Are Wedding Invitations Sustainable?

orange floral wedding invitation suite
Orange floral invitation template – available from Loud Bride on Etsy

The climate crisis has me (and likely you too) thinking about how I can do everything more sustainably. The journey to a greener wedding doesn’t have to be perfect. Even small steps to live a more eco-friendly life can make a big difference. Today, let’s start with wedding invitations and how you can make them a sustainable choice for your wedding.

In general wedding invitations are not sustainably made. They’re printed on single-use paper, use toxic inks, may be printed overseas, need to be shipped long distances, and are usually thrown out by guests soon after the wedding.

We found in our research that a lot of the major stationery companies are trying to do better. They’re leveraging Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified suppliers or complying with FSC standards. Some are printing with soy-based inks or adopting more sustainable packaging and shipping practices as a company. And at the bare minimum, others are offering at least one recycled paper option for couples to choose from. We compare them below so you can make a more informed choice when designing and printing your invitations.

Overall, wedding invitations can be made in a more Earth-friendly manner. Even if you’re committed to paper invitations, there are some things you can do to lower the amount of waste you produce. Here are several ways to help the planet and create eco-friendlier wedding invitations:

Buy local

Instead of purchasing something from a large company that ships nationwide or even internationally, look at local small businesses instead. If there’s a neighborhood, independently-owned stationery store, you are more likely to find someone who isn’t printing and shipping your invitations from across the country (or globe!)

Use recycled paper

You can purchase your own and print out the invitations at home (the most eco-friendly way to make printed invitations since there’s less travel involved.) Or you can find a company that prints on recycled paper.

Scared to DIY it? We have a guide that walks you through all the basics of making your own wedding invitations.

Find an eco-conscious company

Wildflower Wedding Invitations Available on Paper Culture

One cool company we found? Paper Culture. They have a whole line of sustainable wedding invitations made with 100% recycled paper. Here are some other things that make them a great choice: a tree is planted with every order, Paper Culture offsets their entire carbon footprint, they’re a Certified California Green Business and a California Climate Leader Award Winner.

We can’t speak to their quality but hope to soon in a follow up post comparing these companies on quality and features.

Other companies are making more of an effort to be sustainable as well. Minted offers 100% recycled paper as an option for their stationery. And they have a goal of producing 100% of their packaging to be recyclable or compostable.

Here’s a chart of the more popular companies and how they’re doing on sustainability:

CompanyRecycled PaperSustainable Packaging
Paper CultureYesTBD
MintedYesGoal of 80% sustainable by end of 2021
Walmart PhotoNoNo
Vista PrintYes No
MooYes Work in progress
Magnet StreetMaybe (optional – Linen is FSC certified)No
ShutterflyYes No
Fedex OfficeYesYes
Amazon PrintsNo (only 10% post consumer)Yes

Some notes about the above chart. Under “Recycled Paper” a yes, means the brand primarily uses 50% or more post-consumer material for prints or uses a supplier who is FSC certified. This certification is from the Forest Stewardship Council, a third-party 501c3 non-profit. It shows that the company complies with the highest social and environmental standards on the market.

If they simply had an option for recycled paper, we noted that they put the choice on the consumer so it is up to you to opt for recycled paper and in many cases pay more for it.

As you can see from our research, the majority of them offer recycled paper as the standard which is a good start. Fewer of them approach their packaging in a sustainable manner.

We have additional in-depth reviews on Zazzle, Minted and Vista Print that you can read through for more information.

Send digital save the dates or invitations

Go paperless! Whether you just send email save the dates or go full digital with your invitation communications, you’ll be saving a lot of paper from the invites, to the envelopes, to the stamps. You’ll also be reducing the carbon footprint of the shipping travel and landfill waste from your guests forgetting to recycle. It’s not tacky, it’s saving the planet!

Digital Save The Date – Available from Loud Bride on Etsy

Let your guests know that you’re trying to keep things as sustainable as possible and ask them to respond in a paperless way as well. Which brings us to our next tip:

Skip the reply cards

Instead of sending an additional card, with an additional envelope and stamp, that needs to travel its way back to you, give guests a digital option to RSVP. You can have guests email you, call or text, or RSVP on your wedding website.

Use a wedding website

In addition to collecting RSVPs you can use your wedding website to share information with your guests that would normally go on a details card. This can include travel information, hotel room blocks, your registry, a map of the area with recommendations, weekend itineraries, and ceremony, cocktail hour and reception timing and locations. This saves you some extra paper.

Limit the distance your invitations have to travel

Now don’t go driving around town hand delivering your invitations because that doesn’t help. But you can do a few small things to limit the amount of distance your invites have to travel via automobile. If you know you’re going to be seeing your close relatives in the next week, hand deliver them instead and skip the postage stamp.

For international invitees, consider sending them a digital invitation instead of one that has to travel around the world.

Now that you’ve planned one aspect of your wedding sustainability, see what else it takes to plan a green wedding.


Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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