuppah

Photo by The Monarch Studio

You can:

  1. go vintage (and update your look as necessary with tailoring and modern shoes and accessories)
  2. pick clothes made from hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton or silk–or find a dressmaker who will make a one-of-a-kind item out of these sustainable fabrics (men’s suits and shirts come in organic cotton or wool too)
  3. borrow an elegant gown from a stylish friend
  4. buy something you’ll wear again (and let your bridesmaids do the same)
  5. accessorize with a unique recycled purse and/or jewelry
  6. use vegetable dyes on your shoes (or go barefoot for a beach wedding)
  7. accentuate natural beauty with all-natural makeup
  8. donate the dresses to charity after the event

Set the stage

green wedding chuppah_eco-friendly wedding chuppah

Photo by Jeff Kolodny Photography

Add beauty and style to your wedding décor, naturally with these options:

  1. opt for organic flowers
  2. find a florist who’s diligent about recycling packaging and will source locally raised flowers
  3. have bridesmaids carry matching purses or silk bouquets instead of cut flowers
  4. decorate with branches, dried grasses, grains, greens, berries, or live plants (potted or dried arrangements can double as favors)
  5. choose beeswax or soy-based candles over those made with paraffin, a petroleum byproduct
  6. arrange to have decorations moved from the ceremony to the reception (if you opt for separate sites)
  7. use leaves or other natural objects as place cards
  8. throw biodegradable confetti or organic rose petals instead of releasing butterflies
  9. donate the flowers to a hospital or rest home at the end of the day

Eat, drink, and be merry

Farm to Table is the biggest trend in catering; so, why not use it to showcase local, organic, and seasonal foods.

kosher wedding reception

Photo by EXO Photography

Don’t forget the organic wine, beer, and spirits, and the free-trade, shade-grown coffee and tea! Some tips:

  1. Ask the venue’s preferred caterers and bakers if they can do your event organically.
  2. Find a local organic restaurant that does off-site catering.
  3. If your wedding won’t be complete without a specific type of food, get married when it’s in season.
  4. Find a caterer you trust to pick the best seasonal selections (since you may not be able to taste those exact items ahead of time).
  5. Consider vegetarian selections and seek out cruelty-free meats and wild, rather than farmed, fish.
  6. Make sure the venue offers comprehensive recycling facilities, and ideally composting too.
  7. Have your cake decorated with organically grown flowers or other natural materials instead of plastic toppers.
  8. Rent real glassware, dishware, and linens instead of using disposables.
  9. Go for a chic eclectic look by mixing and matching thrift-store plates and dishes (and donating them back when you’re done).
  10. Use biodegradable utensils and dishes made out of cornstarch, potatoes, wheat, or sugar cane–if your venue can compost them.
  11. Make arrangements to donate leftover food to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

Lasting memories

Avoid single-use cameras, but ask friends with digi-cams to share their photos with all the guests online or to tag them all with a #hashtag.

#hashtag_instagram_jewish wedding reception

Photo by Two One Photography

Whether you prefer film or digital photographs, look for a photographer who will do digital proofs to save paper and chemicals.

‘Tis better to give…

OK, OK, giving and receiving are both fun! For your gift registry, consider:

  1. asking for gifts to charity instead of material goods
  2. registering with the I Do Foundation or another site that gives a percentage of gift purchases to your chosen cause
  3. registering with stores that offer local, fair-trade, handmade, organic, or other ecofriendly products like Branch, Gaiam, Greenfeet, GreenSage, Ten Thousand Villages, UncommonGoods, or VivaTerra.
  4. registering for outdoor gear or contributions to an ecofriendly honeymoon
  5. creating a custom wish list of ecofriendly items like a fresh-produce subscription from a local farm, organic gardening supplies, organic linens, park and museum passes, gift certificates to organic restaurants, and subscriptions to green publications or memberships in green causes

For your favors, give something your guests will really use and enjoy, not disposable plastic souvenirs. Some ideas:

gourmet organic chocolates or another organic or local food item

attractive bags of fresh or dried organic herbs

seeds in a commemorative container

reusable cloth tote bags

a small plant

natural soaps

soy or beeswax candles

a downloadable playlist of your favorite songs

a small charitable donation in each guest’s name

place cards made of seeded paper that can be planted at home

For your helpful, loyal attendants, you’ll want to up the ante a little, perhaps with:

gift baskets of organic skin-care products

recycled jewelry, wallets, handbags, or drinking glasses

selections of organic coffees, teas, and chocolates

recycled paper journals and stationery

great bottles of organic wine


Begin your new life with a honeymoon that’s light on the Earth. Consider:

  1. going somewhere local (you’re going to be spending a lot of time in that hotel room anyway)
  2. engaging in ecotourism, which can be as rugged or luxurious as you want it to be (find listings that suit your style through Conservation International, National Geographic, Planeta.com, or ResponsibleTravel.com)
  3. taking a trip that benefits an environmental group; perhaps boating in Florida’s Dry Tortugas, birding in Alaska, or walking the Italian Alps with Sierra Club Outings
  4. skipping the cruise and taking a relaxing, romantic train trip
  5. getting around at your destination by renting bikes or taking public transportation (the better to enjoy the sights instead of arguing about your spouse’s driving habits)
  6. staying in a family-run B&B or inn, a luxury teepee or yurt, or a green hotel that’s working to save resources and reduce waste
  7. offsetting your trip’s carbon dioxide emissions
Editor’s Note:  This article was written by The Sierra Club and appeared on their blog in 2007.  The links are original to the article.  I added the images and changed a few headlines to make them more meaningful to Jewish verbiage.

Tu B’Shevat is a perfect time to spread the word and celebrate that the religious-environmental movement is truly here. Find resources for a Tu B’Shevat Seder and learn more about Greening Reform Judaism

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