Eco-Friendly Wedding Series No. 7: Environmentally-Friendly Wedding Food Ideas

Reader Contribution by Lindsey Siegele
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Your wedding food should be as delicious as your event is beautiful, but feeding a large group of people can be difficult. Despite your best efforts to accommodate even the strictest of diets, it is sometimes hard to anticipate the range of dietary needs your guests will have.

Food may not the most important part of your wedding day. In the case of my wedding, however, it was right up there with entertainment and venue. My husband and I operated under the assumption that great food can cure any number of problems. As card-carrying foodies, we’ve realized that there is rarely a terrible mood that can’t be remedied with a gooey brownie or plate of homemade spaghetti. So if, God forbid, I spilled red wine down my dress or we got caught in the middle of a downpour while taking pictures, at least the food would be excellent, and happy bellies make for happy guests.

If you and your significant other feel the same way about food as my husband and I, you probably won’t want to ignore this part of your wedding day. Your guests may remember your respect for their palates long after the event itself. I attended a wedding last summer that had the most incredible serve-yourself taco bar, and I still think about those tacos lovingly today.

Even in day-to-day life, finding a meal that is eco-friendly as well as delicious can take a little bit of effort. Even organic foods that are free of chemicals and hormones may travel a long distance to reach your plate. To make your wedding an eco-affair, you’ll want to find a way to be kind to the planet and serve delicious, memorable food.

Environmentally-Friendly Wedding Food Ideas

Challenge: You want the food at your wedding to be delicious and original, but you also want it to be earth-friendly.

Solution: The great thing about wedding food is that almost everybody knows somebody who can cook. If you’re having a smaller wedding, homemade is a good option. Do you make amazing fajitas? Why not make an enormous batch for your guests? Sub sandwiches would be great for a casual outdoor wedding. If you have a favorite family recipe, but you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, you may be able to enlist a family member to help out. Local ingredients often taste fresher, and buying them supports your community.

You can turn your reception into a backyard barbecue by firing up the grill and giving some family members the task of cooking burgers and dogs. My dad and uncles love this “job.” Local, grass-fed meats often provide high-quality, environmentally-friendly fare.

If homemade isn’t an option, you can try to pick a restaurant or caterer with a history of environmental activism. Chances are, with a little bit of research, you’ll be able to find at least a few great options in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions or make special requests. Visit Eat.Drink…Better for a list of eco-friendly catering companies across the country.

Let’s not forget the most important part: cake! You’ve got tons of options these days when it comes to wedding desserts, so you shouldn’t feel constrained to a plain-Jane model. Cupcakes are an easy do-it-yourself option, and they’ll probably help you avoid cake-cutting fees.

At my wedding, we served pie because, well, yum. We got to have more variety than typical wedding cakes allow (chocolate cream and apple crumb and peanut butter, oh my!), and our guests loved it. We had a favorite local pie company, so the men in my family had a special wedding-day outing before the ceremony to pick up loads of pie.

One note on wedding pies: Their function is identical to cake in nearly every way. However, when you and your significant other are feeding each other your first bites of wedding cream pie, and your significant other decides to shove your bite up your nose, the differences between cake and pie becomes oh so apparent. On the plus side, you’ll be smelling delicious pastries for weeks.

There’s nothing wrong with a completely original dessert. If cookies, brownies or lemon bars are your favorite, you can definitely give in to the temptation to be unique. If you make them yourself, you’ll probably save money, and your desserts won’t have to travel as far.

Perfect Wedding Guide’s Wedding Blog has some other great ideas for how to make your wedding menu greener.

When it comes to dishes, paper, plastic and Styrofoam usually go straight to the trash can. To avoid disposable products, you can collect dishes from secondhand stores and use them in your home after the wedding. Give them back to your secondhand store when you’re done with them if you can’t keep them. If your reception is being held at a wedding hall, dishes will probably be provided for you.

Jessica Kellner at Natural Home used beautiful single-use bamboo vaneerware from Bambu for her wedding. These eco-friendly disposable plates biodegrade in four to six months, and they’re organic.

Are you almost done planning your eco-friendly wedding? In my last blog of the series, I’ll discuss registries, gifts and wedding favors.

If you’ve missed one of the previous blogs in this series, visit them below:

Lindsey Siegele is the Senior Web Editor at Ogden Publications, the parent company of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on .

Photo by iStockPhoto/webphotographeer. 

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